Lady Anne Barnard (1750-1825), author of the ballad "Auld Robin Gray," the eldest daughter of James Lindsay, 5th earl of Balcarres, was born at Balcarres House, Fife, on the 12th of December 1750. She was married in 1793 to Andrew Barnard, a son of the bishop of Limerick, for whom she obtained from Henry Dundas (1st Viscount Melville) an appointment as colonial secretary at the Cape of Good Hope. Thither the Barnards went in March 1797, Lady Anne remaining at the Cape until January 1802. A remarkable series of letters written by Lady Anne thence to Dundas, then secretary for war and the colonies, was published in 1901 under the title South Africa a Century Ago. In 1806, on the reconquest of the Cape by the British, Barnard was reappointed colonial secretary, but Lady Anne did not accompany him thither, where he died in 1807. The rest of her life was passed in London, where she died on the 6th of May 1825. "Auld Robin Gray" was written by her in 1772, to music by the Rev. William Leeves (1748-1828), as he admitted in 1812. It was published anonymously in 1783, Lady Anne only acknowledging the authorship of the words two years before her death in a letter to Sir Walter Scott, who subsequently edited it for the Bannatyne Club with two continuations.
See the memoir by W. H. Wilkins, together with the original text of "Auld Robin Gray," prefixed to South Africa a Century Ago.