The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Volume 4 (of 5) by Francis James Child



This Dover edition, first published in 1965, is an unabridged and unaltered republication of the work originally published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, as follows:

  • Vol. I—Part I, 1882; Part II, 1884
  • Vol. II—Part III, 1885; Part IV, 1886
  • Vol. III—Part V, 1888; Part VI, 1889
  • Vol. IV—Part VII, 1890; Part VIII, 1892
  • Vol. V—Part IX, 1894; Part X, 1898.

This edition also contains as an appendix to Part X an essay by Walter Morris Hart entitled “Professor Child and the Ballad,” reprinted in toto from Vol. XXI, No. 4, 1906 [New Series Vol. XIV, No. 4] of the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America.

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NUMBERS 189–225

I would acknowledge with particular gratitude the liberality of the Hon. Mrs Maxwell-Scott in allowing the examination and use of the rich store of ballads accumulated at Abbotsford by her immortal ancestor; and also that of Lord Rosebery in sending to Edinburgh for inspection the collection of rare Scottish broadsides formed by the late David Laing, and permitting me to print several articles.

The Rev. S. Baring-Gould has done me the great favor of furnishing me with copies of traditional ballads and songs taken down by him in the West of England.

I am much indebted to the Rev. W. Forbes-Leith for his good offices, and to Mr Macmath, as I have been all along, for help of every description.

F. J. C.
October, 1890.

NUMBERS 226–265

A considerable portion of this eighth number is devoted to texts from Abbotsford. Many of these were used by Sir Walter Scott in the compilation of the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border; many, again, not less important than the others, did not find a place in that collection. They are now printed either absolutely for the first time, or for the first time without variation from the form in which they were written. All of them, and others which were obtained in season for the Seventh Part, were transcribed with the most conscientious and vigilant care by Mr Macmath, who has also identified the handwriting, has searched the numerous volumes of letters addressed to Sir Walter Scott for information relating to the contributors and for dates, and has examined the humbler editions of printed ballads in the Abbotsford library; this without remitting other help.

Very cordial thanks are offered, for texts or information, or for both, to the Rev. S. Baring-Gould, the Rev. W. Forbes-Leith, Mr Andrew Lang, Dr George Birkbeck Hill, Mr P. Z. Round, Dr F. J. Furnivall, Mr James Barclay Murdoch, Dr Giuseppe Pitrè, of Palermo, Mr William Walker, of Aberdeen, Mr David MacRitchie, of Edinburgh, Mr James Gibb, of Joppa, Mr James Raine, of York, Rev. William Leslie Christie, of London, Mrs Mary Thomson, of Fochabers, and Mr George M. Richardson, late of Harvard College; for notes on Slavic popular literature, to Mr John Karłowicz, of Warsaw, and Professor Wilhelm Wollner; and for miscellaneous notes, to my colleague, Professor G. L. Kittredge.

So far as can be foreseen, one part more will bring this book to a close; it is therefore timely to say again that I shall be glad of any kind of assistance that will make it less imperfect, whether in the way of supplying omissions or of correcting errors, great or small.



a. Caw’s Poetical Museum, p. 193.
b. ‘Hobie Noble,’ Percy Papers.
Scott’s Minstrelsy, I, 164, 1802, II, 90, 1833. The source is not mentioned, but was undoubtedly Caw’s Museum, though there are variations of text, attributable to the editor. A copy in the Campbell MSS, I, 230, is again from the Museum, with several corrections, two of which are also found in Scott. Caw received the ballad, says Sir Walter, from John Elliot of Reidheugh. b seems to have been sent Percy (with ‘Dick o the Cow’) by Roger Halt, in 1775.

Hobie Noble, though banished from Bewcastle for his irregularities, will always command the hearty liking of those who live too late to suffer from them, on account of his gallant bearing in the rescue of Jock o the Side. See especially No 187, A, of which Hobie is the hero. All that we know of him is so much as we are told in that ballad and in this. He attached himself, after his expulsion from England, to the laird of Mangerton, who gives him the praise ‘Thy coat is blue, thou has been true.’

Sim o the Mains, an Armstrong of the Whithaugh branch (the most important after that of Mangerton), undertakes to betray Hobie to the English land-sergeant. A tryst is set at Kershope-foot, the junction of that stream with the Liddel; and Hobie, who lives a little way up the Liddel, rides eagerly down the water to keep it. He meets five men, who ask him to join them in a raid into England. Hobie dares not go by day; the land-sergeant is at feud with him on account of a brother’s death, in which Hobie must have had a hand, and ‘the great earl of Whitfield’ has suffered from his depredations;[1] but he will be their guide if they will wait till night. He takes them to the Foulbogshiel, where they alight, and word is sent by Sim to the land-sergeant at Askerton, his adversary’s residence; the land-sergeant orders the men of the neighborhood to meet him at daybreak. Hobie has a bad dream, wakes his comrades in alarm, and sets out to guide them across the Waste; but the sergeant’s force come before him, and Sim behind; his sword breaks; he is bound with his own bow-string and taken to Carlisle. As he goes up the quarter called the Rickergate, the wives say one to the other, That’s the man that loosed Jock o the Side! They offer him bread and beer, and urge him to confess stealing “my lord’s” horses; he swears a great oath that he never had beast of my lord’s. He is to die the next day, and says his farewell to Mangerton; he would rather be called ‘Hobie Noble’ and be hanged in Carlisle, than be called ‘Traitor Mains’ and eat and drink.

Mr R. B. Armstrong informs me that he has found no notice of Hobie Noble except that Hobbe Noble, with eight others, “lived within the Nyxons, near to Bewcastle.”

1569. “Lancy Armistrang of Quhithauch obliged him … for Sym Armistrang of the Mains and the rest of the Armistrangis of 2his gang. Syme of the Mains was lodged in Wester Wemys.” (Register of the Privy Council of Scotland.)

4. The Mains was a place a very little to the east of Castleton, on the opposite, or north, side of the Liddel. 13–17. Askerton is in the Waste of Bewcastle, “about seventeen miles” northeast of Carlisle. “Willeva and Spear-Edom [otherwise Spade-Adam] are small districts in Bewcastle dale, through which also the Hartlie-burn takes its course. Conscowthart-Green and Rodric-haugh and the Foulbogshiel are the names of places in the same wilds, through which the Scottish plunderers generally made their raids upon England.” (Scott.)

Sim o the Mains fled into England from the resentment of his chief, but was himself executed at Carlisle about two months after Hobie’s death. “Such is at least the tradition of Liddesdale,” says Scott. This is of course, notwithstanding the precision of the interval of two months, what Lord Bacon calls “an imagination as one would”; an appendage of a later generation, in the interest of poetical justice.

Foul fa the breast first treason bred in!
That Liddisdale may safely say,
For in it there was baith meat and drink,
And corn unto our geldings gay.
Fala la diddle, etc.
We were stout-hearted men and true,
As England it did often say;
But now we may turn our backs and fly,
Since brave Noble is seld away.
Now Hobie he was an English man,
And born into Bewcastle dale,
But his misdeeds they were sae great,
They banishd him to Liddisdale.
At Kershope-foot the tryst was set,
Kershope of the lily lee;
And there was traitour Sim o the Mains,
With him a private companie.
Then Hobie has graithd his body weel,
I wat it was wi baith good iron and steel;
And he has pulld out his fringed grey,
And there, brave Noble, he rade him weel.
Then Hobie is down the water gane,
Een as fast as he may drie;
Tho they shoud a’ brusten and broken their hearts,
Frae that tryst Noble he would not be.
‘Weel may ye be, my feiries five!
And aye, what is your wills wi me?’
Then they cryd a’ wi ae consent,
Thou’rt welcome here, brave Noble, to me.
Wilt thou with us in England ride?
And thy safe-warrand we will be,
If we get a horse worth a hundred punds,
Upon his back that thou shalt be.
‘I dare not with you into England ride,
The land-sergeant has me at feid;
I know not what evil may betide
For Peter of Whitfield his brother’s dead.
‘And Anton Shiel, he loves not me,
For I gat twa drifts of his sheep;
The great Earl of Whitfield loves me not,
For nae gear frae me he eer coud keep.
‘But will ye stay till the day gae down,
Until the night come oer the grund,
And I’ll be a guide worth ony twa
That may in Liddisdale be fund.
‘Tho dark the night as pick and tar,
I’ll guide ye oer yon hills fu hie,
And bring ye a’ in safety back,
If you’ll be true and follow me.’
He’s guided them oer moss and muir,
Oer hill and houp, and mony ae down,
Til they came to the Foulbogshiel,
And there brave Noble he lighted down.
Then word is gane to the land-sergeant,
In Askirton where that he lay:
‘The deer that ye hae hunted lang
Is seen into the Waste this day.’
‘Then Hobie Noble is that deer;
I wat he carries the style fu hie!
Aft has he beat your slough-hounds back,
And set yourselves at little ee.
‘Gar warn the bows of Hartlie-burn,
See they shaft their arrows on the wa!
Warn Willeva and Spear Edom,
And see the morn they meet me a’.
‘Gar meet me on the Rodrie-haugh,
And see it be by break o day;
And we will on to Conscowthart Green,
For there, I think, w’ll get our prey.’
Then Hobie Noble has dreamd a dream,
In the Foulbogshiel where that he lay;
He thought his horse was neath him shot,
And he himself got hard away.
The cocks could crow, and the day could dawn,
And I wat so even down fell the rain;
If Hobie had no wakend at that time,
In the Foulbogshiel he had been tane or slain.
‘Get up, get up, my feiries five—
For I wat here makes a fu ill day—
And the warst clock of this companie
I hope shall cross the Waste this day.’
Now Hobie thought the gates were clear,
But, ever alas! it was not sae;
They were beset wi cruel men and keen,
That away brave Noble could not gae.
‘Yet follow me, my feiries five,
And see of me ye keep good ray,
And the worst clock of this companie
I hope shall cross the Waste this day.’
There was heaps of men now Hobie before,
And other heaps was him behind,
That had he been as wight as Wallace was
Away brave Noble he could not win.
Then Hobie he had but a laddies sword,
But he did more than a laddies deed;
In the midst of Conscouthart Green,
He brake it oer Jers a Wigham’s head.
Now they have tane brave Hobie Noble,
Wi his ain bowstring they band him sae;
And I wat his heart was neer sae sair
As when his ain five band him on the brae.
They have tane him [on] for West Carlisle;
They askd him if he knew the way;
Whateer he thought, yet little he said;
He knew the way as well as they.
They hae tane him up the Ricker-gate;
The wives they cast their windows wide,
And ilka wife to anither can say,
That’s the man loosd Jock o the Side!
‘Fy on ye, women! why ca ye me man?
For it’s nae man that I’m usd like;
I’m but like a forfoughen hound,
Has been fighting in a dirty syke.’
Then they hae tane him up thro Carlisle town,
And set him by the chimney-fire;
They gave brave Noble a wheat loaf to eat,
And that was little his desire.
Then they gave him a wheat loaf to eat
And after that a can o beer;
Then they cried a’, wi ae consent,
Eat, brave Noble, and make good cheer!
Confess my lord’s horse, Hobie, they say,
And the morn in Carlisle thou’s no die;
‘How shall I confess them?’ Hobie says,
‘For I never saw them with mine eye.’
Then Hobie has sworn a fu great aith,
By the day that he was gotten or born,
He never had onything o my lord’s
That either eat him grass or corn.
‘Now fare thee weel, sweet Mangerton!
For I think again I’ll neer thee see;
I wad betray nae lad alive,
For a’ the goud in Christentie.
‘And fare thee well now, Liddisdale,
Baith the hie land and the law!
Keep ye weel frae traitor Mains!
For goud and gear he’ll sell ye a’.
‘I’d rather be ca’d Hobie Noble,
In Carlisle, where he suffers for his faut,
Before I were ca’d traitor Mains,
That eats and drinks of meal and maut.’

94. brother is dead: cf. b. (Dead is death.)

102. For twa drifts of his sheep I gat: corrected in Scott and in the Campbell MS.

154. lee, b lye: corrected to fee in Campbell MS. (ee==awe.)

162. shaft is corrected to sharp in Scott and the Campbell MS.

244. Jersawigham’s: cf. b.

b. There is a burden after the first, second, and fourth line, variously given; as, Fa (La, Ta) la didle, Ta la la didle, etc., after the first and second; Fala didle, lal didle, Tal didle, tal diddle, after the fourth.

21,2 wanting.

23,4. 15,6 in the MS.

23. flee.

24. he is.

31. Then for Now.

52. both with.

53. out a.

63. If they should all have bursen.

64. From.

74. here wanting.

81. Will.

82. we shall.

83. pound.

84. shall.

91. in.

94. brother’s dead (death).

102. For twa drifts of his sheep I gott.

103. not me.

104. me that he can keep.

113. worth other three.

114 wanting.

121,2 written as 114: The pick and tar was never so dark but I’le guide you over yon hillies high.

123,4 wanting.

151. he was that.

153. slooth.

154. little lye.

162. shaft.

163. Gar warn.

171. me the morn.

172. see that it be by the.

173. Corscowthart.

174. ow?

183. beneath.

191. cra: da.

193. not.

194. either tane.

211. But H.: gates they had been.

213. set.

214. Noble he.

231. lumps for heaps (heaps in 232).

243. Corscothart.

244. Jers a wighams.

251. They have tane now H. N.

252. bow-strings.

253. his heart was never so wae.

261. on for.

272. cuist.

273. Then every.

274. John of.

283. for fouchald.

293. brave wanting: for to.

301. wanting.

323. had nothing.

331. now for sweet.

334. Crisenty.

343. And keep.

351. cald now.

354. That eat and drank him a of.


Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, I, 80, 1802; II, 3, 1833.

Scott, by whom this ballad was first published, and to whom alone it seems to be known, gives us no information how he came by it. He says, “There is another ballad, under the same title as the following, in which nearly the same incidents are narrated, with little difference except that the honor of rescuing the cattle is attributed to the Liddesdale Elliots, headed by a chief, there called Martin Elliot of the Preakin Tower, whose son, Simon, is said to have fallen in the action. It is very possible that both the Teviotdale Scotts and the Elliots were engaged in the affair, and that each claimed the honor of the victory.” Ed. 1833, II. 3.

Scott has suggested that an article in the list of attempts upon England, fouled by the commissioners at Berwick in the year 1587, may relate to the subject of the ballad.

October, 1582.[2]
Thomas Musgrave, de- { Walter Scott, Laird } 200 kine and
puty of Bewcastle, { of Buckluth, and his } oxen, 300 gait
and the tenants, against { complices; for } and sheep.
Bewcastle, of which Thomas Musgrave at the above date was deputy and captain, was, says Percy, a great rendezvous of thieves and moss-troopers down to the last century. “It 5is handed down by report,” he remarks, “[email protected] there was formerly an Order of Council that no inhabitant of Bewcastle should be returned on a jury.” That the deputy of the warden, an officer of the peace, should be exhibited as making a raid, not in the way of retaliation, but simply for plunder, is too much out of rule even for Bewcastle, and does not speak favorably for the antiquity of the ballad.

Taking the story as it stands, the Captain of Bewcastle, who is looking for a prey, is taken by a guide to the Fair Dodhead, which he pillages of kye and everything valuable. Jamie Telfer, whose threat of revenge the Captain treats with derision, runs ten miles afoot to the Elliots of Stobs Hall, to whom he says he has paid mail, st. 11, and asks help. Gib Elliot denies the mail, and tells him to go to the Scotts at Branksome where he has paid it. Telfer keeps on to Coultart Cleugh, and there makes his case known to a brother-in-law, who gives him a mount “to take the fray” to Catslockhill. There William’s Wat, who had often eaten of the Dodhead basket, gives him his company and that of two sons, and they take the fray to Branksome. Buccleuch collects a body of men of his name, and sends them out under the command of Willie Scott, who overtakes the marauders, and asks the Captain if he will let Telfer’s kye go back. This he will not do for love or for fear. The Scotts set on them; Willie is killed, but two and thirty of the raiders’ saddles are emptied, and the Captain is badly wounded and made prisoner. Nor is that all, for the Scotts ride to the Captain’s house and loose his cattle, and when they come to the Fair Dodhead, for ten milk kye Jamie Telfer has three and thirty.

Walter Scott of Harden and Walter Scott of Goldielands, and, according to Scott of Satchells, Scott of Commonside, st. 26, were engaged with Buccleuch in the rescue of Kinmont Willie. So was Will Elliot of Gorrombye, st. 274.

The ballad was retouched for the Border Minstrelsy, nobody can say how much. The 36th stanza is in Hardyknute style. St. 12 is not only found elsewhere (cf. ‘Young Beichan,’ E 6), but could not be more inappropriately brought in than here; Scott, however, is not responsible for that.

Scott makes the following notes on the localities:

2. Hardhaughswire is the pass from Liddesdale to the head of Teviotdale. Borthwick water is a stream which falls into the Teviot three miles above Hawick. 3. The Dodhead was in Selkirkshire, near Singlee, where there are still the vestiges of an old tower. 7. Stobs Hall: upon Slitterick. 10. Branksome Ha, the ancient family-seat of the lairds of Buccleuch, near Hawick. 13. The Coultart Cleugh is nearly opposite to Carlinrig, on the road between Hawick and Mosspaul. 26. The estates mentioned in this verse belonged to families of the name of Scott residing upon the waters of Borthwick and Teviot, near the castle of their chief. 27. The pursuers seem to have taken the road through the hills of Liddesdale in order to collect forces and intercept the forayers at the passage of the Liddel on their return to Bewcastle. 29. The Frostylee is a brook which joins the Teviot near Mosspaul. 33, 38. The Ritterford and Kershopeford are noted fords on the river Liddel. 36. The Dinlay is a mountain in Liddesdale. 44. Stanegirthside: a house belonging to the Foresters, situated on the English side of the Liddel.

It fell about the Martinmas tyde,
Whan our Border steeds get corn and hay,
The Captain of Bewcastle hath bound him to ryde,
And he’s ower to Tividale to drive a prey.
The first ae guide that they met wi,
It was high up in Hardhaughswire;
The second guide that they met wi,
It was laigh down in Borthwick water.
‘What tidings, what tidings, my trusty guide?’
‘Nae tidings, nae tidings, I hae to thee;
But gin ye’ll gae to the Fair Dodhead,
Mony a cow’s cauf I’ll let thee see.’
And when they cam to the Fair Dodhead,
Right hastily they clam the peel;
They loosed the kye out, ane and a’,
And ranshakled the house right weel.
Now Jamie Telfer’s heart was sair,
The tear aye rowing in his ee;
He pled wi the Captain to hae his gear,
Or else revenged he wad be.
The Captain turned him round and leugh;
Said, Man, there’s naething in thy house
But ae auld sword without a sheath,
That hardly now wad fell a mouse.
The sun was na up, but the moon was down,
It was the gryming of a new-fa’n snaw;
Jamie Telfer has run ten myles a-foot,
Between the Dodhead and the Stobs’s Ha.
And when he cam to the fair tower-yate,
He shouted loud, and cried weel hie,
Till out bespak auld Gibby Elliot,
‘Whae’s this that brings the fray to me?’
‘It’s I, Jamie Telfer o the Fair Dodhead,
And a harried man I think I be;
There’s naething left at the Fair Dodhead
But a waefu wife and bairnies three.’
‘Gae seek your succour at Branksome Ha,
For succour ye’se get nane frae me;
Gae seek your succour where ye paid blackmail,
For, man, ye neer paid money to me.’
Jamie has turned him round about,
I wat the tear blinded his ee:
‘I’ll neer pay mail to Elliot again,
And the Fair Dodhead I’ll never see.
‘My hounds may a’ rin masterless,
My hawks may fly frae tree to tree,
My lord may grip my vassal-lands,
For there again maun I never be!’
He has turned him to the Tiviot-side,
Een as fast as he could drie,
Till he cam to the Coultart Cleugh,
And there he shouted baith loud and hie.
Then up bespak him auld Jock Grieve:
‘Whae’s this that brings the fray to me?’
‘It’s I, Jamie Telfer o the Fair Dodhead,
A harried man I trew I be.
‘There’s naething left in the Fair Dodhead
But a greeting wife and bairnies three,
And sax poor ca’s stand in the sta,
A’ routing loud for their minnie.’
‘Alack a wae!’ quo auld Jock Grieve,
‘Alack, my heart is sair for thee!
For I was married on the elder sister,
And you on the youngest of a’ the three.’
Then he has taen out a bonny black,
Was right weel fed wi corn and hay,
And he’s set Jamie Telfer on his back,
To the Catslockhill to tak the fray.
And whan he cam to the Catslockhill,
He shouted loud and cried weel hie,
Till out and spak him William’s Wat,
‘O whae’s this brings the fray to me?’
‘It’s I, Jamie Telfer o the Fair Dodhead,
A harried man I think I be;
The Captain o Bewcastle has driven my gear;
For God’s sake, rise and succour me!’
‘Alas for wae!’ quo William’s Wat,
‘Alack, for thee my heart is sair!
I never cam bye the Fair Dodhead
That ever I fand thy basket bare.’
He’s set his twa sons on coal-black steeds,
Himsel upon a freckled gray,
And they are on wi Jamie Telfer,
To Branksome Ha to tak the fray.
And when they cam to Branksome Ha,
They shouted a’ baith loud and hie,
Till up and spak him auld Buccleuch,
Said, Whae’s this brings the fray to me?
‘It’s I, Jamie Telfer o the Fair Dodhead,
And a harried man I think I be;
There’s nought left in the Fair Dodhead
But a greeting wife and bairnies three.’
‘Alack for wae!’ quo the gude auld lord,
‘And ever my heart is wae for thee!
But fye, gar cry on Willie, my son,
And see that he cum to me speedilie.
‘Gar warn the water, braid and wide!
Gar warn it sune and hastilie!
They that winna ride for Telfer’s kye,
Let them never look in the face o me!
‘Warn Wat o Harden and his sons,
Wi them will Borthwick water ride;
Warn Gaudilands, and Allanhaugh,
And Gilmanscleugh, and Commonside.
‘Ride by the gate at Priesthaughswire,
And warn the Currors o the Lee;
As ye cum down the Hermitage Slack,
Warn doughty Willie o Gorrinberry.’
The Scotts they rade, the Scotts they ran,
Sae starkly and sae steadilie,
And aye the ower-word o the thrang
Was, Rise for Branksome readilie!
The gear was driven the Frostylee up,
Frae the Frostylee unto the plain,
Whan Willie has lookd his men before,
And saw the kye right fast driving.
‘Whae drives thir kye,’ can Willie say,
‘To make an outspeckle o me?’
‘It’s I, the Captain o Bewcastle, Willie;
I winna layne my name for thee.’
‘O will ye let Telfer’s kye gae back?
Or will ye do aught for regard o me?
Or, by the faith of my body,’ quo Willie Scott,
‘I’se ware my dame’s cauf’s skin on thee.’
‘I winna let the kye gae back,
Neither for thy love nor yet thy fear;
But I will drive Jamie Telfer’s kye
In spite of every Scott that’s here.’
‘Set on them, lads!’ quo Willie than;
‘Fye, lads, set on them cruellie!
For ere they win to the Ritterford,
Mony a toom saddle there sall be!’
Then till ‘t they gaed, wi heart and hand;
The blows fell thick as bickering hail;
And mony a horse ran masterless,
And mony a comely cheek was pale.
But Willie was stricken ower the head,
And through the knapscap the sword has gane;
And Harden grat for very rage,
Whan Willie on the grund lay slane.
But he’s taen aff his gude steel cap,
And thrice he’s waved it in the air;
The Dinlay snaw was neer mair white
Nor the lyart locks of Harden’s hair.
‘Revenge! revenge!’ auld Wat can cry;
‘Fye, lads, lay on them cruellie!
We’ll neer see Tiviot side again,
Or Willie’s death revenged sall be.’
O mony a horse ran masterless,
The splintered lances flew on hie;
But or they wan to the Kershope ford,
The Scotts had gotten the victory.
John o Brigham there was slane,
And John o Barlow, as I hear say,
And thirty mae o the Captain’s men
Lay bleeding on the grund that day.
The Captain was run through the thick of the thigh,
And broken was his right leg-bane;
If he had lived this hundred years,
He had never been loved by woman again.
‘Hae back the kye!’ the Captain said;
‘Dear kye, I trow, to some they be;
For gin I suld live a hundred years
There will neer fair lady smile on me.’
Then word is gane to the Captain’s bride,
Even in the bower where that she lay,
That her lord was prisoner in enemy’s land,
Since into Tividale he had led the way.
‘I wad lourd have had a winding-sheet,
And helped to put it ower his head,
Ere he had been disgraced by the border Scot,
Whan he ower Liddel his men did lead!’
There was a wild gallant amang us a’,
His name was Watty wi the Wudspurs,
8Cried, On for his house in Stanegirthside,
If ony man will ride with us!
When they cam to the Stanegirthside,
They dang wi trees and burst the door;
They loosed out a’ the Captain’s kye,
And set them forth our lads before.
There was an auld wyfe ayont the fire,
A wee bit o the Captain’s kin:
‘Whae dar loose out the Captain’s kye,
Or answer to him and his men?’
‘It’s I, Watty Wudspurs, loose the kye,
I winna layne my name frae thee;
And I will loose out the Captain’s kye
In scorn of a’ his men and he.’
Whan they cam to the Fair Dodhead,
They were a wellcum sight to see,
For instead of his ain ten milk-kye,
Jamie Telfer has gotten thirty and three.
And he has paid the rescue-shot,
Baith wi gowd and white monie,
And at the burial o Willie Scott
I wat was mony a weeping ee.
281, 324, 384. Scots, Scot. In the last edition, Scotts, Scott.

294. drivand in the later edition.

314. cauf in the later edition.

371. gan in the later edition.

40. “The Editor has used some freedom with the original. The account of the Captain’s disaster (teste læva vulnerata) is rather too naive for literal publication.”


A. ‘The Life and Death of Sir Hugh of the Grime.’ a. Roxburghe Ballads, II, 294. b. Douce Ballads, II, 204 b. c. Rawlinson Ballads, 566, fol. 9. d. Pills to purge Melancholy, VI, 289, 17. e. Roxburghe Ballads, III, 344.

B. ‘Hughie Graham,’ Johnson’s Museum, No 303, p. 312; Cromek, Reliques of Robert Burns, 4th ed., 1817, p. 287; Cromek, Select Scottish Songs, 1810, II, 151.

C. ‘Hughie the Græme,’ Scott’s Minstrelsy, 1803, III, 85; 1833, III, 107.

D. ‘Sir Hugh in the Grime’s Downfall,’ Roxburghe Ballads, III, 456, edited by J. F. Ebsworth for The Ballad Society, VI, 598.

E. ‘Sir Hugh the Græme,’ Buchan’s MSS, I, 53; Dixon, Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads, p. 73, Percy Society, vol. xvii.

F. Macmath MS., p. 79, two stanzas.

G. ‘Hughie Grame,’ Harris MS., fol. 27 b, one stanza.

There is a copy of the broadside among the Pepys ballads, II, 148, No 130, printed, like a, b, c, for P. Brooksby, with the variation, “at the Golden Ball, near the Bear Tavern, in Pye Corner.” The ballad was given in Ritson’s Ancient Songs, 1790, p. 192, from A a, collated with another copy “in the hands of John Baynes, Esq.” In a note, p. 332, Ritson says: “In the editor’s collection is a somewhat different ballad upon the same subject, intitled ‘Sir Hugh in the Grimes downfall, or a new song made on Sir Hugh in the Grime, who was hangd for stealing the Bishop’s mare.’ It begins, ‘Good Lord John is a hunting gone.’” This last was evidently the late and corrupt copy D. Of C Scott 9says: “The present edition was procured for me by my friend Mr W. Laidlaw, in Blackhouse, and has been long current in Selkirkshire. Mr Ritson’s copy has occasionally been resorted to for better readings.” B is partially rewritten by Cunningham, Songs of Scotland, I, 327. The copy in R. H. Evans’s Old Ballads, 1810, I, 367, is A; that in The Ballads and Songs of Ayrshire, First Series, p. 47, is of course B; Aytoun, ed. of 1859, II, 128, reprints C; Maidment, 1868, II, 140, A, II, 145, C.[3]

“According to tradition,” says Stenhouse, “Robert Aldridge, Bishop of Carlisle, about the year 1560, seduced the wife of Hugh Graham, one of those bold and predatory chiefs who so long inhabited what was called the debateable land on the English and Scottish border. Graham, being unable to bring so powerful a prelate to justice, in revenge made an excursion into Cumberland, and carried off, inter alia, a fine mare belonging to the bishop; but being closely pursued by Sir John Scroope, warden of Carlisle, with a party on horseback, was apprehended near Solway Moss, and carried to Carlisle, where he was tried and convicted of felony. Great intercessions were made to save his life, but the bishop, it is said, being determined to remove the chief obstacle to his guilty passions, remained inexorable, and poor Graham fell a victim to his own indiscretion and his wife’s infidelity. Anthony Wood observes that there were many changes in this prelate’s time, both in church and state, but that he retained his office and preferments during them all.” Musical Museum, 1853, IV, 297.

The pretended tradition is plainly extracted from the ballad, the bishop’s name and the date being supplied from without. The inter alia is introduced, and the mare qualified as a fine one, to mitigate the ridiculousness of making Hugh Graham steal a mare to retaliate the wrong done him by the bishop. As Allan Cunningham remarks, “tradition, in all the varieties of her legends, never invented such an unnecessary and superfluous reason as this. By habit and by nature thieves, the Græmes never waited for anything like a pretence to steal.” In passing, it may be observed that Hugh is quite arbitrarily elevated to the rank of a predatory chief.

Scott suggested in 1803, Minstrelsy, I, 86 f., that Hugh Graham may have been one of more than four hundred borderers against whom complaints were exhibited to the lord bishop of Carlisle for incursions, murders, burnings, mutilations, and spoils committed by the English of Cumberland and Westmoreland upon Scots “presently after the queen’s departure;” that is, after Mary Stuart’s going to France, which was in 1548. Nearly a third of the names given in a partial list are Grames, but there is no Hugh among them.[4] The bishop of Carlisle at the time was Robert Aldridge, who held the see from 1537 till his death in 1555.[5] Lord Scroope (Screw) is the English warden of the West Marches in A, C, D. A Lord Scroope had that office in 1542, but Lord Wharton, Lord Dacre, and others during the last years of Bishop Aldridge’s life, say from 1548 to 1555. Henry Lord Scroope of Bolton was appointed to the place in 1563, retained it thirty years, and was succeeded by his son, Thomas.[6] Considering how long the Scroopes held the warden-ship, and that the ballad is not so old as the middle of the sixteenth century, the fact that 10a Lord Scroope was not warden in the precise year when the complaints were addressed to the bishop of Carlisle would be of no consequence if Scott’s conjecture were well supported.

The story is the same in A-D, and in E also till we near the end, though there are variations in the names. The scene is at Carlisle in A, C, D; at Stirling in B, E. Lord Home, who appears as intercessor for Hugh Graham in C, exercises the authority of the Scottish warden and arrests Hugh in E. Lord Home was warden of the east marches of Scotland from 1550, and I know not how much earlier, to 1564. The Lord Boles of A may possibly represent Sir Robert Bowes, who was warden of the east marches of England in 1550 and earlier. The Whitefoords of B are adopted into the ballad from the region in which that version circulated, they being “an ancient family in Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire, and latterly in Ayrshire.”[7]

The high jump which Hugh makes in A 18, C 12, D 4 (fourteen, or even eighteen, feet, with his hands tied on his back), is presumably an effort at escape, though, for all that is said, it might be a leap in the air. In E 16–19, the prisoner jumps an eighteen-foot wall (tied as before), is defended by four brothers against ten pursuers, and sent over sea: which is certainly a modern perversion.

A is strangely corrupted in several places, 22, 114, 132. Screw is plainly for Scroope. Garlard, sometimes printed Garland, is an obscuration of Cárlisle. The extravagance in 163, it is to be hoped, is a corruption also. Stanzas 3, 8 of B are obviously, as Cromek says, the work of Burns, and the same is true of 103–4. But Burns has left some nonsense in 11, 12: ‘my sword that’s bent in the middle clear,’ ‘my sword that’s bent in the middle brown.’ We have more of this meaningless phraseology in E 10, 11, 12, where swords are pointed ‘wi the metal clear,’ ‘brown,’ ‘fine.’ Stanza 15 of E is borrowed from ‘Johnie Armstrong.’

a. Roxburghe Ballads, II, 294. b. Douce Ballads, II, 204 b. c. Rawlinson Ballads, 566, fol. 9. All printed for P. Brooksby: 1672–95(?). d. Pills to purge Melancholy, VI, 289, 17. e. Roxburghe Ballads, III, 344.

As it befell upon one time,
About mid-summer of the year,
Every man was taxt of his crime,
For stealing the good Lord Bishop’s mare.
The good Lord Screw he sadled a horse,
And rid after this same scrime;
Before he did get over the moss,
There was he aware of Sir Hugh of the Grime.
‘Turn, O turn, thou false traytor,
Turn, and yield thyself unto me;
Thou hast stolen the Lord Bishops mare,
And now thou thinkest away to flee.’
‘No, soft, Lord Screw, that may not be!
Here is a broad sword by my side,
And if that thou canst conquer me,
The victory will soon be try’d.’
‘I ner was afraid of a traytor bold,
Although thy name be Hugh in the Grime;
I’le make thee repent thy speeches foul,
If day and life but give me time.’
‘Then do thy worst, good Lord Screw,
And deal your blows as fast as you can;
It will be try’d between me and you
Which of us two shall be the best man.’
Thus as they dealt their blows so free,
And both so bloody at that time,
Over the moss ten yeomen they see,
Come for to take Sir Hugh in the Grime.
Sir Hugh set his back against a tree,
And then the men encompast him round;
His mickle sword from his hand did flee,
And then they brought Sir Hugh to the ground.
Sir Hugh of the Grime now taken is
And brought back to Garlard town;
[Then cry’d] the good wives all in Garlard town,
‘Sir Hugh in the Grime, thou’st ner gang down.’
The good Lord Bishop is come to the town,
And on the bench is set so high;
And every man was taxt to his crime,
At length he called Sir Hugh in the Grime.
‘Here am I, thou false bishop,
Thy humours all to fulfill;
I do not think my fact so great
But thou mayst put it into thy own will.’
The quest of jury-men was calld,
The best that was in Garlard town;
Eleven of them spoke all in a breast,
‘Sir Hugh in the Grime, thou’st ner gang down.’
Then another questry-men was calld,
The best that was in Rumary;
Twelve of them spoke all in a breast,
‘Sir Hugh in the Grime, thou’st now guilty.’
Then came down my good Lord Boles,
Falling down upon his knee:
‘Five hundred pieces of gold would I give,
To grant Sir Hugh in the Grime to me.’
‘Peace, peace, my good Lord Boles,
And of your speeches set them by!
If there be eleven Grimes all of a name,
Then by my own honour they all should dye.’
Then came down my good Lady Ward,
Falling low upon her knee:
‘Five hundred measures of gold I’le give,
To grant Sir Hugh of the Grime to me.’
‘Peace, peace, my good Lady Ward,
None of your proffers shall him buy!
For if there be twelve Grimes all of a name,
By my own honour they all should dye.’
Sir Hugh, of the Grime’s condemnd to dye,
And of his friends he had no lack;
Fourteen foot he leapt in his ward,
His hands bound fast upon his back.
Then he lookt over his left shoulder,
To see whom he could see or spy;
Then was he aware of his father dear,
Came tearing his hair most pittifully.
‘Peace, peace, my father dear,
And of your speeches set them by!
Though they have bereavd me of my life,
They cannot bereave me of heaven so high.’
He lookt over his right shoulder,
To see whom he could see or spye;
There was he aware of his mother dear,
Came tearing her hair most pittifully.
‘Pray have me remembred to Peggy, my wife;
As she and I walkt over the moor,
She was the cause of [the loss of] my life,
And with the old bishop she plaid the whore.
‘Here, Johnny Armstrong, take thou my sword,
That is made of the mettle so fine,
And when thou comst to the border-side,
Remember the death of Sir Hugh of the Grime.’
Johnson’s Museum, No 303, p. 312, contributed by Burns; Cromek, Reliques of Robert Burns, 4th ed., 1817, p. 287; Cromek, Select Scottish Songs, etc., 1810, II, 151. From oral tradition in Ayrshire.

Our lords are to the mountains gane,
A hunting o the fallow deer,
And they hae gripet Hughie Graham,
For stealing o the bishop’s mare.
And they hae tied him hand and foot,
And led him up thro Stirling town;
The lads and lasses met him there,
Cried, Hughie Graham, thou art a loun!
‘O lowse my right hand free,’ he says,
‘And put my braid sword in the same,
He’s no in Stirling town this day
Daur tell the tale to Hughie Graham.’
Up then bespake the brave Whitefoord,
As he sat by the bishop’s knee:
‘Five hundred white stots I’ll gie yon,
If ye’ll let Hughie Graham gae free.’
‘O haud your tongue,’ the bishop says,
‘And wi your pleading let me be!
For tho ten Grahams were in his coat,
Hughie Graham this day shall die.’
Up then bespake the fair Whitefoord,
As she sat by the bishop’s knee:
‘Five hundred white pence I’ll gee you,
If ye’ll gie Hughie Graham to me.’
‘O haud your tongue now, lady fair,
And wi your pleading let it be!
Altho ten Grahams were in his coat,
It’s for my honour he maun die.’
They’ve taen him to the gallows-knowe,
He looked to the gallows-tree,
Yet never colour left his cheek,
Nor ever did he blink his ee.
At length he looked round about,
To see whatever he could spy,
And there he saw his auld father,
And he was weeping bitterly.
‘O haud your tongue, my father dear,
And wi your weeping let it be!
Thy weeping’s sairer on my heart
Than a’ that they can do to me.
‘And ye may gie my brother John
My sword that’s bent in the middle clear,
And let him come at twelve o’clock,
And see me pay the bishop’s mare.
‘And ye may gie my brother James
My sword that’s bent in the middle brown,
And bid him come at four o’clock,
And see his brother Hugh cut down.
‘Remember me to Maggy my wife,
The niest time ye gang oer the moor;
Tell her, she staw the bishop’s mare,
Tell her, she was the bishop’s whore.
‘And ye may tell my kith and kin
I never did disgrace their blood,
And when they meet the bishop’s cloak,
To mak it shorter by the hood.’
Scott’s Minstrelsy, 1803, III, 85, 1833, III, 107, procured by W. Laidlaw in Blackhouse, and long current in Selkirkshire; with readings from Ritson’s copy.

Gude Lord Scroope’s to the hunting gane,
He has ridden oer moss and muir,
And he has grippet Hughie the Græme,
For stealing o the bishop’s mare.
‘Now, good Lord Scroope, this may not be!
Here hangs a broad sword by my side,
And if that thou canst conquer me,
The matter it may soon be tryed.’
‘I neer was afraid of a traitor thief;
Although thy name be Hughie the Græme,
I’ll make thee repent thee of thy deeds,
If God but grant me life and time.’
‘Then do your worst now, good Lord Scroope,
And deal your blows as hard as you can;
It shall be tried, within an hour,
Which of us two is the better man.’
But as they were dealing their blows so free,
And both so bloody at the time,
Over the moss came ten yeomen so tall,
All for to take brave Hughie the Græme.
Then they hae grippit Hughie the Græme,
And brought him up through Carlisle town;
The lasses and lads stood on the walls,
Crying, Hughie the Græme, thou’se neer gae down!
Then they hae chosen a jury of men,
The best that were in Carlisle town,
And twelve of them cried out at once,
Hughie the Græme, thou must gae down!
Then up bespak him gude Lord Hume,
As he sat by the judge’s knee:
‘Twenty white owsen, my gude lord,
If you’ll grant Hughie the Græme to me.’
‘O no, O no, my gude Lord Hume,
Forsooth and sae it mauna be;
For were there but three Græmes of the name,
They suld be hanged a’ for me.’
’Twas up and spake the gude Lady Hume,
As she sat by the judge’s knee:
‘A peck of white pennies, my good lord judge,
If you’ll grant Hughie the Græme to me.’
‘O no, O no, my gude Lady Hume,
Forsooth and so it mustna be;
Were he but the one Græme of the name,
He suld be hanged high for me.’
‘If I be guilty,’ said Hughie the Græme,
‘Of me my friends shall hae small talk;’
And he has loupd fifteen feet and three,
Though his hands they were tied behind his back.
He looked over his left shoulder,
And for to see what he might see;
There was he aware of his auld father,
Came tearing his hair most piteouslie.
‘O hald your tongue, my father,’ he says,
‘And see that ye dinna weep for me!
For they may ravish me o my life,
But they canna banish me fro heaven hie.
‘Fare ye weel, fair Maggie, my wife!
The last time we came ower the muir
’Twas thou bereft me of my life,
And wi the bishop thou playd the whore.
‘Here, Johnnie Armstrang, take thou my sword,
That is made o the metal sae fine,
And when thou comest to the English side
Remember the death of Hughie the Græme.’
Roxburghe Ballads, III, 456; edited for the Ballad Society by J. W. Ebsworth, VI, 598.

Good Lord John is a hunting gone,
Over the hills and dales so far,
For to take Sir Hugh in the Grime,
For stealing of the bishop’s mare.
He derry derry down
Hugh in the Grime was taken then
And carried to Carlisle town;
The merry women came out amain,
Saying, The name of Grime shall never go down!
O then a jury of women was brought,
Of the best that could be found;
Eleven of them spoke all at once,
Saying, The name of Grime shall never go down!
And then a jury of men was brought,
More the pity for to be!
Eleven of them spoke all at once,
Saying, Hugh in the Grime, you are guilty.
Hugh in the Grime was cast to be hangd,
Many of his friends did for him lack;
For fifteen foot in the prisin he did jump,
With his hands tyed fast behind his back.
Then bespoke our good Lady Ward,
As she set on the bench so high:
‘A peck of white pennys I’ll give to my lord,
If he’ll grant Hugh Grime to me.
‘And if it be not full enough,
I’ll stroke it up with my silver fan;
And if it be not full enough,
I’ll heap it up with my own hand.’
‘Hold your tongue now, Lady Ward,
And of your talkitive let it be!
There is never a Grime came in this court
That at thy bidding shall saved be.’
Then bespoke our good Lady Moor,
As she sat on the bench so high:
‘A yoke of fat oxen I’ll give to my lord,
If he’ll grant Hugh Grime to me.’
‘Hold your tongue now, good Lady Moor,
And of your talkitive let it be!
There is never a Grime came to this court
That at thy bidding shall saved be.’
Sir Hugh in the Grime lookd out of the door,
With his hand out of the bar;
14There he spy’d his father dear,
Tearing of his golden hair.
‘Hold your tongue, good father dear,
And of your weeping let it be!
For if they bereave me of my life,
They cannot bereave me of the heavens so high.’
Sir Hugh in the Grime lookd out at the door,
Oh, what a sorry heart had he!
There [he] spy’d his mother dear,
Weeping and wailing ‘Oh, woe is me!’
‘Hold your tongue now, mother dear,
And of your weeping let it be!
For if they bereave me of my life,
They cannot bereave me of heaven’s fee.
‘I’ll leave my sword to Johnny Armstrong
That is made of mettal so fine,
That when he comes to the border-side
He may think of Hugh in the Grime.’
Buchan’s MSS, I, 53.
Lord Home he is a hunting gane,
Through the woods and valleys clear,
And he has taen Sir Hugh the Græme,
For stealing o the bishop’s mare.
They hae taen Sir Hugh the Græme,
Led him down thro Strieveling town;
Fifeteen o them cried a’ at ance,
‘Sir Hugh the Græme he must go down!’
They hae causd a court to sit,
Mang a’ their best nobilitie;
Fifeteen o them cried a’ at ance,
‘Sir Hugh the Græme he now must die!’
Out it speaks the lady Black,
And o her will she was right free:
‘A thousand pounds, my lord, I’ll gie,
If Hugh the Græme set free to me.’
‘Hold your tongue, ye Lady Black,
And ye’ll let a’ your pleadings be!
Though ye woud gie me thousands ten,
It’s for my honour he must die.’
Then out it speaks her Lady Bruce,
And o her will she was right free:
‘A hundred steeds, my lord, I’ll gie,
If ye’ll gie Hugh the Græme to me.’
‘O hold your tongue, ye Lady Bruce,
And ye’ll let a’ your pleadings be!
Though a’ the Græmes were in this court,
It’s for my honour he must die.’
He looked over his shoulder,
It was to see what he coud see,
And there he saw his auld father,
Weeping and wailing bitterlie.
‘O hold your tongue, my old father,
And ye’ll let a’ your mourning be!
Though they bereave me o my life,
They canno had the heavens frae me.
‘Ye’ll gie my brother John the sword
That’s pointed wi the metal clear,
And bid him come at eight o’clock,
And see me pay the bishop’s mare.
‘And, brother James, take here the sword
That’s pointed wi the metal brown;
Come up the morn at eight o’clock,
And see your brother putten down.
‘And, brother Allan, take this sword
That’s pointed wi the metal fine;
Come up the morn at eight o’clock,
And see the death o Hugh the Græme.
‘Ye’ll tell this news to Maggy my wife,
Niest time ye gang to Strievling town,
She is the cause I lose my life,
She wi the bishop playd the loon.’
Again he ower his shoulder lookd,
It was to see what he could see,
And there he saw his little son,
Was screaming by his nourice knee.
Then out it spake the little son,
‘Since ’tis the morn that he must die,
15If that I live to be a man,
My father’s death revengd shall be.’
‘If I must die,’ Sir Hugh replied,
‘My friends o me they will think lack;’
He leapd a wa eighteen feet high,
Wi his hands bound behind his back.
Lord Home then raised ten armed men,
And after him they did pursue;
But he has trudged ower the plain
As fast as ony bird that flew.
He looked ower his left shoulder,
It was to see what he coud see;
His brother John was at his back,
And a’ the rest o his brothers three.
Some they wound, and some they slew,
They fought sae fierce and valiantly;
They made his enemies for to yield,
And sent Sir Hugh out ower the sea.
Macmath MS., p. 79. “Received by me 20th August and 7th September, 1887, from my aunt, Miss Jane Webster, who derived it from her mother, Janet Spark, Kirkcudbrightshire.”

‘Ye may tell to my wife Maggie,
When that she comes to the fair,
She was the cause of all my ruin,
It was her that stole the bishop’s mare.
‘Ye may tell to my wife Maggie,
When that she comes to the town,
She was the cause of all my ruin,
It was her that stole the bishop’s gown.’
Harris MS., fol. 27 b.
Dukes an lords a huntin gane,
Over hills an vallies clear;
There the’ve bound him Hughie Grame,
For stealin o the bishop’s mare.
A. a.

Printed for P. Brooksby, at the Golden-Ball, in West-smith-field, neer the Hospital-gate.

122. Garland.

131. another.

223. the causer of my life.


To a pleasant new northern tune.

Printed for P. Brooksby at the Golden-Ball, in Westsmithfield.

33. Lords.

93. Then cry’d wanting.

94. never.

104. of the.

122. Garlard.

131. other.

213. ware.

223. the causer of my life.

224. plays.

233. borders.


Printed for P. Brooksby [torn off] West-smith-field.

24. he wanting.

53. of thy.

93. Then cry’d wanting.

104. of the.

113. thy fact.

122. Garlard.

131. other.

213. ware.

223. the causer of my life.

224. plays.

233. borders.


22. the same serime.

81. again.

82. compast.

92,3, 122. Garland.

93. Then cry’d.

101. the wanting.

114. it wanting.

131. other.

143. will I.

174. they wanting.

223. cause of the loss.


No imprint.

22. rid wanting: the same.

23. he could.

52. my for thy.

71. as wanting.

82. compast.

92,3. Garland.

93. Then cry’d.

101. to town.

104. calld to.

112. for to.

131. other.

143. will I.

184. With his.

194. come.

223. of the loss of.


84. blin’ in Johnson’s Museum: blink in Cromek.


Sir Hugh in the Grime’s Downfall, or, A New Song made on Sir Hugh in the Grime, who was hangd for stealing the Bishop’s Mare. London: Printed and sold by L. How. (About 1770?)

52. did leet: cf. A 182.

104. biding.

141. tonge.


A. a. ‘The Blind Harper of Lochmaben,’ Glenriddell MSS, XI, 42, 1791. b. ‘The Blind Harper,’ Johnson’s Museum, No 579, 1803. c. ‘The Lochmaben Harper,’ Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 1802, I, 65; 1833, I, 422.

B. ‘Lochmaben Harper,’ Glenriddell MSS, XI, 39.

C. ‘The Auld Harper,’ The Edinburgh Topographical, Traditional, and Antiquarian Magazine, 1849, p. 58.

D. Macmath MS, p. 35.

E. ‘The Jolly Harper,’ Buchan’s MSS, I, 35; Dixon, Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads, Percy Society, vol. xvii, p. 37.

