Glover, Jean (DNB00)

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GLOVER, JEAN (1758–1801), Scotch poetess, was born at Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, 31 Oct. 1758, her father being a hand-loom weaver. While very young she joined a band of strolling players and married their leader. Burns describes her in unqualified terms as a person with no character to lose, but other contemporaries, who long, survived her, say that she was merely 'a roughly hardened tramp, a wilful, regardless woman.' Her husband's christian name or surname was Richard. Burns summarily disposes of him as 'a sleight-of-hand blackguard.' Jean Glover had the reputation of being the best singer and actor in the company, and in gaudy attire she used to play on a tambourine in the street to attract customers to her husband 'juggling in a room down a close.' In her player's finery she struck one ingenuous observer as 'the brawest woman that had ever been seen to step in leather shoon.' Her bright, melodious lyric ' Ower the muir among the Heather' is a genuine addition to Scottish pastoral poetry. She may have composed others, but they are not preserved; this one, happily, was written down by Burns from the singing of Jean Glover herself. Stewart Lewis used the same air for a ballad of his, with which it is important not to confound this typical Scottish song. Jean Glover died at Letterkenny, co. Donegal, in 1801.

[Johnson's Musical Museum; Ayrshire Contemporaries of Burns; Chambers's Life aad Works of Burns. iv. 291; Tytler and Watson's Songstresses of Scotland, vol. i.]

T. B.