Regiment:               Royal Highlanders, Black Watch  

Rank & Number:      Private, S/12388  

03 January 1885; Symington  

Died:                       1965; Dade County, Florida, U.S.  

                      Brother of Alfred George, Hugh, & James
                                Brother-in-law of McEwan Downie

JOHN BURDEN was born 03 Jan 1885 in Symington, to parents Thomas, a gamekeeper, and Catherine Cooper Murray (who married in Symington on 30 Dec 1881).  He died in Dade Co., Florida, U.S.A. in 1965.  

In March 1928 in Westchester, New York he married wealthy socialite Antoinette L. Waterbury, widow of John Pierrepont Edwards, former U.S. Consul General to Britain, by whom he had been employed as a butler and estate manager both prior to the war and on his return from service.  His status as an employee, and the thirty year age difference between the bride and groom, made headlines in newspapers both here and in the U.S.A.  After Antoinette’s death on 4 Sep 1930, her will revealed that her husband had been “been amply provided for in our prenuptial agreement”.  
                                                                                                   Parents Thomas and Catherine
                                                                                                   at Glenside

On 17 Nov 1941 in Broward Co., Florida, John (aged 56, widower, retired) married Mabel George (aged 37, divorced).   Passenger lists show that John (aged 20, valet) emigrated to U.S.A., travelling Glasgow/New York on 15 Nov 1904. 

He came back to Scotland to enlist, traveling New York/Liverpool on 10 Dec 1915; after the war he returned Liverpool/New York on 29 Jun 1919.

In the 1891 Census, John, aged 6, is living Auchans Cottage, Dundonald with parents Thomas (30, b. Kirkoswald, gamekeeper) and Catherine (28, b. Symington), and siblings Thomas (9), Richard (7), James G (4) and Jane (2). 

In the 1901 Census, aged 16, he is servant/domestic at Black House, Largs  

In the 1920 US Census, he is aged 35, single, and butler in the household of Mrs. P.P. Edwards, New York, U.S.  Ten years later, in the 1930 US Census, he is aged 45, married, and head of household at Bedford, Westchester, New York, with wife Antoinette L. Burden (74, b. New York, and the Mrs. P.P. Edwards above) and 4 servants  

By the time of the 1935 US Census, he is aged 50, single, retired, living in Dade Co., Florida.  In the 1945 US Census, aged 60 and married, he is living Dade Co., Florida, with wife Mabel Burden (42, b. Georgia)    

His medal index card shows he received the British War and Victory medals, so he must have served overseas

Extracts from newspapers:-  

Largs & Millport Weekly News, 25 December 1915    
Mr. John Burden, who for several years has been resident in America, recently to this country for the purposes of enlisting.  He has been accepted for service in the Black Watch.  Two of his brothers are already serving their country and one, George, who was wounded at Loos is, we are pleased to hear, now making a satisfactory recovery.  

Reno Evening Gazette, 22 March 1928         
Wealthy Widow Marries Butler:  New York, Mar 22:   Mrs J. Pierrepont, wealthy seventy-two year old widow, was married here two weeks ago to John Burden, forty three, who had been her butler, but the news did not become public until today.  Mrs Edwards was the widow of a former consul-general to Great Britain and is socially prominent.  Burden served in the Black Watch in the British army during the World War.  Mrs Edwards is an aunt of Larry and Monte Waterbury, leading polo players.  

New York Times, 23 March 1928

Mrs. J.P. Edwards Marries Manager Of Estate; Bride, 72, And Husband, 43, Married Quietly:  Bedford Hills, NY, March 22:  The marriage of Mrs Antoinette L. Edwards, widow of J. Pierrepont Edwards, former British Consul General in New York to John Burden, a Scotchman and a former Lieutenant in the famous Black Watch Regiment, and since 1918 manager of the Edwards estate, Whitewood, was revealed today.  Burden, who is 43 years old, and his former employer, who is 72, have been married for the last two and a half weeks. The couple were married at the residence of the Rev. S. Raymond Brinckerhoff of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Mount Kisco.  Mr. Burden denied reports.that he had been employed as a butler at the Edwards home prior to the death of Mr. Edwards. I have been managing the estate since I returned from doing my bit with the Black Watch for three and a half years," he said. "I was in this country for some years before I knew Mr. Edwards and my wife, and I left when the war broke out, returning to find that Mr. Edwards was dead.”  

Dundee Evening Telegraph, 23 March 1928
Scottish Butler Marries Wealthy Employer; Bride a Great-Grandmother:  John Burden, aged 42, butler in the home of Mrs John Pierrepont Edwards, aged 72, has married his wealthy and socially prominent employer.  The bride is a great-grandmother and inherited a fortune from her husband, a former American Consul-General in Great Britain.  Burden is a Scotsman, and served in the world war with the Black Watch.  "We are happy", said the former butler to a reporter.  "Just as any newly married couple have a right to be." - Daily Telegraph  

New York Times, 14 September 1930

Burden Will Assures Funds For Husband; Reveals Settlement On Employee Widow Wed:  White Plains, NY, Sept. 13: John Burden, husband of the late Mrs. Antoinette L. Burden, and manager of her estate at Bedford Hills prior to their marriage in 1928, receives nothing under the will of his wealthy wife, filed in Surrogate's Court here today, because, according to the instrument, "he has been amply provided for in our prenuptial agreement."  Mrs. Burden, who died last week at the age of seventy-four, was Miss Antoinette Waterbury, member of a socially, prominent family, and aunt of Larry and Monte Waterbury.  Except for minor bequests to old servants and others, the estate is to be divided entirely among children and grandchildren, according to the will.  It is stipulated, however, that in event of any contest over the trust fund established by the prenuptial agreement for the benefit of Mr. Burden, the principal of that fund shall be bequeathed outright to him.  The residuary estate is divided into sixteen equal parts, which are distributed as follows: two to Mrs. Robert J. Turnbull of New York City, a daughter; two to Mrs. Reginald Johnson of Bar Harbor, Me., a daughter; three to Pierrepont E. Johnson of Readville, Mass., grandson; three to Reginald Francis Johnson of Readville, grandson; three to Elsie Livingston Johnson, Readville, granddaughter; and three to Helen Pierrepont Fisher of New York City, granddaughter.  

New York Times, 24 October 1931
Mrs Burden’s Estate Put At $1,191,666:  Mrs. Antoinette L. Burden of Bedford Hills, who died Sept. 4 1930 left an estate appraised yesterday at $1,2’r5,418 gross and $1,191,666 net, of which $828,105 was in securities.  She had real estate valued at $145,000, including her Bedford Hills property, sold for $100,000, and property in Brooklyn. Personal effects were worth $19,718, exclusive of articles at Bar Harbor, Me., valued at $3,230, while she had $92,825 in cash.  A trust fund made by her in 1928, after she had married John Burden, for many years manager of her estate, Whitewood, was valued at $166,300.  Mrs. Burden gave her husband an income of $8000 from this fund and left the remainder to her daughters, Mrs. Julia Pierrepont Johnson of Boston and Mrs. Dorothy T. Turnbull of 30 Sutton Place.  She also gave her daughters part of  the residuary estate each and left the remainder to four grandchildren.  She was the widow of J. Pierrepont Edwards, former British Consul General in New York, and sister of the late James M. Waterbury.   Mr. Burden, who is several years younger than his two stepdaughters, is a Scotchman and former lieutenant in the Black Watch Regiment.

Pictures courtesy Katherine McIsaac

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