The Stationers’ Registers, 22 July, 1564–22 July, 1565, Arber, I, 260, have an entry of a fee from Owyn Rogers for license to print “a ballett intituled The Blende Harper, etc.”; and again, the following year, Arber, I, 294, of a fee from Lucas Haryson for license to print “a ballet intituled The Blynde Harpers, with the Answere.” Nothing further is known of this ballet.

Boyd, the translator of Dante, had a recollection of a ballad of a Scotch minstrel who stole a horse from one of the Henries of England: Ritson, Scotish Song, I, xxxvi, note 25, 1794.

Printed in Scott’s Minstrelsy, 1802 (A c), and the next year in the Musical Museum (A b), as communicated by Burns. Burns’s copy differs very slightly from A a, however he came by it. Scott had access to the Glenriddell collection, and his ballad (of which he gives no account) was made by changing A a to his taste, substituting one stanza of his own in place of 18, and the last two of B, with alterations, for the last of A a. To reduce improbabilities, Scott put the Lord Warden for King Henry.

C was pointed out to me, and transcribed from the short-lived periodical in which it was printed, by Mr James Barclay Murdoch, to whom I have been from the beginning indebted for the most essential help.

Of D Mr Macmath writes: This version was copied by me in fac-simile from the original manuscript in the handwriting of the late Rev. George Murray, of Troquhain, minister of Balmaclellan, in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and was in possession of his son, the Rev. George Murray, to whose kindness I was indebted for the loan of it. The late Mr Murray took down the ballad from the singing of Sarah Rae, a poor weak-minded woman of his parish. Sarah Rae was the last person known to Mr Murray—and he was a keen observer of such matters—to use the distaff. The present Mr George Murray wrote to me on 12th January, 1883: “I may add that I have heard her sing the ballad myself, to a very simple but particularly plaintive lilt—more like a rapid chant than an ordinary song—which rings in my ear yet, although I only heard it once, when a lad.”[8]

A-C. A harper of Lochmaben (blind, A, B) who means to steal the Wanton Brown, a horse of King Henry’s, consults with his wife before setting about the business, and gets a few valuable hints; among them, to leave his mare’s foal at home. He goes up to England, and has the good luck, so common in ballads, 17of finding King Henry at his gate. The king wants to hear some of his harping, and, as the harper makes a difficulty about the stabling of his mare, orders the beast to be put into his own stable. The harper harps all his hearers asleep; then makes his way softly to the stable, slips a halter over the Wanton’s nose and ties him to the mare’s tail, and turns the mare out. She goes straight to Lochmaben, to her foal, neighs at the harper’s house, and is let in by the servant-lass, who exclaims at the braw foal that the mare has got. In the morning they find in England that both the Wanton Brown and the mare have been stolen. The harper breaks out into ‘allaces:’ he has lost a foal in Scotland and had his mare stolen in England! The king quiets him with a promise of a better mare and pay for his foal to boot.

In D, E, the harper steals the horse on a wager, which, however, is passed over lightly in D. The wager in E is with two knights of Stirling, five ploughs of land with one and five thousand pounds with the other, and “John” has to go all the way to London to win it. The knights pay their loss and then restore the Wanton Brown to Henry!—so great an improvement upon the dealings of the Scots with English horseflesh as to compel one to assign this particular version of the story to the nineteenth, if not the twentieth, century.[9]

The twelve armed men in armor bright that guard the stable night and day in E 23 remind us of popular tales; as of the Grimms’ ‘Master Thief.’

A b is loosely translated by Knortz, Schottische Balladen, No 16, p. 58.

a. Glenriddell MS. XI, 42, 1791; “from a MS. collection of Mr Henderson.” b. Johnson’s Museum, No 579, VI, 598, 1803, communicated by Burns, c. Scott’s Minstrelsy, 1802, I, 65.

Heard ye eer of the silly blind harper,
That long livd in Lochmaben town,
How he wad gang to fair England,
To steal King Henry’s Wanton Brown?
Sing, Faden dilly and faden dilly
Sing, Faden dilly and deedle dan
But first he gaed to his gude wife,
Wi a’ the speed that he coud thole;
‘This wark,’ quo he, ‘will never work
Without a mare that has a foal.’
Quo she, Thou has a gude gray mare,
That’al rin oer hills baith law and hie;
Gae tak the gray mare in thy hand,
And leave the foal at hame wi me.
‘And tak a halter in thy hose,
And o thy purpose dinna fail;
But wap it oer the Wanton’s nose,
And tie her to the gray mare’s tail.
‘Syne ca her out at yon back geate,
Oer moss and muir and ilka dale;
For she’ll neer let the Wanton bite
Till she come hame to her ain foal.’
So he is up to England gane,
Even as fast as he can hie,
Till he came to King Henry’s geate;
And wha was there but King Henry?
‘Come in,’ quo he, ‘thou silly blind harper,
And of thy harping let me hear;’
‘O, by my sooth,’ quo the silly blind harper,
‘I’d rather hae stabling for my mare.’
The king he looks oer his left shoulder,
And says unto his stable-groom,
18Gae tak the silly poor harper’s mare,
And tie her side my Wanton Brown.
And ay he harpit, and ay he carpit,
Till a’ the lords had fitted the floor;
They thought the music was sae sweet,
And they forgot the stable-door.
And ay he harpit, and ay he carpit,
Till a’ the nobles were sound asleep;
Than quietly he took aff his shoon,
And safly down the stair did creep.
Syne to the stable-door he hies,
Wi tread as light as light coud be,
And when he opned and gaed in,
There he fand thirty gude steads and three.
He took the halter frae his hose,
And of his purpose did na fail;
He slipt it oer the Wanton’s nose,
And tied it to his gray mare’s tail.
He ca’d her out at yon back geate,
Oer moss and muir and ilka dale,
And she loot neer the Wanton bite,
But held her still gaun at her tail.
The gray mare was right swift o fit,
And did na fail to find the way,
For she was at Lochmaben geate
Fu lang three hours ere ’twas day.
When she came to the harper’s door,
There she gave mony a nicher and sneer;
‘Rise,’ quo the wife, ‘thou lazey lass,
Let in thy master and his mare.’
Then up she rose, pat on her claes,
And lookit out through the lock-hole;
‘O, by my sooth,’ then quoth the lass,
‘Our mare has gotten a braw big foal!’
‘Come had thy peace, thou foolish lass,
The moon’s but glancing in thy eye;
I’ll wad my hail fee against a groat,
It’s bigger than eer our foal will be.’
The neighbours too that heard the noise
Cried to the wife to put hir in;
‘By my sooth,’ then quo the wife,
‘She’s better than ever he rade on.’
But on the morn, at fair day light,
When they had ended a’ thier chear,
King Henry’s Wanton Brown was stawn,
And eke the poor old harper’s mare.
‘Allace! allace!’ says the silly blind harper,
‘Allace, allace, that I came here!
In Scotland I’ve tint a braw cowte-foal,
In England they’ve stawn my gude gray mare.’
‘Come had thy tongue, thou silly blind harper,
And of thy allacing let me be;
For thou shalt get a better mare,
And weel paid shall thy cowte-foal be.’
Glenriddell MSS, XI, 39, 1791; “from Dr Clapperton, of Lochmaben.”

Hard ye tell of the silly blind harper?
Long he lived in Lochmaben town;
He’s away to fair Carlisle,
To steal King Henry’s Wanton Brown.
Sing, Fadle didle dodle didle
Sing, Fadle didle fadle doo
He has mounted his auld gray mare,
And ridden oer both hills and mire,
Till he came to fair Carlisle town,
And askd for stabling to his mare.
‘Harp on, harp on, thou silly blind harper,
‘Some of thy harping let us hear;’
‘By my sooth,’ says the silly blind harper,
‘I would rather hae stabling to my mare.’
The king looked oer his left shoulder
And called to his stable-groom:
‘Gae stable up the harper’s mare,
And just beyond the Wanton Brown.’
Ay he carped, and ay he harped,
Till a’ the lords gaed thro the floor;
But and the musick was sae sweet
The groom forgot the key o the stable-door.
Ay he harped, and ay he carped,
Till a’ the lords fell fast asleep,
And, like a fause deceiver as he was,
He quickly down the stair did creep.
He pulld a colt-halter out o his hoe,
On purpose as I shall to you tell;
He sliped it oer the Wanton’s nose,
And tyed it to his gray mare’s tail.
‘My blessing light upon my wife!
I think she be a daily flower;
She told me to ken my ain gray mare
When eer I felt her by the ewer.’
‘Harp on, harp on, thou silly blind harper,
Some of thy harping let us hear:’
‘Oh and alas!’ says the silly blind harper,
‘Oh and alas that eer I came here!
‘For in Scotland I lost a good brown foal,
And in England a good gray mare,
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
‘Harp on, harp on, thou silly blind harper,
Some of thy harping let us hear,
And thy brown foal shall be well payed,
And thou’s hae a far better gray mare.’
Ay he harped, and ay he carped,
And some of his harping he let them hear,
And his brown foal it was well payed,
And he got a better gray mare.
His mare’s away to Lochmaben,
Wi mony a nicker and mony a sneer;
His wife cry’d, Rise up, you lazy lass,
Let in your master and his mare.
The lazy lass was loth to rise;
She looked through a little hole;
‘By my troth,’ crys the lazy lass,
‘Our mare has brought a bonie foal.’
‘Rise up, rise up, thou lazy lass,
And, een as the sun it shines sae clear,
I’ll wager my life against a groat
The foal was better than ever the mare.’
The Edinburgh Topographical, Traditional, and Antiquarian Magazine, 1849, p. 58; communicated by W. G. “from the recitation of a friend, who learned it many years ago from her grandfather,” a farmer in Wigtonshire, who died in 1813, at the age of ninety-four.

It’s hae ye heard tell o the auld harper
That lang lived in Lochmaben town,
How he maun awa to England fair,
To steal King Henry’s Wanton Brown?
Faw aiden diden an diden an diden
Faw aiden diden faw aiden dee
Out then bespak his gude auld wife,
I wat she spak out very wiselie;
‘Ye’ll ride the mear to England fair,
But the foal ye’ll leave at hame wi me.
‘Ye’ll hide your halter in o your hose,
And o your purpose ye’ll no fail;
Ye’ll cast a hook on the Wanton’s nose,
And tie him to the gray mear’s tail.
‘Ye’ll lead them awa by a back yett,
And hound them out at a wee hole;
The mear she’ll neer [let] the Wanton bait
Till hame at Lochmaben town wi her foal.’
Awa then rade the auld harper,
I wat he rade right merrilie,
Until he cam to England fair,
Where wonned the gude King Henerie.
‘Light down, light down, ye auld harper,
And some o your harping let me hear;
‘O williwa!’ quo the auld harper,
Will I get stabling for my mear?’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
And aye he harped and he carped,
Till a’ the lordlings fell asleep;
Syne bundled his fiddles upon his back,
And down the stairs fu fast did creep.
He’s taen the halter out o his hose,
And o his purpose he didna fail;
He’s cast a hook on the Wanton’s nose,
And tied him to the gray mear’s tale.
He’s led them awa by the back yett,
And hounded them out at a wee hole;
The mear she neer let the Wanton bait
Till hame at Lochmaben town wi her foal.
And when they cam to the house-end,
Wi mony a nicker but an a neigh,
They waukend the auld wife out o her sleep;
She was a-dreaming she was fouie.
‘Rise up, rise up, my servant-lass,
Let in your master and his mear;’
‘It’s by my sooth,’ the wee lassie goud say,
‘I’m in a sleeping drowsy air.’
Wi mony a gaunt she turned her round,
And keekit through at a wee hole;
‘It’s by my sooth!’ the wee lassie goud say,
‘Our mear has gotten a braw brown foal!’
‘Lie still, lie still, ye lazy lass,
It’s but the moon shines in your ee;’
‘Na, by my sooth,’ the lassie goud say,
‘And he’s bigger than ony o his degree.’
Then lightly rose the gude auld wife,
I wat the first up in a’ the town;
She took the grit oats intil her lap
And fodderd King Henry’s Wanton Brown.
King Henry’s groom rase in the morn,
And he was of a sorry cheer:
‘King Henry’s Wanton Brown’s awa,
And sae is the silly auld harper’s mear!’
Up then rase the auld harper,
And loudly he did curse and swear:
‘In Scotland they but steald my foal,
In England ye hae steald my mear!’
‘It’s haud your tongue,’ King Henry did say,
‘Ye’ll hae nae cause to curse or swear;
Here’s thirty guineas for your foal,
And three times thirty for your mear.’
Taken down by the Rev George Murray from the singing of Sarah Rae, a weak-minded woman of Balmaclellan, Kirkcudbright, 1866. Communicated by Mr Macmath.

There was a poor silly harper-man,
And he lived in Lochmaben toon,
And he has wagered wi lairds and lords,
And mony a guinea against a croon.
Tum tid iddly
Dodaly diddely
Tidaly diddaly
Dodaly dan
And he has wagered wi lairds and lords,
And mony a guinea against a croon,
That into England he would go,
And steal King Henerie’s Wanton Broun.
Out spak the silly poor harper’s wife,
And O but she spak wililie:
‘If into England you do go,
Leave the wee-wee foal wi me.’
The harper he got on to ride,
And O but he rode richt highlie!
The very first man that he did meet,
They said it was King Henerie.
‘Licht doon, licht doon, ye silly poor harper,
And o your harping let me hear;’
‘And by my sooth,’ quoth the silly poor harper,
‘I’d rather hae stabling for my mear.’
O he lookit ower his left shoulder,
And saw ane of the stable-grooms:
‘Go take the sillie poor harper’s mear,
And stable her by my Wanton Brown.’
And aye he harpit, and aye he carpit,
Till a’ the nobles fell on the floor,
And aye he harpit, and aye he carpit,
Till they forgot the key of the stable-door.
And aye he harpit, and aye he carpit,
Till a’ the nobles fell fast asleep;
He has taen his harp upon his back,
And doon the stair did softly creep.
He has taen a halter frae his hose,
And o his purpose did not fail;
He coost a wap on Wanton’s nose,
And tyed her to his ain mear’s tail.
He ca’d her through at the bye-yett,
Through mony a syre and mony a hole;
She never loot Wanton licht till she
Was at Lochmaben, at her foal.
And she came oer Lochmaben heights,
Wi mony a nicker and mony a sneeze,
And waukend the silly poor harper’s wife,
As she was a sleeping at her ease.
‘Rise up, rise up, ye servant-lass,
Let in the maister and the mear;’
‘By my sooth,’ quoth the servant-lass,
‘I think my maister be na here.’
Up then rose the servant-lass,
And lookit through a wee, wee hole;
‘By my sooth,’ quoth the servant-lass,
‘Our mear has gotten a waly foal.’
‘Ye clatter, ye clatter, ye servant-lass,
It is the moon shines in your ee;’
‘By my sooth,’ quoth the servant-lass,
‘It’s mair than ever her ain will be.’
It’s whan the stable-groom awoke,
Put a’ the nobles in a fear;
King Henerie’s Wanton Brown was stown,
And Oh! the silly poor harper’s mear.
Out then spak the silly poor harper,
Says, Oh, this loss I douna thole!
In England fair a guid grey mear,
In fair Scotland a guid cout-foal.
‘Haud your tongue, ye sillie poor harper,
And wi your carping let me be;
Here’s ten pounds for your auld gray mear,
And a weel paid foal it’s be to thee!’
And O the silly poor harper’s wife,
She’s aye first up in Lochmaben toun;
She’s stealing the corn and stealing the hay,
And wappin it oer to Wanton Broun.
Buchan’s MSS, I, 35; Dixon, Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads, p. 37, Percy Society, vol. xvii.

There was a jolly harper-man,
That harped aye frae toun to toun;
A wager he made, with two knights he laid
To steal King Henry’s Wanton Brown.
Sir Roger he wagered five ploughs o land,
Sir Charles wagered five thousand pound,
And John he’s taen the deed in hand,
To steal King Henry’s Wanton Brown.
He’s taen his harp into his hand,
And he gaed harping thro the toun,
And as the king in his palace sat,
His ear was touched wi the soun.
‘Come in, come in, ye harper-man,
Some o your harping let me hear;’
‘Indeed, my liege, and by your grace,
I’d rather hae stabling to my mare.’
‘Ye’ll gang to yon outer court,
That stands a little below the toun;
Ye’ll find a stable snug and neat,
Where stands my stately Wanton Brown.
He’s down him to the outer court,
That stood a little below the toun;
There found a stable snug and neat,
For stately stood the Wanton Brown.
Then he has fixd a good strong cord
Unto his grey mare’s bridle-rein,
And tied it unto that steed’s tail,
Syne shut the stable-door behin.
Then he harped on, an he carped on,
Till all were fast asleep;
22Then down thro bower and ha he’s gone,
Even on his hands and feet.
He’s to yon stable snug and neat,
That lay a little below the toun;
For there he placed his ain grey mare,
Alang wi Henry’s Wanton Brown.
‘Ye’ll do you down thro mire an moss,
Thro mony bog an lairy hole;
But never miss your Wanton slack;
Ye’ll gang to Mayblane, to your foal.’
As soon’s the door he had unshut,
The mare gaed prancing frae the town,
An at her bridle-rein was tied
Henry’s stately Wanton Brown.
Then she did rin thro mire an moss,
Thro mony bog an miery hole;
But never missed her Wanton slack
Till she reachd Mayblane, to her foal.
When the king awaked from sleep
He to the harper-man did say,
O waken ye, waken ye, jolly John,
We’ve fairly slept till it is day.
‘Win up, win up, ye harper-man,
Some mair o harping ye’ll gie me:’
He said, My liege, wi a’ my heart,
But first my gude grey mare maun see.
Then forth he ran, and in he came,
Dropping mony a feigned tear:
‘Some rogue[s] hae broke the outer court,
An stown awa my gude grey mare.’
‘Then by my sooth,’ the king replied,
‘If there’s been rogues into the toun,
I fear, as well as your grey mare,
Awa is my stately Wanton Brown.’
‘My loss is great,’ the harper said,
‘My loss is twice as great, I fear;
In Scotland I lost a gude grey steed,
An here I’ve lost a gude grey mare.’
‘Come on, come on, ye harper-man,
Some o your music lat me hear;
Well paid ye’se be, John, for the same,
An likewise for your gude grey mare.’
When that John his money received,
Then he went harping frae the toun,
But little did King Henry ken
He’d stown awa his Wanton Brown.
The knights then lay ower castle-wa,
An they beheld baith dale an down,
An saw the jolly harper-man
Come harping on to Striveling toun.
Then, ‘By my sooth,’ Sir Roger said,
‘Are ye returned back to toun?
I doubt my lad ye hae ill sped
Of stealing o the Wanton Brown.’
‘I hae been into fair England,
An even into Lunan toun,
An in King Henry’s outer court,
An stown awa the Wanton Brown.’
‘Ye lie, ye lie,’ Sir Charles he said,
‘An aye sae loud’s I hear ye lie;
Twall armed men, in armour bright,
They guard the stable night and day.’
‘But I did harp them all asleep,
An managed my business cunninglie;
If ye make light o what I say,
Come to my stable an ye’ll see.
‘My music pleasd the king sae well
Mair o my harping he wishd to hear;
An for the same he paid me well,
And also for my gude grey mare.’
Then he drew out a gude lang purse,
Well stored wi gowd an white monie,
An in a short time after this
The Wanton Brown he lat them see.
Sir Roger produced his ploughs o land,
Sir Charles produced his thousand pounds,
Then back to Henry, the English king,
Restored the stately Wanton Brown.
23A. a.

“I have here given another copy of this Border Ballad, which I took from a MS. collection of Mr Henderson. It varies a little from the former [A], which I had from Dr Clapperton of Lochmaben.”

44, 134, 184. The Wanton Brown is a mare: so b, and D, 94. But the Brown is a stallion in C, 34, 84, 134, and is so made to be in A c, 134, 173: rightly, I should suppose.

82. say.

124. to wanting.


The third and fourth lines are repeated as burden.

11. O heard ye of a silly harper.

12. Livd long.

13. he did.

81. he wanting.

92. lords gaed through.

94. That they forgat.

144. ere it.

152. gae.

161. raise.

171. then (misprint) for those.

173. gainst.

213. shall.


No burden.

11. O heard ye na o.

12. How lang he lived.

13. And how.

14. steal the Lord Warden’s.

22. the haste.

23. will neer gae weel.

31. hast.

32. That can baith lance oer laigh.

33. Sae set thee on the gray mare’s back.

4, 5, wanting.

62. And even: he may drie.

63. And when he cam to Carlisle gate.

64. O whae: but the Warden, he.

71. into my hall, thou.

74. I wad.

81. The Warden lookd ower.

82. said.

83. silly blind. 84. beside.

91. Then aye.

92. the lordlings footed.

93. But an the.

94. The groom had nae mind o.

102. were fast.

111 hied.

114. gude wanting.

121. took a cowt halter.

122. he did.

131. He turned them loose at the castle gate.

132. muir and moss.

133. neer let: bait.

134. But kept him a-galloping hame to her foal.

141. The mare she was: foot.

142. She didna.

144. A lang: before the day.

153. Rise up.

161. cloathes.

162. keekit through at the.

163. then cried.

164. braw brown.

171. haud thy tongue, thou silly wench.

172. morn’s: in your ee.

173. He’s.

Now all this while, in merry Carlisle,
The harper harped to hie and law,
And the fiend thing dought they do but listen him to,
Untill that the day began to daw.
193. Behold the Wanton Brown was gane.

194. poor blind.

201. quo the cunning auld.

202. And ever allace.

203. I lost a.

21, 22, alteration of B 11, 12:

Come cease thy allacing, thou silly blind harper,
And again of thy harping let us hear;
And weel payd sall thy cowt-foal be,
And thou sall have a far better mare.
Then aye he harped, and aye he carped,
Sae sweet were the harpings he let them hear!
He was paid for the foal he had never lost,
And three times ower for the gude gray mare.

12. in a Bell town: see 131.

5. The burden is here: Sing, Fadle fidle, etc.


“The following is an oral version of a ballad which appears in the first volume of the ‘Minstrelsy.’ I have written it down from the recitation of a friend who learned it many years ago from her grandfather, a Mr John Macreddie, farmer, Little Laight parish of Inch, Wigtonshire. He died in 1813, at the age of ninety-four, and is supposed to have acquired the song from tradition in his youth. On comparison, it will be found to differ in several respects from Sir Walter’s version. 11 Hill Street, Anderston, Glasgow. W. G.”


32, 42, 61, 181, oh. 101, at, 161, then, added by Mr Murray in pencil above the line, as if on reading over what he had written down.

184. Dr Mitchell gives: An waps. “ The ower-word,” he adds, “was something like the following:”

Hey tum tidly
Doodlem didly
Hey tum tidly
Doodley dan.

22. The reading is perhaps pounds.

72,3. Absurdity could be avoided by exchanging grey mare and steed.

242. by for my.


A. ‘A song of Parcy Reed and the Three False Halls,’ the late Robert White’s papers.

B. ‘The Death of Parcy Reed,’ Richardson’s Borderer’s Table Book, 1846, VII, 361; J. H. Dixon, Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England, p. 99, Percy Society, vol. xvii, 1846.

Of B, which purports to have been taken down from an old woman’s singing by James Telfer, Mr Robert White, from whom I received A, said in a letter to Mr J. H. Dixon: “Parcy Reed, as you suspect, is not genuine, for it bears marks of our friend’s improvements. I have a copy of the original somewhere, but may not be able to find it.” And again, Telfer himself, “in a letter to the late Robert Storey, the Northumbrian poet,” wrote, “I will send Mr Dixon the real verses, but it is but a droll of a ballad.” (J. H. Dixon, in Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, I, 108, V, 520.)

Comparison will show that almost the whole of A is preserved in B, and in fairly good form. B has also some stanzas not found in A which may be accepted as traditional. Telfer may have added a dozen of his own, and has retouched others.

Mr White, after remarking that there is no historical evidence to show when the event on which the ballad was founded occurred, informs us that almost every circumstance in the narrative has been transmitted to the present century by local tradition.

“Percival, or Parcy, Reed,” in the words of Mr White, “was proprietor of Troughend, an elevated tract of land lying on the west side and nearly in the centre of Redesdale, Northumberland. The remains of the old tower may still be seen, a little to the west of the present mansion, commanding a beautiful and most extensive view of nearly the whole valley. Here he resided, and being a keen hunter and brave soldier, he possessed much influence, and was appointed warden or keeper of the district. His office was to suppress and order the apprehension of thieves and other breakers of the law; in the execution of which he incurred the displeasure of a family of brothers of the name of Hall, who were owners of Girsonsfield, a farm about two miles east from Troughend. He also drew upon himself the hostility of a band of moss-troopers, Crosier by name, some of whom he had been successful in bringing to justice. The former were, however, artful enough to conceal their resentment, and under the appearance of friendship calmly awaited an opportunity to be avenged. Some time afterwards, they solicited his attendance on a hunting expedition to the head of Redesdale, and unfortunately he agreed to accompany them. His wife had some strange dreams anent his safety on the night before his departure, and at breakfast, on the following morning, the loaf of bread from which he was supplied chanced to be turned with the bottom upwards, an omen which is still accounted most unfavorable all over the north of England. Considering these presages undeserving of notice, Reed set out in company with the Halls, and, after enjoying a good day’s sport, the party withdrew to a solitary hut in Batinghope, a lonely glen stretching westward from the Whitelee, whose little stream forms one of the chief sources of Reedwater. The whole of this arrangement had been previously planned by the Halls and Crosiers, and when the latter came down, late in the evening, to execute their purpose of vengeance, they found 25Parcy Reed altogether a defenceless man. His companions not only deserted him, but had previously driven his sword so firmly in its scabbard that it could not be drawn, and had also moistened the powder with which the very long gun he carried with him was charged, so as to render both useless when he came to rely upon them for protection. Accordingly the Crosiers instantly put him to death; and so far did they carry out their sanguinary measures, even against his lifeless body, that tradition says the fragments thereof had to be collected together and conveyed in pillow-slips home to Troughend. Public indignation was speedily aroused against the murderers; the very name of Crosier was abhorred throughout Redesdale, and the abettors were both driven from their residence and designated as the fause-hearted Ha’s, an appellation which yet remains in force against them.” (Richardson’s Borderer’s Table Book, VII, 361.)

The farm of Girsonsfield, according to the ballad, A 3, 18, belonged to the Halls. But that place has been the property of others, says Mr White, “ever since the reign of Elizabeth;” whence he concludes that the story is not to be dated later than the sixteenth century.

Parcy Reed is famed to have had a favorite dog named Keeldar, and, though a “peerless archer,” to have killed him by an unlucky shot while hunting. Sir Walter Scott has celebrated this mishap and its consequence in ‘The Death of Keeldar’ (Table Book, as above, p. 240); and he alludes to the treacherous murder of Reed (with which he became acquainted through Robert Roxby’s ‘Lay of the Reedwater Minstrel,’ 1809) in Rokeby, written in 1812, Canto I, xx.

The late Robert White’s papers; “Woodburn, December 1, 1829, Thomas Hedley, Bridge End, Corsonside Parish.”

The Liddesdale Crosiers hae ridden a race,
And they had far better staid at hame,
For they have lost a gallant gay,
Young Whinton Crosier it was his name.
For Parcy Reed he has him taen,
And he’s delivered him to law,
But auld Crosier has made answer
That he’ll gar the house of the Troughend fa.
So as it happened on a day
That Parcy Reed is a hunting gane,
And the three false Halls of Girsonsfield
They all along with him are gane.
They hunted up and they hunted down,
They hunted all Reedwater round,
Till weariness has on him seized;
At the Batinghope he’s fallen asleep.
O some they stole his powder-horn,
And some put water in his lang gun:
‘O waken, waken, Parcy Reed!
For we do doubt thou sleeps too sound.
‘O waken, O waken, Parcy Reed!
For we do doubt thou sleeps too long;
For yonder’s the five Crosiers coming,
They’re coming by the Hingin Stane.
‘If they be five men, we are four,
If ye will all stand true to me;
Now every one of you may take one,
And two of them ye may leave to me.’
‘We will not stay, nor we dare not stay,
O Parcy Reed, for to fight with thee;
For thou wilt find, O Parcy Reed,
That they will slay both us and thee.’
‘O stay, O stay, O Tommy Hall,
O stay, O man, and fight with me!
If we see the Troughend again,
My good black mare I will give thee.’
‘I will not stay, nor I dare not stay,
O Parcy Reed, to fight for thee;
For thou wilt find, O Parcy Reed,
That they will slay both me and thee.’
‘O stay, O stay, O Johnnie Hall,
O stay, O man, and fight for me!
If I see the Troughend again,
Five yoke of oxen I will give thee.’
‘I will not stay, nor I dare not stay,
O Parcy Reed, for to fight with thee;
For thou wilt find, O Parcy Reed,
That they will slay both me and thee.’
‘O stay, O stay, O Willie Hall,
O stay, O man, and fight for me!
If we see the Troughend again,
The half of my land I will give thee.’
‘I will not stay, nor I dare not stay,
O Parcy Reed, for to fight with thee;
For thou wilt find, O Parcy Reed,
That they will slay both me and thee.’
‘Now foul fa ye, ye traitors all,
That ever ye should in England won!
You have left me in a fair field standin,
And in my hand an uncharged gun.
‘O fare thee well, my wedded wife!
O fare you well, my children five!
And fare thee well, my daughter Jane,
That I love best that’s born alive!
‘O fare thee well, my brother Tom!
And fare you well his children five!
If you had been with me this day,
I surely had been man alive.
‘Farewell all friends! as for my foes,
To distant lands may they be tane,
And the three false Halls of Girsonsfield,
They’ll never be trusted nor trowed again.’
Richardsons’ Borderers’ Table Book, VII, 361, 1846; “taken down by James Telfer, of Saughtree, Liddesdale, from the chanting of an old woman named Kitty Hall, a native of Northumberland.”

God send the land deliverance
Frae every reaving, riding Scot;
We’ll sune hae neither cow nor ewe,
We’ll sune hae neither staig nor stot.
The outlaws come frae Liddesdale,
They herry Redesdale far and near;
The rich man’s gelding it maun gang,
They canna pass the puir man’s mear.
Sure it were weel, had ilka thief
Around his neck a halter strang;
And curses heavy may they light
On traitors vile oursels amang.
Now Parcy Reed has Crosier taen,
He has delivered him to the law;
But Crosier says he’ll do waur than that,
He’ll make the tower o Troughend fa.
And Crosier says he will do waur,
He will do waur if waur can be;
He’ll make the bairns a’ fatherless,
And then, the land it may lie lee.
‘To the hunting, ho!’ cried Parcy Reed,
‘The morning sun is on the dew;
The cauler breeze frae off the fells
Will lead the dogs to the quarry true.
‘To the hunting, ho!’ cried Parcy Reed,
And to the hunting he has gane;
And the three fause Ha’s o Girsonsfield
Alang wi him he has them taen.
They hunted high, they hunted low,
By heathery hill and birken shaw;
They raised a buck on Rooken Edge,
And blew the mort at fair Ealylawe.
They hunted high, they hunted low,
They made the echoes ring amain;
With music sweet o horn and hound,
They merry made fair Redesdale glen.
They hunted high, they hunted low,
They hunted up, they hunted down,
Until the day was past the prime,
And it grew late in the afternoon.
They hunted high in Batinghope,
When as the sun was sinking low;
Says Parcy then, Ca off the dogs,
We’ll bait our steeds and homeward go.
They lighted high in Batinghope,
Atween the brown and benty ground;
They had but rested a little while
Till Parcy Reed was sleeping sound.
There’s nane may lean on a rotten staff,
But him that risks to get a fa;
There’s nane may in a traitor trust,
And traitors black were every Ha.
They’ve stown the bridle off his steed,
And they’ve put water in his lang gun;
They’ve fixed his sword within the sheath
That out again it winna come.
‘Awaken ye, waken ye, Parcy Reed,
Or by your enemies be taen;
For yonder are the five Crosiers
A-coming owre the Hingin-stane.’
‘If they be five, and we be four,
Sae that ye stand alang wi me,
Then every man ye will take one,
And only leave but two to me:
We will them meet as brave men ought,
And make them either fight or flee.’
‘We mayna stand, we canna stand,
We daurna stand alang wi thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they wad kill baith thee and we.’
‘O turn thee, turn thee, Johnie Ha,
O turn thee, man, and fight wi me;
When ye come to Troughend again,
My gude black naig I will gie thee;
He cost full twenty pound o gowd,
Atween my brother John and me.’
‘I mayna turn, I canna turn,
I daurna turn and fight wi thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they wad kill baith thee and me’
‘O turn thee, turn thee, Willie Ha,
O turn thee, man, and fight wi me;
When ye come to Troughend again,
A yoke o owsen I’ll gie thee.’
‘I mayna turn, I canna turn,
I daurna turn and fight wi thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they wad kill baith thee and me.’
‘O turn thee, turn thee, Tommy Ha,
O turn now, man, and fight wi me;
If ever we come to Troughend again,
My daughter Jean I’ll gie to thee.’
‘I mayna turn, I canna turn,
I daurna turn and fight wi thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they wad kill baith thee and me.’
‘O shame upon ye, traitors a’!
I wish your hames ye may never see;
Ye’ve stown the bridle off my naig,
And I can neither fight nor flee.
‘Ye’ve stown the bridle off my naig,
And ye’ve put water i my lang gun;
Ye’ve fixed my sword within the sheath
That out again it winna come.’
He had but time to cross himsel,
A prayer he hadna time to say,
Till round him came the Crosiers keen,
All riding graithed and in array.
‘Weel met, weel met, now, Parcy Reed,
Thou art the very man we sought;
Owre lang hae we been in your debt,
Now will we pay you as we ought.
‘We’ll pay thee at the nearest tree,
Where we shall hang thee like a hound;’
Brave Parcy raisd his fankit sword,
And felld the foremost to the ground.
Alake, and wae for Parcy Reed,
Alake, he was an unarmed man;
Four weapons pierced him all at once,
As they assailed him there and than.
They fell upon him all at once,
They mangled him most cruellie;
The slightest wound might caused his deid,
And they hae gien him thirty-three;
They hacket off his hands and feet,
And left him lying on the lee.
‘Now, Parcy Reed, we’ve paid our debt,
Ye canna weel dispute the tale,’
The Crosiers said, and off they rade;
They rade the airt o Liddesdale.
It was the hour o gloaming gray,
When herds come in frae fauld and pen;
A herd he saw a huntsman lie,
Says he, Can this be Laird Troughen?
‘There’s some will ca me Parcy Reed,
And some will ca me Laird Troughen;
It’s little matter what they ca me,
My faes hae made me ill to ken.
‘There’s some will ca me Parcy Reed,
And speak my praise in tower and town;
It’s little matter what they do now,
My life-blood rudds the heather brown.
‘There’s some will ca me Parcy Reed,
And a’ my virtues say and sing;
I would much rather have just now
A draught o water frae the spring.’
The herd flung aff his clouted shoon
And to the nearest fountain ran;
He made his bonnet serve a cup,
And wan the blessing o the dying man.
‘Now, honest herd, ye maun do mair,
Ye maun do mair, as I you tell;
Ye maun bear tidings to Troughend,
And bear likewise my last farewell.
‘A farewell to my wedded wife,
A farewell to my brother John,
Wha sits into the Troughend tower
Wi heart as black as any stone.
‘A farewell to my daughter Jean,
A farewell to my young sons five;
Had they been at their father’s hand,
I had this night been man alive.
‘A farewell to my followers a’,
And a’ my neighbours gude at need;
Bid them think how the treacherous Ha’s
Betrayed the life o Parcy Reed.
‘The laird o Clennel bears my bow,
The laird o Brandon bears my brand;
Wheneer they ride i the Border-side,
They’ll mind the fate o the laird Troughend.’

101, 121, 141, or for nor; cf. 81.

122. “O Parcy Reed, etc. (same as stanza 8, save at end, thee and me).” The same abridgment and remark at 102, 142, but the last words are there given as me and thee. Uniformity is to be expected.

161. fare thou: cf. 163, 171.


A. ‘The Laird of Waristoun,’ Jamieson’s Popular Ballads, I, 109.

B. ‘Laird of Wariestoun,’ Kinloch MSS, VII, 217; Kinloch’s Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 49.

C. ‘Death of Lord Warriston,’ Buchan’s Ballads of the North of Scotland, I, 56.

Birrell’s Diary, under the date of July 2, 1600, has the following entry: “John Kinland [Kincaid] of Waristone murderit be hes awin wyff and servant-man, and the nurische being also upone the conspiracy. The said gentilwoman being apprehendit, scho was tane to the Girth Crosse upon the 5 day of Julii, and her heid struck fra her bodie at the Can-nagait 29fit; quha diet verie patiently. Her nurische was brunt at the same tyme, at 4 houres in the morneing, the 5 of Julii.” P. 49.

Both husband and wife belonged to houses of some note. The wife, Jean Livingston, was a daughter of John Livingston of Dunipace, “and related to many of the first families in Scotland.”

Nothing seems to have been done to keep the murder from divulging. Warriston being only about a mile from Edinburgh, information very soon reached the authorities of justice, and those who were found in the house, the mistress, the nurse, and two female servants, were arrested. The crime was committed on Tuesday morning, not long after midnight. On Thursday such trial as there was took place, and it may have occupied three hours, probably less. At three o’clock on Saturday morning sentence was executed. This had been burning (i. e. after strangling), both for the principal and her accomplice, the nurse; but for the well-born woman, no doubt through the influence of her kindred, it was commuted to beheading. The servant-man who did the handiwork fled, but the penalty for undue devotion to his former master’s daughter overtook him within four years. He was broken on a cart-wheel with a plough-coulter.

The judicial records in the case of Jean Livingston are lost, but the process of the murder and the provocation are known from a register of the trial of Robert Weir, the actual perpetrator, and partly also from Jean Livingston’s own relation. Jean Livingston, having conceived a deadly hatred and malice against her husband, John Kincaid, “for the alleged biting of her in the arm and striking her divers times,” sent word by her nurse, Janet Murdo, to Robert Weir, formerly servant to her father, to come to Wariston to speak with her concerning the murdering of him. The nurse, who, we may safely suppose, had been the witness of Kincaid’s brutal behavior, was no unwilling agent. “She helped me too well in mine evil purpose,” says her mistress; “for when I told her what I was minded to do, she consented to the doing of it, and … when I sent her to seek the man who would do it, she said, I shall go and seek him, and if I get him not, I shall seek another; and if I get none, I shall do it myself.” This the nurse confessed. The other two women knew nothing of the deed before it was done; “and that which they knew,” says the mistress again, “they durst not tell for fear, for I had compelled them to dissemble.” Robert Weir, having given consent, was put in a cellar, where he stayed till midnight, about which time he came up and went to Kincaid’s chamber. Kincaid, who had waked with the “din,” and was leaning over the side of his bed, was knocked to the floor by a blow in the neck, kicked in the belly, and then throttled. “As soon as that man gripped him and began his evil turn,” says the wife, “so soon as my husband cried so fearfully, I leapt outover my bed and went to the hall, where I sat all the time till that unhappy man came to me and reported that mine husband was dead.” She desired Weir, she says, to take her away with him, for she feared trial, albeit flesh and blood made her think that her father’s interest at court would have saved her (this may have been an after-thought). But Weir refused, saying, You shall tarry still, and if this matter come not to light, you shall say he died in the gallery, and I shall return to my master’s service. But if it be known, I shall fly and take the crime on me, and none dare pursue you.

A benevolent minister, who visited Jean Livingston in prison about ten o’clock on Thursday, the third day after the murder, found her “raging in a senseless fury, disdainfully taunting every word of grace that was spoken to her, impatiently tearing her hair, sometimes running up and down the house like one possessed, sometimes throwing herself on the bed and sprawling, refusing all comfort by word, and, when the book of God was brought to her, flinging it upon the walls, twice or thrice, most unreverently.” His warnings of wrath to come and his exhortations to seek mercy through repentance were treated as “trittle, trattle,” and she stubbornly refused to pray for herself, or to take part in his prayer, or to say so much as God 30help me. He told her that she was promising herself impunity, but within a few hours, when she should have the sentence of death pronounced against her, the pride of her heart would be broken. The trial and sentence followed hard upon this, and when the minister returned, some time in the afternoon, he found a visible and apparent grace beginning in her. He remained with her till after midnight, and when he left her, Jean Livingston could say that she felt in her heart a free remission of all her sins. This worthy man came to the prison again early the next morning, and found God’s grace wonderfully augmented in her. She was full of joy and courage. Those that stood about her said they never saw her so amiable or well-favored. The glory of God was shining both without and within her.

To follow no further this astounding chapter in psychology, this bairn of twenty-one years,[10] with whom the Lord began to work in mercy upon Thursday at two hours in the afternoon, gave up her soul to him in peace upon the Saturday following at three hours in the morning. “When she came to the scaffold and was carried up upon it, she looked up to the Maiden with two longsome looks,” but her serenity was not disturbed. She made a confession at each of the four corners of the scaffold, took “good night” cheerfully of all her friends, kissing them, and then, “as a constant saint of God, humbled herself on her knees and offered her neck to the axe.”[11]

It may be gathered from Weir’s indictment that it was the ill treatment which she had received from her husband that incited the wife to the murder. Two of the ballads, A 4, B 2, make the same representation. An epitaph on Jean Livingston gives us to understand that both parties were very young, and were married aganst their will (invita invito subjuncta puella puello): whence perpetual disagreements (nihil in thalamo nisi rixæ, jurgia, lites).

In A, B, the strangling is done by the nurse and her lady, Man’s Enemy personally knotting the tether in A; in C it is done by the nurse alone. In B 8 the great Dunipace, in his anger at hearing what his daughter has done, cries out for her to be put in a barrel of pikes[12] and rolled down some lea. In C the father, mother, and brother come to see Jean, and would fain give everything to borrow her. This is a by much too flattering account of the behavior of her relatives, who were principally anxious to have her got out of the world with as little éclat as might be. None of them came near her in prison, though Wariston’s brother did. C makes Wariston’s mortal offence not the throwing a plate at her face (A) or striking her on the mouth (B), but the taxing her with a bairn by another man.[13] The unfriendly relations of the pair must have been notorious. In the prison the wife “purged herself very sincerely from many scandalous things she had been bruited with. Not that she would excuse herself that she was a sinner in the highest rank, but that she might clear herself from these false reports that her house was charged with:” Memorial, p. XXVII.

Jamieson’s Popular Ballads, I, 109, as taken down by Sir Walter Scott from the recitation of his mother.

Down by yon garden green
Sae merrily as she gaes;
She has twa weel-made feet,
And she trips upon her taes.
She has twa weel-made feet,
Far better is her hand;
She’s as jimp in the middle
As ony willow-wand.
‘Gif ye will do my bidding,
At my bidding for to be,
It’s I will make you lady
Of a’ the lands you see.’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
He spak a word in jest;
Her answer wasna good;
He threw a plate at her face,
Made it a’ gush out o blood.
She wasna frae her chamber
A step but barely three,
When up and at her richt hand
There stood Man’s Enemy.
‘Gif ye will do my bidding,
At my bidding for to be,
I’ll learn you a wile
Avenged for to be.’
The Foul Thief knotted the tether,
She lifted his head on hie,
The nourice drew the knot
That gard lord Waristoun die.
Then word is gane to Leith,
Also to Edinburgh town,
That the lady had killd the laird,
The laird o Waristoun.
  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘Tak aff, tak aff my hood,
But lat my petticoat be;
Put my mantle oer my head,
For the fire I downa see.
‘Now, a’ ye gentle maids,
Tak warning now by me,
And never marry ane
But wha pleases your ee.
‘For he married me for love,
But I married him for fee;
And sae brak out the feud
That gard my dearie die.’
Kinloch MSS, VII, 217; from the recitation of Jenny Watson.

It was at dinner as they sat,
And whan they drank the wine,
How happy war the laird and lady
Of bonnie Wariston!
The lady spak but ae word,
The matter to conclude;
The laird strak her on the mouth,
Till she spat out o blude.
She did not know the way
Her mind to satisfy,
Till evil cam into [her] head
All by the Enemy.
  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘At evening when ye sit,
And whan ye drink the wine,
See that ye fill the glass weill up
To the laird o Wariston.’
So at table whan they sat,
And whan they drank the wine,
She made the glass aft gae round
To the laird o Wariston.
The nurice she knet the knot,
And O she knet it sicker!
The lady did gie it a twig,
Till it began to wicker.
But word’s gane doun to Leith,
And up to Embro toun,
That the lady she has slain the laird,
The laird o Waristoun.
Word has gane to her father, the grit Dunipace,
And an angry man was he;
Cries, Gar mak a barrel o pikes,
And row her down some lea!
She said, Wae be to ye, Wariston,
I wish ye may sink for sin!
For I have been your wife
These nine years, running ten;
And I never loved ye sae well
As now whan ye’re lying slain.
‘But tak aff this gowd brocade,
And let my petticoat stay,
And tie a handkerchief round my face,
That the people may not see.’
Buchan’s Ballads of the North of Scotland, I, 56.

‘My mother was an ill woman,
In fifteen years she married me;
I hadna wit to guide a man,
Alas! ill counsel guided me.
‘O Warriston, O Warriston,
I wish that ye may sink for sin!
I was but bare fifteen years auld,
Whan first I enterd your yates within.
‘I hadna been a month married,
Till my gude lord went to the sea;
I bare a bairn ere he came hame,
And set it on the nourice knee.
‘But it fell ance upon a day,
That my gude lord returnd from sea;
Then I did dress in the best array,
As blythe as ony bird on tree.
‘I took my young son in my arms,
Likewise my nourice me forebye,
And I went down to yon shore-side,
My gude lord’s vessel I might spy.
‘My lord he stood upon the deck,
I wyte he haild me courteouslie:
Ye are thrice welcome, my lady gay,
Whae’s aught that bairn on your knee?’
She turnd her right and round about,
Says, ‘Why take ye sic dreads o me?
Alas! I was too young married,
To love another man but thee.’
‘Now hold your tongue, my lady gay,
Nae mair falsehoods ye’ll tell to me;
This bonny bairn is not mine,
You’ve loved another while I was on sea.’
In discontent then hame she went,
And aye the tear did blin her ee;
Says, Of this wretch I’ll be revenged
For these harsh words he’s said to me.
She’s counselld wi her father’s steward
What way she coud revenged be;
Bad was the counsel then he gave,
It was to gar her gude lord dee.
The nourice took the deed in hand,
I wat she was well paid her fee;
She kiest the knot, and the loop she ran,
Which soon did gar this young lord dee.
His brother lay in a room hard by,
Alas! that night he slept too soun;
But then he wakend wi a cry,
‘I fear my brother’s putten down.
‘O get me coal and candle light,
And get me some gude companie;’
But before the light was brought,
Warriston he was gart dee.
They’ve taen the lady and fause nourice,
In prison strong they hae them boun;
The nourice she was hard o heart,
But the bonny lady fell in swoon.
In it came her brother dear,
And aye a sorry man was he:
33‘I woud gie a’ the lands I heir,
O bonny Jean, to borrow thee.’
‘O borrow me, brother, borrow me?
O borrowd shall I never be;
For I gart kill my ain gude lord,
And life is nae pleasure to me.’
In it came her mother dear,
I wyte a sorry woman was she:
‘I woud gie my white monie and gowd,
O bonny Jean, to borrow thee.’
‘Borrow me, mother, borrow me?
O borrowd shall I never be;
For I gart kill my ain gude lord,
And life’s now nae pleasure to me,’
Then in it came her father dear,
I wyte a sorry man was he;
Says, ‘Ohon, alas! my bonny Jean,
If I had you at hame wi me!
‘Seven daughters I hae left at hame,
As fair women as fair can be;
But I would gie them ane by ane,
O bonny Jean, to borrow thee.’
‘O borrow me, father, borrow me?
O borrowd shall I never be;
I that is worthy o the death,
It is but right that I shoud dee.’
Then out it speaks the king himsell,
And aye as he steps in the fleer;
Says, ‘I grant you your life, lady,
Because you are of tender year.’
‘A boon, a boon, my liege the king,
The boon I ask, ye’ll grant to me;’
‘Ask on, ask on, my bonny Jean,
Whateer ye ask it’s granted be.’
‘Cause take me out at night, at night,
Lat not the sun upon me shine,
And take me to yon heading-hill,
Strike aff this dowie head o mine.
‘Ye’ll take me out at night, at night,
When there are nane to gaze and see,
And hae me to yon heading-hill,
And ye’ll gar head me speedilie.’
They’ve taen her out at nine at night,
Loot not the sun upon her shine,
And had her to yon heading-hill,
And headed her baith neat and fine.
Then out it speaks the king himsell,
I wyte a sorry man was he:
‘I’ve travelld east, I’ve travelld west,
And sailed far beyond the sea,
But I never saw a woman’s face
I was sae sorry to see dee.
‘But Warriston was sair to blame,
For slighting o his lady so;
He had the wyte o his ain death,
And bonny lady’s overthrow.’

4. The MS indicates that this is the nurse’s speech.

51. whan struck out, as written over.

8. has struck out, ‘s substituted.

102. stay struck out, be substituted.

103. Originally handkerchief; hand struck out.

Kinloch has made several changes in printing:

71. has gane.

83. Fy! gar.

84. some brae.

93. gud wife. He gives as in 51; be in 102; handkerchief in 103.


64. Whase. Perhaps, Wha’s rather than Whae’s.


A. ‘Lord Maxwell’s Last Goodnight,’ communicated to Percy by G. Paton, 1778.

B. ‘Lord Maxwell’s Goodnight,’ Glenriddell MSS, XI, 18, 1791, Scott’s Minstrelsy, I, 194, 1802; II, 133, 1833.

First published in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, “from a copy in Glenriddell’s MS., with some slight variations from tradition.” I understand this to mean, not that the variations were derived from tradition, but that the text of the Minstrelsy departs somewhat from that of the manuscript.

A and B agree entirely as to matter. The order of the stanzas, not being governed by an explicit story, might be expected to vary with every reciter.

In the year 1585, John, Lord Maxwell, having incurred the enmity of the king’s favorite, the Earl of Arran, was denounced rebel, on such charges as were always at hand, and a commission was given to the Laird of Johnstone to pursue and take him. A hired force, by the aid of which this was expected to be done, was badly routed by the Maxwells in a sharp fight. Johnstone made a raid on Maxwell’s lands; Maxwell burnt Johnstone’s house. Finally, in one of their skirmishes, Johnstone was captured: “the grief of this overthrow gave Johnstone, shortly after he was liberated, his death.”

After some years of feud, the two chiefs, “by the industry of certain wise gentlemen of the Johnstones,” surprised all Scotland by making a treaty of peace. On April 1, 1592, they entered into a bond to forget and forgive all rancor and malice of the past, and to live in amity, themselves and their friends, in all time coming. A little more than a year after, a party of Johnstones, relying, no doubt, on the forbearance of their new ally, then warden of the West Marches, “rode a stealing” in the lands of Lord Sanquhar and of the knights of Drumlanrig, Lag, and Closeburn, carried off a large booty, and killed eighteen men who endeavored to retrieve their property. (See No 184, ‘The Lads of Wamphray.’) The injured gentlemen made complaint to Maxwell as warden, and also procured a commission directing him to proceed against the Johnstones. Maxwell was in an awkward plight. To induce him to take action, several of the sufferers engaged to enter into a bond of manrent, or homage, to Maxwell, by which they should be obliged to service and he to protection. “Maxwell, thinking this to be a good occasion for bringing all Nithsdale to depend upon him, embraced the offer.” But this bond, through negligence, came to the hands of Johnstone, who, seeing what turn matters would take, made a league with Scotts, Eliots, and others, and in a battle at Dryfe Sands, by superior strategy, defeated Maxwell, though the warden had much larger numbers. This was in December, 1593. “The Lord Maxwell, a tall man and heavy in armor, was in the chase overtaken and stricken from his horse. The report went that he called to Johnstone and desired to be taken as he had sometime taken his father, but was unmercifully used, and the hand that he reached forth cut off. But of this,” says Spotiswood, “I can affirm nothing. There always the Lord Maxwell fell, having received many wounds.” Drumlanrig, Closeburn, and other of the Nithsdale lairds of Maxwell’s faction, barely escaped with their lives.

Sir James Johnstone soon made his peace with the king, whose warden had been slain while acting under royal authority. The heir 35of the slain warden, John, the ninth Lord Maxwell, is said to have been only eight years old at the time of his father’s death.[14] If this was so, he became very early of age for all purposes of offence. The two clans kept up a bloody and destructive private war. Both chiefs were imprisoned and proclaimed rebel or traitor; Maxwell twice, first in 1601, as favoring popery, and again in 1607, for his extravagant turbulence; and in each case he made his own escape, the second time by the use of violence. At length, influenced perhaps by a conviction that his defiance of the law had gone too far for his safety, Maxwell seemed to be seriously disposed to reconcile himself with his inveterate enemy.[15] Sir James Johnstone, as it happened, had already asked Sir Robert Maxwell, who was his brother-in-law and cousin to Lord Maxwell, to speak to his kinsman with that view. Sir Robert had no wish to meddle, for his cousin, he said, was a dangerous man to have to do with. Lord John, however, spontaneously sent for Sir Robert, and said to him, You see my estate and the danger I stand in. I would crave your counsel as a man that tenders my weal. The result of much conference and writing (in which Sir Robert Maxwell, evidently feeling imperfect confidence in his cousin, acted with great caution) was that Lord Maxwell proposed a tryst with Sir James Johnstone, each of them to be accompanied by one person only, and no others to be present except Sir Robert, and faithfully promised, with his hands between Sir Robert’s hands, that neither he nor the man he should bring with him should do any wrong, “whether they agreed or not.” Johnstone accepted the terms and made corresponding promises. The meeting came off the 6th of April, 1608. Johnstone brought Willie Johnstone with him, and Maxwell Charlie Maxwell, a man that Sir Robert strongly disapproved, but his chief undertook to be answerable for him. Sir Robert required the same guaranty on the part of Johnstone for his follower, and these men were ordered to keep away from one another. The two principals and their mediator between them rode off, with their backs to their men, and began their parley. Looking round, Sir Robert saw that Charlie Maxwell had left his appointed place and gone to Willie Johnstone, at whom, after some words between them, he fired a pistol. Sir Robert cried to Lord Maxwell, Fie, make not yourself a traitor and me both! Lord Maxwell replied, I am blameless. Sir James Johnstone slipped away to see to his follower’s safety. Lord Maxwell followed Sir James, shot him in the back, and rode off.[16]

Lord Maxwell fled the country, but was tried in his absence and sentenced to death, with forfeiture of his estates. He came back to Scotland after four years, was basely betrayed into the power of the government by a kinsman, and was beheaded at Edinburgh May 21, 1613.[17]

“Thus was finally ended,” remarks Sir Walter Scott, “by a salutary example of severity, the ‘foul debate’ betwixt the Maxwells and Johnstones, in the course of which each family lost two chieftains: one dying of a broken heart, one in the field of battle, one by assassination, and one by the sword of the executioner.”

A 1, 2, and passim. The very affectionate relations of Lord Maxwell and his ‘lady and 36only joy,’ are a fiction of the ballad-maker. His wife was daughter of the first Marquis of Hamilton. Maxwell instituted a process of divorce against her, and she died while this was pending, before he fled the country in 1608. By his treatment of his wife he made her brother, the second marquis, and the Hamiltons generally, his enemies.[18]

5, 6. Carlaverock castle had from far back belonged to the Maxwells, and is theirs still. They had a house, or castle, at Dumfries, and the custody of the “houses” of Lochmaben, Langholm, and Thrieve.

9, 10. Douglas of Drumlanrig, Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, and Grierson of Lag fled in the sauve qui peut of Dryfe Sands, and the partisans of Lord Maxwell, who there lost his life, would naturally describe them as deserting their chief. They (or two of them) had entered into a “band” with Maxwell, as aforesaid. The ballad-maker seems to intimate that they were in a band with each other, or with somebody, to betray Maxwell.

11, and B 1. ‘Robin in the Orchet,’ ‘Robert of Oarchyardtoan,’ is properly Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardton, Lord John’s cousin, but it is evident, from the conjunction of mother and sisters, that the person here intended is his brother Robert, to whom, some years after the execution and forfeiture of Lord John, the estates were restored.

14. Maxwell’s wife, as said above, was no longer living. The “offers” which he made, to save his life, contain a proposal that he should marry the slain Sir James Johnstone’s daughter, without any dowry.

“Goodnight” is to be taken loosely as a farewell. Other cases are ‘John Armstrong’s last Goodnight,’ and the well-known beautiful fragment (?) of two stanzas called ‘Armstrong’s Goodnight;’ again, Essex’s last Goodnight, to the tune of The King’s last Goodnight, Chappell, Roxburghe Ballads, I, 570, and Popular Music, p. 174. The Earl of Derby sings a Goodnight (though the name is not used) in ‘Flodden Field,’ No 168, III, 356, stanzas 36–58. Justice Shallow sang those tunes that he heard the carmen whistle, and sware they were his Fancies, or his Good-nights: Second Part of Henry IV, III, 2. Lord Byron, in the preface to Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, says “the good-night in the beginning of the first canto was suggested by Lord Maxwell’s Goodnight in the Border Minstrelsy.”

Communicated to Percy by G. Paton, Edinburgh, December 4, 1778.

‘Good lord of the land, will you stay thane
About my faither’s house,
And walk into these gardines green,
In my arms I’ll the embraice.
‘Ten thousand times I’ll kiss thy face;
Make sport, and let’s be mery:’
‘I thank you, lady, fore your kindness;
Trust me, I may not stay with the.
3 ‘For I have kil’d the laird Johnston;
I vallow not the feed;
My wiked heart did still incline;
He was my faither’s dead.
‘Both night and day I did proced,
And a’ on him revainged to be;
But now have I gotten what I long sowght,
Trust me, I may not stay with the.
‘Adue, Dumfriese, that proper place!
Fair well, Carlaurike faire!
37Adue the castle of the Trive,
And all my biddings there!
‘Adue, Lochmaben gaits so faire,
And the Langhm shank, where birks bobs bony!
Adue, my leady and only joy!
Trust me, I may not stay with the.
‘Adue, fair Eskdale, up and doun,
Wher my poor frends do duell!
The bangisters will beat them doun,
And will them sore compell.
‘I’ll reveinge the cause mysell,
Again when I come over the sea;
Adue, my leady and only joy!
Fore, trust me, I may not stay with the.
‘Adue, Dumlanark! fals was ay,
And Closburn! in a band;
The laird of the Lag from my faither fled
When the Jhohnstones struek of his hand.
‘They wer three brethren in a band;
I pray they may never be merry;
Adue, my leady and only joy!
Trust me, I may not stay with the.
‘Adue, madam my mother dear,
But and my sister[s] two!
Fair well, Robin in the Orchet!
Fore the my heart is wo.
‘Adue, the lillie, and fair well, rose,
And the primros, spreads fair and bony!
Adue, my leady and only joy!
Fore, trust me, I may not stay with the.’
He took out a good gold ring,
Where at hang sygnets three:
‘Take thou that, my own kind thing,
And ay have mind of me.
‘Do not mary another lord
Agan or I come over the sea;
Adue, my leady and only joy!
For, trust me, I may not stay with the.’
The wind was fair, and the ship was clare,
And the good lord went away;
The most part of his frends was there,
Giving him a fair convoy.
They drank the wine, they did not spare,
Presentting in that good lord’s sight;
Now he is over the floods so gray;
Lord Maxwell has te’n his last good-night.
Glenriddell MSS, XI, 18. 1791.
‘Adiew, madam my mother dear,
But and my sisters two!
Adiew, fair Robert of Oarchyardtoan!
For thee my heart is woe.
‘Adiew, the lilly and the rose,
The primrose, sweet to see!
Adiew, my lady and only joy!
For I manna stay with thee.
‘Tho I have killed the laird Johnston,
What care I for his feed?
My noble mind dis still incline;
He was my father’s dead.
‘Both night and day I laboured oft
Of him revenged to be,
And now I’ve got what I long sought;
But I manna stay with thee.
‘Adiew, Drumlanrig! false was ay,
And Cloesburn! in a band,
Where the laird of Lagg fra my father fled
When the Johnston struck off his hand.
‘They were three brethren in a band;
Joy may they never see!
But now I’ve got what I long sought,
And I maunna stay with thee.
‘Adiew, Dumfries, my proper place,
But and Carlaverock fair,
Adiew, the castle of the Thrieve,
And all my buildings there!
‘Adiew, Lochmaben’s gates so fair,
The Langholm shank, where birks they be!
38Adiew, my lady and only joy!
And, trust me, I maunna stay with thee.
‘Adiew, fair Eskdale, up and down,
Where my poor friends do dwell!
The bangisters will ding them down,
And will them sore compel.
‘But I’ll revenge that feed mysell
When I come ou’r the sea;
Adiew, my lady and only joy!
For I maunna stay with thee.’
‘Lord of the land, will you go then
Unto my father’s place,
And walk into their gardens green,
And I will you embrace.
‘Ten thousand times I’ll kiss your face,
And sport, and make you merry;’
‘I thank thee, my lady, for thy kindness,
But, trust me, I maunna stay with thee.’
Then he took off a great gold ring,
Where at hang signets three:
‘Hae, take thee that, my ain dear thing,
And still hae mind of me.
‘But if thow marry another lord
Ere I come ou’r the sea—
Adiew, my lady and only joy!
For I maunna stay with thee.’
The wind was fair, the ship was close,
That good lord went away,
And most part of his friends were there,
To give him a fair convay.
They drank thair wine, they did not spare,
Even in the good lord’s sight;
Now he is oer the floods so gray,
And Lord Maxwell has taen his good-night.

12. faither’s place? So B.

42. And a’ to be revainged on him. Cf. B.

52. Fair well the Lanríke faires. (?)

94. struet. (?)

He took out a good gold ring [where it hang, partly erased.]
Where it hang signets three.

Written in stanzas of eight lines.

41. labourod.

The variations of the Minstrelsy, being editorial, do not require to be recorded, but some of them have a certain interest.

12. sisters three.

14. My heart is wae for thee.

33. mind their wrath disdains.

Their treacherous art and cowardly heart
Has twin’d my love and me.
Lord of the land, that ladye said,
O wad ye go wi me
Unto my brother’s stately tower,
Where safest ye may be!
There Hamiltons and Douglas baith
Shall rise to succour thee.
143. His life is but a three days’ lease.

151. was clear, as in A.


A. a. ‘The Fire of Frendraught,’ Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, p. 161, 1827. b. ‘Burning of Frendraught,’ Maidment’s North Countrie Garland, p. 4, 1824.

B. ‘The Burning of Frendraught,’ Kinloch MSS, V, 399.

C. ‘The Fire of Frendraught,’ from a note-book of Dr Joseph Robertson’s.

D. Ritson’s Scotish Songs, II, 35, 1794.

E. Kinloch MSS, VI, 27, one stanza.

A a was communicated to Motherwell by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe. (Corrections have here been adopted from Motherwell’s Errata: see also the Musical Museum, 1853, IV, 322*.) A b, says Motherwell, has the “disadvantage of containing a very considerable number of slight verbal and literal inaccuracies.” The implication is, or should be, that these variations are of editorial origin. Some of the readings of b are in themselves better than those of a. b is repeated in Buchan’s Gleanings, p. 165. The copy in Maidment’s Scotish Ballads, 1868, I, 267, is a with a reading or two from b, arbitrary alterations, and some misprints.

Dr Joseph Robertson has, in one of his notebooks, “Adversaria,” p. 63, the two following stanzas, given him by a gentleman of Buchan as belonging to “The Burning of Frendraught House.”

‘Will ye play at the cards, Lord John?
Will ye drink at the wine?
Or will ye [gang] to a weel made bed,
And sleep till it be time?’
‘I’ll no play at the cards, ladie,
I’ll no drink at the wine;
But I’ll gang to a weel made bed,
An sleep till it be time.’
Undoubtedly these stanzas may have occurred in a version of this ballad, but they are a commonplace, and sometimes an intrusive one. See II, 109, ‘Fair Janet,’ F 4, 5; 154, ‘Young Hunting,’ K 8, 9; 164, ‘Clerk Saunders,’ F, 5, 6; 409, ‘Willie o Douglas Dale,’ B 20.

The modern, and extremely vapid, ballad of ‘Frennet Hall’ appeared originally (I suppose) in Herd’s Scottish Songs, 1776, I, 142, and was afterwards received into Ritson’s Scotish Songs, II, 31, The Musical Museum, No 286, etc.

James Crichton of Frendraught and William Gordon of Rothiemay (a neighboring estate[19]) had a fierce quarrel about fishing-rights pertaining to lands which Gordon had sold to Crichton. A legal decision was rendered in favor of Frendraught, who, however, pursued his adversary with excessive vigor and procured him to be outlawed. After this, Rothiemay would hear to no terms of peace, and collected a party of loose fellows with the intent to waste Frendraught’s lands. Frendraught obtained a commission to arrest Rothiemay, and on the first day of the year 1630 set out to put this in force, accompanied, among others, by his uncle (George Gordon) James Leslie, son of the laird of Pitcaple, and John Meldrum, who was married to young Leslie’s aunt. Rothiemay, hearing of Frendraught’s coming, rode out to meet him, and there was a fight, in which Rothiemay and George Gordon were mortally 40wounded, and Meldrum badly. The feud waxed hot, and Frendraught’s lands were in danger of being burned and ravaged by Highlanders, with whom John Gordon of Rothiemay, son to the slain laird, had combined for the purpose. But in the end, by the strenuous exertions of the Marquis of Huntly and others, a settlement was effected. The laird of Rothiemay and the children of George Gordon were “to remit their father’s slaughter mutually,” and in satisfaction thereof the laird of Frendraught was to pay a certain sum of money to young Rothiemay and to George Gordon’s children: “which both, Frendraught obeyed and performed willingly, and so, all parties having shaken hands, they were heartily reconciled.”

This broil was no sooner settled than another sprouted, a side-shoot from the same stem. Meldrum, who had been with Frendraught in the affray with Rothiemay, and had been wounded, was dissatisfied with such requital as he received, and, getting nothing more by his bickering and threats, helped himself one night to two of Frendraught’s best horses. Summoned to court for the theft, he “turned rebel” and did not appear. Frendraught obtained a commission to arrest him, and went to look for him at Pitcaple, a place belonging to John Leslie, Meldrum’s brother-in-law. He did not find Meldrum, but fell in with James Leslie, Pitcaple’s son, who had also been of Frendraught’s party at the encounter on New Year’s day. There was talk about Meldrum’s behavior, in which Frendraught comported himself forbearingly; but James Leslie and Robert Crichton, a kinsman of Frendraught, had hot words, which ended in Leslie’s getting a dangerous shot in the arm. Hereupon the larger part of the surname of Leslie rose in arms against the Crichtons. Frendraught, grieved for what had happened to James Leslie, betook himself to the Marquis of Huntly, and entreated him to make peace. The marquis sent for the Leslies, and did his best to reconcile them, but Pitcaple would listen to nothing until he knew whether his son James was to live or die. Huntly, fearing for Frendraught’s safety, kept him two days at the Bog of Gight, and then, hearing that the Leslies were lying in wait, sent his own son, Viscount Melgum, and the young laird of Rothiemay, to protect him on the way home. Arrived there, the laird and his lady begged these young gentlemen to remain overnight, “and did their best, with all demonstration of love and kindness, to entertain them, thinking themselves happy now to have purchased such friends who had formerly been their foes.” At about two in the morning the tower of Frendraught house, in which these guests lay, took fire, and they with four of their servants were burnt to death. This occurred on the eighth (ninth) of October.

So far Sir Robert Gordon, uncle of the lady of Frendraught and cousin of the Marquis of Huntly, who was perfectly acquainted with all the parties and circumstances. He goes on to say, with entire fairness: “The rumor of this unhappy accident did speedily spread itself throughout the whole kingdom, every man bewailing it, and constructing it diversly as their affections led them; some laying an aspersion upon Frendraught, as if he had wilfully destroyed his guests, who had come thither to defend him against his enemies; which carried no appearance of truth; for, besides the improbability of the matter, he did lose therein a great quantity of silver, both coined and uncoined, and likewise all his writs and evidents were therein burnt.”[20]

The monstrous wickedness of this act would not, in the light of the history of those times, afford an argument that would of itself avail to clear Frendraught; but what words could describe his recklessness and folly! Supposing him willing to set fire to his own house, and sacrifice his silver and securities, for the gratification of burning young Rothiemay with the rest, he knew very well what consequences he had to expect. He had been glad to compound 41his feud with the Rothiemays by the payment of money (some say the considerable sum of 50,000 merks). He had been alarmed, and with good reason, at the prospect of a feud with the Leslies. But what were these to a feud with the Marquis of Huntly, which would bring down upon him, and did bring down upon him, not only the reprisals of the Gordons, but spoliation from all the brigands of the country?[21]

‘Lewed people demen gladly to the badder ende,’
says Chaucer, and so it was with ballad-makers, and sometimes even with clerks; John Spalding, for instance, the other contemporary authority upon this subject, who gives a lively and detailed account of the burning of the tower, as follows.[22]

“The viscount was laid in a bed in the Old Tower, going off the hall, and standing upon a vault, wherein there was a round hole, devised of old, just under Aboyne’s[23] bed. Robert Gordon, born in Sutherland, his servitor, and English Will, his page, was both laid beside him in the same chamber. The laird of Rothiemay, with some servants beside him, was laid in an upper chamber just above Aboyne’s chamber; and in another room above that chamber was laid George Chalmer of Noth, and George Gordon, another of the viscount’s servants; with whom also was laid Captain Rollok, then in Frendraught’s own company. Thus all being at rest, about midnight that dolorous tower took fire in so sudden and furious manner, yea, and in a clap, that this noble viscount, the laird of Rothiemay, English Will, Colin Ivat, another of Aboyne’s servitors, and other two, being six in number, were cruelly burnt and tormented to the death, but help or relief; the laird of Frendraught, his lady and whole household looking on, without moving or stirring to deliver them from the fury of this fearful fire, as was reported. Robert Gordon, called Sutherland Robert, being in the viscount’s chamber, escaped this fire with his life. George Chalmer and Captain Rollok, being in the third room, escaped also this fire, and, as was said, Aboyne might have saved himself also if he had gone out of doors, which he would not do, but suddenly ran up stairs to Rothiemay’s chamber, and wakened him to rise, and as he is wakening him, the timber passage and lofting of the chamber hastily takes fire, so that none of them could win down stairs again; so they turned to a window looking to the close, where they piteously cried help, help, many times, for God’s cause! the laird and the lady, with their servants, all seeing and hearing this woeful crying, but made no help nor manner of helping;[24] which they perceiving, they cried oftentimes mercy 42at God’s hands for their sins, syne clasped in other arms, and cheerfully suffered this cruel martyrdom. Thus died this noble viscount, of singular expectation, Rothiemay, a brave youth, and the rest, by this doleful fire never enough to be deplored, to the great grief and sorrow of their kin, friends, parents, and whole country people, especially to the noble marquis, who for his goodwill got this reward.”

Spalding tells us that it was reported that, the morning after the fire, Lady Frendraught, riding on a small nag, and with no attendants but a boy to lead her horse, came weeping to the Bog, desiring to speak with the marquis, but was refused. The Huntly-Gordons, the Earl of Errol (brother of Viscountess Melgum), and many other friends held a council, and after serious consideration came to the conclusion that the fire “could not come by chance, sloth, or accident, but was plotted and devised of set purpose;” Frendraught, his lady, his friends and servants, one or other, knowing thereof. The marquis, however, was resolved not to revenge himself “by way of deed,” but to invoke the laws. Frendraught, as far as we can see, desired a legal inquiry no less than Huntly. He addressed himself to the Lord Chancellor and to the Privy Council, and offered to undergo any form of trial, and, delays occurring, he repeated to the Council his wish to have “that hidden mystery brought to a clear light.” Examinations and prosecutions, extended to the middle of the year 1634, failed to fix the guilt of the fire on him or anybody, although John Meldrum, on the strength of some threats which he had uttered, was wrongfully convicted of the act and was executed.[25]

A. The date is the eighteenth of October, new style for the eighth. When Gordon and Rothiemay (having convoyed Frendraught safely home) are on the point of returning, Lady Frendraught urges them to stay, in token of good feeling between Huntly and her husband. Lord John is quite disposed to comply, but Rothiemay says that his horse has been tampered with since their coming, and he fears that he is fey. After the regular evening-mass of ballads (which would have suited Lady Frendraught, a concealed Catholic, but not her husband), Lord John and Rothiemay are laid in one chamber, an arrangement which would have allowed both to escape, as Robert Gordon did, who slept in his master’s room. Lord John wakes with the smoke and heat, and rouses Rothiemay. The doors and windows are fastened. Rothiemay goes to the ‘wire-window,’ and finds the stanchions too strong to be dealt with. He sees Lady Frendraught below, and cries to her for mercy; her husband killed the father, and now she is burning the son. Lady Frendraught is sorry that she must burn Lord John in order to burn Rothiemay, but there is no help; the keys are cast in the deep draw-well.[26] [Robert] Gordon, who has escaped though the keys were in the well, calls to his master to jump from the window; he will catch him in his arms. His 43master answers that no fire shall part him and Rothiemay, and besides, the window is fast. He throws his finger-rings down, to be given to his lady. When the servant goes home to his mistress, she reproaches him for coming back alive and leaving his master dead. She tears off the clothes which her maid puts on her, exclaiming that she won a sore heart the day she was married, and that that day has returned (which is not easy to understand: see Appendix).

B. This fragment represents Lady Frendraught as being very importunate with Lord John: she presses him three times over to stay, and promises him a morning-gift of lands if he will comply; by a perversion of tradition, Strathbogie, which had been in his family three hundred years, and which, further on, he offers to give her if she will let him out. Finding that he cannot escape (perhaps stanza 7 should come later), Lord John takes out his psalm-book and sings three verses, with ‘God end our misery’ at each verse’s end. In 9 he sees his elder brother, Lord George, from the window, and asks what news he has, but a defect conceals from us the point of this passage. Stanza 16 seems to belong to Lord John’s wife.

C. When the gentlemen are in their saddles, ready to ride away, Lady Frendraught, on her bare knees, begs them to remain, and promises them a firlot of red gold if they will. When everybody has gone to bed, the doors are locked and the windows shut. The reek begins to rise and the joists to crack; Lord John betakes himself to the window, and finds the stanchions too strong to break. He goes back and wakens Rothiemay, and proposes to him to praise the Lord in the fifty-third psalm,[27] for there is treason about them. He calls to Lady Frendraught, walking on the green, for mercy; she replies that the keys are in the well, and the doors were locked yesterday. He reproaches her for burning her own flesh. George Chalmers (who really escaped, though lodged in the third story) is described as leaping the ditches and coming, from without, to Rothiemay’s help, and Colin Irving (the Colin Ivat of Spalding, who was burnt) as doing the same in behalf of Lord John, to whom he calls to jump into his arms. Lord John is burning, and there is little more left of him than his spirit; but he throws down a purse of gold for the poor and his rings for his wife. Lady Rothiemay comes in the morning to cry vengeance on Frendraught, who has betrayed the gay Gordons, killed her lord, and burnt her son.[28]

D. “‘There are some intermediate particulars,’ Mr Boyd says, ‘respecting the lady’s lodging her victims in a turret or flanker which did not communicate with the castle.’ ‘This,’ adds he, ‘I only have from tradition, as I never heard any other stanzas besides the foregoing.’ The author of the original, we may perceive, either through ignorance or 44design, had deviated from the fact in supposing Lady Frennet’s husband to have been slain by Lord John’s father.” Ritson, p. [email protected]

It may be noted that three of the most tragical of the Scottish historical ballads are associated with the name of Gordon: the Burning of Towie, as we might call ‘Captain Car,’ No 178, through Adam Gordon, uncle of the first marquis of Huntly; the Burning of Donibristle, known as ‘The Bonny Earl of Murray,’ No 181, of which the responsibility is put upon the marquis (then earl) himself; and the Burning of Frendraught, in which his son perished.

a. Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, p. 161, from a MS. of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe. b. Maidment’s North Countrie Garland, p. 4; “long preserved by tradition in Aberdeenshire, and procured from an intelligent individual resident in that part of Scotland.”

The eighteenth of October,
A dismal tale to hear
How good Lord John and Rothiemay
Was both burnt in the fire.
When steeds was saddled and well bridled,
And ready for to ride,
Then out it came her false Frendraught,
Inviting them to bide.
Said, ‘Stay this night untill we sup,
The morn untill we dine;
‘Twill be a token of good greement
’Twixt your good lord and mine.’
‘We’ll turn again,’ said good Lord John;
‘But no,’ said Rothiemay,
‘My steed’s trapand, my bridle’s broken,
I fear the day I’m fey.’
When mass was sung, and bells was rung,
And all men bound for bed,
Then good Lord John and Rothiemay
In one chamber was laid.
They had not long cast off their cloaths,
And were but now asleep.
When the weary smoke began to rise,
Likewise the scorching heat.
‘O waken, waken, Rothiemay!
O waken, brother dear!
And turn you to our Saviour;
There is strong treason here.’
When they were dressed in their cloaths,
And ready for to boun,
The doors and windows was all secur’d,
The roof-tree burning down.
He did him to the wire-window,
As fast as we could gang;
Says, Wae to the hands put in the stancheons!
For out we’ll never win.
When he stood at the wire-window,
Most doleful to be seen,
He did espy her Lady Frendraught,
Who stood upon the green.
Cried, Mercy, mercy, Lady Frendraught!
Will ye not sink with sin?
For first your husband killed my father,
And now you burn his son.
O then out spoke her Lady Frendraught,
And loudly did she cry;
‘It were great pity for good Lord John,
But none for Rothiemay;
But the keys are casten in the deep draw-well,
Ye cannot get away.’
While he stood in this dreadful plight,
Most piteous to be seen,
There called out his servant Gordon,
As he had frantic been:
‘O loup, O loup, my dear master!
O loup and come to me!
I’ll catch you in my arms two,
One foot I will not flee.
‘O loup, O loup, my dear master!
O loup and come away!
I’ll catch you in my arms two,
But Rothiemay may lie.’
‘The fish shall never swim in the flood,
Nor corn grow through the clay,
Nor the fiercest fire that ever was kindled
Twin me and Rothiemay.
‘But I cannot loup, I cannot come,
I cannot win to thee;
My head’s fast in the wire-window,
My feet burning from me.
‘My eyes are seething in my head,
My flesh roasting also,
My bowels are boiling with my blood;
Is not that a woeful woe?
‘Take here the rings from my white fingers,
That are so long and small,
And give them to my lady fair,
Where she sits in her hall.
‘So I cannot loup, I cannot come,
I cannot loup to thee;
My earthly part is all consumed,
My spirit but speaks to thee.’
Wringing her hands, tearing her hair,
His lady she was seen,
And thus addressed his servant Gordon,
Where he stood on the green.
‘O wae be to you, George Gordon!
An ill death may you die!
So safe and sound as you stand there,
And my lord bereaved from me.’
‘I bad him loup, I bad him come,
I bad him loup to me;
I’d catch him in my arms two,
A foot I should not flee. &c.
‘He threw me the rings from his white fingers,
Which were so long and small,
To give to you, his lady fair,
Where you sat in your hall.’ &c.
Sophia Hay, Sophia Hay,
O bonny Sophia was her name,
Her waiting maid put on her cloaths,
But I wot she tore them off again.
And aft she cried, Ohon! alas! alas!
A sair heart’s ill to win;
I wan a sair heart when I married him,
And the day it’s well returnd again.
Kinloch MSS, V, 399, in the handwriting of John Hill Burton.

  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘Ye’ll stay this night wi me, Lord John,
Ye’ll stay this night wi me,
For there is appearence of good greement
Betwixt Frendraught and thee.’
‘How can I bide, or how shall I bide,
Or how can I bide wi thee,
Sin my lady is in the lands of Air,
And I long till I her see?’
‘Oh stay this night wi me, Lord John,
Oh stay this night wi me,
And bonny[’s] be the morning-gift
That I will to you gie.
‘I’ll gie you a Strathboggie lands,
And the laigh lands o Strathray,
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
‘Ye’ll stay this night wi me, Lord John,
Ye’ll stay this night wi me,
And I’ll lay you in a bed of down,
And Rothiemay you wi.’
When mass was sung, and bells were rung,
And a’ men bun to bed,
Gude Lord John and Rothiemay
In one chamber were laid.
  *      *      *      *      *      *
Out hes he taen his little psalm-buik,
And verses sang he three,
And aye at every verse’s end,
‘God end our misery!’
The doors were shut, the keys were thrown
Into a vault of stone,
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
He is dune him to the weir-window,
The stauncheons were oer strong;
There he saw him Lord George Gordon
Come haisling to the town.
‘What news, what news now, George Gordon?
Whats news hae you to me?
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
He’s dune him to the weir-window,
The stauncheons were oer strang;
And there he saw the Lady Frendraught,
Was walking on the green.
‘Open yer doors now, Lady Frendraught,
Ye’ll open yer doors to me;
And bonny’s be the mornin-gift
That I shall to you gie.
‘I’ll gie you a’ Straboggie lands,
And the laigh lands o Strathbrae,
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
‘Now there’s the rings frae my fingers,
And the broach frae my breast-bone;
Ye’ll gae that to my gude ladye
. . . . . . .
  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘How can I loup, or how shall I loup?
How can I loup to thee?
When the blood is boiling in my body,
And my feet burnin frae me?’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘If I was swift as any swallow,
And then had wings to fly,
I could fly on to fause Frendraught
And cry vengeance till I die.’
From a note-book of Dr Joseph Robertson: “procured in the parish of Forgue by A. Scott; communicated to me by Mr John Stuart, Aberdeen, 11 October, 1832.”

It was in October the woe began—
It lasts for now and aye,—
The burning o the bonny house o fause Frendraught,
Lord John and Rothiemay.
When they were in their saddles set,
And ready to ride away,
The lady sat down on her bare knees,
Beseeching them to stay.
‘Ye’s hae a firlot o the gude red gowd,
Well straiket wi a wan;
And if that winna please you well,
I’ll heap it wi my han.’
Then out it spake the gude Lord John,
And said to Rothiemay,
‘It is a woman that we’re come o,
And a woman we’ll obey.’
When a’ man was well drunken,
And a’ man bound for bed,
The doors were lockd, the windows shut,
And the keys were casten by.
When a’ man was well drunken,
And a’ man bound for sleep,
The dowy reek began to rise,
And the joists began to crack.
He’s deen him to the wire-window,
And ruefu strack and dang;
But they would neither bow nor brack,
The staunchions were so strang.
He’s deen him back and back again,
And back to Rothiemay;
Says, Waken, waken, brother dear!
Waken, Rothiemay!
‘Come let us praise the Lord our God,
The fiftieth psalm and three;
For the reek and smoke are us about,
And there’s fause treason tee.
‘O mercy, mercy, Lady Frendraught!
As ye walk on the green:’
‘The keys are in the deep draw-well,
The doors were lockt the streen.’
‘O woe be to you, Lady Frendraught!
An ill death may you die!
For think na ye this a sad torment
Your own flesh for to burn?’
George Chalmers was a bonny boy;
He leapt the stanks so deep,
And he is on to Rothiemay,
His master for to help.
Colin Irving was a bonny boy,
And leapt the stanks so deep:
‘Come down, come down, my master dear!
In my arms I’ll thee kep.’
‘Come down? come down? how can I come?
How can I come to thee?
My flesh is burning me about,
And yet my spirit speaks to thee.’
He’s taen a purse o the gude red gowd,
And threw it oer the wa:
‘It’s ye’ll deal that among the poor,
Bid them pray for our souls a’.’
He’s taen the rings off his fingers,
And threw them oer the wa;
Says, Ye’ll gie that to my lady dear,
From me she’ll na get more.
‘Bid her make her bed well to the length,
But no more to the breadth,
For the day will never dawn
That I’ll sleep by her side.’
Ladie Rothiemay came on the morn,
She kneeled it roun and roun:
‘Restore your lodgers, fause Frendraught,
That ye burnd here the streen.
‘O were I like yon turtle-dove,
Had I wings for to flie,
I’d fly about fause Frendraught
Crying vengeance till I die.
‘Frendraught fause, all thro the ha’s,
Both back and every side;
For ye’ve betrayd the gay Gordons,
And lands wherein they ride.
‘Frendraught fause, all thro the ha’s;
I wish you’d sink for sin;
For first you killd my own good lord,
And now you’ve burnd my son.
‘I caredna sae muckle for my good lord
I saw him in battle slain,
But a’ is for my own son dear,
The heir o a’ my lan.
‘I caredna sae muckle for my good lord
I saw him laid in clay,
But a’ is for my own son dear,
The heir o Rothiemay.’
Ritson’s Scotish Songs, 1794, II, 35; remembered by the Rev. Mr Boyd, translator of Dante, and communicated to the editor by J. C. Walker.

The reek it rose, and the flame it flew,
And oh! the fire augmented high,
Until it came to Lord John’s chamber-window,
And to the bed where Lord John lay.
‘O help me, help me, Lady Frennet!
I never ettled harm to thee;
And if my father slew thy lord,
Forget the deed and rescue me.’
He looked east, he looked west,
To see if any help was nigh;
At length his little page he saw,
Who to his lord aloud did cry:
‘Loup doun, loup doun, my master dear!
What though the window’s dreigh and his?
I’ll catch you in my arms twa,
And never a foot from you I’ll flee.’
‘How can I loup, you little page?
How can I leave this window hie?
Do you not see the blazing low,
And my twa legs burnt to my knee?’
Kinloch MSS, VI, 27, in the handwriting of Joseph Robertson when a youth.

Now wake, now wake you, Rothiemay!
I dread you sleep oer soun;
The bed is burnin us about
And the curtain’s faain down.
A. a.

23, 24. The &c. at the end denote that the servant repeated the substance of 15–18 and of 20, which, however, was not written out.


11. day of.

14. Were. 21, 51, 54, 83. were.

23. out there came the.

62. but new.

63. the wanting.

73. to your.

81. dressed wi.

91. did flee to.

101. While he.

103, 121. the for her.

111. Cried wanting.

125. The keys were casten.

126. win away.

133. Then called.

154. may lay.

171. But wanting.

181. are southering.

192. Which are.

201. So wanting.

204. but wanting.

212. fair for she.

213. Calling unto his.

224. lord burned.

232. come to.

234. would not: no &c.

244. sit: no &c.

252. O wanting.

254. I wat wanting.

261. One alas wanting.

262. heart’s easy wan.

264. And, well wanting.

Some readings of b are preferable, as in 62, 181, 213, 224; others also, which may be editorial improvements.


16. “This is another stanza which I afterwards received.”


41. A small stroke between out and it.

A 26
And aft she cried, ‘Ohon! alas! alas!
A sair heart’s ill to win;
I wan a sair heart when I married him,
And the day it’s well returned again.’
My friend the late Mr Norval Clyne thought that this obscure stanza might perhaps be cleared up by the following verses, communicated to him in 1873 by the Rev. George Sutherland, Episcopal clergyman at Tillymorgan, Aberdeenshire.

Word has come to Young Tolquhon,
In his chamber where he lay,
That Sophia Hay, his first fair love,
Was wedded and away.
‘Sophia Hay, Sophia Hay,
My love, Sophia Hay,
I wish her anes as sair a heart
As she’s gien me the day.
‘She thinks she has done me great wrang,
But I don’t think it so;
I hope to live in quietness
When she shall live in woe.
‘She’ll live a discontented life
Since she is gone from me;
Ower seen, ower seen, a wood o green
Will shortly cover me.
‘When I am dead and in my grave,
Cause write upon me so:
“Here lies a lad who died for love,
And who can blame my woe.”’
Mr Sutherland wrote: This fragment I took down from the recitation of my mother, twenty or twenty-five years ago. She was born in 1790, and her great-grandmother was a servant of the last Forbes of Tolquhon. She had a tradition that Sophia Hay was one of the Errol family, and married 49Lord John Gordon, who was burned at Frendraught. Mr Clyne remarked: The Young Tolquhon at the time of this marriage, about 1628, was Alexander Forbes, eldest son of William Forbes of Tolquhon. Alexander is recorded to have died without issue, and the following additional particulars, singularly suggestive of a determination on the unfortunate lover’s part to renounce the world, have been communicated to me by Dr John Stuart. In 1631 William Forbes granted a charter of the lands of Tolquhon to his second son Walter and his heirs male, and in 1632 another deed of the same sort to Walter, with the express consent of Alexander, his elder brother. In 1641 Alexander is supposed to have been dead, as Walter is then styled “of Tolquhon.” The lady’s somewhat enigmatical exclamation,

‘I wan a sair heart when I married him,
And the day it’s well returned again,’
may have its explanation in the words of Young Tolquhon,

‘I wish her anes as sair a heart
As she’s gien me the day.’
Mr Clyne did not fail to observe that Father Blakhal has recorded of Lady Melgum that he had often heard her say that she had never loved anybody but her husband, and never would love another (Narration, p. 92). This testimony, if not decisive, may be considered not less cogent as to the matter of fact than anything in ‘Young Tolquhon’ to the contrary. But it may be that stanza 24 became attached to the Frendraught ballad in consequence of the coexistence of this or some similar ballad of Young Tolquhon.


Motherwelll’s MS., p. 470, communicated apparently by Buchan; ‘The Gordons and the Grants,’ Buchan’s Ballads
of the North of Scotland, II, 220.

There was an implacable feud between the Grants of Ballindalloch and the Grants of Carron, “for divers ages,” Sir Robert Gordon says, certainly for ninety years after 1550. This fragment has to do with the later stage of their enmity. In 1628, John Grant of Ballindalloch killed John Grant of Carron. James Grant of Carron, uncle of the slain man, burnt all the corn, barns, and byres of Ballindalloch young and old, and took to the hills (1630). The Ballindallocbs complained to Murray, the lieutenant, and he, “to gar ane devil ding another,” set the Clanchattan upon James Grant. They laid siege to a house where he was with a party of his men; he made his way out, was pursued, and was taken after receiving eleven arrow-wounds. When he was well enough to travel, he was sent to Edinburgh, and, as everybody supposed, to his death; but after a confinement of more than a year he broke ward (October, 1632). Large sums were offered for him, alive or dead; but James Grant was hard to keep and hard to catch, and in November, 1633, he began to kythe again in the north. A gang of the forbidden name of McGregor, who had been brought into the country by Ballindalloch to act against James Grant, beset him in a small house in Carron where he was visiting his wife, having only his son and one other man with him; but he defended himself with the spirit of another Cloudesly, shot the captain, and got off to the bog with his men.[29]

50“The year of God one thousand six hundred thirty-six, some of the Marquis of Huntly’s followers and servants did invade the rebel James Grant and some of his associates, hard by Strathbogy. They burnt the house wherein he was, but, the night being dark and windy, he and his brother, Robert Grant, escaped.”[30]

This last escapade of James Grant may perhaps be the one to which this fragment has reference, though Ballindalloch was not personally engaged in the assault on the house, and I know of no Douglas having sheltered Grant of Carron. One almost wonders that this mettlesome and shifty outlaw was not celebrated in a string of ballads.

Early in 1639, James Grant got his peace from the king; later in the year, he joined the “barons” at Aberdeen with five hundred men, and in 1640, we are told, “he purchased his remission orderly and went home to his own country peaceably (against all men’s expectation, being such a blood-shedder and cruel oppressor) after he had escaped so many dangers.”[31]

‘Away with you, away with you, James de Grant!
And, Douglas, ye’ll be slain;
For Baddindalloch’s at your gates,
With many brave Highland men.’
‘Baddindalloch has no feud at me,
And I have none at him;
Cast up my gates baith broad and wide,
Let Baddindalloch in.’
‘James de Grant has made a vaunt,
And leaped the castle-wa;
But, if he comes this way again,
He’ll no win sae well awa.
‘Take him, take him, brave Gordons,
O take him, fine fellows a’!
If he wins but ae mile to the Highland hills,
He’ll defy you Gordons a’.’
As printed by Buchan:

13, 21,4. Balnadallach.

14. man.

24 come in.

34. nae won.

43. on the Highland hill.


A. ‘Bonny John Seton,’ Maidment’s North Countrie Garland, p. 15; Buchan’s Gleanings, p. 161; Maidment’s Scotish Ballads and Songs, Historical and Traditionary, I, 280.

B. ‘The Death of John Seton,’ Buchan’s Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 136.

Buchan had another copy, sent him in manuscript by a young lady in Aberdeen, in which the Earl Marischal was made prominent: Ballads, II, 321. Aytoun, I, 139, had a copy which had been annotated by C. K. Sharpe, and from this he seems to have derived a few variations. The New Deeside Guide [1832], p. 5 (nominally by James Brown, but written by Dr Joseph Robertson), gives A, with a few trifling improvements which seem to be editorial.

A, B, 1–8. The ballad is accurate as to the date, not commonly a good sign for such things. On Tuesday, the eighteenth of June, 1639, Montrose began an attack on the bridge of Dee, which had been fortified and manned by the royalists of Aberdeen to stop his advance on the city. The bridge was bravely defended that day and part of the next by Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston (not Middleton; Middleton was of the assailants). The young Lord of Aboyne, just made the king’s lieutenant in the north, had a small body of horse on the north side of the river. Montrose’s cavalry were sent up the south side as if to cross (though there was no ford), and Aboyne’s were moved along the opposite bank to resist a passage. This exposed the latter to Montrose’s cannon, and the Covenanters let fly some shot at them, one of which killed “a gallant gentleman, John Seton of Pitmeddin, most part of his body above the saddle being carried away.” Johnston’s leg was crushed by stones brought down from one of the turrets of the bridge by a cannon-shot, and he had to be carried off. The loss of their commander and the disappearance of Aboyne’s horse discouraged the now small party who were holding the bridge, and they abandoned it. Aboyne rode off, and left Aberdeen to to shift for itself.[32]

A 9–12, B 9–13. The spoiling of John Seton by order of Sir William Forbes of Craigievar is not noticed by Gordon and Spalding, though other matters of not greater proportion are.

A 13–15. The reference is to the affair called the Raid of Stonehaven, June 15, three days before that of the Bridge of Dee. Aboyne’s Highlanders, a thousand or more, were totally unused to artillery, and a few shots from Montrose’s cannon lighting among them so frightened them that “they did run off, all in a confusion, never looking behind them, till they were got into a moss.”[33]

B 14–17. “When Montrose entered Aberdeen,” says James Gordon, “the Earl Marischal and Lord Muchall pressed him to burn the town, and urged him with the Committee of Estates’ warrant for that effect. He answered that it were best to advise a night upon it, since Aberdeen was the London of the north, and would prejudice themselves by want of it. So it was taken to consideration 52for that night, and next day the Earl Marischal and Lord Muchall came protesting he would spare it. He answered he was desirous so to do, but durst not except they would be his warrant. Whereupon they drew up a paper, signed with both their hands, declaring that they had hindered it, and promising to interpose with the Committee of Estates for him. Yet the next year, when he was made prisoner and accused, this was objected to Montrose, that he had not burned Aberdeen, as he had orders from the Committee of Estates. Then he produced Marischal and Muchall’s paper, which hardly satisfied the exasperated committee.”[34]

Maidment’s North Countrie Garland, p. 15.
Upon the eighteenth day of June,
A dreary day to see,
The southern lords did pitch their camp
Just at the bridge of Dee.
Bonny John Seton of Pitmeddin,
A bold baron was he,
He made his testament ere he went out,
The wiser man was he.
He left his land to his young son,
His lady her dowry,
A thousand crowns to his daughter Jean,
Yet on the nurse’s knee.
Then out came his lady fair,
A tear into her ee;
Says, Stay at home, my own good lord,
O stay at home with me!
He looked over his left shoulder,
Cried, Souldiers, follow me!
O then she looked in his face,
An angry woman was she:
‘God send me back my steed again,
But neer let me see thee!’
His name was Major Middleton
That manned the bridge of Dee,
His name was Colonel Henderson
That let the cannons flee.
His name was Major Middleton
That manned the bridge of Dee,
And his name was Colonel Henderson
That dung Pitmeddin in three.
Some rode on the black and grey,
And some rode on the brown,
But the bonny John Seton
Lay gasping on the ground.
Then bye there comes a false Forbes,
Was riding from Driminere;
Says, Here there lies a proud Seton;
This day they ride the rear.
Cragievar said to his men,
‘You may play on your shield;
For the proudest Seton in all the lan
This day lies on the field.’
‘O spoil him! spoil him!’ cried Cragievar,
‘Him spoiled let me see;
For on my word,’ said Cragievar,
‘He had no good will at me.’
They took from him his armour clear,
His sword, likewise his shield;
Yea, they have left him naked there,
Upon the open field.
The Highland men, they’re clever men
At handling sword and shield,
But yet they are too naked men
To stay in battle field.
The Highland men are clever men
At handling sword or gun,
But yet they are too naked men
To bear the cannon’s rung.
For a cannon’s roar in a summer night
Is like thunder in the air;
There’s not a man in Highland dress
Can face the cannon’s fire.
Buchan’s Ballads of the North of Scotland, II, 136.
It fell about the month of June,
On Tuesday, timouslie,
The northern lords hae pitchd their camps
Beyond the brig o Dee.
They ca’ed him Major Middleton
That mand the brig o Dee;
They ca’ed him Colonel Henderson
That gard the cannons flee.
Bonny John Seton o Pitmedden,
A brave baron was he;
He made his tesment ere he gaed,
And the wiser man was he.
He left his lands unto his heir,
His ladie her dowrie;
Ten thousand crowns to Lady Jane,
Sat on the nourice knee.
Then out it speaks his lady gay,
‘O stay my lord wi me;
For word is come, the cause is won
Beyond the brig o Dee.’
He turned him right and round about,
And a light laugh gae he;
Says, I wouldna for my lands sae broad
I stayed this night wi thee.
He’s taen his sword then by his side,
His buckler by his knee,
And laid his leg in oer his horse,
Said, Sodgers, follow me!
So he rade on, and further on,
Till to the third mile corse;
The Covenanters’ cannon balls
Dang him aff o his horse.
Up then rides him Cragievar,
Said, Wha’s this lying here?
It surely is the Lord o Aboyne,
For Huntly was not here.
Then out it speaks a fause Forbes,
Lived up in Druminner;
‘My lord, this is a proud Seton,
The rest will ride the thinner.’
‘Spulyie him, spulyie him,’ said Craigievar,
‘O spulyie him, presentlie;
For I could lay my lugs in pawn
He had nae gude will at me.’
They’ve taen the shoes frae aff his feet,
The garters frae his knee,
Likewise the gloves upon his hands;
They’ve left him not a flee.
His fingers they were sae sair swelld
The rings would not come aff;
They cutted the grips out o his ears,
Took out the gowd signots.
Then they rade on, and further on,
Till they came to the Crabestane,
And Craigievar, he had a mind
To burn a’ Aberdeen.
Out it speaks the gallant Montrose,
Grace on his fair body!
‘We winna burn the bonny burgh,
We’ll even laet it be.’
Then out it speaks the gallant Montrose,
‘Your purpose I will break;
We winna burn the bonny burgh,
We’ll never build its make.
‘I see the women and their children
Climbing the craigs sae hie;
We’ll sleep this night in the bonny burgh,
And even lat it be.’

111,2. Spulzie.

Readings in Aytoun which may have been derived from Sharpe:


42. The tear stood in.

83. But bonny John Seton o Pitmeddin.


83. And there the Covenanters’ shot.

84. It dang him frae his.

102. Was riding frae D.

103. This is the proudest Seton of a’.

143. And wha sae ready as Craigievar.

54151. Then up and spake the gude.

162. As he rade owre the field.

163. Why should we burn the bonny.

164. When its like we couldna build.

Readings in The New Deeside Guide:


13. lords their pallions pitched.

22. A baron bold.

31. To his.

41. and came.

55. your steed.

114. He bore: to me.

154. cannon’s rair.


A. a. Sharpe’s Ballad Book, p. 59, No 20. b. ‘The Bonnie House o Airly,’ Finlay’s Ballads, II, 25. c. Skene MS., pp. 28, 54. d. ‘The Bonny House of Airly,’ Campbell MSS, II, 113. e. ‘The Bonny House of Airly,’ an Aberdeen stall-copy, without date. f. ‘The Bonny House o Airly,’ another Aberdeen stall-copy, without date. g. Hogg’s Jacobite Relics, II, 152. h. Kinloch MSS, VI, 5, one stanza.

B. Kinloch MSS, V, 273.

C. a. ‘The Bonny House of Airley,’ Kinloch MSS, V, 205. b. ‘Young Airly,’ Cromek’s Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, p. 226. c. ‘The Bonny House o Airlie,’ Smith’s Scottish Minstrel, II, 2. d. ‘The Bonny House o Airlie,’ Christie’s Traditional Ballad Airs, II, 276, 296.

D. Kinloch MSS, V, 106; Kinloch MSS, VII, 207; Kinloch’s Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 104.

The earliest copy of this ballad hitherto found is a broadside of about 1790 (a hundred and fifty years later than the event celebrated), which Finlay combined with two others, derived from recitation, for his edition (A b). C b, c, d, are not purely traditional texts, and A g has borrowed some stanzas from C b. C b is transcribed into the Campbell MSS, I, 184. Aytoun’s edition, 1859, II, 270, is compounded from A a, A b, with half a dozen words changed, and it is not quite clear how the editor means to be understood when he says, “the following, I have reason to believe, is the original.”

One summer day, Argyle, who has a quarrel with Airlie, sets out to plunder the castle of that name. The lord of the place is at the time with the king. Argyle (something in the style of Captain Car) summons Lady Ogilvie to come down and kiss him; else he will not leave a standing stone in Airlie. This she will not do, for all his threat. Argyle demands of the lady where her dowry is (as if it were tied up in a handkerchief). She gives no precise information: it is east and west, up and down the water-side. Sharp search is made, and the dowry is found in a plum-tree (balm-tree, cherry-tree, palm-tree, A a, b, d, e, g). Argyle lays or leads the lady down somewhere while the plundering goes forward. She tells him that no Campbell durst have taken in hand such a thing if her lord had been at home. She has born seven (ten) sons, and is expecting another; but had she as many more (a hundred more), she would give them all to King Charles.

In A d 7 Lady Ogilvie asks the favor of Argyle that he will take her to a high hill-top that she may not see the burning of Airlie; the passage is of course corrupt. In A g 7 she more sensibly asks that her face may not be turned that way. In C a 5, 6, b 5, 6, the rational request is made that she may be taken to some dark dowey glen[35] to avoid the sight; but Argyle leads her “down to the top of the town,” and bids her look at the plundering, a; sets her upon a bonnie knowe-tap, and 55bids her look at Airlie fa’ing, b. D 7, 8, goes a step further. The lady asks that she may be thrown over the castle-wall rather than see the plundering; Argyle lifts her up ‘sae rarely’ and throws her over, and she never saw it.

In C a 8 Argyle would have Lord Airlie informed that one kiss from his lady would have saved all the plundering. In D 5 he tells Lady Ogilvie that if she had surrendered on the first demand there would have been no plundering; and this assurance he repeats to ‘Captain’ Ogilvie, whom he meets on his way home.

A b 2, D 1, 2, represent Argyle to be acting under the orders of Montrose, or in concert with him.

A piece in five or six stanzas which appears, with variations, in Cromek’s Remains, p. 195, Hogg’s Jacobite Relics, II, 151, Cunningham’s Songs of Scotland, III, 218, under the caption of ‘Young Airly’ (the title of C b also in Cromek), moves forward the burning of Airlie to “the 45;” not very strangely (if there is anything traditional in these verses), when we consider the prominence of the younger Lord Ogilvie and his wife among the supporters of Charles Edward. (The first three of Cromek’s stanzas are transcribed into Campbell MSS, I, 187.) No doubt the Charlie and Prince Charlie of some versions of our ballad were understood by the reciters to be the Young Chevalier.

The Committee of Estates, June 12, 1640, gave commission to the Earl of Argyle to rise in arms against certain people, among whom was the Earl of Airlie, as enemies to religion and unnatural to their country, and to pursue them with fire and sword until they should be brought to their duty or else utterly subdued and rooted out. The Earl of Airlie had gone to England, fearing lest he should be pressed to subscribe the Covenant, and had left his house to the keeping of his eldest son, Lord Ogilvie. Montrose, who had signed the commission as one of the Committee, but was not inclined to so strenuous proceedings, invested Airlie, forced a surrender, and put a garrison in the place to hold it for the “public.” Argyle did not interpret his commission in this mild way. He took Airlie in hand in the beginning of July, and caused both this house and that of Forthar, belonging to Lord Ogilvie, to be pillaged, burned, and demolished. Thereafter he fell upon the lands both of the proprietor and his tenantry, and carried off or destroyed “their whole goods, gear, corns, cattle, horse, nolt, sheep,” and left nothing but bare bounds.

According to one writer, Lady Ogilvie was residing at Forthar, and, being big with child, asked leave of Argyle to stay till she was brought to bed; but this was not allowed, and she was put out, though she knew not whither to go. By another account, Argyle accused Montrose of having suffered the lady to escape.[36]

The ballad puts Lady Airlie in command of the house or castle, but none of the family were there at the time it was sacked. She is called Lady Margaret in A b 4, but her name was Elizabeth. The earl, James, is called the great Sir John in C a 9. A 10 and the like elsewhere are applicable to the younger Lady Ogilvie in respect to the unborn child. Chambers says that Lady Airlie had three children and Lady Ogilvie but one, and “the poet must be wrong.” “The poet,” besides being inaccurate, does not tell the same story in all the versions, and this inconsistency is again observable in ‘Geordie,’ A 9, B 18, C 8, etc.

‘Gleyd Argyle’ is “generally described as of mean stature, with red hair and squinting eyes.”[37] His morals appear to some disadvantage again in ‘Geordie,’ I a 23.

a. Sharpe’s Ballad Book, p. 59, No 20, 1823. b. Finlay’s Ballads, II, 25, 1808, from two recited copies and “one printed about twenty years ago on a single sheet.” c. Skene MS., pp. 28, 54, from recitation in the north of Scotland, 1802–3. d. Campbell MSS, II, 113, probably from a stall-copy. e, f. Aberdeen stall copies, “printed for the booksellers.” g. Hogg’s Jacobite Relics, II, 152, No 76, “Cromek and a street ballad collated, 1821.” h. Kinloch MSS, VI, 5, one stanza, taken down from an old woman’s recitation by J. Robertson.

It fell on a day, and a bonny simmer day,
When green grew aits and barley,
That there fell out a great dispute
Between Argyll and Airlie.
Argyll has raised an hunder men,
An hunder harnessd rarely,
And he’s awa by the back of Dunkell,
To plunder the castle of Airlie.
Lady Ogilvie looks oer her bower-window.
And oh, but she looks weary!
And there she spy’d the great Argyll,
Come to plunder the bonny house of Airlie.
‘Come down, come down, my Lady Ogilvie,
Come down, and kiss me fairly:’
‘O I winna kiss the fause Argyll,
If he should na leave a standing stane in Airlie.’
He hath taken her by the left shoulder,
Says, Dame where lies thy dowry?
‘O it’s east and west yon wan water side,
And it’s down by the banks of the Airlie.’
They hae sought it up, they hae sought it down,
They hae sought it maist severely,
Till they fand it in the fair plumb-tree
That shines on the bowling-green of Airlie.
He hath taken her by the middle sae small,
And O but she grat sairly!
And laid her down by the bonny burn-side,
Till they plundered the castle of Airlie.
‘Gif my gude lord war here this night,
As he is with King Charlie,
Neither you, nor ony ither Scottish lord,
Durst avow to the plundering of Airlie.
‘Gif my gude lord war now at hame,
As he is with his king,
There durst nae a Campbell in a’ Argyll
Set fit on Airlie green.
‘Ten bonny sons I have born unto him,
The eleventh neer saw his daddy;
But though I had an hundred mair,
I’d gie them a’ to King Charlie.’
Kinloch MSS, V, 273.
It fell on a day, a clear summer day,
When the corn grew green and bonny,
That there was a combat did fall out
‘Tween Argyle and the bonny house of Airly.
Argyle he did raise five hundred men,
Five hundred men, so many,
And he did place them by Dunkeld,
Bade them shoot at the bonny house of Airly.
The lady looked over her own castle-wa,
And oh, but she looked weary!
And there she espied the gleyed Argyle,
Come to plunder the bonny house of Airly.
‘Come down the stair now, Madam Ogilvie,
And let me kiss thee kindly;
Or I vow and I swear, by the sword that I wear,
That I winna leave a standing stone at Airly.’
‘O how can I come down the stair,
And how can I kiss thee kindly,
Since you vow and you swear, by the sword that you wear,
That you winna leave a standing stone on Airly?’
‘Come down the stair then, Madam Ogilvie,
And let me see thy dowry;’
‘O ’tis east and it is west, and ’tis down by yon burn-side,
And it stands at the planting sae bonny.
‘But if my brave lord had been at hame this day,
As he is wi Prince Charlie,
There durst na a Campbell in all Scotland
Set a foot on the bowling-green of Airly
‘O I hae born him seven, seven sons,
And an eighth neer saw his daddy,
And tho I were to bear him as many more,
They should a’ carry arms for Prince Charlie.’
a. Kinloch MSS, V, 205, recited by John Rae. b. Cromek’s Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, p. 226, 1810. c. Smith’s Scottish Minstrel, II, 2. d. Christie’s Traditional Ballad Airs, II, 276, “from the recitation of a relative.”

It fell on a day, on a bonny summer day,
When the corn grew green and yellow,
That there fell out a great dispute
Between Argyle and Airley.
The great Argyle raised five hundred men,
Five hundred men and many,
And he has led them down by the bonny Dunkeld,
Bade them shoot at the bonny house of Airley.
The lady was looking oer her castle-wa,
And O but she looked weary!
And there she spied the great Argyle,
Came to plunder the bonny house of Airley.
‘Come down stairs now, Madam,’ he says,
‘Now come down and kiss me fairly;’
‘I’ll neither come down nor kiss you,’ she says,
‘Tho you should na leave a standing stane in Airley.’
‘I ask but one favour of you, Argyle,
And I hope you’ll grant me fairly
To tak me to some dark dowey glen,
That I may na see the plundering of Airley.’
He has taen her by the left shoulder,
And O but she looked weary!
And he has led her down to the top of the town,
Bade her look at the plundering of Airley.
‘Fire on, fire on, my merry men all,
And see that ye fire clearly;
For I vow and I swear by the broad sword I wear
That I winna leave a standing stane in Airley.
‘You may tell it to your lord,’ he says,
‘You may tell it to Lord Airley,
That one kiss o his gay lady
Wad hae sav’d all the plundering of Airley.’
‘If the great Sir John had been but at hame,
As he is this night wi Prince Charlie,
Neither Argyle nor no Scottish lord
Durst hae plundered the bonny house of Airley.
‘Seven, seven sons hae I born unto him,
And the eight neer saw his dady,
And altho I were to have a hundred more,
The should a’ draw their sword for Prince Charlie.’
Kinloch MSS, V, 106, in the handwriting of James Beattie, and from the recitation of Elizabeth Beattie.

O gleyd Argyll has written to Montrose
To see gin the fields they were fairly,
And to see whether he should stay at hame,
‘Or come to plunder bonnie Airly.
Then great Montrose has written to Argyll
And that the fields they were fairly,
And not to keep his men at hame,
But to come and plunder bonnie Airly.
The lady was looking oer her castle-wa,
She was carrying her courage sae rarely,
58And there she spied him gleyd Arguill,
Was coming for to plunder bonnie Airly.
‘Wae be to ye, gleyd Argyll!
And are ye there sae rarely?
Ye might hae kept your men at hame,
And not come to plunder bonnie Airly.’
‘And wae be to ye, Lady Ogilvie!
And are ye there sae rarely?
Gin ye had bowed when first I bade,
I never wad hae plunderd bonnie Airly.’
‘But gin my guid lord had been at hame,
As he is wi Prince Charlie,
There durst not a rebel on a’ Scotch ground
Set a foot on the bonnie green of Airly.
‘But ye’ll tak me by the milk-white hand,
And ye’ll lift me up sae rarely,
And ye’ll throw me outoure my [ain] castle-wa,
Let me neuer see the plundering of Airly.’
He’s taen her by the milk-white hand,
And he’s lifted her up sae rarely,
And he’s thrown her outoure her ain castle-wa,
And she neuer saw the plundering of Airly.
Now gleyd Argyll he has gane hame,
Awa frae the plundering of Airly,
And there he has met him Captain Ogilvie,
Coming over the mountains sae rarely.
‘O wae be to ye, gleyd Argyll!
And are you there sae rarely?
Ye might hae kept your men at hame,
And no gane to plunder bonnie Airly.’
‘O wae be to ye, Captain Ogilvie!
And are you there sae rarely?
Gin ye wad hae bowed when first I bade,
I neer wad hae plunderd bonnie Airly.’
‘But gin I had my lady gay,
Bot and my sister Mary,
One fig I wad na gie for ye a’,
Nor yet for the plundering of Airly.’
A. b.

12. When the corn grew green and yellow.

21,2. The Duke o Montrose has written to Argyle To come in the morning early.

23. An lead in his men by.

24. the bonnie house o Airly.

31. The lady lookd oer her window sae hie.

41. down Lady Margaret he says.

42,3. (cf. f.).
‘Or before the morning clear day light,
I’ll no leave a standing stane in Airly.’
‘I wadna kiss thee, great Argyle,
I wadna kiss thee fairly,
I wadna kiss thee, great Argyle,
Gin you shoudna leave a standing stane in Airly.’
51. by the middle sae sma.

52. Says, Lady, where is your drury?

53,4. It’s up and down by the bonnie burn-side, Amang the planting of Airly.

62. They sought it late and early.

63. And found: bonnie balm-tree.

71. by the left shoulder.

73. And led: to yon green bank.

81 (101). lord had been at hame.

82 (102). As this night he is wi C.

83 (103). There durst na a Campbell in a’ the west.

84 (104). Hae plundered the bonnie house.

9. Wanting.

101 (91). O it’s I hae seven braw sons, she says.

102 (92). And the youngest.

103 (93). had as mony mae.

104 (94). to Charlie.


1–51 are repeated at p. 54, with some differences.

11. fell about a [the] Lammass time.

12. corn [the corn] grew green and yellow.

21. has gathered three hunder.

22. Three hunder men and mair O.

23. is on to.

24. the bonnie house o A.

31. The lady lookit oure the castle-wa.

32. she was sorry.

33. Whan she saw gleyd Argyle an his [300] men.

41. Come down the stair, Lady Airly [he says].

5942. An it’s ye maun kiss [An kiss me fairly].

43. I wad na kiss ye, gleyd Argyll.

44. Atho [Tho] ye leave na.

51. Come down the stair, Lady Airly, he says.

52. An tell whar.

53. Up and down the bonnie.

54. And by the bonnie bowling-green o.

6. Wanting.

71. took: the milk-white hand.

72. And led her fairly.

73. Up an down the bonnie water-side.

74. the bonnie house o Airly.

81. But an: were at hame (=91).

82. awa wi Charley.

83. The best Campbell in a’ your kin.

84. Durst na plunder the b. h. o. A.

9. Wanting.

101 (71). Seven sons have I born, she says.

102 (72). The eight: its.

103 (73). Altho: as many mare.

104 (74). a’ to fight for Charley.


12. When corn grew green.

21. has hired.

22. A hundred men and mairly.

23. to the.

24. the b. h. of A.

31. The lady lookit over her window.

32. lookit waely.

33. she saw.

34. Coming.

43. I wadna kiss the great.

44. Tho you.

51. by the milk-white hand.

52. Lady, where’s your.

53. It’s up and down yon bonny burn-side.

54. It shines in the bowling-green of A.

62. sought it late and early.

63. They’ve found: the bonny cherry-tree.

64. That grows in.

Between 6 and 7:
There is ae favour I ask of thee,
I beg but ye’ll grant it fairly:
That ye will take me to yon high hill-top,
That I maunna see the burning of Airly.
71. by the left shoulder.

72. lookit queerly.

74. he’s led.

74. the b. h. of A.

Between 7 and 8:
He’s taen her by the milk-white hand,
He’s led her right and fairly;
He’s led her to yon high hill-top,
Till they’ve burned the bonny house of Airly.
82. away wi Prince Charlie.

83. The great Argyle and a’ his men.

84. Wadna hae plunderd the b. h. of A.

9. Wanting.

103. And if I had a hundred men.

104. to Prince.


12. When the corn grew green and yellow.

22. A hundred men and mairly.

23. he has gone to.

24. the bonny house of Airly.

31. The lady looked over her window.

32. looked.

34. Coming.

41. down, madam, he says.

43. thee, great Argyle.

44. If you.

51. by the middle so small.

52. Says, Lady, where is your.

53. It is up and down the bonny burn-side.

54. Among the plantings of A.

62. They sought it late and early.

63. And found it in the bonny palm-tree.

71. by the left shoulder.

72. she looked weary.

73. down on the green bank.

74. he plundered the b. h. of A.

81. O if my lord was at home: this night wanting.

82. As this night he’s wi Charlie.

83,4. Great Argyle and all his men Durst not plunder the b. h. of A.

9. Wanting.

101. ’Tis ten: unto him wanting.

103. But though.

104. to Charlie.


12. When the clans were a’ wi Charlie.

21. has called a hundred o his men.

22. To come in the morning early.

23. And they hae gane down by.

24. plunder the b. h. of A.

31. L. O. looked frae her window sae hie.

32. she grat sairly.

33. To see Argyle and a’ his men.

41. down, Lady Ogilvie, he cried.

43,4. Or ere the morning’s clear daylight I’ll no leave a standing.

After 4:
I wadna come doon, great Argyle, she cried,
I wadna kiss thee fairly,
I wadna come doon, false Argyle, she cried,
Though you shouldna leave a standing stane in Airly.
5–7. Wanting.

But were my ain guid lord at hame,
As he is noo wi Charlie,
The base Argyle and a his men
Durstna enter the bonny house o Airly.
609. Wanting.

101. O I hae seven bonny sons, she said.

102. And the youngest has neer seen.

103. had ane as mony mae.

104. They’d a’ be followers o Charlie.

After 10 this spurious stanza:

Then Argyle and his men attacked the bonny ha,
And O but they plundered it fairly!
In spite o the tears the lady let fa,
They burnt doon the bonny house o Airly.

12. When the flowers were blooming rarely.

22. An hundred men and mairly.

24. the b. h. of A.

31. The lady lookd oer her w.

32. she sighd sairly.

43. No, I winna kiss thee.

44. Though ye.

51. by the middle sae sma.

52. Says wanting: Lady where is your.

It’s up and down by the bonny burn-side,
Amang the plantings o Airly.
62. it late and early.

63. under the bonny palm-tree.

64. That stands i.

After 6 (cf. A d, C 5):

A favour I ask of thee, Argyle,
If ye will grant it fairly;
O dinna turn me wi my face
To see the destruction of Airly!
The remainder of g is taken from C b, with two or three slight variations.


An my gude lord had been at hame,
As he’s awa wi Charlie,
There durstna a gleyd duke in a’ Argyle
Set a coal to the bonnie house o Airlie.

51, 81. Oh.

C. b.

No reliance can be placed upon the genuineness of this copy, and a particular collation is not required.

11,2. It fell in about the Martinmas time, An the leaves were fa’ing early.

4. Two stanzas, much as in A b, f.

But take me by the milk-white hand,
An lead me down right hoolie,
An set me in a dowie, dowie glen,
That I mauna see the fall o Airly.
He has taen her by the shouther-blade
An thurst her down afore him,
Syne set her upon a bonnie knowe-tap,
Bad her look at Airly fa’ing.
Here follows a stanza (6) not found elsewhere, no doubt Cunningham’s:

Haste! bring to me a cup o gude wine,
As red as ony cherrie;
I’ll tauk the cup, an sip it up;
Here’s a health to bonnie Prince Charlie!
7, 8. Wanting: found only in a.

9. Nearly e, f, 8.

101. I hae born me eleven braw sons.

A concluding stanza may be assigned to Cunningham.

Were my gude lord but here this day,
As he’s awa wi Charlie,
The dearest blude o a’ thy kin
Wad sloken the lowe o Airly.
Another copy is said in the editor’s preface to begin thus:

The great Argyle raised ten thousand men,
Eer the sun was waukening early,
And he marched them down by the back o Dunkel,
Bade them fire on the bonnie house o Airlie.

Made over from a copy resembling B, C a.

4. Two stanzas here, as in B: kisses are dropped for propriety.

5, 6. The last half of these is substantially preserved in c 7, 8.


A blending, perhaps not accidental, of various copies; mainly of A g, C b, C c.

1, 2. Nearly A g 1, 2.

3. Nearly c 3.

41,2. Nearly A g 41,2.

43,4. Nearly c 43,4.

5. Nearly a compound of A b (Finlay) 5 and c 5; cf. B 5.

6. Cf. b 4 (5 above), c 7.

7. Nearly c 8.

8. b 6 altered.

The stanza cited by Christie at p. 296 is the spurious conclusion of c.


A. ‘Johny Faa, the Gypsy Laddie,’ Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany, vol. iv, 1740. Here from the edition of 1763, p. 427.

B. a. The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany (vol. lxxx of the Scots Magazine), November, 1817, p. 309. b. A fragment recited by Miss Fanny Walker, of Mount Pleasant, near Newburgh-on-Tay.

C. ‘Davie Faw,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 381; ‘Gypsie Davy,’ Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, 1827, p. 360.

D. ‘The Egyptian Laddy,’ Kinloch MSS, V, 331.

E. ‘The Gypsie Laddie,’ Mactaggart’s Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia, 1824, p. 284.

F. ‘Johnny Faa, the Gypsey Laddie,’ The Songs of England and Scotland [P. Cunningham], London, 1835, II, 346.

G. a. ‘The Gypsie Loddy,’ a broadside, Roxburghe Ballads, III, 685. b. A recent stall-copy, Catnach, 2 Monmouth Court, Seven Dials.

H. ‘The Gipsy Laddie,’ Shropshire Folk-Lore, edited by Charlotte Sophia Burne, p. 550.

I. Communicated by Miss Margaret Reburn, as sung in County Meath, Ireland, about 1860.

J. a. ‘The Gipsey Davy,’ from Stockbridge, Massachusetts. b. From a lady born in Maine.

K. ‘Lord Garrick,’ a, b, communicated by ladies of New York.

The English ballad, though derived from the Scottish, may perhaps have been printed earlier. A conjectural date of 1720 is given, with hesitation, to G a, in the catalogue of the British Museum.

The Scottish ballad appears to have been first printed in the fourth volume of the Tea-Table Miscellany, 1740, but no copy of that edition has been recovered. From the Tea-Table Miscellany it was repeated, with variations, some traditional, some arbitrary, in: Herd’s Ancient and Modern Scots Songs, 1769, ‘Gypsie Laddie,’ p. 88, ed. 1776, II, 54; The Fond Mother’s Garland, not dated, but earlier than 1776; Pinkerton’s Select Scotish Ballads, 1783, I, 67; Johnson’s Museum, ‘Johny Faa, or, The Gypsie Laddie,’ No 181, p. 189; Ritson’s Scotish Songs, 1794, II, 176; and in this century, Cromek’s Select Scotish Songs, 1810, II, 15; Cunningham’s Songs of Scotland, 1825, II, 175. A transcript in the Campbell MSS, ‘The Gypsies,’ I, 16, is from Pinkerton.

“The people in Ayrshire begin this song,

‘The gypsies cam to my lord Cassilis’ yett.’
They have a great many more stanzas … than I ever yet saw in any printed.” Burns, in Cromek’s Reliques, 1809, p. 161. (So Sharpe, in the Musical Museum, 1853, IV, 217, but perhaps repeating Burns.) B, from Galloway, has eight more stanzas than A, and E, also from Galloway, fourteen more, but quite eight of the last are entirely untraditional,[38] and the hand of the editor is frequently to be recognized elsewhere.

Finlay, Scottish Ballads, 1808, II, 39, inserted two stanzas after A 2, the first of which is nearly the same as 5, and the second as B 3, C 3. The variations of his text, and others in his notes, are given under A. Kinloch MSS, V, 299; Chambers, Scottish Ballads, 1829, p. 143; Aytoun, 1859, I, 187, repeat Finlay, with a few slight changes. The Ballads and Songs of Ayrshire, I, 9, follows Chambers.

The copy in Smith’s Scotish Minstrel, III, 90, is derived from B a, but has readings of 62other texts, and is of no authority. That in Maidment’s Scotish Ballads and Songs, 1868, II, 185, is B a with changes. Ten stanzas in a manuscript of Scottish songs and ballads, copied 1840 or 1850 by a granddaughter of Lord Woodhouselee, p. 46, are from B a. This may be true also of B b, which, however, has not Cassilis in 11.

C is from a little further north, from Renfrewshire; D from Aberdeenshire. F is from the north of England, and resembles C. The final stanza of G a is cited by Ritson, Scotish Songs, II, 177, 1794. ‘The Rare Ballad of Johnnie Faa and the Countess o Cassilis,’ Sheldon’s Minstrelsy of the English Border, p. 326, which the editor had “heard sung repeatedly by Willie Faa,” and of which he “endeavored to preserve as much as recollection would allow,” has the eleven stanzas of the English broadside, and twelve more of which Sheldon must have been unable to recollect anything. H-K are all varieties of the broadside.

The Rev. S. Baring-Gould has most obligingly sent me a ballad, taken down by him from the singing of an illiterate hedger in North Devon, in which ‘The Gypsy Laddie,’ recomposed (mostly with middle rhyme in the third verse, as in A 1, 8), forms the sequel to a story of an earl marrying a very reluctant gypsy maid. When the vagrant who has been made a lady against nature hears some of her tribe singing at the castle-gate, the passion for a roving life returns, and she deserts her noble partner, who pursues her, and, not being able to induce her to return to him, smites her “lily-white” throat with his sword. This little romance, retouched and repaired, is printed as No 50 of Songs and Ballads of the West, now publishing by Baring-Gould and Sheppard. Mr Baring-Gould has also given me a defective copy of the second part of ‘The Gipsy Countess’ (exhibiting many variations), which he obtained from an old shoemaker of Tiverton.

Among the Percy papers there is a set of ballads made over by the Bishop, which may have been intended for the contemplated extension of his Reliques. ‘The Gipsie Laddie,’ in eighteen stanzas, and not quite finished, is one of these. After seven stanzas of A, not much altered, the husband ineffectually pursues the lady, who adopts the gipsy trade, with her reid cheek stained wi yallow. Seven years pass, during which the laird has taken another wife. At Yule a wretched carline begs charity at his gate, who, upon questioning, reveals that she had been a lady gay, with a comely marrow, but had proved false and ruined herself.

A. Gypsies sing so sweetly at our lord’s gate as to entice his lady to come down; as soon as she shows herself, they cast the glamour on her (so B-F, G b). She gives herself over to the chief gypsy, Johny Faa by name, without reserve of any description. Her lord, upon returning and finding her gone, sets out to recover her, and captures and hangs fifteen gypsies. (It is extremely likely that this version has lost several stanzas.)

Our lord, unnamed in A, is Lord Cassilis in B, C, F (so Burns, and Johnson’s Museum). Cassilis has become Cassle, Castle in E, G, Corsefield[39] in D, Cashan in Irish I, Garrick[40] in American K. The Gypsy Laddie is again Johnie, Jockie, Faa in B, D, E; but Gipsy Davy in C (where Lady Cassilis is twice called Jeanie Faw), and in American I a b; and seems to be called both Johnnie Faw and Gypsie Geordie in F. The lady gives the gypsies the good wheat bread B, E (beer and wine, Finlay); they give her (sweetmeats, C) ginger, nutmeg, or both, and she gives them the ring (rings) off her finger (fingers), B, C, E, G, I, (and Finlay).

B a has a full story from this point on. The gypsy asks the lady to go with him, and swears that her lord shall never come near her. The lady changes her silk mantle for a 63plaid, and is ready to travel the world over with the gypsy, B a 5, A 3, C 4, D 3, E 4, F 4, (B a 6 is spurious). They wander high and low till they come to an old barn, and by this time she is weary. The lady begins to find out what she has undertaken: last night she lay with her lord in a well-made bed, now she must lie in an old barn, B a 7, 8, A 4, C 6, D 7, F 5 (reeky kill E 8, on a straw bed H 7, in the ash-corner I 6). The gypsy bids her hold her peace, her lord shall never come near her. They wander high and low till they come to a wan water, and by this time she is weary. Oft has she ridden that wan water with her lord; now she must set in her white feet and wade, B a 11, C 5, D 5, 6, E 7, (and carry the gipsie laddie, B a 11, badly; follow, B b). The lord comes home, is told that his lady is gone off with the gypsy, and immediately sets out to bring her back (so all). He finds her at the wan water, B a 14; in Abbey Dale, drinking wi Gipsey Davy, C 10; near Strabogie, drinking wi Gypsie Geordie, F 10;[41] by the riverside, J a 4; at the Misty Mount, K 5, 6. He asks her tenderly if she will go home, B a 15, E 15, F 12, he will shut her up so securely that no man shall come near, B a 15, E 15; he expostulates with her, more or less reproachfully, C 11, F 11, G 9, H 5, J 5. She will not go home; as she has brewed, so will she drink, B a 16, G 10; she cares not for houses or lands or babes (baby) G 10, H 6, J 6. But she swears to him that she is as free of the gypsies as when her mother bare her, B a 17, E 16.

Fifteen gypsies are hanged, or lose their lives, A 10, B 18, D 14; sixteen, all sons of one mother, C 12, 13; seven, F 13, G 11, (cf. I 1).[42]

D 8–11 is ridiculously perverted in the interest of morals: compare B a 17, E 16. ‘I swear that my hand shall never go near thee,’ D 8, is transferred to the husband in I 5: ‘A hand I’ll neer lay on you’ (in the way of correction).

In G 4 the lady, in place of exchanging her silk mantle for a plaidie, pulls off her high-heeled shoes, of Spanish leather, and puts on Highland brogues. In I 7 gypsies take off her high-heeled shoes, and she puts on Lowland brogues. The high-heeled shoes, to be sure, are not adapted to following the Gypsy Laddie, but light may perhaps be derived from C 12, where the gypsies ‘drink her stockings and her shoon.’ In K these high-heeled shoes of Spanish leather are wrongly transferred to Lord Garrick in the copy as delivered, but have been restored to the lady.

It is not said (except in the spurious portions of E) that the lady was carried back by her husband, but this may perhaps be inferred from his hanging the gypsies. In D and K we are left uncertain as to her disposition, which is elsewhere, for the most part, to stick to the gypsy. J, a copy of very slight authority, makes the lord marry again within six months of his wife’s elopement.

The earliest edition of the ballad styles the gypsy Johny Faa, but gives no clew to the fair lady. Johnny Faa was a prominent and frequent name among the gypsies. Johnnë Faw’s right and title as lord and earl of Little Egypt were recognized by James V in a document under the Privy Seal, February 15, 1540, and we learn from this paper that, even before this date, letters had been issued to the king’s officers, enjoining them to assist Johnnë Faw “in execution of justice upon his company and folks, conform to the laws of Egypt, and in punishing of all them that rebels against him.” But in the next year, by an act of the Lords of Council, June 6, Egyptians are ordered to quit the realm within thirty days on pain of death, notwithstanding any other letters or privileges granted them by the king, his grace having discharged the same. The gypsies were expelled from Scotland by act of Parliament in 1609. Johnnë, alias Willie, Faa, with three others of the name, remaining notwithstanding, were sentenced to be hanged, 1611, July 31. In 1615, January 25, a man was delated for harboring of Egyptians, 64“specially of Johnnë Fall, a notorious Egyptian and chieftain of that unhappy sort of people.” In 1616, July 24, Johnnë Faa, Egyptian, his son, and two others were condemned to be hanged for contemptuous repairing to the country and abiding therein. Finally, in 1624, January 24, Captain Johnnë Faa and seven others were sentenced to be hanged for the same offence, and on the following 29th Helen Faa, relict of the late Captain Johnnë Faa, with ten other women, was sentenced to be drowned, but execution was stayed. Eight men were executed, but the rest, “being either children and of less-age and women with child or giving suck to children,” were, after imprisonment, banished the country under pain of death, to be inflicted without further process should they be found within the kingdom after a day fixed.[43] The execution of the notorious Egyptian and chieftain Johnny Faa must have made a considerable impression, and it is presumable that this ballad may have arisen not long after. Whether this were so or not, Johnny Faa acquired popular fame, and became a personage to whom any adventure might plausibly be imputed. It is said that he has even been foisted into ‘The Douglas Tragedy’ (‘Earl Brand’), and Scott had a copy of ‘Captain Car’ in which, as in F, G, of that ballad, the scene was transferred to Ayrshire, and the incendiary was called Johnny Faa.[44]

Toward the end of the last century we begin to hear that the people in Ayrshire make the wife of the Earl of Cassilis the heroine of the ballad. This name, under the instruction of Burns, was adopted into the copy in Johnson’s Museum (which, as to the rest, is Ramsay’s), and in the index to the second volume of the Museum, 1788, we read, “neighboring tradition strongly vouches for the truth of this story.” After this we get the tradition in full, of course with considerable variety in the details, and sometimes with criticism, sometimes without.[45]

The main points in the traditional story are that John, sixth earl of Cassilis, married, for his first wife, Lady Jean Hamilton, whose affections were preëngaged to one Sir John Faa, of Dunbar. Several years after, when Lady Cassilis had become the mother of two children,[46] Sir John Faa took the opportunity of the earl’s absence from home (while Lord Cassilis was attending the Westminster Assembly, say some) to present himself at the castle, accompanied by a band of gypsies and himself disguised as a gypsy, and induced his old love to elope with him. But the earl returned in the nick of time, went in pursuit, captured the whole party, or all but one,[47] who is supposed to tell the story, and hanged them, on the dule tree, “a most umbrageous plane, which yet flourishes upon a mound in front of the castle gate.” The fugitive wife was banished from board and bed, and confined for life in a tower at Maybole, built for the purpose. “Eight heads carved in stone below one of the turrets are said to be the effigies of so many of the gypsies.”[48] The ford by which the lady and her lover crossed the River Doon is still called The Gypsies’ Steps.

65Several accounts put the abduction at the time when the Earl of Cassilis was attending the Assembly of Divines at Westminster. This was in September, 1643. It is now known that Lady Cassilis died in December, 1642. What is much more important, it is known from two letters written by the earl immediately after her death that nothing could have occurred of a nature to alienate his affection, for in the one he speaks of her as a “dear friend” and “beloved yoke-fellow,” and in the other as his “dear bed-fellow.”[49]

“Seldom, when stripped of extraneous matter, has tradition been better supported than it has been in the case of Johnie Faa and the Countess of Cassilis:” Maidment, Scotish Ballads, 1868, II, 184. In a sense not intended, this is quite true; most of the traditions which have grown out of ballads have as slight a foundation as this. The connection of the ballad with the Cassilis family (as Mr Macmath has suggested to me) may possibly have arisen from the first line of some copy reading, ‘The gypsies came to the castle-gate.’ As F 13 has perverted Earl of Cassilis to Earl of Castle, so Castle may have been corrupted into Cassilis.[50]

Knortz, Schottische Balladen, p. 28, translates freely eight stanzas from Aytoun.

Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany, vol. iv, 1740. Here from the London edition of 1763, p. 427.

The gypsies came to our good lord’s gate,
And wow but they sang sweetly!
They sang sae sweet and sae very compleat
That down came the fair lady.
And she came tripping down the stair,
And a’ her maids before her;
As soon as they saw her well-far’d face,
They coost the glamer oer her.
‘Gae tak frae me this gay mantile,
And bring to me a plaidie;
For if kith and kin and a’ had sworn,
I’ll follow the gypsie laddie.
‘Yestreen I lay in a well-made bed,
And my good lord beside me;
This night I’ll ly in a tenant’s barn,
Whatever shall betide me.’
‘Come to your bed,’ says Johny Faa,
‘Oh come to your bed, my deary;
For I vow and I swear, by the hilt of my sword,
That your lord shall nae mair come near ye.’
‘I’ll go to bed to my Johny Faa,
I’ll go to bed to my deary;
For I vow and I swear, by what past yestreen,
That my lord shall nae mair come near me.
‘I’ll mak a hap to my Johnny Faa,
And I’ll mak a hap to my deary;
And he’s get a’ the coat gaes round,
And my lord shall nae mair come near me.’
And when our lord came hame at een,
And speir’d for his fair lady,
66The tane she cry’d, and the other reply’d,
‘She’s away with the gypsie laddie.’
‘Gae saddle to me the black, black steed,
Gae saddle and make him ready;
Before that I either eat or sleep,
I’ll gae seek my fair lady.’
And we were fifteen well-made men,
Altho we were nae bonny;
And we were a’ put down for ane,
A fair young wanton lady.
a. The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany, being a new series of the Scots Magazine (vol. lxxx of the entire work), November, 1817, p. 309, communicated by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, as taken down from the recitation of a peasant in Galloway. b. A fragment recited by Miss Fanny Walker, of Mount Pleasant, near Newburgh-on-Tay, as communicated by Mr Alexander Laing, 1873.

The gypsies they came to my lord Cassilis’ yett,
And O but they sang bonnie!
They sang sae sweet and sae complete
That down came our fair ladie.
She came tripping down the stairs,
And all her maids before her;
As soon as they saw her weel-far’d face,
They coost their glamourie owre her.
She gave to them the good wheat bread,
And they gave her the ginger;
But she gave them a far better thing,
The gold ring off her finger.
‘Will ye go with me, my hinny and my heart?
Will ye go with me, my dearie?
And I will swear, by the staff of my spear,
That your lord shall nae mair come near thee.’
‘Sae take from me my silk mantel,
And bring to me a plaidie,
For I will travel the world owre
Along with the gypsie laddie.
‘I could sail the seas with my Jockie Faa,
I could sail the seas with my dearie;
I could sail the seas with my Jockie Faa,
And with pleasure could drown with my dearie.
They wandred high, they wandred low,
They wandred late and early,
Untill they came to an old tenant’s-barn,
And by this time she was weary.
‘Last night I lay in a weel-made bed,
And my noble lord beside me,
And now I must ly in an old tenant’s-barn,
And the black crew glowring owre me.’
‘O hold your tongue, my hinny and my heart,
O hold your tongue, my dearie,
For I will swear, by the moon and the stars,
That thy lord shall nae mair come near thee.’
They wandred high, they wandred low,
They wandred late and early,
Untill they came to that wan water,
And by this time she was wearie.
‘Aften have I rode that wan water,
And my lord Cassilis beside me,
And now I must set in my white feet and wade,
And carry the gypsie laddie.’
By and by came home this noble lord,
And asking for his ladie,
The one did cry, the other did reply,
‘She is gone with the gypsie laddie.’
‘Go saddle to me the black,’ he says,
‘The brown rides never so speedie,
And I will neither eat nor drink
Till I bring home my ladie.’
He wandred high, he wandred low,
He wandred late and early,
Untill he came to that wan water,
And there he spied his ladie.
‘O wilt thou go home, my hinny and my heart,
O wilt thou go home, my dearie?
67And I’ll close thee in a close room,
Where no man shall come near thee.’
‘I will not go home, my hinny and my heart,
I will not go home, my dearie;
If I have brewn good beer, I will drink of the same,
And my lord shall nae mair come near me.
‘But I will swear, by the moon and the stars,
And the sun that shines so clearly,
That I am as free of the gypsie gang
As the hour my mother did bear me.’
They were fifteen valiant men,
Black, but very bonny,
And they lost all their lives for one,
The Earl of Cassillis’ ladie.
Motherwell’s MS., p. 381, from the recitation of Agnes Lyle, Kilbarchan, 27 July, 1825.

There cam singers to Earl Cassillis’ gates,
And oh, but they sang bonnie!
They sang sae sweet and sae complete,
Till down cam the earl’s lady.
She cam tripping down the stair,
And all her maids before her;
As soon as they saw her weel-faurd face,
They coost their glamourye owre her.
They gave her o the gude sweetmeats,
The nutmeg and the ginger,
And she gied them a far better thing,
Ten gold rings aff her finger.
‘Tak from me my silken cloak,
And bring me down my plaidie;
For it is gude eneuch,’ she said,
‘To follow a Gipsy Davy.
‘Yestreen I rode this water deep,
And my gude lord beside me;
But this nicht I maun set in my pretty fit and wade,
A wheen blackguards wading wi me.
‘Yestreen I lay in a fine feather-bed,
And my gude lord beyond me;
But this nicht I maun lye in some cauld tenant’s-barn,
A wheen blackguards waiting on me.’
‘Come to thy bed, my bonny Jeanie Faw,
Come to thy bed, my dearie,
For I do swear, by the top o my spear,
Thy gude lord’ll nae mair come near thee.’
When her good lord cam hame at nicht,
It was asking for his fair ladye;
One spak slow, and another whisperd out,
‘She’s awa wi Gipsey Davy!’
‘Come saddle to me my horse,’ he said,
‘Come saddle and mak him readie!
For I’ll neither sleep, eat, nor drink
Till I find out my lady.’
They socht her up, they socht her doun,
They socht her thro nations many,
Till at length they found her out in Abbey dale,
Drinking wi Gipsey Davy.
‘Rise, oh rise, my bonnie Jeanie Faw,
Oh rise, and do not tarry!
Is this the thing ye promised to me
When at first I did thee marry?’
They drank her cloak, so did they her goun,
They drank her stockings and her shoon,
And they drank the coat that was nigh to her smock,
And they pawned her pearled apron.
They were sixteen clever men,
Suppose they were na bonny;
They are a’ to be hangd on ae tree,
For the stealing o Earl Cassilis’ lady.
‘We are sixteen clever men,
One woman was a’ our mother;
We are a’ to be hanged on ae day,
For the stealing of a wanton lady.’
Kinloch MSS, V, 331, in the handwriting of John Hill Burton; from a reciter who came from the vicinity of Craigievar.

There came Gyptians to Corse Field yeats,
Black, tho they warna bonny;
They danced so neat and they danced so fine,
Till down came the bonny lady.
She came trippin down the stair,
And her nine maidens afore her;
But up and starts him Johny Fa,
And he cast the glamour oer her.
‘Ye’ll take frae me this gay mantle,
And ye’ll gie to me a plaidie;
For I shall follow Johny Fa,
Lat weel or woe betide me.’
They’ve taen frae her her fine mantle,
And they’ve gaen to her a plaidie,
And she’s awa wi Johny Fa,
Whatever may betide her.
When they came to a wan water,
I wite it wasna bonny,
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
‘Yestreen I wade this wan water,
And my good lord was wi me;
The night I man cast aff my shoes and wide,
And the black bands widen wi me.
‘Yestreen I lay in a well made bed,
And my good lord lay wi me;
The night I maun ly in a tenant’s barn,
And the black bauds lyin wi me.’
‘Come to yer bed,’ says Johnie Fa,
‘Come to yer bed, my dearie,
And I shall swer, by the coat that I wear,
That my hand it shall never go near thee.
‘I will never come to yer bed,
I will never be yer dearie;
For I think I hear his horse’s foot
That was once called my dearie.’
‘Come to yer bed,’ says Johny Fa,
‘Come to yer bed, my dearie,
And I shall swear, by the coat that I wear,
That my hand it shall never go oer thee.’
‘I will niver come to yer bed,
I will niver be yer dearie;
For I think I hear his bridle ring
That was once called my dearie.’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
When that good lord came hame at night,
He called for his lady;
The one maid said, and the other replied,
‘She’s aff wi the Gyptian laddy.’
‘Ye’ll saddle to me the good black steed,
Tho the brown it was never so bonny;
Before that ever I eat or drink,
I shall have back my lady.’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘Yestreen we were fifteen good armed men;
Tho black, we werena bonny;
The night we a’ ly slain for one,
It’s the Laird o Corse Field’s lady.’
The Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia, by John Mactaggart, 1824, p. 284.

The gypsies they came to Lord Cassle’s yet,
And O but they sang ready!
They sang sae sweet and sae complete
That down came the lord’s fair lady.
O she came tripping down the stair,
Wi a’ her maids afore her,
And as soon as they saw her weelfared face
They cuist their glaumry owre her.
She gaed to them the gude white bread,
And they gaed to her the ginger,
Then she gaed to them a far brawer thing,
The gowd rings af her finger.
Quo she to her maids, There’s my gay mantle,
And bring to me my plaidy,
And tell my lord whan he comes hame
I’m awa wi a gypsie laddie.
For her lord he had to the hounting gane,
Awa in the wild green wuddie,
And Jockie Faw, the gypsie king,
Saw him there wi his cheeks sae ruddy.
On they mounted, and af they rade,
Ilk gypsie had a cuddy,
And whan through the stincher they did prance
They made the water muddy.
Quo she, Aft times this water I hae rade,
Wi many a lord and lady,
But never afore did I it wade
To follow a gypsie laddie.
‘Aft hae I lain in a saft feather-bed,
Wi my gude lord aside me,
But now I maun sleep in an auld reeky kilt,
Alang wi a gypsie laddie.’
Sae whan that the yirl he came hame,
His servants a’ stood ready;
Some took his horse, and some drew his boots,
But gane was his fair lady.
And whan he came ben to the parlour-door,
He asked for his fair lady,
But some denied, and ithers some replied,
‘She’s awa wi a gypsie laddie.’
‘Then saddle,’ quoth he, ‘my gude black naig,
For the brown is never sae speedy;
As I will neither eat nor drink
Till I see my fair lady.
‘I met wi a cheel as I rade hame,
And thae queer stories said he;
Sir, I saw this day a fairy queen
Fu pack wi a gypsie laddie.
‘I hae been east, and I hae been west,
And in the lang town o Kircadie,
But the bonniest lass that ever I saw
Was following a gypsie laddie.’
Sae his lordship has rade owre hills and dales,
And owre mony a wild hie mountain,
Until that he heard his ain lady say,
‘Now my lord will be hame frae the hounting.’
‘Than will yon come hame, my hinnie and my love?’
Quoth he to his charming dearie,
‘And I’ll keep ye aye in a braw close room,
Where the gypsies will never can steer ye.’
Said she, ‘I can swear by the sun and the stars,
And the moon whilk shines sae clearie,
That I am as chaste for the gypsie Jockie Faw
As the day my minnie did bear me.’
‘Gif ye wad swear by the sun,’ said he,
‘And the moon, till ye wad deave me,
Ay and tho ye wad take a far bigger aith,
My dear, I wadna believe ye.
‘I’ll tak ye hame, and the gypsies I’ll hang,
Ay, I’ll make them girn in a wuddie,
And afterwards I’ll burn Jockie Faw,
Wha fashed himself wi my fair lady.
Quoth the gypsies, We’re fifteen weel-made men,
Tho the maist o us be ill bred ay,
Yet it wad be a pity we should a’ hang for ane,
Wha fashed himself wi your fair lady.
Quoth the lady, My lord, forgive them a’,
For they nae ill eer did ye,
And gie ten guineas to the chief, Jockie Faw,
For he is a worthy laddie.
The lord he hearkened to his fair dame,
And O the gypsies war glad ay!
They danced round and round their merry Jockie Faw,
And roosed the gypsie laddie.
Sae the lord rade hame wi his charming spouse,
Owre the hills and the haughs sae whunnie,
And the gypsies slade down by yon bonny burn-side,
To beek themsells there sae sunnie.
The Songs of England and Scotland [by P. Cunningham], London, 1835, II, 346, taken down, as current in the north of England, from the recitation of John Martin, the painter.

The gypsies came to the Earl o Cassilis’ gate,
And O but they sang bonnie!
They sang sae sweet and sae complete
That down cam our fair ladie.
And she cam tripping down the stair,
Wi her twa maids before her;
As soon as they saw her weel-far’d face,
They coost their glamer oer her.
‘O come wi me,’ says Johnnie Faw,
‘O come wi me, my dearie,
For I vow and swear, by the hilt of my sword,
Your lord shall nae mair come near ye.’
‘Here, tak frae me this gay mantile,
And gie to me a plaidie;
Tho kith and kin and a’ had sworn,
I’ll follow the gypsie laddie.
‘Yestreen I lay in a weel-made bed,
And my gude lord beside me;
This night I’ll lie in a tenant’s barn,
Whatever shall betide me.
‘Last night I lay in a weel-made bed,
Wi silken hangings round me;
But now I’ll lie in a farmer’s barn,
Wi the gypsies all around me.
‘The first ale-house that we come at,
We’ll hae a pot o brandie;
The next ale-house that we came at,
We’ll drink to gypsie Geordie.’
Now when our lord cam home at een,
He speir’d for his fair lady;
The ane she cried, [the] tither replied,
‘She’s awa wi the gypsie laddie.’
‘Gae saddle me the gude black steed;
The bay was neer sae bonnie;
For I will neither eat nor sleep
Till I be wi my lady.’
Then he rode east, and he rode west,
And he rode near Strabogie,
And there he found his ain dear wife,
Drinking wi gypsie Geordie.
‘And what made you leave your houses and land?
Or what made you leave your money?
Or what made you leave your ain wedded lord,
To follow the gypsie laddie?
‘Then come thee hame, my ain dear wife,
Then come thee hame, my hinnie,
And I do swear, by the hilt of my sword,
The gypsies nae mair shall come near thee.’
Then we were seven weel-made men,
But lack! we were nae bonnie,
And we were a’ put down for ane,
For the Earl o Cassilis’ ladie.
a. A broadside in the Roxburghe Ballads, III, 685, entered in the catalogue, doubtfully, as of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1720. b. A recent stall-copy, Catnach, 2 Monmouth Court, Seven Dials.

There was seven gypsies all in a gang,
They were brisk and bonny; O
They rode till they came to the Earl of Castle’s house,
And there they sang most sweetly. O
The Earl of Castle’s lady came down,
With the waiting-maid beside her;
As soon as her fair face they saw,
They called their grandmother over.
They gave to her a nutmeg brown,
And a race of the best ginger;
She gave to them a far better thing,
’Twas the ring from off her finger.
She pulld off her high-heeld shoes,
They was made of Spanish leather;
She put on her highland brog[u]es,
To follow the gypsey loddy.
At night when my good lord came home,
Enquiring for his lady,
The waiting-maid made this reply,
‘She’s following the gypsey loddy.’
‘Come saddle me my milk-white steed,
Come saddle it so bonny,
As I may go seek my own wedded wife,
That’s following the gypsey loddy.
‘Have you been east? have you been west?
Or have you been brisk and bonny?
Or have you seen a gay lady,
A following the gypsey loddy?’
He rode all that summer’s night,
And part of the next morning;
At length he spy’d his own wedded wife,
She was cold, wet, and weary.
‘Why did you leave your houses and land?
Or why did you leave your money?
Or why did you leave your good wedded lord,
To follow the gypsey loddy?’
‘O what care I for houses and land?
Or what care I for money?
So as I have brewd, so will I return;
So fare you well, my honey!’
There was seven gypsies in a gang,
And they was brisk and bonny,
And they’re to be hanged all on a row,
For the Earl of Castle’s lady.
Shropshire Lolk-Lore, edited by Charlotte Sophia Burne, p. 550, as sung May 23, 1885, by gypsy children.

There came a gang o gipsies by,
And they was singing so merry, O
Till they gained the heart o my lady gay,
. . . . . . .
As soon as the lord he did come in,
Enquired for his lady, O
And some o the sarvants did-a reply,
‘Her’s away wi the gipsy laddie.’ O
‘O saddle me the bay, and saddle me the grey,
Till I go and sarch for my lady;’
And some o the sarvants did-a reply,
‘Her’s away wi the gipsy laddie.’
And he rode on, and he rode off,
Till he came to the gipsies’ tentie,
And there he saw his lady gay,
By the side o the gipsy laddie.
‘Didn’t I leave you houses and land?
And didn’t I leave you money?
Didn’t I leave you three pretty babes
As ever was in yonder green island?’
‘What care I for houses and land?
And what care I for money?
What do I care for three pretty babes?’
. . . . . . .
‘The tother night you was on a feather bed,
Now you’re on a straw one,’
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
From Miss Margaret Reburn, “as sung in County Meath, Ireland, about 1860.”

There come seven gypsies on a day,
Oh, but they sang bonny! O
And they sang so sweet, and they sang so clear,
Down cam the earl’s ladie. O
They gave to her the nutmeg,
And they gave to her the ginger;
But she gave to them a far better thing,
The seven gold rings off her fingers.
When the earl he did come home,
Enquiring for his ladie,
72One of the servants made this reply,
‘She’s awa with the gypsie lad[d]ie.’
‘Come saddle for me the brown,’ he said,
‘For the black was neer so speedy,
And I will travel night and day
Till I find out my ladie.
‘Will you come home, my dear?’ he said,
‘Oh will you come home, my honey?
And, by the point of my broad sword,
A hand I’ll neer lay on you.’
‘Last night I lay on a good feather-bed,
And my own wedded lord beside me,
And tonight I’ll lie in the ash-corner,
With the gypsies all around me.
‘They took off my high-heeled shoes,
That were made of Spanish leather,
And I have put on coarse Lowland brogues,
To trip it oer the heather.’
‘The Earl of Cashan is lying sick;
Not one hair I’m sorry;
I’d rather have a kiss from his fair lady’s lips
Than all his gold and his money.’
a. Written down by Newton Pepoun, as learned from a boy with whom he went to school in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, about 1845. b. From the singing of Mrs Farmer, born in Maine, as learned by her daughter, about 1840.

There was a gip came oer the land,
He sung so sweet and gaily;
He sung with glee, neath the wild wood tree,
He charmed the great lord’s lady.
Ring a ding a ding go ding go da,
Ring a ding a ding go da dy,
Ring a ding a ding go ding go da,
She’s gone with the gipsey Davy.
The lord he came home late that night;
Enquiring for his lady,
‘She’s gone, she’s gone,’ said his old servant-man,
‘She’s gone with the gipsey Davy.’
‘Go saddle me my best black mare;
The grey is neer so speedy;
For I’ll ride all night, and I’ll ride all day,
Till I overtake my lady.’
Riding by the river-side,
The grass was wet and dewy;
Seated with her gipsey lad,
It’s there he spied his lady.
‘Would you forsake your house and home?
Would you forsake your baby?
Would you forsake your own true love,
And go with the gipsey Davy?’
‘Yes, I’ll forsake my house and home,
Yes, I’ll forsake my baby;
What care I for my true love?
I love the gipsey Davy.’
The great lord he rode home that night,
He took good care of his baby,
And ere six months had passed away
He married another lady.
a. From Mrs Helena Titus Brown of New York. b. From Miss Emma A. Clinch of New York. Derived, 1820, or a little later, a directly, b indirectly, from the singing of Miss Phœbe Wood, Huntington, Long Island, and perhaps learned from English soldiers there stationed during the Revolutionary war.

  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘Go bring me down my high-heeled shoes,
Made of the Spanish leather,
And I’ll take off my low-heeled shoes,
And away we’ll go together.’
Lumpy dumpy linky dinky day
Lumpy dumpy linky dinky daddy
They brought her down her high-heeled shoes,
Made of the Spanish leather,
And she took off her low-heeled shoes,
And away they went together.
And when Lord Garrick he got there,
Inquiring for his lady,
Then up steps his best friend:
‘She’s gone with a gipsy laddie.’
‘Go saddle me my bonny brown,
For the grey is not so speedy,
And away we’ll go to the Misty Mount,
And overtake my lady.’
They saddled him his bonny brown,
For the grey was not so speedy,
And away they went to the Misty Mount,
And overtook his lady.
And when Lord Garrick he got there,
’Twas in the morning early,
And there he found his lady fair,
And she was wet and weary.
‘And it’s fare you well, my dearest dear,
And it’s fare you well for ever,
And if you don’t go with me now,
Don’t let me see you never.’

Variations of Finlay, II, 39 ff.

Inserted after 2:

‘O come with me,’ says Johnie Faw,
‘O come with me, my dearie;
For I vow and I swear, by the hilt of my sword,
That your lord shall nae mair come near ye.’
Then she gied them the beer and the wine,
And they gied her the ginger;
But she gied them a far better thing,
The goud ring aff her finger.
42. Wi my.

43. But this.

63. For I vow and I swear, by the fan in my hand.

72. And wanting.

92. Otherwise: The brown was neer sae ready.

103. but ane.

104. For a.

Herd has in 103,4 but ane, For. Pinkerton follows Herd, with changes of his own in 1, 10, and the omission of 7. The copy in Johnson’s Museum is Herd’s, with changes: in 103,4, are a’ put down for ane, The Earl of Cassilis’ lady. Ritson follows Ramsay, except that in 62 he has And I’ll, found in Herd; perhaps also in some edition of the Tea-Table Miscellany.

B. a.

“Some lines have been omitted on account of their indelicacy:” p. 308 b. The reference is no doubt to a stanza corresponding to A 7, or perhaps to a passage like 5–7.


Only 1, 2, 5, 10–13, are preserved.

11. gipsies cam to oor ha-door.

14. doon stairs cam oor gay leddie.

22. afore.

23. An whan they.

24. cuist the glamour.

51. my gay mantle.

52. me my.

53. For I maun leave my guid lord at hame.

54. An follow the.

101. They travelld east, they travelld wast.

102. They travelld.

103. to the.

104. By that time she.

111. I crost this.

112. An my guid man.

113. Noo I maun put.

114. An follow.

121. Whan her guid lord cam hame at nicht.

122. He spierd for his gay.

123. The tane she cried an the ither replied.

124. She’s aff.

131. the brown, he said.

132. The black neer rides.

133. For I.

134. Till I’ve brought back.


41. Originally plaid was written for cloak; evidently by accidental anticipation.

53. fit altered perhaps from fut; printed fit.

Motherwell has made several verbal changes in printing, and has inserted three stanzas to fill out the ballad.

After 3,

‘Come with me, my bonnie Jeanie Faw,
O come with me, my dearie;
For I do swear, by the head o my spear,
Thy gude lord’ll nae mair come near thee.’
After 7,

‘I’ll go to bed,’ the lady she said,
‘I’ll go to bed to my dearie;
74For I do swear, by the fan in my hand,
That my lord shall nae mair come near me.
‘I’ll mak a hap,’ the lady she said,
‘I’ll mak a hap to my dearie,
And he’s get a’ this petticoat gaes round,
And my lord shall nae mair come near me.’

12, 13. After 9 of A, says Finlay, some copies insert:

And he’s rode east, and he’s rode west,
Till he came near Kirkaldy;
There he met a packman-lad,
And speir’d for his fair lady.
‘O cam ye east? or cam ye west?
Or cam ye through Kirkaldy?
O saw na ye a bonny lass,
Following the gypsie laddie?’
‘I cam na east, I cam na west,
Nor cam I through Kirkaldy;
But the bonniest lass that eer I saw
Was following the gypsie laddie!’
See also G 7.

G. a.

43. br oges.


In stanzas of eight lines.

11. There were.

22. With her.

23. fair wanting.

24. They cast the glamer over her.

32. Which was of the belinger.

34. ’Twas wanting.

42. They were.

43. brogues.

44. laddy, and always.

61. me wanting.

63. That I may go and seek.

64. Who’s.

74. Following a.

81. all the summer.

83. espied.

84. and wet.

91. O why.

93. your own.

101. lands.

103. will I remain.

111. There were.

112. They were.

113. all in.


21. the lawyer did.

J. b.

The gypsy came tripping over the lea,
The gypsy he sang boldly;
He sang till he made the merry woods ring,
And he charmed the heart of the lady.
Order: 1, 5, 6, 2, 3.

2 (as 4).
The lord came home that self-same night,
Inquired for his lady;
The merry maid made him this reply,
‘She’s gone with the gypsy Davy.’
3 (as 5).
‘O bring me out the blackest steed;
The brown one’s not so speedy;
I’ll ride all day, and I’ll ride all night,
Till I overtake my lady.’
4 (as 7).
He rode along by the river-side,
The water was black and rily,
. . . . . . .
. . . . . .
5 (as 2).

51,2. Will you.

53. Will you forsake your own wedded lord.

6 (as 3).

62. And I’ll.

63. I will forsake my own wedded lord.

64. And go with the gypsy Davy.

7. Wanting.

b 6. I lay last night. The rest wanting.

b 8. Puts the question whether she will go back.

b 9. I lay last night. The rest wanting.

K. a.

The order as delivered was 3, 1, 2, etc., and the high-heeled shoes were attributed to Lord Garrick. Him, his, he in 2 have been changed to her, her, she. But a further change should be made for sense, in 1, 2: the lady should take off her high-heeled shoes and put on her low-heeled shoes; see G 4, I 8.

Burden given also:

Lal dee dumpy dinky diddle dah day
b. Burden:

Rump a dump a dink a dink a day
Rump a dump a dink a dink a dady.

Rink a dink a dink a dink a day
Rink a dink a dink a dink a day dee.
Order as in a.

11. fetch me.

13. And take away.

21. fetched him down his.

23. And they took away his.

31. got home.

34. with the.

41. Go fetch me out.

43. And we’ll away to.

44. To for And.

51. They fetched him out.

54. To overtake my.

63. lady bright.

73. you won’t.


a. Sharpe’s Ballad Book, 1823, p. 62. b. Lyle’s Ancient Ballads and Songs, 1827, p. 160, “collated from the singing of two aged persons, one of them a native of Perthshire.” c. Scott’s Minstrelsy, 1833, I, 45, two stanzas.

A squib on the birth of the Chevalier St George, beginning

Bessy Bell and Mary Grey,
Those famous bonny lasses,
shows that this little ballad, or song, was very well known in the last years of the seventeenth century.[51] The first stanza was made by Ramsay the beginning of a song of his own, and stands thus in Ramsay’s Poems, Edinburgh, 1721, p. 80:[52]

O Bessy Bell and Mary Gray,
They are twa bonny lasses;
They biggd a bower on yon Burn-brae,
And theekd it oer wi rashes.
Cunningham, Songs of Scotland, III, 60, gives, as recited to him by Sir Walter Scott, four stanzas which are simply a with ‘Lyndoch brae’ substituted in the third for Sharpe’s ‘Stronach haugh.’ ‘Dranoch haugh,’ nearly as in b, is, as will presently appear, the right reading. Sharpe’s third stanza, with the absurd variation of royal kin, occurs in a letter of his of the date November 25, 1811 (Letters, ed. Allardyce, I, 504), and is printed in the Musical Museum, IV, *203, ed. 1853.

In the course of a series of letters concerning the ballad in The Scotsman (newspaper), August 30 to September 8, 1886, several verses are cited with trivial variations from the texts here given.

‘Bessy Bell’ was made into this nursery-song in England (Halliwell’s Nursery Rhymes of England, 1874, p. 246, No 484):

Bessy Bell and Mary Gray,
They were two bonny lasses;
They built their house upon the lea,
And covered it with rashes.
Bessy kept the garden-gate,
And Mary kept the pantry;
Bessy always had to wait,
While Mary lived in plenty.
The most important document relating to Bessy Bell and Mary Gray is a letter written June 21, 1781, by Major Barry, then proprietor of Lednock, and printed in the Transactions of the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland, II, 108, 1822.[53]

“When I came first to Lednock,” says Major Barry, “I was shewn in a part of my ground (called the Dranoch-haugh) an heap of stones almost covered with briers, thorns and fern, which they assured me was the burial place of Bessie Bell and Mary Gray.

“The tradition of the country relating to these ladys is, that Mary Gray’s father was laird of Lednock and Bessie Bell’s of Kinvaid, a place in this neighbourhood; that they were both very handsome, and an intimate friendship subsisted between them; that while Miss Bell was on a visit to Miss Gray, the plague 76broke out, in the year 1666; in order to avoid which they built themselves a bower about three quarters of a mile west from Lednock House, in a very retired and romantic place called Burn-braes, on the side of Brauchie-burn. Here they lived for some time; but the plague raging with great fury, they caught the infection, it is said, from a young gentleman who was in love with them both. He used to bring them their provision. They died in this bower, and were buried in the Dranoch-haugh, at the foot of a brae of the same name, and near to the bank of the river Almond. The burial-place lies about half a mile west from the present house of Lednock.[54]

“I have removed all the rubbish from this little spot of classic ground, inclosed it with a wall, planted it round with flowering shrubs, made up the grave double, and fixed a stone in the wall, on which is engraved the names of Bessie Bell and Mary [Gray].”

The estate passed by purchase to Thomas Graham, afterwards Lord Lynedoch, who replaced the wall, which had become dilapidated in the course of half a century, with a stone parapet and iron railing, and covered the grave with a slab inscribed, “They lived, they loved, they died.” This slab is now hidden under a cairn of stones raised by successive pilgrims.

Major Barry’s date of 1666 should be put back twenty years. Perth and the neighborhood (Lednock is seven miles distant) were fearfully ravaged by the plague in 1645 and a year or two following. Three thousand people are said to have perished. Scotland escaped the pestilence of 1665–6.[55]

The young gentleman who is said to have brought food to Bessy and Mary is sometimes described as the lover of both, sometimes as the lover of one of the pair. Pennant says that the ballad was “composed by a lover deeply stricken with the charms of both.” In the course of tradition, the lover is said to have perished with the young women, which we might expect to happen if he brought the contagion to the bower. But this lover, who ought to have had his place in the song, appears only in tradition, and his reality may be called in question. It is not rational that the young women should seclude themselves to avoid the pest and then take the risk of the visits of a person from the seat of the infection.[56] To be sure it may be doubted, notwithstanding the tenor of the ballad, whether the retirement of these young ladies was voluntary, or at least whether they had not taken the plague before they removed to their bower. In that case the risk would have been for the lover, and would have been no more than he might naturally assume.[57]

O Bessie Bell and Mary Gray,
They war twa bonnie lasses;
They bigget a bower on yon burn-brae,
And theekit it oer wi rashes.
They theekit it oer wi rashes green,
They theekit it oer wi heather;
But the pest cam frae the burrows-town,
And slew them baith thegither.
They thought to lye in Methven kirk-yard,
Amang their noble kin;
But they maun lye in Stronach haugh,
To biek forenent the sin.
And Bessy Bell and Mary Gray,
They war twa bonnie lasses;
They biggit a bower on yon burn-brae,
And theekit it oer wi rashes.

In eight-line stanzas.


13. house for bower.

21. wi birk and brume.

23. Till the: frae the neibrin.

24. An streekit.

31. They were na buried in.

32. Amang the rest o their kin.

33. they were buried by Dornoch-haugh.

34. On the bent before.

41. Sing for And.

43. Wha for They.

44. wi thrashes.


11. O wanting.

2. Wanting.

31. They wadna rest in Methvin kirk.

32. gentle kin.

33. But they wad lie in Lednoch braes.

34. beek against.

4. Wanting.


Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, III, 153, 1803, II, 166, 1833; “preserved by tradition in Selkirkshire.”
After six brilliant victories, at Tipper-muir, Aberdeen, Inverlochy, Auldearn, Alford, Kilsyth, gained in less than a year, September 1, 1644–August 15, 1645, Montrose was surprised by David Leslie at Philiphaugh, September 13 following, and his army cut to pieces or dispersed. This army, consisting of only five hundred Irish foot and twelve hundred Scottish horse, the last all gentry, was lying at Philiphaugh, a meadow on the west side of the Ettrick, and at Selkirk, on and above the opposite bank. Leslie came down from the north with four thousand cavalry and some infantry, was less than four miles from Selkirk the night of the twelfth, and on the morrow, favored by a heavy mist, had advanced to about half a mile’s distance before his approach was reported. A hundred and fifty of Montrose’s horse received and repulsed two charges of greatly superior numbers; the rest stood off and presently took to flight. The foot remained firm. Two thousand of Leslie’s horse crossed the river and got into Montrose’s rear, and made resistance vain. Montrose and a few friends hewed their way through the enemy.[58]

1. Harehead wood is at the western end of the plain of Philiphaugh.

2, 3. Leslie had come up from Berwick along the eastern coast as far as Tranent, and then suddenly turned south. His numbers are put too low, and Montrose’s, in 10, about nine times too high.

4. The Shaw burn is a small stream that 78flows into the Ettrick from the south, a little north of the town.

5. Lingly burn falls into the Ettrick from the north, a little above the Shaw burn.

The ‘aged father,’ 6, to accept a tradition reported by Sir Walter Scott, was one “Brydone, ancestor to several families in the parish of Ettrick.” This is probably the personage elsewhere called Will, upon whose advice Leslie (according to tradition again) “sent a strong body of horse over a dip in the bank that separated his advanced guard from the river Ettrick, and still known as “Will’s Nick,” with instructions to follow their guide up Netley burn, wheel to the left round Linglee hill, and then fall upon the flank of Montrose’s army at Philiphaugh.”[59] It does not appear that Leslie adopted that portion of the aged father’s recommendation which is conveyed in stanzas 11, 12, notwithstanding the venerable man’s unusual experience, which, as Scott points out, extended from Solway Moss, 1542, to Dunbar, where, in 1650, five years after Philiphaugh, Leslie was defeated by Cromwell.

Other pieces of popular verse relating, in part or wholly, to Montrose are ‘The Gallant Grahams,’ Roxburghe collection, III, 380, Douce, III, 39 back, Ebsworth, Roxburghe Ballads, VI, 587, Scott’s Minstrelsy, III, 371, 1803, II, 183, 1833; ‘The Haughs o Cromdale,’ Ritson’s Scotish Songs, 1794, II, 40, Johnson’s Museum, No 488, Maidment’s Scotish Ballads and Songs, 1868, I, 299, Hogg’s Jacobite Relics, I, 157 ff; ‘The Battle of Alford,’ Laing’s Thistle of Scotland, p. 68.

On Philiphaugh a fray began,
At Hairheadwood it ended;
The Scots outoer the Græmes they ran,
Sae merrily they bended.
Sir David frae the Border came,
Wi heart an hand came he;
Wi him three thousand bonny Scots,
To bear him company.
Wi him three thousand valiant men,
A noble sight to see!
A cloud o mist them weel conceald,
As close as eer might be.
When they came to the Shaw burn,
Said he, Sae weel we frame,
I think it is convenient
That we should sing a psalm.
When they came to the Lingly burn,
As daylight did appear,
They spy’d an aged father,
And he did draw them near.
‘Come hither, aged father,’
Sir David he did cry,
‘And tell me where Montrose lies,
With all his great army.’
‘But first you must come tell to me,
If friends or foes you be;
I fear you are Montrose’s men,
Come frae the north country.’
‘No, we are nane o Montrose’s men,
Nor eer intend to be;
I am Sir David Lesly,
That’s speaking unto thee.’
‘If you’re Sir David Lesly,
As I think weel ye be,
I am sorry ye hae brought so few
Into your company.
‘There’s fifteen thousand armed men
Encamped on yon lee;
Ye’ll never be a bite to them,
For aught that I can see.
‘But halve your men in equal parts,
Your purpose to fulfill;
Let ae half keep the
The rest gae round the hill.
‘Your nether party fire must,
Then beat a flying drum;
And then they’ll think the day’s their ain,
And frae the trench they’ll come.
‘Then, those that are behind them maun
Gie shot, baith grit and sma;
And so, between your armies twa,
Ye may make them to fa.’
‘O were ye ever a soldier?’
Sir David Lesly said;
‘O yes; I was at Solway Flow,
Where we were all betrayd.
‘Again I was at curst Dunbar,
And was a prisner taen,
And many weary night and day
In prison I hae lien.’
‘If ye will lead these men aright,
Rewarded shall ye be;
But, if that ye a traitor prove,
I’ll hang thee on a tree.’
‘Sir, I will not a traitor prove;
Montrose has plunderd me;
I’ll do my best to banish him
Away frae this country.’
He halvd his men in equal parts,
His purpose to fulfill;
The one part kept the water-side,
The other gaed round the hill.
The nether party fired brisk,
Then turnd and seemd to rin;
And then they a’ came frae the trench,
And cry’d, The day’s our ain!
The rest then ran into the trench,
And loosd their cannons a’:
And thus, between his armies twa,
He made them fast to fa.
Now let us a’ for Lesly pray,
And his brave company,
For they hae vanquishd great Montrose,
Our cruel enemy.
44. Var. That we should take a dram: Scott. Probably a jocose suggestion.


A. a. ‘The Baronne of Braikley,’ [Alexander Laing’s] Scarce Ancient Ballads, 1822, p. 9. b. ‘The Baron of Braikley,’ Buchan’s Gleanings, 1825, p. 68. c. ‘The Barrone of Brackley,’ The New Deeside Guide, by James Brown (pseudonym for Joseph Robertson), Aberdeen, [1832[60]], p. 46.

B. ‘The Baron of Brackley,’ Kinloch MSS, V, 379; in the handwriting of John Hill Burton.

C. a. ‘The Baron of Braikly,’ Jamieson-Brown MS., Appendix, p. viii. b. ‘The Baron of Brackley,’ Jamieson’s Popular Ballads, 1806, I, 102.

D. ‘The Baron of Breachell,’ Skene MS., p. 110.

First printed by Jamieson (C b) in 1806, who says: “For the copy of the ballad here given I am indebted to Mrs Brown. I have also collated it with another, less perfect, but not materially different, so far as it goes, with which I was favored by the editor of the Border 80Minstrelsy, who took it down from the recitation of two ladies, great-grandchildren of Farquharson of Inverey; so that the ballad, and the notices that accompany it, are given upon the authority of a Gordon [Anne Gordon, Mrs Brown] and a Farquharson.”[61] A c is also a compounded copy: see the notes.

The text in The Thistle of Scotland, p. 46, is C b. That which is cited in part in the Fourth Report on Historical Manuscripts, 1874, p. 534, is A c. The ballad is rewritten by Allan Cunningham, Songs of Scotland, II, 208.

A. Inverey comes before day to Brackley’s gate, and calls to him to open and have his blood spilled. Brackley asks over the wall whether the people below are gentlemen or hired gallows-birds; if gentlemen, they may come in and eat and drink; in the other case, they may go on to the Lowlands and steal cattle. His wife urges him to get up; the men are nothing but hired gallows-birds. Brackley will go out to meet Inverey (both know it is he, 12, 19), but these same gallows-birds will prove themselves men. His wife derisively calls on her maids to bring their distaffs; if Brackley is not man enough to protect his cattle, she will drive off the robbers with her women. Brackley says he will go out, but he shall never come in. He arms and sallies forth, attended by his brother William, his uncle, and his cousin; but presently bids his brother turn back because he is a bridegroom. William refuses, and in turn, but equally to no effect, urges Brackley to turn back for his wife’s and his son’s sake. The Gordons are but four against four hundred of Inverey’s, and are all killed. Brackley’s wife, so far from tearing her hair, braids it, welcomes Inverey, and makes him a feast. The son, on the nurse’s knee, vows to be revenged if he lives to be a man. (Cf. ‘Johnie Armstrong,’ III, 367, where this should have been noted.)

The other versions agree with A a in the material points. Inverey’s numbers are diminished. In B 10, C 11, Brackley has only his brother with him, meaning, perhaps, when he leaves his house. The fight was not simply at the gates, but was extended over a considerable distance (A 33, B 11), and other men joined the Gordons in the course of it. In B 12 we learn that the miller’s four sons (D 10, the miller and his three sons) were killed with the Gordons (and William Gordon’s wife, or bride, in A 25, is ‘bonnie Jean, the maid o the mill’). In B 15, D 12, Craigevar comes up with a party, and might have saved Brackley’s life had he been there an hour sooner. In A a, b, C, D, Brackley’s wife is Peggy (Peggy Dann, wrongly, D 14, 15); in B 19 (wrongly) Catharine Fraser. D makes Catharine the wife of Gordon of Glenmuick (Alexander Gordon, A a 35), who rives her hair, as Brackley’s wife does not (14, 15, 18, 19). In C, Peggy Gordon, besides feasting Inverey, keeps him till morning, and then shows him a road by which he may go safely home. C b adds, for poetical justice, that Inverey at once let this haggard down the wind.

This affray occurred in September, 1666. The account of it given by the Gordons (the son of the murdered laird and the Marquis of Huntly) was that John Gordon of Brackley, having poinded cattle belonging to John Farquharson of Inverey, or his followers, Inverey “convoked his people, to revenge himself on Brackley for putting the law in execution; that he came to the house of Brackley, and required the laird to restore his cattle which had been poinded; and that, although the laird gave a fair answer, yet the Farquharsons, with the view of drawing him out of his house, drove away not only the poinded cattle but also Brackley’s own cattle, and when the latter was thus forced to come out of his house, the Farquharsons fell on him and murdered him and his brother.”

A memorandum for John Farquharson of 81Inverey and others, 24 January, 1677, “sets forth that John Gordon of Brackley, having bought from the sheriff of Aberdeen the fines exigible from Inverey and others for killing of black-fish, the said Brackley made friendly arrangements with others, but declined to settle with Inverey; whereupon the latter, being on his way to the market at Tullich,[62] sent Mr John Ferguson, minister at Glenmuick, John McHardy of Crathie, a notary, and Duncan Erskine, portioner of Invergelder, to the laird of Brackley, with the view of representing to him that Inverey and his tenants were willing to settle their fines on the same terms as their neighbors. These proposals were received by Brackley with contempt, and during the time of the communing he gathered his friends and attacked Inverey, and having ‘loused severall shotts’ against Inverey’s party, the return shots of the latter were in self-defence. The result was that the laird of Brackley, with his brother William and their cousin James Gordon in Cults, were killed on the one side, and on the other Robert McWilliam in Inverey, John McKenzie, sometime there, and Malcom Gordon the elder.” The convocation of Inverey’s friends is accounted for in the same document by the fact that Inverey was captain of the watch for the time; that he and his ancestors had been used to go to the market with men to guard it; and that it is the custom of the country for people who are going to the market to join any numerous company that may be going the same way, either for their own security or out of “kindness for the persons with whom they go,” and also the custom of that mountainous country to go with arms, especially at markets. (Abstract, by Dr. John Stuart, of a MS. of Col. James Farquharson of Invercauld, Historical MSS Commission, Fourth Report, p. 534).

Another account, agreeing in all important points with the last, is given in a history of the family of Macintosh.[63] It will be borne in mind that Inverey belonged to this clan, and that acts of his would therefore be put in a favorable light. Brackley had seized the horses of some of Inverey’s people on account of fines alleged to be due by them for taking salmon in the Dee out of season. Inverey represented to Brackley that the sufferers by this proceeding were men who had incurred no penalty, and offered, if the horses should be restored, to deliver the guilty parties for punishment. Brackley would not return the horses on these terms, and Inverey then proposed that the matter in dispute should be left to friends. While Brackley was considering what to do, Alexander Gordon of Aberfeldy came to offer his services, with a body of armed men, and Brackley, now feeling himself strong, rejected the suggestion of a peaceful solution, and set out to attack Inverey. When a collision was impending, Inverey at first drew back, begging Brackley to desist from violence, which only made Brackley and Aberfeldy the keener. Two of Inverey’s followers were slain; and then Inverey and his men, in self-defence, turned on their assailants, and killed Gordon of Brackley, his brother William, and James Gordon of Cults.

The Gordons, this account further says, began a prosecution of Inverey and his party before the Court of Justiciary. Inverey had recourse to Macintosh, his chief, who exerted himself so effectually in behalf of his kinsman that when the case was called no plaintiff appeared. Nevertheless Dr John Stuart (Historical MSS, as above) produces a warrant “for apprehending John Farquharson of Inverey and others his followers, who had been outlawed for not compearing to answer at their trial, and had subsequently continued for many years in their outlawry, associating with themselves a company of thieves, murderers, and sorners; therefore empowering 82James Innes, Serjeant, and Corporal Radnoch, commanding a party of troops at Kincardine O’Neill, to apprehend the said John Farquharson and his accomplices.” From this warrant Dr Stuart considers that we may infer that Inverey was the aggressor in the affray with Brackley. But there is nothing to identify the case, and the date of the warrant is February 12, 1685, nearly twenty years from the affair which we are occupied with, during which space, unless he were of an unusually peaceable habit, Inverey might have had several broils on his hands.

Gordon of Brackley, as reported by Mrs Brown, from what she may have heard in her girlhood, a hundred years after his tragical end, was “a man universally esteemed.”[64] “Farquharson of Inverey,” says Jamieson, without giving his authority, “a renowned freebooter on Deeside, was his relation, and in habits of friendly intercourse with him. Farquharson was fierce, daring, and active, exhibiting all the worst characteristics of a freebooter, with nothing of that blunt and partially just and manly generosity which were then not uncommonly met with among that description of men. The common people supposed him (as they did Dundee, and others of the same cast who were remarkable for their fortunate intrepidity and miraculous escapes) to be a warlock, and proof against steel and lead. He is said to have been buried on the north side of a hill, which the sun could never shine upon, etc.” All which, as far as appears, is merely the tradition of Jamieson’s day, and will be taken at different values by different readers.

The ‘Peggy’ of A a, b, C, D was Margaret Burnet, daughter of Sir Thomas Burnet of Leys, and own cousin of Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury.[65] This lady married Gordon of Brackley against her friends’ wishes, or without their consent, and so probably made a love-match. After Brackley’s death she married one James Leslie, Doctor of Medicine,[66] a fact which will suffice to offset the unconfirmed scandal of the ballad.

It is now to be noted that a baron of Brackley had been murdered by caterans towards the end of the preceding century. “The Clanchattan, who, of all that faction, most eagerly endeavored to revenge the Earl of Murray his death, assembling their forces under Angus Donald Williamson his conduct, entered Strathdee and Glenmuick, where they invaded the Earl of Huntly his lands, and killed four of the surname of Gordon, Henry Gordon of the Knock, Alexander Gordon of Teldow, Thomas Gordon of Blaircharrish, and the old baron of Breaghly, whose death and manner thereof was so much the more lamented because he was very aged, and much given to hospitality, and slain under trust. He was killed by them in his own house after he had made them good cheer, without suspecting or expecting any such reckoning for his kindly entertainment; which happened the first day of November, 1592. In revenge whereof the Earl of Huntly assembled some of his forces and made an expedition into Pettie,” etc. (See No 183, III, 456.) So writes Sir Robert Gordon, before 1630.[67]

Upon comparing Sir Robert Gordon’s description of the old baron of Brackley who was murdered in 1592 with what is said of the baron in the ballad (A), there is a likeness for which there is no historical authority in the instance of the baron of 1666. The 83ballad intimates the hospitality which is emphasized by Sir Robert Gordon, and also the baron’s unconsciousness of his having any foe to dread. (“An honest aged man,” says Spotiswood, “against whom they could pretend no quarrel.”) Other details are not pertinent to the elder baron, but belong demonstrably to the Brackley who had a quarrel with Farquharson.

Of the two, the older Brackley would have a better chance of being celebrated in a ballad. He was an aged and innocent man, slain while dispensing habitual hospitality, “slain under trust.” The younger Brackley treated Inverey’s people harshly, there was an encounter, Brackley was killed, and others on both sides. His friends may have mourned for him, but there was no call for the feeling expressed in the ballad; that would be more naturally excited by the death of the kindly old man, ‘who basely was slain.’ On the whole it may be surmised that two occurrences, or even two ballads, have been blended, and some slight items of corroborative evidence may favor this conclusion.

‘The Gordons may mourn him and bann Inverey,’ says B 14. It appears that the Earl of Aboyne sided with Inverey, though the Marquis of Huntly supported the laird of Brackley’s son;[68] whereas all the Gordons would have mourned the older baron, and none would have maintained the caterans who slew him.

In the affray with the Farquharsons in 1666 there were killed, of the Gordons, besides Brackley, his brother William and his cousin James Gordon of Cults. The Gordons killed by the Clanchattan in 1592 were Brackley, Henry Gordon of the Knock, an Alexander Gordon (also a Thomas). According to A 34, 35, the Gordons killed were Brackley and his brother William, his cousin James of the Knox [Knocks, Knock], and his uncle Alexander Gordon; according to B 12, 13, there were killed, besides Brackley, “Harry Gordon and Harry of the Knock” (one and the same person), Brackley’s brother, as we see from 10; in D 10, the killed are Brackley, and Sandy Gordon o the Knock, called Peter in 21. A Gordon of the Knock is named as killed in A, B, D, and it is Henry Gordon in B; an Alexander Gordon is named in A, B. A William Gordon and a James (of the Knocks, not of the Cults) are named in A. On the whole, the names sort much better with the earlier story.

In B 15 we are told that if Craigievar had come up an hour sooner, Brackley had not been slain. Upon this Dr Joseph Robertson (who assigned the ballad to 1592) has observed, Kinloch MSS, VI, 24, that Craigievar passed to a branch of the family of Forbes in 1625; so that Craigievar would have done nothing to save Brackley in 1666, the Gordons and the Forbeses having long been at feud. To make sense of this stanza we must suppose an earlier date than 1625.

The fourth edition of Spotiswood’s history, printed in 1677 (about forty years after the author’s death), calls Brackley of 1592 John Gordon. Further, there is this anonymous marginal note, not found in the preceding editions: “I have read in a MS. called the Acts of the Gordons, that Glenmuick, Glentaner, Strathdee and Birs were spoiled, and Brachlie, with his son-in-law, slain, by Mackondoquy [that is Maconochie, alias Campbell] of Inner-Aw.”[69]

Brackley, on the Muick, is in close vicinity to the village of Ballater, on the Dee, some forty miles westward from Aberdeen.

Translated by Knortz, Lieder u. Romanzen Alt-Englands, p. 156, after Allingham.

a. Scarce Ancient Ballads [Alexander Laing], Aberdeen, 1822, p. 9. b. Buchan’s Gleanings, p. 68. c. The New Deeside Guide, by James Brown (i.e. Joseph Robertson), Aberdeen [1832], p. 46.

Inverey cam doun Deeside, whistlin and playin,
He was at brave Braikley’s yett ere it was dawin.
He rappit fu loudly an wi a great roar,
Cried, Cum doun, cum doun, Braikley, and open the door.
‘Are ye sleepin, Baronne, or are ye wakin?
Ther’s sharpe swords at your yett, will gar your blood spin.
‘Open the yett, Braikley, and lat us within,
Till we on the green turf gar your bluid rin.’
Out spak the brave baronne, owre the castell-wa:
‘Are ye cum to spulyie and plunder mi ha?
‘But gin ye be gentlemen, licht and cum in:
Gin ye drink o my wine, ye’ll nae gar my bluid spin.
‘Gin ye be hir’d widifus, ye may gang by,
Ye may gang to the lawlands and steal their fat ky.
‘Ther spulyie like rievers o wyld kettrin clan,
Who plunder unsparing baith houses and lan.
‘Gin ye be gentlemen, licht an cum [in],
Ther’s meat an drink i my ha for every man.
‘Gin ye be hir’d widifus, ye may gang by,
Gang doun to the lawlands, and steal horse and ky.’
Up spak his ladie, at his bak where she lay,
‘Get up, get up, Braikley, and be not afraid;
The’r but young hir’d widifus wi belted plaids.’
‘Cum kiss me, mi Peggy, I’le nae langer stay,
For I will go out and meet Inverey.
‘But haud your tongue, Peggy, and mak nae sic din,
For yon same hir’d widifus will prove themselves men.’
She called on her marys, they cam to her hand;
Cries, Bring me your rocks, lassies, we will them command.
‘Get up, get up, Braikley, and turn bak your ky,
Or me an mi women will them defy.
‘Cum forth then, mi maidens, and show them some play;
We’ll ficht them, and shortly the cowards will fly.
‘Gin I had a husband, whereas I hae nane,
He woud nae ly i his bed and see his ky taen.
‘Ther’s four-and-twenty milk-whit calves, twal o them ky,
In the woods o Glentanner, it’s ther thei a’ ly.
‘Ther’s goat i the Etnach, and sheep o the brae,
An a’ will be plunderd by young Inverey.’
‘Now haud your tongue, Peggy, and gie me a gun,
Ye’ll see me gae furth, but I’ll never cum in.
‘Call mi brother William, mi unkl also,
Mi cousin James Gordon; we’ll mount and we’ll go.’
When Braikley was ready and stood i the closs,
He was the bravest baronne that eer mounted horse.
Whan all wer assembld o the castell green,
No man like brave Braikley was ther to be seen.
. . . . . . .
‘Turn bak, brother William, ye are a bridegroom;
‘Wi bonnie Jean Gordon, the maid o the mill;
O sichin and sobbin she’ll soon get her fill.’
‘I’m no coward, brother, ’tis kend I’m a man;
I’ll ficht i your quarral as lang’s I can stand.
‘I’ll ficht, my dear brother, wi heart and gude will,
And so will young Harry that lives at the mill.
‘But turn, mi dear brother, and nae langer stay:
What’ll cum o your ladie, gin Braikley thei slay?
‘What’ll cum o your ladie and bonnie young son?
O what’ll cum o them when Braikley is gone?’
‘I never will turn: do you think I will fly?
But here I will ficht, and here I will die.’
‘Strik dogs,’ crys Inverey, ‘and ficht till ye’re slayn,
For we are four hundered, ye are but four men.
‘Strik, strik, ye proud boaster, your honour is gone,
Your lands we will plunder, your castell we’ll burn.’
At the head o the Etnach the battel began,
At Little Auchoilzie thei killd the first man.
First thei killd ane, and soon they killd twa,
Thei killd gallant Braikley, the flour o them a’.
Thei killd William Gordon, and James o the Knox,
And brave Alexander, the flour o Glenmuïck.
What sichin and moaning was heard i the glen,
For the Baronne o Braikley, who basely was slayn!
‘Cam ye bi the castell, and was ye in there?
Saw ye pretty Peggy tearing her hair?’
‘Yes, I cam by Braikley, and I gaed in there,
And there [saw] his ladie braiding her hair.
‘She was rantin, and dancin, and singin for joy,
And vowin that nicht she woud feest Inverey.
‘She eat wi him, drank wi him, welcomd him in,
Was kind to the man that had slayn her baronne.’
Up spake the son on the nourice’s knee,
‘Gin I live to be a man, revenged I’ll be.’
Ther’s dool i the kitchin, and mirth i the ha,
The Baronne o Braikley is dead and awa.
Kinloch MSS, V, 379, in the handwriting of John Hill Burton.

‘Baron of Brackley, are ye in there?
The’re sharp swords at yer yetts, winna ye spear.’
‘If they be gentlemen, lat them cum in;
But if they be reavers, we’ll gar them be taen.’
‘It is na gentlemen, nor yet pretty lads,
But a curn hir’d widdifus, wears belted plaids.’
She called on her women and bade them come in:
‘Tack a’ yer rocks, lasses, and we’ll them coman.
‘We’ll fecht them, we’ll slight them, we’ll do what we can,
And I vow we will shoot them altho we shod bang.
‘Rise up, John,’ she said, ‘and turn in yer kye,
For they’ll hae them to the Hielands, and you they’l defie.’
‘Had your still, Catharine, and still yer young son,
For ye’ll get me out, but I’ll never cum in.’
‘If I had a man, as I hae na nane,
He wudna lye in his bed and see his kye tane.’
‘Ye’ll cum kiss me, my Peggy, and bring me my gun,
For I’m gaing out, but I’ll never cum in.’
There was twenty wi Invery, twenty and ten;
There was nane wi the baron but his brother and him.
At the head of Reneeten the battle began;
Ere they wan Auchoilzie, they killed mony a man.
They killed Harry Gordon and Harry of the Knock,
The mullertd’s four sons up at Glenmuick.
They killed Harry Gordon and Harry of the Knock,
And they made the brave baron like kail to a pot.
First they killed ane, and then they killed twa,
Then they killed the brave baron, the flower o them a’.
Then up came Craigievar, and a party wi him;
If he had come an hour sooner, Brackley had not been slain.
‘Came ye by Brackley? and was ye in there?
Or say ye his lady, was making great care?’
‘I came by Brackley, and I was in there,
But I saw his lady no makin great care.
‘For she eat wi them, drank wi them, welcomed them in;
She drank to the villain that killed her guid man.
‘Woe to ye, Kate Fraser! sorry may yer heart be,
To see yer brave baron’s blood cum to yer knee.’
There is dule in the kitchen, and mirth i the ha,
But the Baron o B[r]ackley is dead and awa.
a. Jamieson-Brown MS., Appendix, p. viii, as transcribed for Jamieson by Rev. Andrew Brown, and sent him by Mrs. Brown in a letter of June 18, 1801. b. Jamieson’s Popular Ballads, I, 102; Mrs. Brown’s copy combined with an imperfect one taken down by Sir W. Scott “from the recitation of two ladies, great-grandchildren of Farquharson of Inverey.”

O Inverey came down Dee side, whistling and playing;
He’s landed at Braikly’s yates at the day dawing.
Says, Baron of Braikly, are ye within?
There’s sharp swords at the yate will gar your blood spin.
The lady raise up, to the window she went;
She heard her kye lowing oer hill and oer bent.
‘O rise up, John,’ she says, ‘turn back your kye;
They’re oer the hills rinning, they’re skipping away.’
‘Come to your bed, Peggie, and let the kye rin,
For were I to gang out, I would never get in.’
Then she’s cry’d on her women, they quickly came ben:
‘Take up your rocks, lassies, and fight a’ like men.
‘Though I’m but a woman, to head you I’ll try,
Nor let these vile Highland-men steal a’ our kye.’
Then up gat the baron, and cry’d for his graith;
Says, Lady, I’ll gang, tho to leave you I’m laith.
‘Come, kiss me, my Peggie, nor think I’m to blame;
For I may well gang out, but I’ll never win in.’
When the Baron of Braikly rade through the close,
A gallanter baron neer mounted a horse.
Tho there came wi Inverey thirty and three,
There was nane wi bonny Braikly but his brother and he.
Twa gallanter Gordons did never sword draw;
But against four and thirty, wae’s me, what was twa?
Wi swords and wi daggers they did him surround,
And they’ve pierc’d bonny Braikly wi mony a wound.
Frae the head of the Dee to the banks of the Spey,
The Gordons may mourn him, and bann Inverey.
‘O came ye by Braikly, and was ye in there?
Or saw ye his Peggy dear riving her hair?’
‘O I came by Braikly, and I was in there,
But I saw not his Peggy dear riving her hair.’
‘O fye on ye, lady! how could ye do sae?
You opend your yate to the faus Inverey.’
She eat wi him, drank wi him, welcomd him in;
She welcomd the villain that slew her baron.
She kept him till morning, syne bad him be gane,
And showd him the road that he woud na be tane.
‘Thro Birss and Aboyne,’ she says, ‘lyin in a tour,
Oer the hills of Glentanor you’ll skip in an hour.’
There is grief in the kitchen, and mirth in the ha,
But the Baron of Braikly is dead and awa.
Skene MS., p. 110; north of Scotland, 1802–3.

‘Baron o Breachell, are ye within?
The sharp souerd is at yer gate, Breachell, we’ll gar yer blood spin.’
‘Thei’r at yer gate, Breachel, thei’r neither men nor lads,
But fifty heard widifas, wi belted plaids.’
‘O if I had a man,’ she says, ‘as it looks I had nane,
He widna sit in the house and see my kye tane.
‘But lasses tak down yer rocks, and we will defend
. . . . . . .
‘O kiss me, dear Peggy, and gee me down my gun,
I may well ga out, but I ll never come in.’
Out spak his brither, says, Gee me yer hand;
I’ll fight in yer cause sae lang as I may stand.
Whan the Baron o Breachell came to the closs,
A braver baron neir red upon horse.
. . . . . . .
I think the silly heard widifas are grown fighten men.
First they killed ane, and syen they killed twa,
And the Baron o Breachell is dead and awa.
They killed Sandy Gordon, Sandy Gordon o the Knock,
The miller and his three sons, that lived at Glenmuick.
First they killed ane, and seyn they killed twa,
And the Baron o Breachell is dead and awa.
Up came Crigevar and a’ his fighten men:
‘Had I come an hour soonur, he sudna been slain.’
For first they killed ane, and seyn they killed twa,
And the Baron o Breachell is dead and awa.
‘O came ye by Breachell, lads? was ye in their?
Saw ye Peggy Dann riving her hair?’
‘We cam by Breachell, lads, we was in there,
And saw Peggie Dann cairling her hair.
‘She eat wi them, drank wi them, bad them come in
To her house an bours that had slain her baron.
‘Come in, gentlemen, eat and drink wi me;
Tho ye ha slain my baron, I ha na a wite at ye.’
‘O was [ye] at Glenmuik, lads? was ye in theire?
Saw ye Cathrin Gordon rivin her hair?’
‘We was at Glenmuik, lads, we was in there,
We saw Cathrin Gordon rivin her hair.
‘Wi the tear in her eye, seven bairns at her foot,
The eighth on her knee….
They killed Peter Gordon, Peter Gordon of the Knock,
The miller and his three sons, that lived at Glenmuik.
First they killed ane, and syn they killed twa,
And the Baron of Breachell is dead and awa.

No division of stanzas. Both copies are probably from stall-prints or broadsides. b differs frequently from a in spelling.


52, 81. spulzie.

61. gentlmen.

113, 251, 401. we for wi.

221. thee.

301. I will never.


111. laid.

113. young wanting.

132. prove to be men.

152. For me.

161. ply.

191. Ther are goats.

202. never return.

221. thee.

252. seen (phonetic).

261. it’s kent.

301. I never will: ye.

302. No, here.

341. an syne.

361. was heard.

382. ther said.


This copy is to the extent of about two thirds taken from a; half a dozen stanzas are from Jamieson’s text, C b; half a dozen more agree, nearly or entirely, with B, and may have been derived from Dr. J. H. Burton, or directly from some traditional source. The order has been regulated by the editor, who has also made a slight verbal change now and then.

1–3==a 1–3.


9==111,2, nearly: (c 92, and face Inverey).


12–14==18, 19, 17.

15==15, nearly: cf. B 61.


18==20, nearly.


22==31, with different numbers.

23==33: Reneatan for Etnach, cf. B 111.






322==402, B 182.




From C b.


21==13, nearly.


33, 34==23, 24, nearly.


10 (nearly B 6: cf. c 151).

Get up, get up Brackley, and turn back your kye,
Or they’ll hae them to the Highlands, and you they’ll defy.
16 (nearly B 4: cf. a 14):

She called on her maidens, and bade them come in:
Tak a’ your rocks, lasses, we will them comman.
27 (nearly B 15: cf. D 12). Had he come one hour, etc.

28==B 16.

312==B 182 (a 402). She drank to the villain that killed her barrone.

32==B 19, nearly. Wae to you, Kate Fraser, sad may your heart be.


111. Keneeten perhaps: b. Reneatan.

121. They for The.

C. a.

Not divided, but roughly marked off into stanzas of four verses.

62. frocks for rocks.


11. Down Dee side came Inverey.

12. lighted at Brackley yates.

21. O are.

41. rise up, ye baron, and.

For the lads o Drumwharran are driving them bye.
‘How can I rise, lady, or turn them again?
Whareer I have ae man, I wat they hae ten.’
‘Then rise up, my lasses, tak rocks in your hand,
And turn back the kye; I hae you at command.
‘Gin I had a husband, as I hae nane,
He wadna lye in his bower, see his kye tane.’
81. got.

After 8:

Come kiss me then, Peggy, and gie me my speir;
I ay was for peace, tho I never feard weir.
91. me then, Peggy.

92. I weel may gae out.

101. When Brakley was busked and rade oer the closs.

102. neer lap to a.

After 10:

When Brackley was mounted and rade oer the green,
He was as bald a baron as ever was seen.
122. what is.

151. by Brackley yates, was.

161. by Brackley yates, I.

162. And I saw his Peggy a-making good cheer.

After 16:

The lady she feasted them, carried them ben;
She laughd wi the men that her baron had slain.
171. on you: could you.

172. yates.

192. shoudna.

“Poetical justice requires that I should subjoin the concluding stanza of the fragment, which could not be introduced into the text; as the reader cannot be displeased to learn that the unworthy spouse of the amiable, affectionate, and spirited baron of Brackley was treated by her unprincipled gallant as she deserved, and might have expected:

Inverey spak a word, he spak it wrang;
‘My wife and my bairns will be thinking lang.’
‘O wae fa ye, Inverey! ill mat ye die!
First to kill Brackley, and then to slight me.’

Title, 11, etc. Breachell. Perhaps miscopied by Skene from Breachlie; and so Crigeran, 121, for Crigevar.

172. at thee.


A. ‘Lord Douglas,’ or, ‘The Laird of Blackwood,’ Kinloch MSS, I, 93.

B. ‘Jamie Douglas,’ Kinloch MSS, V, 387.

C. ‘Lady Douglas and Blackwood,’ Kinloch MSS, V, 207, I, 103.

D. ‘Jamie Douglas,’ Kinloch MSS, I, 107.

E. ‘The Laird o Blackwood,’ Kinloch MSS, VII, 127; Kinloch’s Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 58.

F. ‘Jamie Douglas,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 507.

G. ‘Lord Jamie Douglas,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 345.

H. ‘Jamie Douglas,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 297.

I. ‘Jamie Douglas,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 500.

J. ‘Jamie Douglas,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 299.

K. ‘Jamie Douglas,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 302.

L. ‘Jamie Douglas,’ Finlay’s Scottish Ballads, II, 4.

M. Herd’s MSS, I, 54; Herd’s Scottish Songs, 1776, I, 144.

N. ‘Lord Jamie Douglas,’ Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. v, the last three stanzas.

O. ‘Jamie Douglas,’ Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xvii, IX, one stanza.

This ballad first appeared in print in the second edition of Herd’s Scottish Songs, 1776, but only as a fragment of five stanzas. Pinkerton repeats three stanzas from Herd, very slightly “polished by the editor,” Tragic Ballads, 1781, pp. 83, 119. A stall-copy, says Motherwell, was printed in 1798, under the title of ‘Fair Orange Green.’ A and C were used by Aytoun for the copy given in his second edition, 1859, I, 133, and D for Part Fourth of Chambers’s compilation, Scottish Ballads, p. 157. The “traditionary version,” in thirty-four stanzas, given in the Appendix to Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, p. v (see his Introduction, p. lxiii, note 5), is made up, all but the fifth stanza and the three last, from F-J and O: see note to N.

Lady Barbara Erskine, eldest daughter of John, Earl of Mar, was married to James, second Marquis of Douglas, near the end of the year 1670. The marriage did not prove to be happy, and the parties were formally separated in 1681. They had had one child, James, Earl of Angus, and he having been killed in battle in the Netherlands in 1692, the Marquis of Douglas married again, and had two sons and a daughter. The second of the sons was Archibald, the third marquis, and first and only duke of Douglas.

In an affectionate letter of December, 1676 (succeeding several others to which no answer had been returned), the Marchioness of Douglas writes to her husband: “I am not such a stranger to myself to pretend to the exactness of obedience and duty that my humor or frowardness may not have offended you, and all I can say is, that hereafter I shall so study yours and what may please you that I shall endeavor a conformity to your good will so near as I can. This only I must (most) complain of, that you should retain those in your service or company who takes the liberty of talking so much to the prejudice of your honor and mine. Sure I am I never give the least occasion for it, neither do I think, my dear, that you really believe it. If religion and virtue were not ties strong enough, sense of your honor and mine own, and of that noble family of yours and our posterity, could not but prevail against such base thoughts, 91and God, who knows my heart, knows my innocence and the malice of those who wounds us both by such base calumnies.” In February, 1677, the marchioness (not for the first time, as it appears) invokes the interposition of the Privy Council in her domestic affairs, and applies for an “aliment” on which she may live apart from her husband, whom she charges with shunning her company and treating her with contempt. The marquis in his reply alleges that his wife had not treated him with due respect, but seems to be averse to a separation. Four years after, a separation was mutually agreed to, and in the contract to this effect the ground is expressed to be “great animosities, mistakes and differences betwixt the said marquis and his lady, which have risen to a great height, so as neither of them are satisfied longer to continue together.”[70]

The blame of the alienation of Douglas from his wife is imputed by tradition to William Lawrie, the marquis’s principal chamberlain or factor, who was appointed to that place in 1670, the year of the marriage. Lawrie married Marion Weir, of the family of Blackwood, then a widow. He is often styled the laird of Blackwood, a title which belonged to his son by this marriage, his own proper designation being, after that event, the Tutor of Blackwood. “The belief that Blackwood was the chief cause of this unhappy quarrel was current at the time among the Douglas tenantry, with whom he was very unpopular, and it is corroborated by letters and other documents in the Douglas charter-chest. The marchioness, indeed, evinces temper, but the marquis appears to have been morose and peevish, and incapable of managing his own affairs. In this matter he consulted, and was advised by, Blackwood at every step, sending him copies of the letters he wrote to his wife, and subscribing whatever document Blackwood thought fit to prepare. Members of the family and dependents alike characterized Lawrie as hypocritical and double-dealing; but on the other hand, it is only fair to mention that on two occasions, Charles, Earl of Mar, wrote to Blackwood thanking him for his kindness to his sister, and assuring him of his esteem.”[71]

John, Earl of Mar, the father of Lady Barbara Erskine, died in 1668, before his daughter’s marriage, and it would have been her brother Charles, the next earl, who took her home. He was colonel of a regiment of foot at the time of the separation, whence, probably, the drums, trumpets, and soldiers in the ballad. Barbara Douglas died in 1690, two years before the marquis’s second marriage.

The reciter of A, who got her information from an old dey at Douglas castle, as far back as 1770, told Kinloch that the ballad was a great favorite with Archibald, Duke of Douglas, who lived till 1761. “The Duke used often to get the old dey to sing it to him while he wheeled round the room in a gilded chair … and muttered anathemas against Lourie, saying, O that Blackwood must have been a damned soul!”[72]

The story of the ballad is very simple. A lady, daughter of the Earl of Mar, B, I, married to Lord James Douglas, Marquis of Douglas, D, lives happily with him until Blackwood (Blacklaywood, Blackly) makes 92her husband believe that she has trespassed (with one Lockhart, A). Her protestations of innocence and the blandishments with which she seeks to win back her lord’s affections are fruitless. Her father sends for her and takes her home. He offers to get a bill of divorce and make a better match for her, but she will listen to no such proposal.

The lady is daughter of the Earl of York, D; her brother is the Duke of York (a somewhat favorite personage in ballads), B; her mother is daughter of the Duke of York, G, and her father is the Lord of Murray. Her husband is the Earl of March, I (and F?). Had she foreseen the event of the marriage with Douglas, she would have staid at Lord Torchard’s gates (Argyle’s, Athol’s, Lord Orgul’s) and have been his lady, G, H, I, L, or in fair Orange green and have been his (Orange’s?) K. (Orange gate appears in D, also, and so it may be Orange wine, and not orange, that Jamie Douglas is invited to drink in I 5.) A handsome nurse makes trouble in F 6, but nowhere else. It is not Blackwood that whispers mischief into the husband’s ear in J 4, but a small bird; a black bird, fause bird, in two of Finlay’s three copies, a blackie in the other, L. In E 7 the lady will not wash her face, comb her hair, or have fire or light in her bower: cf. Nos 69, 92, II, 156, 317. In I 15, when the lady had returned to her father’s and the tenants came to see her, she could not speak, and “the buttons off her clothes did flee;” “an affecting image of overpowering grief,” says Chambers. See also ‘Andrew Lammie.’

D 10–15, N, are palpable and vulgar tags to a complete story. James Douglas comes to his father-in-law’s house with his three children, and sends a soldier to the gate to bid his lady come down; he has hanged false Blackwood, and she is to come home: N. In D the hanging of Blackwood is not mentioned; Douglas calls for wine to drink to his gay lady, she takes a cup in her hand, but her heart breaks.[73]

A-M have all from one stanza to four of a beautiful song, known from the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and printed fifty years earlier than any copy of the ballad.[74] This song is the lament of an unmarried woman for a lover who has proved false, and, as we find by the last stanza, has left her with an unborn babe. A, C have this last stanza, although the lady in these copies has born three children (as she has in every version except the fragmentary E).[75]

a. Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany, the second volume, published before 1727; here from the Dublin edition of 1729, p. 176. b. Thomson’s Orpheus Caledonius, second edition, 1733, I, 71; four stanzas in the first edition, 1725, No 34.[76]

O waly, waly up the bank!
And waly, waly, down the brae!
And waly, waly yon burn-side,
Where I and my love wont to gae!
I leand my back unto an aik,
I thought it was a trusty tree;
But first it bowd, and syne it brak,
Sae my true-love did lightly me.
O waly, waly! but love be bony
A little time, while it is new;
93But when ’tis auld, it waxeth cauld,
And fades away like morning dew.
O wherefore shoud I busk my head?
Or wherfore shoud I kame my hair?
For my true-love has me forsook,
And says he’ll never love me mair.
Now Arthur-Seat shall be my bed,
The sheets shall neer be fyl’d by me;
Saint Anton’s well shall be my drink,
Since my true-love has forsaken me.
Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blaw,
And shake the green leaves off the tree?
O gentle death, when wilt thou come?
For of my life I am weary.
’Tis not the frost that freezes fell,
Nor blawing snaw’s inclemency;
’Tis not sic cauld that makes me cry,
But my love’s heart grown cauld to me.
When we came in by Glasgow town,
We were a comely sight to see;
My love was cled in the black velvet,
And I my sell in cramasie.
But had I wist, before I kissd,
That love had been sae ill to win,
I’d lockd my heart in a case of gold,
And pin’d it with a silver pin.
Oh, oh, if my young babe were born,
And set upon the nurse’s knee,
And I my sell were dead and gane!
For a maid again I’ll never be.
A stanza closely resembling the third of this song occurs in a Yule medley in Wood’s MSS, about 1620.[77]

Hey trollie lollie, love is jolly
A qhyll qhill it is new;
Qhen it is old, it grows full cold,
Woe worth the love untrew!
The Orpheus Caledonius has for the fourth stanza this, which is found (with variations) in A-M, excepting the imperfect copy E:

When cockle-shells turn siller bells,
And mussles grows on evry tree,
When frost and snaw shall warm us a’,
Then shall my love prove true to me.
Ed. 1725.
Several stanzas occur in a song with the title ‘Arthur’s Seat shall be my bed,’ etc., which is thought to have been printed as early as the Tea-Table Miscellany, or even considerably earlier. This song is given in an appendix.

Aytoun’s ballad, 1859, I, 135, is loosely translated by Knortz, Schottische Balladen, p. 59.

Kinloch MSS, I, 93; from the recitation of Mary Barr, Lesmahago, Lanarkshire, May, 1827, and learned by her about sixty years before from an old dey at Douglas Castle.

I was a lady of high renown
As lived in the north countrie;
I was a lady of high renown
Whan Earl Douglas loved me.
Whan we came through Glasgow toun,
We war a comely sight to see;
My gude lord in velvet green,
And I mysel in cramasie.
Whan we cam to Douglas toun,
We war a fine sight to behold;
My gude lord in cramasie,
And I myself in shining gold.
Whan that my auld son was born,
And set upon the nurse’s knee,
I was as happy a woman as eer was born,
And my gude lord he loved me.
But oh, an my young son was born,
And set upon the nurse’s knee,
And I mysel war dead and gane,
For a maid again I’ll never be!
There cam a man into this house,
And Jamie Lockhart was his name,
And it was told to my gude lord
That I was in the bed wi him.
There cam anither to this house,
And a bad friend he was to me;
He put Jamie’s shoon below my bed-stock,
And bade my gude lord come and see.
O wae be unto thee, Blackwood,
And ae an ill death may ye dee!
For ye was the first and the foremost man
That parted my gude lord and me.
Whan my gude lord cam in my room,
This grit falsehood for to see,
He turnd about, and, wi a gloom,
He straucht did tak farewell o me.
‘O fare thee well, my once lovely maid!
O fare thee well, once dear to me!
O fare thee well, my once lovely maid!
For wi me again ye sall never be.’
‘Sit doun, sit doun, Jamie Douglas,
Sit thee doun and dine wi me,
And Ill set thee on a chair of gold,
And a silver towel on thy knee.’
‘Whan cockle-shells turn silver bells,
And mussels they bud on a tree,
Whan frost and snaw turns fire to burn,
Then I’ll sit down and dine wi thee.’
O wae be unto thee, Blackwood,
And ae an ill death may ye dee!
Ye war the first and the foremost man
That parted my gude lord and me.
Whan my father he heard word
That my gude lord had forsaken me,
He sent fifty o his brisk dragoons
To fesh me hame to my ain countrie.
That morning before I did go,
My bonny palace for to leave,
I went into my gude lord’s room,
But alas! he wad na speak to me.
‘Fare thee well, Jamie Douglas!
Fare thee well, my ever dear to me!
Fare thee well, Jamie Douglas!
Be kind to the three babes I’ve born to thee.’
Kinloch MSS, V, 387, in the handwriting of John Hill Burton when a youth.

Waly, waly up the bank!
And waly, waly down the brae!
And waly, waly to yon burn-side,
Where me and my love wunt to gae!
As I lay sick, and very sick,
And sick was I, and like to die,
And Blacklaywood put in my love’s ears
That he staid in bower too lang wi me.
As I lay sick, and very sick,
And sick was I, and like to die,
And walking into my garden green,
I heard my good lord lichtlie me.
Now woe betide ye, Blacklaywood!
I’m sure an ill death you must die;
Ye’ll part me and my ain good lord,
And his face again I’ll never see.
‘Come down stairs now, Jamie Douglas,
Come down stairs and drink wine wi me;
I’ll set thee into a chair of gold,
And not one farthing shall it cost thee.’
‘When cockle-shells turn silver bells,
And muscles grow on every tree,
When frost and snaw turn fiery baas,
I’ll come down the stair and drink wine wi thee.’
‘What’s needs me value you, Jamie Douglas,
More than you do value me?
The Earl of Mar is my father,
The Duke of York is my brother gay.
‘But when my father gets word o this,
I trow a sorry man he’ll be;
He’ll send four score o his soldiers brave
To tak me hame to mine ain countrie.’
As I lay owre my castell-wa,
I beheld my father comin for me,
Wi trumpets sounding on every side;
But they werena music at a’ for me.
‘And fare ye weel now, Jamie Douglas!
And fare ye weel, my children three!
And fare ye weel, my own good lord!
For my face again ye shall never see.
‘And fare ye weel now, Jamie Douglas!
And fare ye weel, my children three!
And fare ye weel now, Jamie Douglas!
But my youngest son shall gae wi me.’
‘What ails ye at yer youngest son,
Sits smilin at the nurse’s knee?
I’m sure he never knew any harm,
Except it was from his nurse or thee.’
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
And when I was into my coaches set,
He made his trumpets a’ to soun.
I’ve heard it said, and it’s oft times seen,
The hawk that flies far frae her nest;
And a’ the world shall plainly see
It’s Jamie Douglas that I love best.
Ive heard it said, and [it’s] oft times seen,
The hawk that flies from tree to tree;
And a’ the world shall plainly see
It’s for Jamie Douglas I maun die.
Kinloch MSS, V, 207, I, 103; from John Rae, Lesmahago.

O wally, wally up yon bank!
And wally down yon brae!
And wally, wally up yon burn-side,
Where me and my lord wont to gae!
I leand me on yon saugh sae sweet,
I leand me on yon saugh sae sour,
And my gude lord has forsaken me,
And he swears he’ll never loe me more.
There came a young man to this town,
And Jamie Lockhart was his name;
Fause Blackwood lilted in my lord’s ear
That I was in the bed wi him.
‘Come up, come up, Jamie Douglas,
Come up, come up and dine wi me,
And I’ll set thee in a chair of gold,
And use you kindly on my knee.’
‘When cockle-shells turn silver bells,
And mussels hing on every tree,
When frost and snow turn fire-brands,
Then I’ll come up and dine wi thee.’
When my father and mother they got word
That my good lord had forsaken me,
They sent fourscore of soldiers brave
To bring me hame to my ain countrie.
That day that I was forc’d to go,
My pretty palace for to leave,
I went to the chamber were my lord lay,
But alas! he wad na speak to me.
‘O fare ye weel, Jamie Douglas!
And fare ye weel, my children three!
I hope your father will prove mair kind
To you than he has been to me.
‘You take every one to be like yoursel,
You take every one that comes unto thee;
But I could swear by the heavens high
That I never knew anither man but thee.
‘O foul fa ye, fause Blackwood,
And an ill death now may ye die!
96For ye was the first occasioner
Of parting my gude lord and me.’
Whan we gaed in by Edinburgh town,
My father and mither they met me,
Wi trumpets sounding on every side;
But alas! they could na cherish me.
‘Hold your tongue, daughter,’ my father said,
‘And with your weeping let me be;
And we’ll get out a bill of divorce,
And I’ll get a far better lord to thee.’
‘O hold your tongue, father,’ she says,
‘And with your talking let me be;
I wad na gie a kiss o my ain lord’s lips
For a’ the men in the west country.’
Oh an I had my baby born,
And set upon the nurse’s knee,
And I myself were dead and gone!
For a maid again I will never be.
Kinloch MSS, I, 107: “West-Country version.”

I fell sick, and very, very sick,
Sick I was, and like to dee;
A friend o mine cam frae the west,
A friend o mine came me to see,
And the black told it to my gude lord
He was oure lang in the chamber wi me.
  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘Come doun the stair, Jamie Douglas,
Come doun and drink wine wi me;
I’ll set ye on a chair of gold,
And not ae farthing will it cost thee.’
‘Whan cockle-shells turn siller bells,
And fishes flee frae tree to tree,
Whan frost and snaw turn fire-beams,
I’ll come doun and drink wine wi thee.’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘What ails ye at your young son James,
That sits upo the nurse’s knee?
I’m sure he never did ye no harm,
If it war na for the nurse or me.
‘What care I for you, Jamie Douglas?
Not a small pin I value thee;
For my father he is the Earl of York,
And of that my mither’s the gay ladie;
They will send fourscore of his soldiers bold
For to tak me hame to my ain countrie.’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
Whan I was set in my coach and six,
Taking fareweel o my babies three,
‘I beg your father’s grace to be kind,
For your face again I’ll never see.’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
As I was walking up London streets,
My father was coming to meet me,
Wi trumpets sounding on every side;
But that was na music at a’ for me.
‘Hold your tongue, my dochter dear,
And of your weeping let abee;
A bill o divorcement I’ll send to him,
A far better match I’ll get for thee.’
‘Hold your tongue, my father dear,
And with your folly let abee;
There’ll never man sleep in my twa arms,
Sin my gude lord has forsaken me.’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
As I was sitting at my bouer-window,
What a blythe sicht did I see!
I saw four score of his soldiers bold,
And I wishd that they were coming for me.
Out bespeaks the foremost man,
And what a weel-spoken man was he!
‘If the Marquis o Douglas’s lady be within,
You’ll bid her come doun and speak to me.’
It’s out bespak my auld father then,
I wat an angry man was he;
‘Ye may gang back the road ye cam,
For her face again ye’ll never see.’
‘Hold your tongue, my father dear,
And with your folly let abee;
For I’ll ga back, and I’ll ne’er return;
Do ye think I love you as weel as he?’
As I cam in by the Orange gate,
What a blythe sicht did I see!
I saw Jamie Douglas coming me to meet,
And at his foot war his babies three.
‘Ga fetch, ga fetch a bottle of wine,
That I may drink to my gay ladie;’
She took the cup into her hand,
But her bonnie heart it broke in three.
Kinloch MSS, VII, 127; 24 April, 1826, from the recitation of Jenny Watson, Lanark, aged 73, who had it from her grandmother.

I lay sick, and very sick,
And I was bad, and like to dee;
. . . . . . .
A friend o mine cam to visit me,
And Blackwood whisperd in my lord’s ear
That he was oure lang in chamber wi me.
‘O what need I dress up my head,
Nor what need I caim doun my hair,
Whan my gude lord has forsaken me,
And says he will na love me mair!
‘But oh, an my young babe was born,
And set upon some nourice knee,
And I mysel war dead and gane!
For a maid again I’ll never be.’
‘Na mair o this, my dochter dear,
And of your mourning let abee;
For a bill of divorce I’ll gar write for him,
A mair better lord I’ll get for thee.’
‘Na mair o this, my father dear,
And of your folly let abee;
For I wad na gie ae look o my lord’s face
For aw the lords in the haill cuntree.
‘But I’ll cast aff my robes o red,
And I’ll put on my robes o blue,
And I will travel to some other land,
To see gin my love will on me rue.
‘There shall na wash come on my face,
There shall na kaim come on my hair;
There shall neither coal nor candle-licht
Be seen intil my bouer na mair.
‘O wae be to thee, Blackwood,
And an ill death may ye dee!
For ye’ve been the haill occasion
Of parting my lord and me.’
Motherwell’s MS, p. 507; from the recitation of old Mrs Brown, residing at Linsart, parish of Lochwinnoch, September, 1826.

Waly, waly up yon bank!
And waly, waly up yon brae!
And waly, waly by yon river-side,
Where me and my love were wont to gae!
My mither tauld me when I was young
That young men’s love was ill to trow;
But to her I would give nae ear,
And alas! my ain wand dings me now.
But gin I had wist or I had kisst
That young man’s love was sae ill to win,
I would hae lockt my heart wi a key o gowd,
And pinnd it wi a sillar pin.
When lairds and lords cam to this toun,
And gentlemen o a high degree,
I took my auld son in my arms,
And went to my chamber pleasantly.
But when gentlemen come thro this toun,
And gentlemen o a high degree,
I must sit alane in the dark,
And the babie on the nurse’s knee.
I had a nurse, and she was fair,
She was a dearly nurse to me;
She took my gay lord frae my side,
And used him in her company.
Awa! awa, thou false Blackwood!
Ay and an ill death may thou die!
Thou wast the first occasioner
Of parting my gay lord and me.
When I was sick, and very sick,
Sick I was, and like to die,
I drew me near to my stair-head,
And I heard my own lord lichtly me.
‘Come doun, come doun, thou Earl of March,
Come doun, come doun and dine with me;
I’ll set thee on a chair of gowd,
And treat thee kindly on my knee!’
‘When cockle-shells grow sillar bells,
And mussells grow on every tree,
When frost and snaw turns fiery ba’s,
Then I’ll come doun and dine with thee.’
When my father and mother got word
That my gay lord had forsaken me,
They sent three score of soldiers bold
To bring me to my own countrie.
When I in my coach was set,
My tenants all was with me tane;
They set them doun upon their knees,
And they begd me to come back again.
Fare ye weel, Jamie Douglas!
And fare ye weel, my babies three!
I wish your father may be kind
To these three faces that I do see.
When we cam in by Edinbro toun,
My father and mother they met me;
The cymbals sounded on every side,
But alace! the gave no comfort to me.
‘Hold your tongue, my daughter dear,
And of your weeping let abee,
And I’ll give him a bill of divorce,
And I’ll get as good a lord to thee.’
‘Hold your tongue, my father dear,
And of your scoffing let me bee;
I would rather hae a kiss of my own lord’s mouth
As all the lords in the north countrie.’
Motherwell’s MS., p. 345.

O waly, waly up the bank!
And waly, waly down the brae!
And waly by yon river side,
Where me and my lord was wont to gae!
An I had wit what I wit now,
Before I came over the river Tay,
I would hae staid at Lord Torchard’s yetts,
And I micht hae been his own lady gay.
When I lay sick, and was very sick,
A friend of mine came me to see;
When our Blacklywood told it in my lord’s ears
That he staid too long in chamber with me.
Woe be to thee, thou Blacklywood!
I wish an ill death may thou die;
For thou’s been the first and occasion last
That put strife between my good lord and me.
When my father he heard of this,
His heart was like for to break in three;
He sent fourscore of his soldiers brave
For to take me home to mine own countree.
In the morning when I arose,
My bonnie palace for to see,
I came unto my lord’s room-door,
But he would not speak one word to me.
‘Come down the stair, my lord Jamie Douglas,
Come down and speak one word with me;
99I’ll set thee in a chair of gold,
And the never a penny it will cost thee.’
‘When cockle-shells grow silver bells,
And grass grows over the highest tree,
When frost and snaw turns fiery bombs,
Then will I come down and drink wine with thee.’
O what need I care for Jamie Douglas
More than he needs to care for me?
For the Lord of Murray’s my father dear,
And the Duke of York’s daughter my mother be.
Thou thocht that I was just like thyself,
And took every one that I did see;
But I can swear by the heavens above
That I never knew a man but thee.
But fare thee weel, my lord Jamie Douglas!
And fare you weel, my sma childer three!
God grant your father grace to be kind
Till I see you all in my own countrie.
Quickly, quickly then rose he up,
And quickly, quickly came he down;
When I was in my coaches set,
He made his trumpets all to sound.
As we came in by Edinburgh town,
My loving father came to meet me,
With trumpets sounding on every side;
But it was not comfort at all to me.
‘O hold your tongue, my daughter dear,
And of your weeping pray let abee;
A bill of divorcement I’ll to him send,
And a better lord I will chose for thee.’
‘Hold your tongue, my father dear,
And of your flattery pray let abee;
I’ll never lye in another man’s arms,
Since my Jamie Douglas has forsaken me.’
It’s often said in a foreign land
That the hawk she flies far from her nest;
It’s often said, and it’s very true,
He’s far from me this day that I luve best.
Motherwell’s MS, p. 297; from the recitation of Mrs Traill of Paisley.

O waly, waly up the bank!
And waly, waly doun the brae!
And waly, waly by yon burn-side,
Whare me and my luve was wont to gae!
If I had kent what I ken now,
I wud neer hae crossed the waters o Tay;
For an I had staid at Argyle’s yetts,
I might hae been his lady gay.
When I lay sick, and very sick,
And very sick, just like to die,
A gentleman, a friend of mine own,
A gentleman came me to see;
But Blackliewoods sounded in my luve’s ears
He was too long in chamer with me.
O woe be to thee, Blackliewoods.
But an an ill death may you die!
Thou’s been the first and occasion last
That eer put ill twixt my luve and me.
‘Come down the stairs now, Jamie Douglas,
Come down the stairs and drink wine wi me;
I’ll set thee in a chair of gold,
And it’s not one penny it will cost thee.’
‘When cockle-shells grow silver bells,
And gowd grows oer yon lily lea,
When frost and snaw grows fiery bombs,
I will come down and drink wine wi thee.’
‘What ails you at our youngest son,
That sits upon the nurse’s knee?
I’m sure he’s never done any harm
And it’s not to his ain nurse and me.’
My loving father got word of this,
But and an angry man was he;
He sent three score of his soldiers brave
To take me to my own countrie.
100  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘O fare ye weel now, Jamie Douglas!
And fare ye weel, my children three!
God grant your father may prove kind
Till I see you in my own countrie.’
When she was set into her coach
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
‘Cheer up your heart, my loving daughter,
Cheer up your heart, let your weeping bee!
A bill of divorce I will write to him,
And a far better lord I’ll provide for thee.’
It’s very true, and it’s often said,
The hawk she’s flown and she’s left her nest;
But a’ the warld may plainly see
They’re far awa that I luve best.
Motherwell’s MS., p. 500; from Mrs Notman.

‘O waly, waly up yon bank!
And waly, waly down yon brae!
And waly, waly by yon burn-bank,
Where me and my lord wont to gae!
‘A gentleman of good account,
A friend of mine, came to visit me,
And Blackly whispered in my lord’s ears
He was too long in chamber with me.
‘When my father came to hear ‘t,
I wot an angry man was he;
He sent five score of his soldiers bright
To take me safe to my own countrie.
‘Up in the mornin when I arose,
My bonnie palace for to lea,
And when I came to my lord’s door,
The neer a word he would speak to me.
‘Come down, come down, O Jamie Douglas,
And drink the Orange wine with me;
I’ll set thee in a chair of gold,
That neer a penny it cost thee.’
‘When sea and sand turns foreign land,
And mussels grow on every tree,
When cockle-shells turn silver bells,
I’ll drink the Orange wine with thee.’
‘Wae be to you, Blackly,’ she said,
‘Aye and an ill death may you die!
You are the first, and I hope the last,
That eer made my lord lichtly me.’
‘Fare ye weel then, Jamie Douglas!
I value you as little as you do me;
The Earl of Mar is my father dear,
And I soon will see my own countrie.
‘Ye thought that I was like yoursell,
And loving each ane I did see;
But here I swear, by the day I die,
I never loved a man but thee.
‘Fare ye weel, my servants all!
And you, my bonny children three!
God grant your father grace to be kind
Till I see you safe in my own countrie.’
‘As I came into Edinburgh toune,
With trumpets sounding my father met me;
But no mirth nor musick sounds in my ear,
Since the Earl of March has forsaken me.’
‘O hold your tongue, my daughter dear,
And of your weeping let abee;
I’ll send a bill of divorce to the Earl of March,
And get a better lord for thee.’
‘Hold your tongue, my father dear,
And of your folly let abee;
No other lord shall lye in my arms,
Since the Earl of March has forsaken me.
‘An I had known what I know now,
I’d never crossed the water o Tay,
But stayed still at Atholl’s gates;
He would have made me his lady gay.’
When she came to her father’s lands,
The tenants a’ came her to see;
101Never a word she could speak to them,
But the buttons off her clothes did flee.
‘The linnet is a bonnie bird,
And aften flees far frae its nest;
So all the warld may plainly see
They’re far awa that I luve best.’
Motherwell’s MS., p. 299; from the recitation of Rebecca Dunse, a native of Galloway, 4 May, 1825. “A song of her mother’s, an old woman.”

O waly, waly up yon bank!
And waly, waly doun yon brae!
And waly, waly by yon burn-side,
Where me and my luve used to gae!
Oh Johnie, Johnie, but love is bonnie
A little while, when it is new;
But when love grows aulder, it grows mair caulder,
And it fades awa like the mornin dew.
I leaned my back against an aik,
I thocht it was a trusty tree;
But first [it] bowed, and syne it brak,
And sae did my fause luve to me.
Once I lay sick, and very sick,
And a friend of mine cam to visit me,
But the small bird whispered in my love’s ears
That he was ower lang in the room wi me.
‘It’s come down stairs, my Jamie Douglas,
Come down stairs, luve, and dine wi me;
I’ll set you on a chair of gold,
And court ye kindly on my knee.’
‘When cockle-shells grow silver bells,
And gold it grows on every tree,
When frost and snaw turns fiery balls,
Then, love, I’ll come down and dine wi thee.’
If I had known what I know now,
That love it was sae ill to win,
I should neer hae wet my cherry cheek
For onie man or woman’s son.
When my father he cam to know
That my first luve had sae slighted me,
He sent four score of his soldiers bright
To guard me home to my own countrie.
Slowly, slowly rose I up,
And slowly, slowly I came down,
And when he saw me sit in my coach,
He made his drums and trumpets sound.
It’s fare ye weel, my pretty palace!
And fare ye weel, my children three!
And I hope your father will get mair grace,
And love you better than he’s done to me.
When we came near to bonnie Edinburgh toun,
My father cam for to meet me;
He made his drums and trumpets sound,
But they were no comfort at all to me.
‘It’s hold your tongue, my daughter dear,
And of your weeping pray let be;
For a bill of divorcement I’ll send to him,
And a better husband I’ll you supply.’
‘O hold your tongue, my father dear,
And of your folly pray now let be;
For there’s neer a lord shall enter my bower,
Since my first love has so slighted me.’
Motherwell’s MS., p. 302; from Jean Nicol.

O waly, waly up the bank!
And waly, waly doun the brae!
And waly by yon river-side,
Where me and my love were wont to gae!
A gentleman, a friend of mine,
Came to the toun me for to see,
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
‘Come doun the stair, Jamie Douglas,
Come doun the stair and drink wine wi me;
For a chair of gold I will set thee in,
And not one farthing it will cost thee.’
‘When cockle-shells grow siller bells,
And mussels grow on ilka tree,
When frost and snaw turns out fire-bombs,
Then I’ll come doun and drink wine wi thee.’
But when her father heard of this,
O but an angry man was he!
And he sent four score of his ain regiment
To bring her hame to her ain countrie.
O when she was set in her coach and six,
And the saut tear was in her ee,
Saying, Fare you weel, my bonnie palace!
And fare ye weel, my children three!
O when I came into Edinburgh toun,
My loving father for to see,
The trumpets were sounding on every side,
But they were not music at all for me.
‘O hold your tongue, my daughter dear,
And of your folly I pray let be;
For a bill of divorcement I’ll send him,
And a better lord I’ll provide for thee.’
‘O hold your tongue, my father dear,
And of your folly I pray let be;
For if I had stayed in fair Orange Green,
I might have been his gay ladye.’
Finlay’s Scottish Ballads, II, 1, a collation of three copies, one of which was M.

When I fell sick, an very sick,
An very sick, just like to die,
A gentleman of good account
He cam on purpose to visit me;
But his blackie whispered in my lord’s ear
He was owre lang in the room wi me.
‘Gae, little page, an tell your lord,
Gin he will come and dine wi me
I’ll set him on a chair of gold
And serve him on my bended knee.’
The little page gaed up the stair:
‘Lord Douglas, dine wi your ladie;
She’ll set ye on a chair of gold,
And serve you on her bended knee.’
‘When cockle-shells turn silver bells,
When wine drieps red frae ilka tree,
When frost and snaw will warm us a’,
Then I’ll cum down an dine wi thee.’
But whan my father gat word o this,
O what an angry man was he!
He sent fourscore o his archers bauld
To bring me safe to his countrie.
When I rose up then in the morn,
My goodly palace for to lea,
I knocked at my lord’s chamber-door,
But neer a word wad he speak to me.
But slowly, slowly, rose he up,
And slowly, slowly, cam he down,
And when he saw me set on my horse,
He caused his drums and trumpets soun.
‘Now fare ye weel, my goodly palace!
And fare ye weel, my children three!
God grant your father grace to love you
Far more than ever he loved me.’
He thocht that I was like himsel,
That had a woman in every hall;
But I could swear, by the heavens clear,
I never loved man but himsel.
As on to Embro town we cam,
My guid father he welcomed me;
He caused his minstrels meet to sound,
It was nae music at a’ to me.
‘Now haud your tongue, my daughter dear,
Leave off your weeping, let it be;
For Jamie’s divorcement I’ll send over;
Far better lord I’ll provide for thee.’
‘O haud your tongue, my father dear,
And of such talking let me be;
For never a man shall come to my arms,
Since my lord has sae slighted me.’
O an I had neer crossed the Tweed,
Nor yet been owre the river Dee,
I might hae staid at Lord Orgul’s gate,
Where I wad hae been a gay ladie.
The ladies they will cum to town,
And they will cum and visit me;
But I’ll set me down now in the dark,
For ochanie! who’ll comfort me?
An wae betide ye, black Fastness,
Ay, and an ill deid may ye die!
Ye was the first and foremost man
Wha parted my true lord and me.
Herd’s MSS, I, 54.

Earl Douglas, than wham never knight
Had valour moe ne courtesie,
Yet he’s now blamet be a’ the land
For lightlying o his gay lady.
‘Go, little page, and tell your lord,
Gin he will cum and dine wi me,
I’ll set him on a seat of gold,
I’ll serve him on my bended knee.’
The little page gaed up the stair:
‘Lord Douglas, dyne wi your lady;
She’ll set ye on a seat of gold,
And serve ye on her bended knee.’
‘When cockle-shells turn siller bells,
When mussels grow on ilka tree,
When frost and snow sall warm us a’,
Then I sall dyne wi my ladie.’
‘Now wae betide ye, black Fastness,
Ay and an ill dead met ye die!
Ye was the first and the foremost man
Wha parted my true lord and me.’
Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. v, the last three stanzas.

She looked out at her father’s window,
To take a view of the countrie;
Who did she see but Jamie Douglas,
And along with him her children three!
There came a soldier to the gate,
And he did knock right hastilie:
‘If Lady Douglas be within,
Bid her come down and speak to me.’
‘O come away, my lady fair,
Come away now alang with me,
For I have hanged fause Blackwood,
At the very place where he told the lie.’
Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, Appendix, p. xvii, IX.

‘O come down stairs, Jamie Douglas,
O come down stairs and speak to me,
And I’ll set thee in a fine chair of gowd,
And I’ll kindly daut thee upon my knee.
Variations of Waly, Waly, etc.


Put among ‘Auld Sangs brushd up’ in Ramsay’s “Contents,” p. 329. Printed in eight-line stanzas.

4. Burns had heard this stanza “in the west country” thus (Cromek’s Reliques, 1817, p. 245):

O wherefore need I busk my head?
Or wherefore need I kame my hair?
Sin my fause luve has me forsook,
And says he’ll never luve me mair.
73. my cry: me in the London edition of 1733.


11. up yon bank.

12. down yon brea.

13. And waly by yon river’s side.

14. Where my love and I was wont to gae.

2, 3 are 3, 2.

24. And sae did my fause love to me.

31. Waly, waly, gin love be bonny.

32. little while when.

33. it’s: waxes.

34. wears away like.

4. Already given.

61. O Martinmas.

64. And take a life that wearies me.


33. wlalking.

61. bells turn silver shells.


These variations in the second copy (I, 103) are Kinloch’s:

43. on a.

92. to thee.

122. let abee.

124. for thee.

131. father, I said.

133. ae kiss.

144. I’ll.


51. For gentlemen Motherwell queries, lairds and lords?

91. Earl of Marquis; March queried by Motherwell. It is March in I.


52, 64. Orange, not orange, in the MS.

61. Motherwell queries far in for foreign.


21. nonnie, nonny is written in pencil by Motherwell between 1 and 2; no doubt as a conjectural emendation of Johnie, Johnie.


2, 3, 4, 15 are M 2–5, with slight changes.

15. “One copy here bears black-bird and another a fause bird.” (Finlay.)

133. Lord Orgul. “This name is differently given by reciters.” (Finlay.)

151. Fastness as a proper name, but evidently meant for faustness, falseness, as Motherwell has observed.


Quham, quhen, quha are printed wham, when, wha; zet, ze, zour, are printed yet, ye, your.


Motherwell’s ballad is “traditionary” to the extent that it is substantially made up from traditionary material. The text of the recited copies is not always strictly adhered to. The fifth stanza happens not to occur in the texts used, but may have come in in some other recitation obtained by Motherwell, or may simply have been adopted from Ramsay. The three last stanzas (N) are from some recitation not preserved in Motherwell’s relics. Neglecting unimportant divergencies, the constituent parts are as follows:

1==H 11–3, G 14.

2, 3==J 2, 3.

4==F 2.

(5==Ramsay 4.)

6==F 3.

7==I 14.

8–10==F 4–6.

11==F 71,2,4, H 43.

12==H 3 (see E 14,5, L 14).

13==F 8.

14==I 51–3, O4.

15==I 6.

16==H 7.

17==J 7.

18==F 112, I 31,3,4.

19, 20==I 4, 8.

21==I 9 (see L 93).

22==J 9.

23==F 12.

24==J 10.

25==I 10.

26==I 71–3, G 44.

27==G 13, I 113,4.

28==F 15, G 14.

29==F 16.

30, 31==I 15, 16.

(32 resembles D 101,2, 143,4; 33, D 11.)

A new song much in request, sung with its own proper tune.

Laing, Broadsides Ballads, No. 61, not dated but considered to have been printed towards the end of the seventeenth or the beginning of the eighteenth century, and probably at Edinburgh.

Come lay me soft, and draw me near,
And lay thy white hand over me,
For I am starving in the cold,
And thou art bound to cover me.
O cover me in my distress,
And help me in my miserie,
For I do wake when I should sleep,
All for the love of my dearie.
My rents they are but very small
For to maintain my love withall,
But with my labour and my pain
I will maintain my love with them.
O Arthur’s Seat shall be my bed,
And the sheets shall never be fil’d for me,
St Anthony’s well shall be my drink,
Since my true-love’s forsaken me.
Should I be bound, that may go free?
Should I love them that loves not me?
I’le rather travel into Spain,
Where I’le get love for love again.
And I’le cast off my robs of black,
And will put on the robs of blue,
And I will to some other land
Till I see my love will on me rue.
It’s not the cold that makes me cry,
Nor is’t the weet that wearies me,
Nor is’t the frost that freezes fell;
But I love a lad, and I dare not tell.
O faith is gone and truth is past,
And my true-love’s forsaken me;
If all be true that I hear say,
I’le mourn until the day I die.
Oh, if I had nere been born
Than to have dy’d when I was young!
Then I had never wet my cheeks
For the love of any woman’s son.
Oh, oh, if my young babe were born,
And set upon the nurse’s knee,
And I my self were dead and gone!
For a maid again I’le never be.
Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blow,
And blow the green leafs off the tree
O gentle Death, when wilt thou come!
For of my life I am wearie.
11. darw.


‘The Battle of Loudoun Hill,’ Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, III, 188, 1803; II, 206, 1833.
The “gospel-lads,” otherwise self-styled the true Presbyterian party, had in 1679, May 29 (observed both as the king’s birthday and the anniversary of the Restoration), begun their testimony against the iniquity of the times by publishing a Declaration, putting out loyal bonfires, and burning all acts of Parliament obnoxious to Covenanters, in retaliation for the burning of the Covenant at London seventeen years before. They had intended to do this at Glasgow, but as Claverhouse had established himself there, the demonstration was made at Rutherglen, a little place two miles off. On the 31st Claverhouse 106laid hands on three of the rioters and an outlawed minister. The Covenanters had appointed a great meeting, an armed conventicle, for the next day, Sunday, June 1, at Loudon Hill, on the borders of the shires of Ayr and Lanark. Not so many came as were expected, for Claverhouse had been heard of, but there were at least two hundred and fifty armed men; and these numbers were subsequently increased.[78] It was resolved to rescue the prisoners taken the day before, if the Lord should enable them, and in prosecution of this object they moved on to Drumclog, a swampy farm two miles east of Loudon Hill. The chief of command was Robert Hamilton, and with him were associated John Balfour of Kinloch, called Burly, Hackston of Rathillet, and others. What ensued is told in a frank letter of Claverhouse, written the night of the same Sunday.

The prisoners were to be conveyed to Glasgow. “I thought,” says Claverhouse, “that we might make a little tour, to see if we could fall upon a conventicle; which we did, little to our advantage. For, when we came in sight of them, we found them drawn up in battle, upon a most advantageous ground, to which there was no coming but through mosses and lakes. They were not preaching, and had got away all their women and children. They consisted of four battalions of foot, and all well armed with fusils and pitchforks, and three squadrons of horse. We sent, both, parties to skirmish, they of foot and we of dragoons; they run for it, and sent down a battalion of foot against them (the dragoons). We sent threescore of dragoons, who made them run again shamefully. But in the end (they perceiving that we had the better of them in skirmish), they resolved a general engagement, and immediately advanced with their foot, the horse following. They came through the loch, and the greatest body of all made up against my troop. We kept our fire till they were within ten pace of us. They received our fire and advanced to shock. The first they gave us brought down the cornet, Mr Crafford, and Captain Bleith. Besides that, with a pitchfork, they made such an opening in my sorrel horse’s belly that his guts hung out half an ell, and yet he carried me off a mile; which so discouraged our men that they sustained not the shock, but fell into disorder. Their horse took the occasion of this, and pursued us so hotly that we got no time to rally. I saved the standards, but lost on the place about eight or ten men, besides wounded. But the dragoons lost many more. They are not come easily off on the other side, for I saw several of them fall before we came to the shock. I made the best retreat the confusion of our people would suffer.”[79]

The cornet killed was Robert Graham, the “nephew” of Claverhouse, of whom so much is made in “Old Mortality.” There is no evidence beyond the name to show that he was a near kinsman of his captain. The Covenanters thought they had killed Claverhouse himself, because of the name Graham being wrought into the cornet’s shirt, and treated the body with much brutality. In ‘Bothwell Bridge,’ st. 12, Claverhouse is represented as refusing quarter to the Covenanters in revenge for ‘his cornet’s death.’[80]

You’l marvel when I tell ye o
Our noble Burly and his train,
When last he marchd up through the land,
Wi sax-and-twenty westland men.
Than they I neer o braver heard,
For they had a’ baith wit and skill;
They proved right well, as I heard tell,
As they cam up oer Loudoun Hill.
Weel prosper a’ the gospel-lads
That are into the west countrie
Ay wicked Claverse to demean,
And ay an ill dead may he die!
For he’s drawn up i battle rank,
An that baith soon an hastilie;
But they wha live till simmer come.
Some bludie days for this will see.
But up spak cruel Claverse then,
Wi hastie wit an wicked skill,
‘Gae fire on you westlau men;
I think it is my sovreign’s will.’
But up bespake his cornet then,
‘It’s be wi nae consent o me;
I ken I’ll neer come back again,
An mony mae as weel as me.
‘There is not ane of a’ yon men
But wha is worthy other three;
There is na ane amang them a’
That in his cause will stap to die.
‘An as for Burly, him I knaw;
He’s a man of honour, birth, an fame;
Gie him a sword into his hand,
He’ll fight thysel an other ten.’
But up spake wicked Claverse then—
I wat his heart it raise fu hie—
And he has cry’d, that a’ might hear,
‘Man, ye hae sair deceived me.
‘I never kend the like afore,
Na, never since I came frae hame,
That you sae cowardly here suld prove,
An yet come of a noble Græme.’
But up bespake his cornet then,
‘Since that it is your honour’s will,
Mysel shall be the foremost man
That shall gie fire on Loudoun Hill.
‘At your command I’ll lead them on,
But yet wi nae consent o me;
For weel I ken I’ll neer return,
And mony mae as weel as me.’
Then up he drew in battle rank—
I wat he had a bonny train—
But the first time that bullets flew
Ay he lost twenty o his men.
Then back he came the way he gaed,
I wat right soon an suddenly;
He gave command amang his men,
And sent them back, and bade them flee.
Then up came Burly, bauld an stout,
Wi ‘s little train o westland men,
Wha mair than either aince or twice
In Edinburgh confind had been.
They hae been up to London sent,
An yet they’re a’ come safely down;
Sax troop o horsemen they hae beat,
And chased them into Glasgow town.

Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, III, 209, 1803; II, 226, 1833. From recitation.
The report of the success of the Covenanters at Drumclog brought four or five thousand malcontents into the rising, many of whom, however, were not radicals of the Hamilton type, but moderate Presbyterians. After not a little moving up and down, they established their camp on the nineteenth of June at Hamilton, on the south side of the Clyde, near the point where the river is crossed by Bothwell Bridge. They were deficient in arms and ammunition and in officers of military experience. “But,” as a historian of their own party says, “the greatest loss was their want of order and harmony among themselves; neither had they any person in whom they heartily centred, nor could they agree upon the grounds of their appearance.” Both before and after their final encampment at Hamilton, they were principally occupied with debating what testimony they should make against Popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, and the Indulgence, and whether their declaration should contain an acknowledgment of the king’s authority. Dissension ran high, “and enemies had it to observe and remark that ministers preached and prayed against one another.”

The king named the Duke of Monmouth to command his army in Scotland. Both the instructions which were given him and the duke’s own temper were favorable to an accommodation. The royal forces were at Bothwell Muir on the twenty-second of June, and their advanced guards within a quarter of a mile of the bridge. The duke marched his army to an eminence opposite the main body of the enemy, who lay on the moor (st. 10). The bridge was held by Hackston of Rathillet and other resolute men. It was very defensible, being only twelve feet wide and rising from each end to the middle, where there was a gate, and it was also obstructed with stones. Early in the morning a deputation was sent by the rebels to the duke to lay before him their demands. He heard them patiently, and expressed his willingness to do all that he could for them with the king, but would engage himself to nothing until they laid down their arms. He gave them an hour to make up their mind. The officers of the insurgents were unable to come to an agreement. Hamilton, who assumed the general command, was against any pacific arrangement, and no answer was returned. In the interim four field-pieces had been planted against the bridge. The defenders maintained themselves under the fire of these and of the musketeers and dragoons until their own powder was exhausted, and then unwillingly withdrew to the main body, by Hamilton’s order. The bridge was cleared of obstructions, and the royal army crossed and advanced in order of battle against the rebels on the moor. The first fire made the Covenanters’ horse wheel about, and their retreat threw the nearest foot into disorder; in consequence of which the whole army fell into confusion. Twelve hundred surrendered without resistance, the rest fled, and several hundred were killed in the pursuit.[81]

1–9. William Gordon of Earlston, a hot Covenanter, while on his way to Hamilton on the twenty-second to join the insurgents, fell in with some dragoons who were pursuing his already routed copartisans, and, resisting their attempt to make him prisoner, was 109killed. His son Alexander, a man of more temperate views, was at Bothwell Bridge,[82] and escaped. Although Earlston in st. 4 is represented as bidding farewell to his father, the grotesque narrative with which the ballad begins can be understood only of the father; sts. 7, 8 make this certain.

9. It seems to be meant, as grammar would require, that it is the ‘Lennox lad,’ and a Covenanter, that sets up ‘the flag of red set about with blue.’ In “Old Mortality,” Sir Walter Scott makes the Covenanters plant “the scarlet and blue colors of the Scottish covenant” on the keep of Tillietudlem. Whether he had other authority than this ballad for the scarlet, I have not been able to ascertain. All the flags of the covenant may not have been alike, but all would probably have a ground of blue, which is known to have been the Covenanters’ color. One flag, which belonged to a Covenanter who figured at Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge, has fortunately been preserved. It is of blue silk, with three inscriptions, one of which is, “No Quarters to ye Active Enimies of ye Covenant,” first painted in some light color, afterwards repainted in a dull red. (Napier, I, xliv).

The last half of the stanza must be spoken by Monmouth, and the tone of it is more chivalrous than the circumstances call for.

12–15. For Claverhouse’s cornet, see the preceding ballad. Captain John Graham, for that was all he then was, was not conspicuous at Bothwell Bridge. He commanded the horse on the right, and Captain Stuart the dragoons on the left, when the advance was made on the Covenanters. He was as capable of insubordination as Robert Hamilton was of Erastianism, and it is nearly as unnecessary, at this day, to vindicate him from the charge of cruelty as from that of procuring Monmouth’s execution six years in advance of the fates.[83]

‘Earlistoun,’ Chambers, Twelve Romantic Scottish Ballads, p. 26, is this piece with the battle omitted, or stanzas 1–6, 71,2, 83,4, 16.

Scott observes: “There is said to be another song upon this battle, once very popular, but I have not been able to recover it.”

There is a stall-ballad of Bothwell Brigg, not traditional, a very good ballad of its sort, with a touching story and a kindly moral, which may or may not be later than Sir Walter Scott’s day. It is of John Carr and his wife Janet and a non-covenanting lady, who carries off John, badly wounded, from the field (where he had fought better than most of his party), and nurses him in her lord’s castle till he is well enough to be visited by his wife.

Translated by Talvj, Charakteristik, p. 581.

‘O billie, billie, bonny billie,
Will ye go to the wood wi me?
We’ll ca our horse hame masterless,
An gar them trow slain men are we.’
‘O no, O no!’ says Earlstoun,
‘For that’s the thing that mauna be;
For I am sworn to Bothwell Hill,
Where I maun either gae or die.’
So Earlstoun rose in the morning,
An mounted by the break o day,
An he has joind our Scottish lads,
As they were marching out the way.
‘Now, farewell, father! and farewell, mother!
An fare ye weel, my sisters three!
An fare ye well, my Earlstoun!
For thee again I—‘ll never see.’
So they’re awa to Bothwell Hill,
An waly, they rode bonnily!
When the Duke o Monmouth saw them comin,
He went to view their company.
‘Ye’re welcome, lads,’ then Monmouth said,
‘Ye’re welcome, brave Scots lads, to me;
And sae are you, brave Earlstoun,
The foremost o your company.
‘But yield your weapons ane an a’,
O yield your weapons, lads, to me;
For, gin ye’ll yield your weapons up,
Ye’se a’ gae hame to your country.’
Out then spak a Lennox lad,
And waly, but he spoke bonnily!
‘I winna yield my weapons up,
To you nor nae man that I see.’
Then he set up the flag o red,
A’ set about wi bonny blue:
‘Since ye’ll no cease, and be at peace,
See that ye stand by ither true.’
They stelld their cannons on the height,
And showrd their shot down in the how,
An beat our Scots lads even down;
Thick they lay slain on every know.
As eer you saw the rain down fa,
Or yet the arrow frae the bow,
Sae our Scottish lads fell even down,
An they lay slain on every know.
‘O hold your hand,’ then Monmouth cry’d,
‘Gie quarters to yon men for me;’
But wicked Claverhouse swore an oath
His cornet’s death revengd sud be.
‘O hold your hand,’ then Monmouth cry’d,
‘If ony thing you’ll do for me;
Hold up your hand, you cursed Græme,
Else a rebel to our king ye’ll be.’
Then wicked Claverhouse turnd about—
I wot an angry man was he—
And he has lifted up his hat,
And cry’d, God bless his Majesty!
Than he’s awa to London town,
Ay een as fast as he can dree;
Fause witnesses he has wi him taen,
An taen Monmouth’s head frae his body.
Alang the brae beyond the brig,
Mony brave man lies cauld and still;
But lang we’ll mind, and sair we’ll rue,
The bloody battle of Bothwell Hill.

A. ‘The Long-armed Duke,’ first printed, about 1843, in a periodical called the Story Teller; afterwards in Notes and Queries, First Series, V, 243, 1852.

B. ‘Devonshire’s Noble Duel with Lord Danby, in the year 1687,’ Llewellynn Jewitt’s Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire, p. 55, 1867.

C. Llewellynn Jewitt’s Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire, p. 57, two stanzas.

D. ‘Lord Delaware,’ Thomas Lyle’s Ancient Ballads and Songs, chiefly from tradition, manuscripts, and scarce works, etc., London, 1827, p. 125. ‘Lord Delamare,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 539. Dixon, Ancient Poems, Ballads and Songs of the Peasantry of England, p. 80, Percy Society, vol. xvii, 1846; the same, ed. Robert Bell, 1857, p. 66.

Of D the editor says: “An imperfect copy … was noted down by us from the singing of a gentleman in this city [Glasgow], which has necessarily been remodelled and smoothed down to the present measure, without any other liberties, however, having been taken with the original narrative, which is here carefully preserved as it was committed to us.” The air, says Lyle, was “beautiful, and peculiar to the ballad.”

E. Leigh, Ballads and Legends of Cheshire, p. 203, repeats A.

Mr E. Peacock had an imperfect manuscript copy with the title ‘Lord Delamere,’ beginning

I wonder very much that our sovereign king
So many large taxes upon this land should bring.
Notes and Queries, First Series, II, 104, 1851.
Dr Rimbault remembered hearing a version 111sung at a village in Staffordshire, about 1842, in which Hereford was substituted for Devonshire: Notes and Queries, First Series, V, 348, 1852.

Lord Delamere, upon occasion of the imposition of some new taxes, begs a boon of the king, in the Parliament House; it is that he may have all the poor men in the land down to Cheshire and hang them, since it would be better for them to be hanged than to be starved. A French (Dutch) lord says that Delamere ought to be stabbed for publicly affronting the king. The Duke of Devonshire offers himself to fight for Delamere, and a stage is set up for a duel to the utterance. Devonshire’s sword bends at the first thrust and then breaks. An English lord who is standing by (Willoughby, B) gives him another, and advises him to play low, for there is treachery. Devonshire drops on his knee and gives his antagonist his death-wound. The king orders the dead man to be taken away, but Devonshire insists on first examining the body. He finds that the French lord had been wearing armor, and the king’s armor, while he himself was fighting bare. He reproaches the king with the purpose of taking his life, and tells him that he shall not have his armor back until he wins it.

According to the title of B, the duel was between Devonshire and Lord Danby, and in 1687. The other party is, however, called a Dutch lord in the ballad. The king is James. Delamere is said to be under age (he was thirty-five in 1687).

In D, Delamere is changed to Delaware, of Lincolnshire; the Duke of Devonshire is called a Welsh lord, and fights a Dutch lord in defence of young Delaware. When Devonshire’s sword breaks, he springs from the stage, borrows another from a soldier in the ring, and leaps back to the stage.

It is scarcely necessary to say that the duel is on a par for historical verity with that in ‘Johnie Scot’ (No 99). If there was to be a duel, Devonshire (Earl, he was not created Duke till 1694, the last year of Delamere’s life) was well chosen for the nonce. He had fought with Lord Mohun, in 1676, and was credited with challenging Count Königsmark, in 1682. What is true in the ballad is that Delamere was a strenuous and uncompromising advocate of constitutional government, and that he and Devonshire were political and personal friends. Both were particularly active in bringing in the Prince of Orange; and so was Lord Danby, with whom, according to the title of B, Devonshire was fighting the duel the year before the revolution.

It has been suggested,[84] and it is barely conceivable, that the ballad may have grown out of a perverted report of the affair of the Earl of Devonshire with Colonel Colepepper.

“On Sunday the 24th of April, 1687, the said earl, meeting on Colonel Culpepper in the drawing-room in Whitehall (who had formerly affronted the said earl in the king’s palace, for which he had not received any satisfaction), he spake to the said colonel to go with him into the next room, who went with him accordingly; and when they were there, the said earl required of him to go down stairs, that he might have satisfaction for the affront done him, as aforesaid; which the colonel refusing to do, the said earl struck him with his stick, as is supposed.”[85] For this, Devonshire was summoned to the King’s Bench and required to give sureties to the amount of £30,000 that he would appear to stand trial. Delamere was surety for £5,000. Devonshire was in the end fined £30,000, and Delamere made a strong plea, apparently in the House of Lords, against the legality of the proceedings of the court.

There is the slightest possible similitude here to the facts of the ballad. It is merely that one party stands up for the other; but Delamere appears as the champion of Devonshire, not Devonshire of Delamere. If Devonshire had testified for Delamere when the latter was tried for high treason in 1686, there would be something to go upon. A more plausible explanation is desirable.

Taken down from recitation in Derbyshire, and first printed, about 1843, in a periodical called The Story Teller; afterwards in Notes and Queries, First Series, V, 243, by C. W. G.

Good people, give attention, a story you shall hear,
It is of the king and my lord Delamere;
The quarrel it arose in the Parliament House,
Concerning some taxations going to be put in force.
Ri toora loora la.
Says my lord Delamere to his Majesty soon,
‘If it please you, my liege, of you I’ll soon beg a boon.’
‘Then what is your boon? let me it understand:’
‘It’s to have all the poor men you have in your land.
‘And I’ll take them to Cheshire, and there I will sow
Both hempseed and flaxseed, and [hang] them all in a row.
Why, they’d better be hanged, and stopped soon their breath,
If it please you, my liege, than to starve them to death.’
Then up starts a French lord, as we do hear,
Saying, ‘Thou art a proud Jack,’ to my lord Delamere;
‘Thou oughtest to be stabbed’—then he turnd him about—
‘For affronting the king in the Parliament House.’
Then up starts his grace, the Duke of Devonshire,
Saying, I’ll fight in defence of my lord Delamere.
Then a stage was erected, to battle they went,
To kill or to be killed was our noble duke’s intent.
The very first push, as we do understand,
The duke’s sword he bended it back into his hand.
He waited a while, but nothing he spoke,
Till on the king’s armour his rapier he broke.
An English lord, who by that stage did stand,
Threw Devonshire another, and he got it in his hand:
‘Play low for your life, brave Devonshire,’ said he,
‘Play low for your life, or a dead man you will be.’
Devonshire dropped on his knee, and gave him his death-wound;
O then that French lord fell dead upon the ground.
The king called his guards, and he unto them did say,
‘Bring Devonshire down, and take the dead man away.’
‘No, if it please you, my liege, no! I’ve slain him like a man;
I’m resolved to see what clothing he’s got on.
Oh, fie upon your treachery, your treachery!’ said he,
‘Oh, king, ’twas your intention to have took my life away.
‘For he fought in your armour, whilst I have fought in bare;
The same thou shalt win, king, before thou does it wear.’
Then they all turned back to the Parliament House,
And the nobles made obesiance with their hands to their mouths.
‘God bless all the nobles we have in our land,
And send the Church of England may flourish still and stand;
For I’ve injured no king, no kingdom, nor no crown,
But I wish that every honest man might enjoy his own.’
Llewellynn Jewitt, Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire, 1867, p. 55, from a broad-sheet.

Good people give attention to a story you shall hear:
Between the king and my lord Delamere,
A quarrel arose in the Parliament House,
Concerning the taxes to be put in force.
With my fal de ral de ra.
I wonder, I wonder that James, our good king,
So many hard taxes upon the poor should bring;
So many hard taxes, as I have heard them say
Makes many a good farmer to break and run away.
Such a rout has been in the parliament, as I hear,
Betwixt a Dutch lord and my lord Delamere.
He said to the king, as he sat on the throne,
‘If it please you, my liege, to grant me a boon.’
‘O what is thy boon? Come, let me understand.’
‘’Tis to give me all the poor you have in the land;
I’ll take them down to Cheshire, and there I will sow
Both hemp-seed and flax-seed, and hang them in a row.
‘It’s better, my liege, they should die a shorter death
Than for your Majesty to starve them on earth.’
With that up starts a Dutch lord, as we hear,
And he says, ‘Thou proud Jack,’ to my lord Delamere,
‘Thou ought to be stabbed,’ and he turned him about,
‘For affronting the king in the Parliament House.’
Then up got a brave duke, the Duke of Devonshire,
Who said, I will fight for my lord Delamere.
‘He is under age, as I’ll make it appear,
So I’ll stand in defence of my lord Delamere.’
A stage then was built, and to battle they went,
To kill or be killed it was their intent.
The very first blow, as we understand,
Devonshire’s rapier went back to his hand;
Then he mused awhile, but not a word spoke,
When against the king’s armour his rapier he broke.
O then he stept backward, and backward stept he,
And then stept forward my lord Willoughby;
He gave him a rapier, and thus he did say;
Play low, Devonshire, there’s treachery, I see.
He knelt on his knee, and he gave him the wound,
With that the Dutch lord fell dead on the ground:
The king calld his soldiers, and thus he did say:
Call Devonshire down, take the dead man away.
He answered, My liege, I’ve killed him like a man,
And it is my intent to see what clothing he’s got on.
O treachery! O treachery! as I well may say,
It was your intent, O king, to take my life away.
‘He fought in your armour, while I fought him bare,
And thou, king, shalt win it before thou dost it wear;
I neither do curse king, parliament, or throne,
But I wish every honest man may enjoy his own.
‘The rich men do flourish with silver and gold,
While poor men are starving with hunger and cold;
And if they hold on as they have begun,
They’ll make little England pay dear for a king.’
Llewellynn Jewitt’s Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire, p. 57. “Another version, which I have in MS., has, besides many minor variations, these verses.”

O the Duchess of Devonshire was standing hard by;
Upon her dear husband she cast her lovely eye:
‘Oh, fie upon treachery! there’s been treachery I say,
It was your full intent to have taen my duke’s life away.’
Then away to the parliament these votes all went again,
And there they acted like just and honest men.
I neither curse my king, nor kingdom, crown or throne,
But I wish every honest man to enjoy but what is his own.
T. Lyle’s Ancient Ballads and Songs, p. 135, 1827, as “noted down from the singing of a gentleman,” and then “remodelled and smoothed down” by the editor.

In the Parliament House a great rout has been there,
Betwixt our good king and the lord Delaware:
Says Lord Delaware to his Majesty full soon,
‘Will it please you, my liege, to grant me a boon?’
‘What’s your boon?’ says the king, ‘now let me understand.’
‘It’s, give me all the poor men we’ve starving in this land,
And without delay I’ll hie me to Lincolnshire,
To sow hemp-seed and flax-seed, and hang them all there.
‘For with hempen cord it’s better to stop each poor man’s breath
Than with famine you should see your subjects starve to death.’
Up starts a Dutch lord, who to Delaware did say,
Thou deservest to be stabbd! then he turnd himself away.
‘Thou deservest to be stabbd, and the dogs have thine ears,
For insulting our king, in this parliament of peers.’
Up sprang a Welsh lord, the brave Duke of Devonshire:
‘In young Delaware’s defence, I’ll fight this Dutch lord, my sire.
‘For he is in the right, and I’ll make it so appear;
Him I dare to single combat, for insulting Delaware.’
A stage was soon erected, and to combat they went;
For to kill or to be killd, it was either’s full intent.
But the very first flourish, when the heralds gave command,
The sword of brave Devonshire bent backward on his hand.
In suspense he paused a while, scannd his foe before he strake,
Then against the king’s armour his bent sword he brake.
Then he sprang from the stage to a soldier in the ring,
Saying, Lend your sword, that to an end this tragedy we bring.
Though he’s fighting me in armour, while I am fighting bare,
Even more than this I’d venture for young Lord Delaware.
Leaping back on the stage, sword to buckler now resounds,
Till he left the Dutch lord a bleeding in his wounds.
This seeing, cries the king to his guards without delay,
Call Devonshire down! take the dead man away!
‘No,’ says brave Devonshire, ‘I’ve fought him as a man;
Since he’s dead, I will keep the trophies I have won.
For he fought me in your armour, while I fought him bare,
And the same you must win back, my liege, if ever you them wear.
‘God bless the Church of England! may it prosper on each hand,
And also every poor man now starving in this land.
And while I pray success may crown our king upon his throne,
I’ll wish that every poor man may long enjoy his own.’

41. Dutch for French, according to some reciters.

82. Oh.


41, 91. Oh.


11. Oh.


Printed by Lyle in stanzas of eight short lines.

The copy in Motherwell’s MS. is not in Motherwell’s handwriting. It may have been written down from recollection of Lyle, or may have been arbitrarily altered.

The variations are as follows:

12. Delamare, and always.

21. pray let.

22. now for we’ve.

24. with flax seed.

31. the poor men’s.

42. or for our.

51. it wanting.

62. in his.

63. the stroke.

64. broke.

71. The sprang.

82. he laid.

83. to the.

94. must won: my liege wanting.

101. bliss.

103. the king.


A. ‘Lord Dunwaters,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 331; ‘Lord Derwentwater,’ Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, p. 349.

B. ‘Lord Derwentwater,’ Notes and Queries, First Series, XII, 492.

C. Bell’s Rhymes of Northern Bards, 1812, p. 225, three stanzas.

D. ‘Lord Derntwater,’ Kinloch MSS, I, 323.

E. ‘Lord Derwentwater,’ Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, XI, 499.

F. ‘Lord Arnwaters,’ Buchan’s MSS, II, 478.

G. ‘Lord Dunwaters,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 126.

H. ‘Lord Derwentwater’s Death,’ Shropshire Folk-Lore, edited by Charlotte Sophia Burne, p. 537.

I. The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. xcv, 1825, Part First, p. 489.

Three stanzas of this ballad were printed in 1812 (C). I followed in 1825, a full copy, which would have been a very good one had it been given as taken down, and not restored “to something like poetical propriety.”[86] The editor of the “old song” observes that it was 116one of the most popular in the north of England for a long period after the event which it records, and a glance at what is here brought together will show that the ballad was at least equally popular in Scotland. I is repeated in Richardson’s Borderer’s Table-Book, VI, 291, and in Harland and Wilkinson’s Ballads and Songs of Lancashire, 1882, p. 265. Mr J. H. Dixon, in Notes and Queries, 4th Series, XI, 389, says that the ballad “originally appeared in the Town and Country Magazine.”

‘Lord Derwentwater’s Goodnight,’ Hogg’s Jacobite Relics, II, 30, 268, was both communicated and composed by Robert Surtees. ‘Derwentwater,’ Cromek’s Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, 1810, p. 127, is from the pen of Allan Cunningham. It is repeated in Hogg’s Jacobite Relics, 1821, II, 28, and in Cunningham’s Songs of Scotland, 1825, III, 192, etc.; also in Kinloch MSS, V, 413, with two lines to fill out an eighth stanza. (Translated by Loève-Veimars, p. 375.) ‘Young Ratcliffe,’ Sheldon’s Minstrelsy of the English Border, p. 400, is another ballad of the same class.

James Ratcliffe, Earl of Derwentwater, being suspected or known to be engaged in concerting a rising in the north of England in behalf of the Pretender, a warrant was issued by the Secretary of State for his apprehension, towards the end of September, 1715. Hereupon he took arms, and he was one of the fifteen hundred English and Scots who were forced to an inglorious surrender at Preston, November 14. The more distinguished prisoners were conveyed to London, where they had a boisterous reception from the mob. Derwentwater was committed to the Tower, December 9; was impeached of high treason, and pleaded guilty, in January; was sentenced to death, February 9, at Westminster Hall, and was executed February 24 (1716). In a paper which he read from the scaffold he stated that he had regarded his plea of guilty as a formality consequent upon his “having submitted to mercy,” and declared that he had never had “any other but King James the Third for his rightful and lawful sovereign.”

Derwentwater had not attained the age of twenty-seven at the time of his death. We may believe that the character given of him by the renegade Patten was not overcharged: “The sweetness of his temper and disposition, in which he had few equals, had so secured him the affection of all his tenants, neighbors, and dependants that multitudes would have lived and died with him. The truth is, he was a man formed by nature to be generally beloved, for he was of so universal a beneficence that he seemed to live for others. As he lived among his own people, there he spent his estate, and continually did offices of kindness and good neighborhood to everybody, as opportunity offered. He kept a house of generous hospitality and noble entertainment, which few in that country do, and none come up to. He was very charitable to poor and distressed families on all occasions, whether known to him or not, and whether Papist or Protestant. His fate will be sensibly felt by a great many who had no kindness for the cause he died in.”

The king’s letter, which, in the ballad, summons Derwentwater to London (to answer for his head, D 3), suggests the Secretary of State’s warrant of arrest, which his lordship, unhappily for himself, evaded. But very probably the ballad-maker supposed Derwentwater to have gone home after his less than six weeks in arms. As he is setting forth to obey the mandate, his wife calls to him from child-bed to make his will. This business does not delay him long: one third of his estate is to be his wife’s, and the rest to go to his children. (He had a son not two years old at the date of his execution, and a daughter who must have been born, at the earliest, not much before the rising. His very large estates first passed to the crown, and were afterwards bestowed on Greenwich hospital.) Bad omens attend his departure. As he mounts his horse, his ring drops from his finger, or breaks, and his nose begins to bleed, B 5, D 6, E 8, F 9, H 7, I 10; presently his horse stumbles, A 8, E 9, F 10, I 11; it begins to rain, H 8. When he comes to London, to Westminster Hall, B 6, F 11, to 117Whitehall, D 7, rides up Westminster Street, in sight of the White Hall, I 12, the lords and knights, the lords and ladies, a mob, H 9, call him “traitor.” How can that be, he answers, with surprise or indignation, except for keeping five hundred men (five thousand, seven thousand, eight score), to fight for King Jamie? A 10, D 8, E 11, F 12, H 10, I 13. A man with an ax claims his life, which he ungrudgingly resigns, B 8, D 9, 10, E 12, 13, F 13, 14, H 11, 12, I 14, 15, directing that a good sum of money which he has in his pockets shall be given to the poor, A 12, D 11, E 14, F 15, I 17.

In A 2, D 12, Derwentwater seems to be taken for a Scot.

Ellis, Brand’s Antiquities, 1813, II, 261, note, remarks that he had heard in Northumberland that when the Earl of Derwentwater was beheaded, the stream (the Divelswater) that runs past his seat at Dilston Hall flowed with blood.[87]

The Northern Lights (perhaps the red-colored ones) were peculiarly vivid on the night of February 16, 1716, and were long called Lord Derwentwater’s Lights in the north of England, where, it is said, many of the people know (or knew) them by no other name. It was even a popular belief that the aurora borealis was first seen on that night: Notes and Queries, Third Series, IX, 154, 268; Gibson, Dilston Hall, p. 111.

The omen of nose-bleed occurs in the ballad of ‘The Mother’s Malison,’ No 216, C; both nose-bleed and horse-stumbling, as omens, in Webster’s Dutchess of Malfi, Act II, Scene 2, Dyce, 1859, p. 70, cited, with other cases, in Ellis’s ed. of Brand’s Antiquities, II, 497.

‘Brig. Macintosh’s Farewell to the Highlands,’ or ‘Macintosh was a Soldier Brave,’ is one half a Derwentwater ballad: see Harland’s Ballads and Songs of Lancashire, 1865, p. 75, Ritson’s Northumberland Garland, p. 85, Hogg’s Jacobite Relics, II, 102, etc.

Motherwell’s MS., p. 331, July 19, 1825, “from the recitation of Agnes Lile, Kilbarchan, a woman verging on fifty;” learned from her father, who died fourteen years before, at the age of eighty.

Our king has wrote a lang letter,
And sealed it owre with gold;
He sent it to my lord Dunwaters,
To read it if he could.
He has not sent it with a boy, with a boy,
Nor with anie Scotch lord;
But he’s sent it with the noblest knight
Eer Scotland could afford.
The very first line that my lord did read,
He gave a smirkling smile;
Before he had the half o ‘t read,
The tears from his eyes did fall.
‘Come saddle to me my horse,’ he said,
‘Come saddle to me with speed;
For I must away to fair London town,
For me was neer more need.’
Out and spoke his lady gay,
In child-bed where she lay:
‘I would have you make your will, my lord Dunwaters,
Before you go away.’
‘I leave to yon, my eldest son,
My houses and my land;
I leave to you, my second son,
Ten thousand pounds in hand.
‘I leave to you, my lady gay—
You are my wedded wife—
I leave to you, the third of my estate;
That’ll keep you in a lady’s life.’
They had not rode a mile but one,
Till his horse fell owre a stane:
‘It’s warning gude eneuch,’ my lord Dunwaters said,
‘Alive I’ll neer come hame.’
When they came into fair London town,
Into the courtiers’ hall,
The lords and knichts in fair London town
Did him a traitor call.
‘A traitor! a traitor!’ says my lord,
‘A traitor! how can that be,
An it was na for the keeping of five thousand men
To fight for King Jamie?
‘O all you lords and knichts in fair London town,
Come out and see me die;
O all you lords and knichts into fair London town,
Be kind to my ladie.
‘There’s fifty pounds in my richt pocket,
Divide it to the poor;
There’s other fifty pounds in my left pocket,
Divide it from door to door.’
Notes and Queries, First Series, XII, 492, 1855; learned some forty five years before from an old gentleman, who, about 1773, got it by heart from an old washerwoman singing at her tub.

The king he wrote a love-letter,
And he sealed it up with gold,
And he sent it to Lord Derwentwater,
For to read it if he could.
The first two lines that he did read,
They made him for to smile;
But the next two lines he looked upon
Made the tears from his eyes to fall.
‘Oh,’ then cried out his lady fair,
As she in child-bed lay,
‘Make your will, make your will, Lord Derwentwater,
Before that you go away.’
‘Then here’s for thee, my lady fair,
. . . . . . .
A thousand pounds of beaten gold,
To lead you a lady’s life.’
. . . . . . .
. . . his milk-white steed,
The ring dropt from his little finger,
And his nose it began to bleed.
He rode, and he rode, and he rode along,
Till he came to Westminster Hall,
Where all the lords of England’s court
A traitor did him call.
‘Oh, why am I a traitor?’ said he;
‘Indeed, I am no such thing;
I have fought the battles valiantly
Of James, our noble king.’
O then stood up an old gray-headed man,
With a pole-axe in his hand:
‘’Tis your head, ’tis your head, Lord Derwentwater,
’Tis your head that I demand.’
. . . . . . .
His eyes with weeping sore,
He laid his head upon the block,
And words spake never more.
Bell’s Rhymes of Northern Bards, 1812, p. 225.

The king has written a broad letter,
And seald it up with gold,
And sent it to the lord of Derwentwater,
To read it if he would.
He sent it with no boy, no boy,
Nor yet with eer a slave,
But he sent it with as good a knight
As eer a king could have.
When he read the three first lines,
He then began to smile;
And when he read the three next lines
The tears began to sile.
Kinloch MSS, I, 323.

The king has written a braid letter,
And seald it up wi gowd,
And sent it to Lord Derntwater,
To read it if he coud.
The first lines o ‘t that he read,
A blythe, blythe man was he;
But ere he had it half read through,
The tear blinded his ee.
‘Go saddle to me my milk-white horse,
Go saddle it with speed;
For I maun ride to Lun[n]on town,
To answer for my head.’
‘Your will, your will, my lord Derntwater,
Your will before ye go;
For you will leave three dochters fair,
And a wife to wail and woe.’
‘My will, my will, my lady Derntwater?
Ye are my wedded wife;
Be kind, be kind to my dochters dear,
If I should lose my life.’
He set his ae fit on the grund,
The tither on the steed;
The ring upon his finger burst,
And his nose began to bleed.
He rode till he cam to Lunnon town,
To a place they ca Whiteha;
And a’ the lords o merry England
A traitor him gan ca.
‘A traitor! a traitor! O what means this?
A traitor! what mean ye?’
‘It’s a’ for the keeping o five hundred men
To fecht for bonny Jamie.’
Then up started a gray-headed man,
Wi a braid axe in his hand:
‘Your life, your life, my lord Derntwater,
Your life’s at my command.’
‘My life, my life, ye old gray-headed man,
My life I’ll freely gie;
But before ye tak my life awa
Let me speak twa words or three.
‘I’ve fifty pounds in ae pocket,
Go deal it frae door to door;
I’ve fifty five i the other pocket,
Go gie it to the poor.
‘The velvet coat that I hae on,
Ye may tak it for your fee;
And a’ ye lords o merry Scotland
Be kind to my ladie!’
Communicated to Notes and Queries, Fourth Series, XI, 499, 1873, by Mr J. P. Morris, as taken down by him from the recitation of a woman nearly seventy years of age, at Ulverston, North Lancashire.

The king wrote a letter to my lord Derwentwater,
And he sealed it with gold;
He sent it to my Lord Derwentwater,
To read it if he could.
He sent it by no boy,
He sent it by no slave,
But he sent it by as true a knight
As heart could wish or have.
The very first line that he looked upon
Made him for to laugh and to smile;
The very next line that he looked upon,
The tears from his eyes did fall.
He called to his stable-boy
To saddle his bonny grey steed,
‘That I unto loving London
May ride away with speed.’
His wife heard him say so,
In childbed as she lay;
Says she, ‘My lord Derwentwater,
Make thy will before thou goest away.’
‘It’s to my little son I give
My houses and my land,
120And to my little daughter
Ten thousand pounds in hand.
‘And unto thee, my lady gay,
Who is my wedded wife,
The third part of my estate thou shalt have,
To maintain thee through thy life.’
He set his foot in the level stirrup,
And mounted his bonny grey steed;
The gold rings from his fingers did break,
And his nose began for to bleed.
He had not ridden past a mile or two,
When his horse stumbled over a stone;
‘These are tokens enough,’ said my lord Derwentwater,
‘That I shall never return.’
He rode and he rode till he came to merry London,
And near to that famous hall;
The lords and knights of merry London,
They did him a traitor call.
‘A traitor! a traitor! a traitor!’ he cried,
‘A traitor! how can that be,
Unless it’s for keeping five hundred men
For to fight for King Jamie?’
It’s up yon steps there stands a good old man,
With a broad axe in his hand;
Says he, ‘Now, my lord Derwentwater,
Thy life’s at my command.’
‘My life, my life, thou good old man,
My life I’ll give to thee,
And the green coat of velvet on my back
Thou mayst take it for thy fee.
‘There’s fifty pounds and five in my right pocket,
Give that unto the poor;
There’s twenty pounds and five in my left pocket,
Deal that from door to door.’
Then he laid his head on the fatal block,
  *      *      *      *      *      *
Buchan’s MSS, II, 478.

The king has written a broad letter,
And seald it with his hand,
And sent it on to Lord Arnwaters,
To read and understand.
Now he has sent it by no boy,
No boy, nor yet a slave,
But one of England’s fairest knights,
The one that he would have.
When first he on the letter lookd,
Then he began to smile;
But ere he read it to an end,
The tears did trickling fall.
He calld upon his saddle-groom
To saddle his milk-white steed,
‘For I unto London must go,
For me there is much need.’
Out then speaks his gay lady,
In child-bed where she lay:
‘Make your will, make your will, my knight,
For fear ye rue the day.’
‘I’ll leave unto my eldest son
My houses and my lands;
I’ll leave unto my youngest son
Full forty thousand pounds.
‘I’ll leave unto my gay lady,
And to my loving wife,
The second part of my estate,
To maintain a lady’s life.’
He kissd her on the pillow soft,
In child-bed where she lay,
And bade farewell, neer to return,
Unto his lady gay.
He put his foot in the stirup,
His nose began to bleed;
The ring from ‘s finger burst in two
When he mounted on his steed.
He had not rode a mile or two
Till his horse stumbled down;
121‘A token good,’ said Lord Arnwaters,
‘I’ll never reach London town.’
But when into Westminster Hall,
Amongst the nobles all,
‘A traitor, a traitor, Lord Arnwaters,
A traitor,’ they did him call.
‘A traitor? a traitor how call ye me?
And a traitor how can I be
For keeping seven thousand valiant men
To fight for brave Jamie?’
Up then came a brave old man,
With a broad ax in his hand:
‘Your life, your life, Lord Arnwaters,
Your life’s at my command.’
‘My life, my life, my brave old man,
My life I’ll give to thee,
And the coat of green that’s on my back
You shall have for your fee.
‘There’s fifty pounds in one pocket,
Pray deal ‘t among the poor;
There’s fifty and four in the other pocket,
Pray deal ‘t from door to door.
‘There’s one thing more I have to say,
This day before I die;
To beg the lords and nobles all
To be kind to my lady.’
Motherwell’s MS., p. 126, from the recitation of Mrs Trail, Paisley, July 9, 1825: a song of her mother’s.

The king has wrote a long letter,
And sealed it with his han,
And he has sent it to my lord Dunwaters,
To read it if he can.
The very first line he lookit upon,
It made him to lauch and to smile;
The very next line he lookit upon,
The tear from his eye did fall.
‘As for you, my auldest son,
My houses and my land;
And as for you, my youngest son,
Ten thousand pound in hand.
‘As for you, my gay lady,
You being my wedded wife,
The third of my estate I will leave to you,
For to keep you in a lady’s life.’
  *      *      *      *      *      *
Shropshire Folk-Lore, edited by Charlotte Sophia Burne, p. 537; as recited in 1881 by Mrs Dudley, of Much Wenlock.

The king he wrote a letter,
And sealëd it with gold,
And sent it to Lor Derwentwater,
To read it if he could.
The first three lines he looked upon,
They made him to smile;
And the next three lines he looked upon
Made tears fall from his eyes.
O then bespoke his gay lady,
As she on a sick-bed lay:
‘Make your will, my lord,
Before you go away.’
‘O there is for my eldest son
My houses and my land,
And there is for my youngest son
Ten thousand pounds in hand.
‘There is for you, my gay lady,
My true and lawful wife,
The third part of my whole estate,
To maintain you a lady’s life.’
Then he called to his stable-groom
To bring him his gray steed;
For he must to London go,
The king had sent indeed.
When he put his foot in the stirrup,
To mount his grey steed,
His gold ring from his finger burst,
And his nose began to bleed.
He had not gone but half a mile
When it began to rain;
‘Now this is a token,’ his lordship said,
‘That I shall not return again.’
When he unto London came,
A mob did at him rise,
And they callëd him a traitor,
Made the tears fall from his eyes.
‘A traitor, a traitor!’ his lordship said,
. . . . . . .
Is it for keeping eight score men
To fight for pretty Jimmee?’
O then bespoke a grave man,
With a broad axe in his hand:
‘Hold your tongue, Lord Derwentwater,
Your life lies at my command.’
‘My life, my life,’ his lordship said,
‘My life I will give to thee,
And the black velvet coat upon my back,
Take it for thy fee.’
Then he laid his head upon the block,
He did such courage show,
And asked the executioner
To cut it off at one blow.
The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1825, vol. xcv, Part First, p. 489, taken down by G. H., apparently in Westmoreland, from the dictation of an old person who had learned it from her father; restored “to something like poetical propriety” by the assistance of “a poetical friend.”

King George he did a letter write,
And sealed it up with gold,
And sent it to Lord Derwentwater,
To read it if he could.
He sent his letter by no post,
He sent it by no page,
But sent it by a gallant knight
As eer did combat wage.
The first line that my lord lookd on
Struck him with strong surprise;
The second, more alarming still,
Made tears fall from his eyes.
He called up his stable-groom,
Saying, Saddle me well my steed,
For I must up to London go,
Of me there seems great need.
His lady, hearing what he said,
As she in child-bed lay,
Cry’d, My dear lord, pray make your will
Before you go away.
‘I’ll leave to thee, my eldest son,
My houses and my land;
I’ll leave to thee, my younger son,
Ten thousand pounds in hand.
‘I’ll leave to thee, my lady gay,
My lawful married wife,
A third part of my whole estate,
To keep thee a lady’s life.’
He knelt him down by her bed-side,
And kissed her lips so sweet;
The words that passd, alas! presaged
They never more should meet.
Again he calld his stable-groom,
Saying, Bring me out my steed,
For I must up to London go,
With instant haste and speed.
He took the reins into his hand,
Which shook with fear and dread;
The rings from off his fingers dropt,
His nose gushd out and bled.
He had but ridden miles two or three
When stumbling fell his steed;
‘Ill omens these,’ Derwentwater said,
‘That I for James must bleed.’
As he rode up Westminster street,
In sight of the White Hall,
123The lords and ladies of London town
A traitor they did him call.
‘A traitor!’ Lord Derwentwater said,
‘A traitor how can I be,
Unless for keeping five hundred men
Fighting for King Jemmy?’
Then started forth a grave old man,
With a broad-mouthd axe in hand:
‘Thy head, thy head, Lord Derwentwater,
Thy head’s at my command.’
‘My head, my head, thou grave old man,
My head I will give thee;
Here’s a coat of velvet on my back
Will surely pay thy fee.
‘But give me leave,’ Derwentwater said,
‘To speak words two or three;
Ye lords and ladies of London town,
Be kind to my lady.
‘Here’s a purse of fifty sterling pounds,
Pray give it to the poor;
Here’s one of forty-five beside
You may dole from door to door.’
He laid his head upon the block,
The axe was sharp and strong,
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .

24. Ere.

73. the 3rd.

Motherwell has made a few changes in his printed copy.

12. This stanza is given in Notes and Queries, First Series, I, 318, by a scholar of Christ’s Hospital, who informs us that the ballad was there current about 1785–1800:

There’s fifty pounds in my right pocket,
To be given to the poor;
There’s fifty pounds in my left pocket,
To be given from door to door.

12. And sealëd it with gold in Mr J. P. Morris’s communication to Notes and Queries, the same volume, p. 333.


21. by and by: cf. E 2.

22. No one, no not a slave: cf. E 2.


18. The remainder of four stanzas appended by G. H. is omitted.


A. ‘Geordie,’ Johnson’s Musical Museum, No. 346, p. 357, 1792.

B. “Scotch Ballads, Materials for Border Minstrelsy,” Abbotsford, 1802.

C. a. ‘The Laird of Geight, or Gae.’ b. ‘The Laird of Geight.’ “Scotch Ballads, Materials for Border Minstrelsy,” Abbotsford, 1813–15.

D. ‘The Laird of Gigh, or Gae,’ “Scotch Ballads, Materials for Border Minstrelsy,” Abbotsford, 1813–15.

E. a. Kinloch MSS, V, 130. b. ‘Geordie,’ Kinloch’s Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 192.

F. ‘Geordie Lukely,’ Motherwell’s MS., p. 367.

G. ‘Geordie,’ ‘Geordie Lukelie,’ Motherwell’s Note-Book, p. 17, p. 10.

H. ‘Will ye go to the Hielans, Geordie?’ Christie, Traditional Ballad Airs, II, 44.

I. a. ‘Gight’s Lady,’ Buchan’s MSS, II, 143. b. ‘Laird (Lord?) of Gight,’ Kinloch MSS, VI, 1.

J. ‘Gight’s Lady,’ Buchan’s Ballads of the North of Scotland, I, 133.

K. Motherwell’s MS., p. 400, two stanzas.

124L. ‘Geordie,’ Cunningham’s Songs of Scotland, II, 186, two stanzas.

M. ‘Geordie,’ ‘Geordie Lukely,’ Motherwell’s Note-Book, p. 2, one stanza.

N. ‘Geordie,’ Motherwell’s Note-Book, p. 20, one stanza.

“Of this,” says Motherwell, “many variations exist among reciters,” and his remark is borne out by what is here given.

The copy in Cunningham’s Songs of Scotland, II, 186, is A retouched, with st. 5 dropped and two stanzas (L) inserted from recitation. The texts of Christie, I, 52, 84, are J abridged and E b. Of J Christie says that he heard in 1848 a version sung by a native of Buchan, Aberdeenshire, who had it through her grandmother and great-grandmother, which differed only in being more condensed and wanting the catastrophe, and in having Badenoch’s lady for Bignet’s, and Keith-Hall and Gartly for Black Riggs and Kincraigie.

Geordie Gordon, A, of Gight (Gigh), B b, C, D, I, of the Bog o Gight, H, is in prison, on a charge endangering his life. He sends a message to his wife to come to Edinburgh. She rides thither with the utmost haste, and finds Geordie in extremity. She is told that his life may be redeemed by the payment of a large sum of money. She raises a contribution on the spot, pays the ransom, and rides off with her husband.

Kinloch and others incline to take Geordie to be George Gordon, fourth earl of Huntly, who incurred the Queen Regent’s displeasure for failing to execute a commission against a Highland robber in 1554. Huntly was committed to Edinburgh Castle, and some of his many enemies urged that he should be banished to France, others that he should be put to death. The Earl of Cassilis, though a foe to Huntly, resisted these measures on grounds of patriotism, and proposed that he should be deprived of certain honors and offices and fined. A fine was exacted, and the places which had been taken from him were restored.[88] With regard to this hypothesis, it may at least be said that, if it should be accepted, the ballad would be quite as faithful to history as many others.

A-E are the purer forms of the ballad; F-J are corrupted by admixture.

Geordie is Geordie Lukely of Stirling in F. In G, he is the Earl of Cassilis, ‘of Hye,’ as if some singer of the Gordons had turned the tables on Huntly’s enemy. In H, Geordie lives at the Bog o Gight, and should be the Earl, or Marquis, of Huntly; but writers of peerages will consult st. 17.

There has been a battle in the North in A-E. Sir Charles Hay[89] has been killed, and Geordie is in custody for this, A, B. Geordie has killed a man and is to die, C; the man is his wife’s brother, D. In E, Geordie is a rebel.

F begins with two stanzas from a vulgar last-dying-speech, of which more by and by: otherwise the story is not essentially injured, though the style is lowered. Geordie (in the first two stanzas) has done many an ill deed, but no murder or slaughter; he has stolen fifteen of the king’s horse and sold them in Bohemia. Earl Cassilis, likewise, in G, could not keep his hand off horses; he has stolen three geldings out of a park and sold them to Balleny (Balveny). Huntly, if it be he, in H, has only made free with the king’s deer. In I, J, Geordie has had an intrigue with Bignet’s (Pilbagnet’s, Badenoch’s) lady, for which the husband has thrown him into prison, and he is to die. But he owns to more than this in J. Beginning with an acknowledgment of one of the king’s best steeds stolen 125and sold in ‘Bevany,’ upon being pressed, he confesses to a woman abused and five orphan babes killed for their money.

Geordie points his message to his wife in C 2, D 4, by begging her to sew him or bring him his linen shirt (shirts), a good side shirt, which will be the last he shall need, and a lang side sark is equally prominent in the lady’s thoughts in I 8.

The lady stops for nothing in her ride to Edinburgh. She will not, and does not, eat or drink all the way, A 4, 5. When she comes to the water-side, finding no boat ready, she swims the Queen’s Ferry, B 7, C 5, D 9, J 13, L 1; or pays a boatman prodigally to take her over, H 9, I 9, J 14.

When the lady gaes oer the pier of Leith, comes to Edinburgh, to the West Port, the Canongate, the Parliament Close, the tolbooth-stair, the prison-door, she deals out crowns and ducatoons, makes the handfus o red gold fly, among the numerous poor, and bids them pray for Geordie. She has the prudence, in G 5, to do the same among the nobles many at the tolbooth-gate, that they may plead for Geordie.

The block and axe are in sight, and Geordie, in chains, is coming down the stair, A; the napkin is laid over his face, and the gallows is making ready, B (so F, but put further on), his head is to go, C; the rest of the nobles sit (stand) hat on head, but hat in hand stands Geordie, D, E, H, I, J, L.

The lady makes a plea for her husband’s life. She is the mother of many children (the tale ranges from six to eleven) and is going with yet another, B, C, K, N. She would bear them all over again for the life of Geordie, C, D, or see them all streekit before her eyes, B; and for his life she will part with all that she owns, A 10, B 11, 16, D 14.

The king in A is moved by neither of these appeals. The number of her children is so far from affecting him that he orders the heading-man to make haste. But the Gordons collect and pass the word to be ready. There would have been bloody bouks upon the green.[90]

The lady is told that by paying a good round sum, 5,000 (500) pounds, 10,000 (1000) crowns, she can redeem Geordie’s life. An aged lord prompts the king to offer these terms in A; in the other versions, they are proposed directly; by the king himself, F, G, I; by the queen, B, I; by the good Argyle, D; by an English lord, H. The bystanders contribute handsomely; she pays the ransom down, and wins the life of Geordie, A-D, G-J.

In E, which is a mere fragment, there is no fine or collection: a bold baron says, such true lovers shall not be parted, and she gets her Geordie forthwith. In F, no contribution is required, because the lady, after scattering the red gold among the poor, is still in a condition to produce the five thousand pound from her own pocket. For this she receives a ‘remit,’ with which she hies to the gallows and stops the impending execution. In I b, which is defective, the money collected is to pay the jailer’s fee. After the discharge has been secured (in two or three copies earlier), Lord Corstorph, B a, the Laird o Logie, B b, an Irish lord, C, H, an English lord, D, the gleid Argyle, I, Lord Montague, J, expresses a wish that Geordie’s head were off, because he might have succeeded to the lady. The lady checks this aspiration, sometimes in very abusive language.

The pair now ride off together, and when she is set in her saddle, no bird in bush or on briar ever sang so sweet as she, B, C, E, F, H, I. If we were to trust some of those who recite her story, the lady who has shown so much spirit and devotion was not one of those who blush to find good deeds fame. ‘Gar print me ballants that I am a worthy lady,’ 126B 30 makes her say; ‘Hae me to some writer’s house, that I may write down Gight’s lament and how I borrowed Geordie,’ I a 25; ‘Call for one of the best clerks, that he may write all this I’ve done for Geordie,’ J 36. What she really did say is perhaps faithfully given in D 18: ‘Where is there a writer’s house, that I may write to the north that I have won the life of Geordie?’

I and J are probably from stall-prints, and it has not been thought necessary to notice some things which may have been put into these to eke them out to a convenient length. J has an entirely spurious supplement. When the pair are riding away, and even as the wife is protesting her affection, Geordie turns round and says, A finger of Bignet’s lady’s hand is worth a’ your fair body. A dispute ensues, and Geordie pulls out a dagger and stabs his lady; he then takes to flight, and never is found. Another set, mentioned by Motherwell, makes Geordie drown his deliverer in the sea, in a fit of jealousy (Minstrelsy, p. lxxvi, 46).

There is an English broadside ballad, on the death of “George Stoole” which seemed to Motherwell “evidently imitated from the Scottish song.” This was printed by H. Gosson, whose time is put at 1607–41.[91] This ballad was to be sung “to a delicate Scottish tune;” Georgy comes in as a rhyme at the end of stanzas not seldom; Georgy writes to his lady, bewailing his folly; he never stole no oxe nor cow, nor ever murdered any, but fifty horse he did receive of a merchant’s man of Gory, for which he was condemned to die, and did die. These are the data for determining the question of imitation.

There is a later ‘Georgy’ ballad, of the same general cast, on the life and death of “George of Oxford,” a professed and confessed highwayman, a broadside printed in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. In this, Lady Gray hastens to Newcastle to beg Georgy’s life of the judge, and offers gold and land to save him, after the fashion of Lady Ward in ‘Hughie Graham;’ to no purpose, as in ‘Hughie Graham.’ This Georgy owns and boasts himself a thief, but with limitations much the same as those which are made a point of by the other; he never stole horse, mare, or cloven-foot, with one exception—the king’s white steeds, which he sold to Bohemia.

Both of these ballads are given in an appendix.

Whether the writers of these English ballads knew of the Scottish ‘Geordie,’ I would not undertake to affirm or deny; it is clear that some far-back reciter of the Scottish ballad had knowledge of the later English broadside. The English ballads, however, are mere “goodnights.” The Scottish ballads have a proper story, with a beginning, middle, and end, and (save one late copy), a good end, and they are most certainly original and substantially independent of the English. The Scottish Geordie is no thief, nor even a Johnie Armstrong. There are certain passages in certain versions which give that impression, it is true, but these are incongruous with the story, and have been adopted from some copy of the broadside, the later rather than the earlier. These are, the first two stanzas of F, utterly out of place, where we have the king’s horses stolen and sold in Bohemia, almost exactly as in the ballad of ‘George of Oxford,’ 15; G 7, where the Earl of Cassilis is made to steal geldings and sell them in Balleny; and J 23, in which the Laird of Gight steals one of the king’s steeds (precisely as in ‘George of Oxford’) and sells it in Bevany. That is to say, we have the very familiar case of the introduction (generally accidental and often infelicitous) of a portion of one ballad into another; which, if accidental in the present instance, would easily be accounted for by a George being 127the hero in each. Further; the burden of E, embodied in the ballad in two versions, I 27, J 35, has a general resemblance to that of ‘George Stoole,’ and could hardly have been original with the Scottish ballad. There was probably a ‘Geordie Luklie,’ a Scottish variety of one of the English broadsides.

G is translated by Gerhard, p. 56; A, in part, by Knortz, Schottische Balladen, p. 101.

Johnson’s Museum, No 346, p. 357, 1792; communicated by Robert Burns.

There was a battle in the north,
And nobles there was many,
And they hae killd Sir Charlie Hay,
And they laid the wyte on Geordie.
O he has written a lang letter,
He sent it to his lady:
‘Ye maun cum up to Enbrugh town,
To see what word’s o Geordie.’
When first she lookd the letter on,
She was baith red and rosy;
But she had na read a word but twa
Till she wallowt like a lily.
‘Gar get to me my gude grey steed,
My menyie a’ gae wi me,
For I shall neither eat nor drink
Till Enbrugh town shall see me.’
And she has mountit her gude grey steed,
Her menyie a’ gaed wi her,
And she did neither eat nor drink
Till Enbrugh town did see her.
And first appeard the fatal block,
And syne the aix to head him,
And Geordie cumin down the stair,
And bands o airn upon him.
But tho he was chaind in fetters strang,
O airn and steel sae heavy,
There was na ane in a’ the court
Sae bra a man as Geordie.
O she’s down on her bended knee,
I wat she’s pale and weary:
‘O pardon, pardon, noble king,
And gie me back my dearie!
‘I hae born seven sons to my Geordie dear,
The seventh neer saw his daddie;
O pardon, pardon, noble king,
Pity a waefu lady!’
‘Gar bid the headin-man mak haste,’
Our king reply’d fu lordly:
‘O noble king, tak a’ that’s mine,
But gie me back my Geordie!’
The Gordons cam, and the Gordons ran,
And they were stark and steady,
And ay the word amang them a’
Was, Gordons, keep you ready!
An aged lord at the king’s right hand
Says, Noble king, but hear me;
Gar her tell down five thousand pound,
And gie her back her dearie.
Some gae her marks, some gae her crowns,
Some gae her dollars many,
And she’s telld down five thousand pound,
And she’s gotten again her dearie.
She blinkit blythe in her Geordie’s face,
Says, Dear I’ve bought thee, Geordie;
But there sud been bluidy bouks on the green
Or I had tint my laddie.
He claspit her by the middle sma,
And he kist her lips sae rosy:
‘The fairest flower o woman-kind
Is my sweet, bonie lady!’
a. “Scotch Ballads, Materials for Border Minstrelsy,” No 13, Abbotsford. Sent to Scott by William Laidlaw, September 11, 1802 (Letters, vol. i, No 73), as written down by Laidlaw from the recitation of Mr Bartram of Biggar. b. Variations received by Laidlaw from J. Scott.

‘There was a battle i the north
Amang our nobles many,
And they have killed Sir Charles Hay,
And they’ve taen thrae me my Geordie.’
‘O where’ll I gett a wi bit boy,
A bonnie boy that’s ready,
That will gae in to my biggin
With a letter to my ladie?’
Then up and startit a wi bit boy,
An a bonnie boy was ready:
‘It’s I’ll gae in to your biggin
Wi a letter to your ladie.’
When the day was fair an the way was clear,
An the wi bit boy was ready,
An he’s gane in to his biggin,
Wi a letter to his ladie.
When she lookd the letter on,
She was no a wearit ladie;
But when she lookit the other side,
She mourned for her Geordie.
‘Gar sadle to me the black,’ she says,
‘For the brown rade neer sey bonnie,
An I’ll gae down to Enbro town,
An see my true-love Geordie.’
When she cam to the water-side,
The cobles war na ready;
She’s turnd her horse’s head about,
An in by the Queen’s Ferry.
When she cam to the West Port,
There war poor folks many;
She dealt crowns an the ducatdowns,
And bade them pray for Geordie.
When she cam to the Parliament Closs,
There amang our nobles many,
Cravats an caps war standing there,
But low, low lay her Geordie.
When she gaed up the tolbooth-stairs,
Amang our nobles manie,
The napkin’s tyed oer Geordie’s face,
And the gallows makin ready.
‘O wad ye hae his lands or rents?
Or wad ye hae his monie?
Take a’, a’ frae him but his sark alone,
Leave me my true-love Geordie.’
The captain pu’d her on his knee,
An ca’d her heart an honey:
‘An ye wad wait se’en years for me,
Ye wad never jump for Geordie.’
‘O hold your tongue, you foolish man,
Your speech it’s a’ but folly;
For an ye wad wait till the day ye die,
I wad neer take John for Geordie.’
’Twas up an spak the Lord Corstarph,
The ill gae wi his body!
‘O Geordie’s neck it war on a block,
Gif I had his fair ladie!’
‘O haud yer tongue, ye foolish man,
Yer speech is a’ but folly;
For if Geordie’s neck war on a block,
Ye sould neer enjoy his ladie.
‘It’s I hae se’en weel gawn mills,
I wait they a’ gang daily;
I’ll gie them a’ an amang ye a’
For the sparin o my Geordie.
‘I hae ele’en bairns i the wast,
I wait the’re a’ to Geordie;
I’d see them a’ streekit afore mine eyes
Afore I lose my Geordie.
‘I hae ele’en bairns i the wast,
The twalt bears up my body;
The youngest’s on his nurse’s knee,
An he never saw his dadie.
‘I hae se’en uncles in the north,
They gang baith proud an lordly;
I’d see them a’ tread down afore my eyes
Afore I lose my Geordie.’
Then out an spak an English lord,
The ill gae wi his bodie!
‘It’s I gard hang Sir Francie Grey,
An I’ll soon gar hang your Geordie.’
It’s out an spak than a Scottish lord,
May the weel gae wi his body!
‘It’s I’ll cast of my coat an feght
Afore ye lose your Geordie.’
It’s out then spak an English lord,
May the ill gae wi his bodie!
‘Before the morn at ten o’clock,
I’s hae the head o Geordie.’
Out then spak the Scottish lord,
May the weel gae wi his body!
‘I’ll fight i bluid up to the knees
Afore ye lose your Geordie.’
But out an spak the royal king,
May the weel gae wi his body!
‘There’s be bluidie heads among us a’
Afore ye lose your Geordie.’
’Twas up than spak the royal queen,
‘May the weel gae wi his body!
Tell down, tell down five hunder pound,
An ye’s get wi you yer Geordie.’
Some gae her gold, some gae her crowns,
Some gae her ducats many,
An she’s telld down five hundred pound,
An she’s taen away her Geordie.
An ay she praisd the powers above,
An a’ the royal family,
An ay she blessed the royal queen,
For sparin o her Geordie.
. . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
Nae bird sang sweeter in the bush
Than she did wi her Geordie.
‘It’s wo be to my Lord Costorph,
It’s wo be to him daily!
For if Geordie’s neck had been on the block
He had neer enjoyd his ladie.
‘Gar print me ballants weel,’ she said,
‘Gar print me ballants many,
Gar print me ballants weel,’ she said,
‘That I am a worthy ladie.’
a. “Scotch Ballads, Materials for Border Minstrelsy,” Abbotsford, No 38, MS. of Thomas Wilkie, 1813–15, p. 16; taken down from the singing of Miss Christy Robertson, Dunse. b. “Scotch Ballads,” etc., No 108, in a lady’s hand, and perhaps obtained directly from Miss Robertson.

There was a battle in the north,
Among the nobles many;
The Laird of Geight he’s killd a man,
And there’s nane to die but Geordie.
  *      *      *      *      *      *
‘What news? what news, my bonny boy?
What news hae ye frae Geordie?’
‘He bids ye sew his linen shirts,
For he’s sure he’ll no need many.’
‘Go saddle the black, go saddle the brown,
Go saddle to me the bonny;
For I will neither eat nor drink
Until I see my Geordie.’
They’ve saddled the black, they’ve saddled the brown,
They’ve saddled her the bonny,
And she is away to Edinborough town,
Straight away to see her Geordie.
When she came to the sea-side,
The boats they were nae ready;
She turned her horse’s head about,
And swimd at the Queen’s Ferry.
And when she came to the prison-door,
There poor folks they stood many;
She dealt the red guineas them among,
And bade them pray weel for Geordie.
And when she came into the hall,
Amang the nobles many,
The napkin’s tied on Geordie’s face,
And the head’s to gae frae Geordie.
‘I have born ten bonny sons,
And the eleventh neer sa his dadie,
130And I will bear them all oer again
For the life o bonny Geordie.
‘I have born the Laird of Gight,
And the Laird of bonny Pernonnie;
And I will gie them all to thee
For the life of my bonny Geordie.’
Up then spoke [a kind-hearted man],
Wha said, He’s done good to many;
If ye’ll tell down ten hundred crowns
Away ye shall hae yer Geordie.
Some telld shillings, and some telld crowns,
But she telld the red guineas many,
Till they’ve telld down ten hundred crowns,
And away she’s got her Geordie.
[It’s up then spoke an Irish lord,
And O but he spoke bauldly!]
‘I wish his head had been on the block,
That I might hae got his fair lady.’
She turned about . . . .
And O but she spoke boldly!
‘A pox upon your nasty face!
Will ye eer be compared to my Geordie?’
She set him on a milk-white steed,
Herself upon another;
The thrush on the briar neer sang so clear
As she sang behind her Geordie.
“Scotch Ballads, Materials for Border Minstrelsy,” No 64, MS. of Thomas Wilkie, 1813–15, p. 50, Abbotsford. “I took this down from the recitation of Janet Scott, Bowden, who sung it to a beautiful plaintive old air.”

There was a battle i the north
Among the nobles many,
The Laird of Gigh he’s killd a man,
The brother of his lady.
‘Where will I get a man or boy,
That will win both goud and money,
That will run into the north,
And fetch to me my lady?’
Up then spake a bonny boy,
He was both blythe and merry;
‘O I will run into the north,
And fetch to you your lady.’
‘You may tell her to sew me a gude side shirt,
She’ll no need to sew me mony;
Tell her to bring me a gude side shirt,
It will be the last of any.’
He has written a broad letter.
And he’s seald it sad and sorry;
He’s gaen it to that bonny boy,
To take to his fair lady.
Away the bonny boy he’s gaen,
He was both blythe and merrie;
He’s to that fair lady gane,
And taen her word frae Geordie.
When she looked the letter on,
She was both sad and sorrie:
‘O I’ll away to fair Edinburgh town
Myself and see my Geordie.
‘Gar saddle to me the black,’ she says,
‘The brown was neer sae bonny;
And I’ll straight to Edinburgh
Myself and see my Geordie.’
When she came to that wan water,
The boats was not yet ready;
She wheeld her horse’s head around,
And swimd at the Queen’s Ferry.
When she came to the Parliament Close,
Amang the poor folks many,
She dealt the crowns with duckatoons,
And bade them pray for Geordy.
When she came to the Parliament House,
Among the nobles many,
The rest sat all wi hat on head,
But hat in hand sat Geordie.
Up bespake an English lord,
And he spake blythe and merrie;
‘Was Geordie’s head upon the block,
I am sure I would have his lady.’
Up bespake that lady fair,
And O but she was sorrie!
‘If Geordie’s head were on the block,
There’s never a man gain his lady.
‘I have land into the north,
And I have white rigs many,
And I could gie them a’ to you
To save the life of Geordie.
‘I have seven children in the north,
And they seem very bonnie,
And I could bear them a’ over again
For to win the life o Geordie.’
Up bespake the gude Argyle;
He has befriended many;
‘If ye’ll tell down ten hundred crowns,
Ye’s win the life o Geordie.’
Some gaed her shillings, and some her crowns,
And some gaed her guineas many,
And she’s telld down ten hundred crowns,
And she’s wone the life o Geordie.
When she came down through Edinborough,
And Geordie in her hand, O,
‘Where will I get a writer’s [house],
A writer’s house so ready,
That I may write into the north
I have wone the life o Geordie’?
a. Kinloch MSS, V, 130; in the handwriting of James Beattie. b. Kinloch’s Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 192.

There was a battle in the north,
And rebels there were many,
And they were a’ brought before the king,
And taken was my Geordie.
My Geordie O, O my Geordie O,
O the love I bear to Geordie!
For the very ground I walk upon
Bears witness I love Geordie.
As she went up the tolbooth-stair,
The cripples there stood many,
And she dealt the red gold them among,
For to pray for her love Geordie.
And when she came unto the hall
The nobles there stood many,
And every one stood hat on head,
But hat in hand stood Geordie.
O up bespoke a baron bold,
And O but he spoke bonnie!
‘Such lovers true shall not parted be,’
And she’s got her true-love Geordie.
When she was mounted on her high horse,
And on behind her Geordie,
Nae bird on the brier eer sang sae clear
As the young knight and his lady.
O my Geordie O, O my Geordie O,
O the love I bear to Geordie!
The very stars in the firmament
Bear tokens I love Geordie.
Motherwell’s MS., p. 367; from the recitation of Agnes Lyle, Kilbarchan.

‘Geordie Lukely is my name,
And many a one doth ken me; O
Many an ill deed I hae done,
But now death will owrecome me. O
‘I neither murdered nor yet have I slain,
I never murdered any;
But I stole fyfteen o the king’s bay horse,
And I sold them in Bohemia.
‘Where would I get a pretty little boy,
That would fain win gold and money,
That would carry this letter to Stirling town,
And give it to my lady?’
‘Here am I, a pretty little boy,
That wud fain win gold and money;
132I’ll carry your letter to Stirling town,
And give it to your lady.’
As he came in by Stirling town
He was baith weet and weary;
The cloth was spread, and supper set,
And the ladies dancing merry.
When she read the first of it,
She was baith glad and cheery;
But before she had the half o ‘t read,
She was baith sad and sorry.
‘Come saddle to me the bonnie dapple gray,
Come saddle to me the wee poney;
For I’ll awa to the king mysell,
And plead for my ain love Geordie.’
She gaed up the Cannogate,
Amang the puir folk monie;
She made the handfus o red gold fly,
And bade them pray for Geordie,
And aye she wrang her lily-white hands,
Saying, I am a wearyd lady!
Up and spoke the king himsell,
And oh, but he spok bonnie!
‘It’s ye may see by her countenance
That she is Geordie’s lady.’
Up and spoke a bold bluidy wretch,
And oh, but he spoke boldly!
‘Tho [thou] should pay ten thousand pounds,
Thou’ll never get thy own love Geordie.
‘For I had but ae brother to mysell,
I loved him best of any;
They cutted his head from his fair bodie,
And so will they thy love Geordie.’
Up and spoke the king again,
And oh, but he spak bonnie!
‘If thou’ll pay me five thousand pound,
I’ll gie thee hame thy love Geordie.’
She put her hand in her pocket,
She freely paid the money,
And she’s awa to the Gallows Wynd,
To get her nain love Geordie.
As she came up the Gallows Wynd,
The people was standing many;
The psalms was sung, and the bells was rung,
And silks and cords hung bonnie.
The napkin was tyed on Geordie’s face,
And the hangman was just readie:
‘Hold your hand, you bluidy wretch!
O hold it from my Geordie!
For I’ve got a remit from the king,
That I’ll get my ain love Geordie.’
When he heard his lady’s voice,
He was baith blythe and merry:
‘There’s many ladies in this place;
Have not I a worthy ladie?’
She mounted him on the bonnie dapple grey,
Herself on the wee poney,
And she rode home on his right hand,
All for the pride o Geordie.
Motherwell’s Note-Book, p. 17, p. 10; from Mrs Rule, Paisley, August 16, 1825. Apparently learned from a blind aunt, pp. 1, 3.

The weather it is clear, and the wind blaws fair,
And yonder a boy rins bonnie,
And he is awa to the gates of Hye,
With a letter to my dear ladie.
The first line that she lookit on,
She was baith red and rosy;
She droppit down, and she dropt in a swoon,
Crys, Och and alace for Geordie!
‘Gar saddle to me the black, black horse;
The brown is twice as bonnie;
But I will neither eat nor drink
Till I relieve my Geordie.’
When she cam to the canny Cannygate,
Amang the puir folk many,
She made the dollars flee amang them a’,
And she bade them plead for Geordie.
When she came to the tolbooth-gate,
Amang the nobles many,
She made the red gold flee amang them a’,
And she bade them plead for Geordie.
Out and spoke the king himsell,
‘Wha’s aught this weary lady?’
Out and spoke a pretty little page,
‘She’s the Earl o Cassilis lady.’
‘Has he killed? or has he slain?
Or has he ravishd any?’
‘He stole three geldings out o yon park,
And sold them to Balleny.’
‘Pleading is idle,’ said the king,
‘Pleading is idle with any;
But pay you down five hundred pund,
And tak you hame your Geordie.’
Some gave marks, and som gave crowns,
Some gave dollars many;
She’s paid down the five hundred pund,
And she’s relieved her Geordie.
The lady smiled in Geordie’s face:
‘Geordie, I have bocht thee;
But down in yon green there had been bluidy breeks
Or I had parted wi thee.’
Christie’s Traditional Ballad Airs, II, 44; “long favorite in the counties of Aberdeen and Banff.”

‘Will ye go to the Hielans, my bonny lad?
Will ye go to the Hielans, Geordie?
Though ye tak the high road and I tak the low,
I will be in the Hielans afore ye.’
He hadna been in the high Hielans
A month but barely twa, O,
Till he was laid in prison strong,
For hunting the king’s deer and rae, O.
‘O where will I get a bonny, bonny boy,
That will run my errand cannie,
And gae quickly on to the bonny Bog o Gight,
Wi a letter to my lady?’
‘O here am I, a bonny, bonny boy,
That will run your errand cannie,
And will gae on to the bonny Bog o Gight,
Wi a letter to your lady.’
When she did get this broad letter,
A licht, licht laugh gae she, O;
But before she read it to an end
The saut tear was in her ee, O.
‘O has he robbd? or has he stown?
Or has he killëd ony?
Or what is the ill that he has done,
That he’s gaun to be hangd sae shortly?’
‘He hasna robbd, he hasna stown,
He hasna killëd ony;
But he has hunted the king’s deer and rae,
And he will be hangëd shortly.’
‘Come saddle to me the bonny brown steed,
For the black never rade sae bonny,
And I will gae on to Edinboro town
To borrow the life o my Geordie.’
The first water-side that she cam to,
The boatman wasna ready;
She gae anither skipper half-a-crown,
To boat her oer the ferry.
When she cam on to Edinboro town,
The poor stood thick and mony;
She dealt them money roun and roun,
Bade them pray for the life o her Geordie.
When she gaed up the tolbooth-stair,
She saw there nobles mony,
And ilka noble stood hat on head,
But hat in hand stood Geordie.
Then out it spak an English lord,
And vow, but he spake bonny!
‘If ye pay down ten thousand crouns,
Ye’ll get the life o your Geordie.’
Some gae her marks, some gae her crouns,
Some gae her guineas rarely,
Till she paid down ten thousand crouns,
And she got the life o her Geordie.
Then out it spak an Irish lord,
O wae befa his body!
‘It’s a pity the knicht didna lose his head,
That I micht hae gotten his lady.’
But out it spak the lady hersel,
And vow, but she spak bonny!
‘The pock-marks are on your Irish face,
You could not compare wi my Geordie!’
When she was in the saddle set,
And on ahint her Geordie,
The bird on the bush neer sang sae sweet,
As she sung to her love Geordie.
‘First I was mistress o bonny Auchindown,
And I was lady o a’ Carnie,
But now I have come to the bonny Bog o Gight,
The wife o my true-love Geordie.
‘If I were in the high Hielans,
I would hear the white kye lowing;
But I’d rather be on the bonny banks o Spey,
To see the fish-boaties rowing.’
a. Buchan’s MSS, II, 143. b. Kinloch MSS, VI, 1, in the handwriting of Joseph Robertson.

‘I choosed my love at the bonny yates of Gight,
Where the birks an the flowers spring bony,
But pleasures I had never one,
But crosses very mony.
‘First I was mistress of Pitfan
And madam of Kincraigie,
And now my name is bonny Lady Anne,
And I am Gight’s own lady.
‘He does not use me as his wife,
Nor cherish me as his lady,
But day by day he saddles the grey,
And rides off to Bignet’s lady.’
Bignet he got word of this,
That Gight lay wi his lady;
He swore a vow, and kept it true,
To be revengd on’s body.
‘Where will I get a bonny boy
Will run my errand shortly,
That woud run on to the bonny yates o Gight
Wi a letter to my lady?’
Gight has written a broad letter,
And seald it soon and ready,
And sent it on to Gight’s own yates,
For to acquaint his lady.
The first of it she looked on,
O dear! she smiled bonny;
But as she read it till an end
The tears were thick an mony.
‘Come saddle to me the black,’ she says,
‘Come saddle him soon and shortly,
Ere I ride down to Edinburgh town,
Wi a lang side sark to Geordy.’
When she came to the boat of Leith,
I wad she did na tarry;
She gave the boatman a guinea o gold
To boat her oer the ferry.
As she gaed oer the pier of Leith,
Among the peerls many,
She dealt the crowns and dukedoons,
Bade them a’ pray for Geordy.
As she gaed up the tolbooth-stair,
Among the nobles many,
Every one sat hat on head,
But hat in hand stood Geordy.
‘Has he brunt? or has he slain?
Or has he robbëd any?
Or has he done any other crime,
That gars you head my Geordy?’
‘He hasna brunt, he hasna slain,
He hasna robbed any;
But he has done another crime,
For which he will pay dearly.’
In it comes him First Lord Judge,
Says, George, I’m sorry for you;
You must prepare yourself for death,
For there’ll be nae mercy for you.
In it comes him Second Lord Judge,
Says, George I’m sorry for you;
You must prepare yourself for death,
For there’ll be nae mercy for you.
Out it speaks Gight’s lady herself,
And vow, but she spake wordy!
‘Is there not a lord among you all
Can plead a word for Geordy?’
Out it speaks the first Lord Judge:
‘What lady’s that amang you
That speaks to us so boldly here,
And bids us plead for Geordy?’
Out then spake a friend, her own,
And says, It’s Gight’s own lady,
Who is come to plead her own lord’s cause,
To which she’s true and steady.
The queen, looking oer her shott-window,
Says, Ann, I’m sorry for you;
If ye’ll tell down ten thousand crowns,
Ye shall get home your Geordy.
She’s taen the hat out of his hand,
And dear! it set her bonny;
She’s beggd the red gold them among,
And a’ to borrow Geordy.
She turnd her right and round about
Among the nobles many;
Some gave her dollars, some her crowns,
And some gave guineas many.
She spread her mantle on the floor,
O dear! she spread it bonny,
And she told down that noble sum;
Says, Put on your hat, my Geordy.
But out it speaks him gleid Argyle,
Says, Woe be to your body!
I wish that Gight had lost his head,
I should enjoyd his lady.
She looked oer her left shoulder,
A proud look and a saucy;
Says, Woe be to you, gleid Argyle!
Ye’ll neer be like my Geordy.
‘You’ll hae me to some writer’s house,
And that baith seen and shortly,
That I may write down Gight’s lament,
And how I borrowed Geordy.’
When she was in her saddle set,
And aye behind her Geordy,
Birds neer sang blyther in the bush
Than she behind her Geordy.
‘O bonny George, but I love thee well,
And O sae dear as I love thee!
The sun and moon and firmament above
Bear witness how I love thee!’
‘O bonny Ann, but I love thee well,
And O but sae dear as I love thee!
The birds in the air, that fly together pair and pair,
Bear witness, Ann, that I love thee!’
Buchan’s Ballads of the North of Scotland, I, 133.

‘First I was lady o Black Riggs,
And then into Kincraigie;
Now I am the Lady o Gight,
And my love he’s ca’d Geordie.
‘I was the mistress o Pitfan,
And madam o Kincraigie;
But now my name is Lady Anne,
And I am Gight’s own lady.
‘We courted in the woods o Gight,
Where birks and flowrs spring bonny;
But pleasures I had never one,
But sorrows thick and mony.
‘He never ownd me as his wife,
Nor honourd me as his lady,
But day by day he saddles the grey,
And rides to Bignet’s lady.’
When Bignet he got word of that,
That Gight lay wi his lady,
He’s casten him in prison strong,
To ly till lords were ready.
‘Where will I get a little wee boy,
That is baith true and steady,
That will run on to bonny Gight,
And bring to me my lady?’
‘O here am I, a little wee boy,
That is baith true and steady,
That will run to the yates o Gight,
And bring to you your lady.’
‘Ye’ll bid her saddle the grey, the grey,
The brown rode neer so smartly;
Ye’ll bid her come to Edinbro town,
A’ for the life of Geordie.’
The night was fair, the moon was clear,
And he rode by Bevany,
And stopped at the yates o Gight,
Where leaves were thick and mony.
The lady lookd oer castle-wa,
And dear, but she was sorry!
‘Here comes a page frae Edinbro town;
A’ is nae well wi Geordie.
‘What news, what news, my little boy?
Come tell me soon and shortly;’
‘Bad news, bad news, my lady,’ he said,
‘They’re going to hang your Geordie.’
‘Ye’ll saddle to me the grey, the grey,
The brown rade neer so smartly;
And I’ll awa to Edinbro town,
Borrow the life o Geordie.’
When she came near to Edinbro town,
I wyte she didna tarry,
But she has mounted her grey steed,
And ridden the Queen’s Ferry.
When she came to the boat of Leith,
I wat she didna tarry;
She gae the boatman a guinea o gowd
To boat her ower the ferry.
When she came to the pier o Leith,
The poor they were sae many;
She dealt the gowd right liberallie,
And bade them pray for Geordie.
When she gaed up the tolbooth-stair,
The nobles there were many:
And ilka ane stood hat on head,
But hat in hand stood Geordie.
She gae a blink out-ower them a’,
And three blinks to her Geordie;
But when she saw his een fast bound,
A swoon fell in this lady.
‘Whom has he robbd? What has he stole?
Or has he killed ony?
Or what’s the crime that he has done,
His foes they are sae mony?’
‘He hasna brunt, he hasna slain,
He hasna robbed ony;
But he has done another crime,
For which he will pay dearly.’
Then out it speaks Lord Montague,
O wae be to his body!
‘The day we hangd young Charles Hay,
The morn we’ll head your Geordie.’
Then out it speaks the king himsell,
Vow, but he spake bonny!
‘Come here, young Gight, confess your sins,
Let’s hear if they be mony.
‘Come here, young Gight, confess your sins,
See ye be true and steady;
And if your sins they be but sma,
Then ye ‘se win wi your lady.’
‘Nane have I robbd, nought have I stown,
Nor have I killed ony;
But ane o the king’s best brave steeds,
I sold him in Bevany.’
Then out it speaks the king again,
Dear, but he spake bonny!
‘That crime’s nae great; for your lady’s sake,
Put on your hat now, Geordie.’
Then out it speaks Lord Montague,
O wae be to his body!
‘There’s guilt appears in Gight’s ain face,
Ye’ll cross-examine Geordie.’
‘Now since it all I must confess,
My crimes’ baith great and mony:
A woman abused, five orphan babes,
I killd them for their money.’
Out it speaks the king again,
And dear, but he was sorry!
‘Your confession brings confusion,
Take aff your hat now, Geordie.’
Then out it speaks the lady hersell,
Vow, but she was sorry!
‘Now all my life I’ll wear the black,
Mourn for the death o Geordie.’
Lord Huntly then he did speak out,
O fair mot fa his body!
‘I there will fight doublet alane
Or ony thing ails Geordie.’
Then out it speaks the king again,
Vow, but he spake bonny!
‘If ye’ll tell down ten thousand crowns,
Ye’ll buy the life o Geordie.’
She spread her mantle on the ground,
Dear, but she spread it bonny!
Some gae her crowns, some ducadoons,
And some gae dollars mony:
Then she tauld down ten thousand crowns,
‘Put on your hat, my Geordie.’
Then out it speaks Lord Montague,
Wae be to his body!
‘I wisht that Gight wanted the head;
I might enjoyd his lady.’
Out it speaks the lady hersell,
‘Ye need neer wish my body;
O ill befa your wizzend snout!
Woud ye compare wi Geordie?’
When she was in her saddle set,
Riding the leys sae bonny,
The fiddle and fleet playd neer sae sweet
As she behind her Geordie.
‘O Geordie, Geordie, I love you well,
Nae jealousie coud move me;
The birds in air, that fly in pairs,
Can witness how I love you.
‘Ye’ll call for one, the best o clerks,
Ye’ll call him soon and shortly,
As he may write what I indite,
A’ this I’ve done for Geordie.’
He turned him right and round about,
And high, high looked Geordie:
‘A finger o Bignet’s lady’s hand
Is worth a’ your fair body.’
‘My lands may a’ be masterless,
My babes may want their mother;
But I’ve made a vow, will keep it true,
I’ll be bound to no other.’
These words they causd a great dispute,
And proud and fierce grew Geordie;
A sharp dagger he pulled out,
And pierced the heart o ‘s lady.
The lady’s dead, and Gight he’s fled,
And left his lands behind him;
Altho they searched south and north,
There were nane there coud find him.
Now a’ that lived into Black Riggs,
And likewise in Kincraigie,
For seven years were clad in black,
To mourn for Gight’s own lady.
Motherwell’s MS., p. 370, as sung by Agnes Lyle’s father.

‘I have eleven babes into the north,
And the twelfth is in my body, O
And the youngest o them’s in the nurse’s arms,
He neer yet saw his daddy.’ O
Some gied her ducks, some gied her drakes,
And some gied her crowns monie,
And she’s paid him down five thousand pound,
And she’s gotten hame her Geordie.
Cunningham’s Songs of Scotland, II, 186, 188; “from the recitation of Mrs Cunningham.”

And soon she came to the water broad,
Nor boat nor barge was ready;
She turned her horse’s head to the flood,
And swam through at Queensferry.
But when she to the presence came,
‘Mang earls high and lordlie,
There hat on head sat every man,
While hat in hand stood Geordie.
Motherwell’s Note-Book, pp. 2, 1; from Miss Brown, sister of Dr James Brown, of Glasgow.

When he came out at the tolbooth-stair,
He was baith red and rosy;
But gin he cam to the gallows-fit,
He was wallourt like the lily.
Motherwell’s Note-Book, p. 20.

I have nine children in the west,
The tenth ane’s in my bodie;
The eldest o them she never knew a man,
And she knows not wha’s her daddy.

42, 52. menzie.

B. a.

83, 93, 192, 213. & for an.

132. for struck out before Your.

143. O has been altered from If, and is not very distinct.

252. wi her?

253. Tell down, tell tell down.

26. Or,

She’s put her hand to her pocket,
She’s pulld out ducats many,
An she’s telld down, etc.
271. Var. she blessd.

283,4. No indication that this is an imperfect stanza. The last line is nearly bound in, and not easy to read.

303. Gar print, etc.


Variations written on the margin of a.

13. The Laird of Gigh has killd a man.

23. That will gae rin to the yates of Gigh.

71. Burntisland sands for the water-side.

81. the water-yate.

83. dealt the red gold them amang.

’Twas up than spak a gentleman,
Was ca’d the Laird of Logie,
War Gighie’s head but on the blo[ck],
If I had his fair ladie!’
211. the gude Argyle for a Scottish lord.

212. He’s been a friend to many.

C. a.

“This song was taken down from a Miss Christy Robertson, Dunse, who sung it to a very pretty old tune. Being an old maid herself, she did not let it want any of the original plainture which I suppose the original air would have.”

The MS. of Thomas Wilkie is inscribed, at the beginning, Gattonside, 4th Sept., 1813; at the end, Bowden, 2d Sept., 1815.

63. goud written over guineas.

81,2. Var. six for ten, seventh for eleventh.

101. a kind-hearted man, wanting in b, has evidently been supplied.

121,2. Supplied: originally only A man spoke loud.

123. Geordie’s written over his; were over had been.


23. shirt.

42. And they saddled to her.

63. red goud.

71. When she.

91. Geight.

101. a kind-hearted man wanting.

121,2. A man spoke loud.

134. my wanting.

142 And herself.


22. goud and money substituted for hose and shoon struck out.

92. they struck out before was.

139183–6. Written in two lines.

E. b.

No account is given of the variations of the printed copy from the manuscript, but it is presumed that the larger ones were traditional.

13. And monie ane got broken heads.

21. she gaed.

24. To pray.

31. into.

33. And ilka ane.

After 3:

Up bespak a Norlan lord,
I wat he spak na bonnie;
‘If ye’ll stay here a little while,
Ye’ll see Geordie hangit shortly.’
41. Then up bespak.

If ye’ll pay doun five hundred crowns,
Ye ‘se get your true-love Geordie.
After 4:

Some lent her guineas, some lent her crowns,
Some lent her shillings monie,
And she’s paid doun five hundred crowns,
And she’s gotten her bonnie love Geordie.
51. hie steed.

52. ahint.

Burden, first line: My Geordie O, my Geordie O.


“Sung to a tune something similar to ‘My Nannie O.’”

103. 10000.

123. 5000.


83, 93. 500.

103. breeks is a corruption, for bouks, A 143.

I. a.

103. crowns like duke o Downs: cf. b 213, G 313.

124. gars your.


11. I was courted a wife in the bonny woods of Fife.

12. and flowers.

13. And pleasures I’ve had never nane.

14. I’ve had mony.

21. was lady of bonny Pitfauns.

22. Then.

23. is Lady.

24. I’m even.

31. He never owns me.

32. Nor loves me.

33. But every day.

34. rides to Pilbagnet’s.

41. Pilbagnet he’s.

42. has lien wi.

43. And he’s put him in prison strang.

44. Wanting.

53. That will rin on to Ythan side.

54. Wi letters.

Now here am I, a bonny boy,
Will rin your errand shortly,
That will rin on to Ythan side
Wi letters to your ladye.
71. But when she looked the letter on.

73. But ere: to an.

74. tears fell.

81. Ye’ll saddle: said.

82. Tho the brown should ride never so bonny.

83. I’ll go on to.

84. To see how they’re using my.

As she rode down by the pier of Leith,
The poor met her never so mony,
And she dealt the red gold right liberally,
And bade them pray well for her Geordie.
As she rode down by Edinbro town,
The poor met her never so mony,
And she dealt the red gold right liberallie,
And bade them pray weel for her Geordie.
After 10:

The king looked ower his castle-wa,
And he spak seen and shortly;
‘Now who is this,’ said our liege the king,
‘Deals the red gold sae largely?’
Then up bespak a bonny boy,
Was richt nigh to her Geordie;
‘I’ll wager my life and a’ my lan
That it is Gicht’s own ladye.’
111. Then she went down the toolbooth-stair.

112. all the nobles so.

113. And every one had his hat on.

12–20. Wanting.

Then she went down the toolbooth-stair,
Among all the nobles so many;
Some gave her guineas, some gave her crowns,
Some gave her dukedoons many,
And she has paid down the jailor’s fee,
And now she enjoys her Geordie.
22–26. Wanting.

‘O bonnie George, I love you weel!
O dear George, as I love you!
The sun and the moon, go together roun and roun,
Bear witness, dear George, how I love you!’
‘O bonnie Anne, I love you weel!
Oh dear Anne, how I love you!
The birds of the air, fly together pair and pair,
Bear witness, dear Anne, how I love you!’

134. the queen’s berry.

262. crimes. I suppose crimes is to be meant.


“Of the preceding ballad [F], Agnes Lile says she has heard her father sing a different set, all of which she forgets except this, that there was nothing said of ‘a bold bluidy wretch,’ and in place of what is given to him in this version [F 10, 11], there were the two following stanzas.” Motherwell’s MS., p. 370 f.

23. 5000.

“A lamentable new ditty, made upon the death of a worthy gentleman named George Stoole, dwelling sometime on Gate-side Moore, and sometime at New-Castle in Northumberland: with his penitent end. To a delicate Scottish tune.” Roxburghe Collection, I, 186, 187. Roxburghe Ballads, ed. W. Chappell, I, 576. Previously printed by [Ritson], Northumberland Garland, Newcastle, 1793, p. 33 (p. 43 of Haslewood’s reprint, London, 1809), and in Bell’s Rhymes of Northern Bards, p. 162.

Come, you lusty northerne lads,
That are so blith and bonny,
Prepare your hearts to be full sad,
To hear the end of Georgey.
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, my bon[n]y love,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, my bonny!
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, my owne deare love,
And God be with my Georgie!
When Georgie to his triall came,
A thousand hearts were sorry;
A thousand lasses wept full sore,
And all for love of Georgy.
Some did say he would escape,
Some at his fall did glory;
But these were clownes and fickle friends,
And none that lovëd Georgy.
Might friends have satisfide the law,
Then Georgie would find many;
Yet bravely did he plead for life,
If mercy might be any.
But when this doughty carle was cast,
He was full sad and sorry;
Yet boldly did he take his death,
So patiently dyde Georgie.
As Georgie went up to the gate,
He tooke his leave of many;
He tooke his leave of his lard’s wife,
Whom he lovd best of any.
With thousand sighs and heavy lookes,
Away from thence he parted
Where he so often blith had beene,
Though now so heavy-hearted.
He writ a letter with his owne hand,
He thought he writ it bravely;
He sent to New-castle towne,
To his belovëd lady.
Wherein he did at large bewaile
The occasion of his folly,
Bequeathing life unto the law,
His soule to heaven holy.
‘Why, lady, leave to weepe for me!
Let not my ending grieve ye!
Prove constant to the man you love,
For I cannot releeve ye.
‘Out upon the, Withrington!
And fie upon the, Phœnix!
Thou hast put downe the doughty one
That stole the sheepe from Anix.
‘And fie on all such cruell carles
Whose crueltie’s so fickle
To cast away a gentleman,
In hatred, for so little!
‘I would I were on yonder hill,
Where I have beene full merry,
My sword and buckeler by my side,
To fight till I be weary.
‘They well should know, that tooke me first,
Though hopes be now forsaken,
Had I but freedome, armes, and health,
I’de dye ere I’de be taken.
‘But law condemns me to my grave,
They have me in their power;
Ther’s none but Christ that can mee save
At this my dying houre.’
He calld his dearest love to him,
When as his heart was sorry,
And speaking thus, with manly heart,
‘Deare sweeting, pray for Georgie.’
He gave to her a piece of gold,
And bade her give ‘t her barnes,
And oft he kist her rosie lips,
And laid him into her armes.
And comming to the place of death,
He never changëd colour;
The more they thought he would looke pale,
The more his veines were fuller.
And with a cheerefull countenance,
Being at that time entreated
For to confesse his former life,
These words he straight repeated.
‘I never stole no oxe nor cow,
Nor never murdered any;
But fifty horse I did receive
Of a merchant’s man of Gory.
‘For which I am condemnd to dye,
Though guiltlesse I stand dying;
Deare gracious God, my soule receive!
For now my life is flying.’
The man of death a part did act
Which grieves mee tell the story;
God comfort all are comfortlesse,
And did[e] so well as Georgie!
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, my bonny love,
Heigh-ho, heigh[-ho], my bonny,
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, mine own true love,
Sweet Christ receive my Georgie!
1. Burden to st. 1: honny in the second line.

103. the ney.

142. whoops.

144. dye are.

“The Life and Death of George of Oxford. To a pleasant tune, called Poor Georgy.” Roxburghe Collection, IV, 53, Pepys, II, 150, Jersey, I, 86, Huth, I, 150, according to Mr J. W. Ebsworth, Roxburghe Ballads, VII, 70, 1890. It was printed for P. Brooksby, whose time Mr Ebsworth gives as between 1671 and 1692.

As I went over London Bridge,
All in a misty morning,
There did I see one weep and mourn,
Lamenting for her Georgy.
His time it is past, his life it will not last,
Alack and alas, there is no remédy!
Which makes the heart within me ready to burst in three,
To think on the death of poor Georgy.
‘George of Oxford is my name,
And few there’s but have known me;
Many a mad prank have I playd,
But now they’ve overthrown me.’
O then bespake the Lady Gray;
‘I’le haste me in the morning,
And to the judge I’le make my way,
To save the life of Georgy.
‘Go saddle me my milk-white steed,
Go saddle me my bonny,
That I may to New-Castle speed,
To save the life of Georgy.’
But when she came the judge before,
Full low her knee she bended;
For Georgy’s life she did implore,
That she might be befriended.
‘O rise, O rise, fair Lady Gray,
Your suit cannot be granted;
Content your self as well you may,
For Georgy must be hanged.’
She wept, she waild, she [w]rung her hands,
And ceasëd not her mourning;
She offerd gold, she offerd lands,
To save the life of Georgy.
‘I have travelld through the land,
And met with many a man, sir,
But, knight or lord, I bid him stand;
He durst not make an answer.
‘The Brittain bold that durst deny
His money for to tender,
Though he were stout as valiant Guy,
I forced him to surrender.
‘But when the money I had got,
And made him cry peccavi,
To bear his charge and pay his shot,
A mark or noble gave I.
‘The ladies, when they had me seen,
Would ner have been affrighted;
To take a dance upon the green
With Georgy they delighted.
‘When I had ended this our wake,
And fairly them bespoken,
Their rings and jewels would I take,
To keep them for a token.’
The hue-and-cry for George is set,
A proper handsome fellow,
With diamond eyes as black as jet,
And locks like gold so yellow.
Long it was, with all their art,
Ere they could apprehend him,
But at the last his valiant heart
No longer could defend him.
‘I ner stole horse nor mare in my life,
Nor cloven foot, or any,
But once, sir, of the king’s white steeds,
And I sold them to Bohemia.’
Georgy he went up the hill,
And after followed many;
Georgy was hanged in silken string,
The like was never any.
The burden (here given with only the first stanza) is from time to time varied.

31, 61. Oh.

After 7. George’s Confession.


A. Herd’s MSS, I, 40, II, 184.

B. Finlay’s Scottish Ballads, 1808, I, xxxiii.

C. ‘Bonnie George Campbell,’ Smith’s Scotish Minstrel, V, 42.

D. Cunningham’s Songs of Scotland, III, 2.

A was copied by Sir Walter Scott (with slight variations) into a MS. at Abbotsford, ‘Scottish Songs,’ fol. 68 (1795–1806). The first half is printed from notes of Scott in Laing’s edition of Sharpe’s Ballad Book, pp. 143, 156 f, and to these two stanzas, nearly as here printed, there are added in the second case, p. 157, the following verses, which are evidently modern, with the exception of the last:

His hawk and his hounds they are wandered and gane,
His lady sits dowie and weary her lane,
His bairns wi greetin hae blinded their een,
His croft is unshorn, and his meadow grows green.
Scott subjoins, “I never heard more of this.” He was familiar with Herd’s MSS.

C, like many things in the Scotish Minstrel, has passed through editorial hands, whence the ‘never return’ of st. 4, and ‘A plume in his helmet, a sword at his knee,’ st. 5. This copy furnished the starting point for Allan Cunningham, III, 1, who, however, substitutes Finlay’s ‘wife’ for the Minstrel’s ‘bryde,’ and presents her with three bairns.

Motherwell made up his ‘Bonnie George Campbell’ (Minstrelsy, p. 44) from B, C, D. In a manuscript copied out by a granddaughter of Lord Woodhouselee (1840–50), D is combined with Cunningham’s ballad.

Motherwell says that this ballad “is probably a lament for one of the adherents of the house of Argyle who fell in the battle of Glenlivet, stricken on Thursday, the third day of October, 1594.” Sir Robert Gordon observes that Argyle lost in this battle his two cousins, Archibald and James Campbell: Genealogical History of Sutherland, p. 229. Maidment, Scotish Ballads, 1868, I, 240, chooses to think that “there can be little doubt” that the ballad refers to the murder of Sir John Campbell of Calder by one of his own surname, in 1591, and alters the title accordingly to ‘Bonnie John Campbell.’ Motherwell has at least a name to favor his supposition. But Campbells enow were killed, in battle or feud, before and after 1590, to forbid a guess as to an individual James or George grounded upon the slight data afforded by the ballad.

Motherwell’s ballad is translated by Wolff, Halle der Völker, I, 79, Hausschatz, p. 225.