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A Collection of Ballads

The following is from A Collection of Ballads by Andrew Lang:

The Bonnie Earl of Murray

Huntly had a commission to apprehend the Earl, who was in the disgrace of James VI. Huntly, as an ally of Bothwell, asked him to surrender at Donibristle, in Fife; he would not yield to his private enemy, the house was burned, and Murray was slain, Huntly gashing his face. "You have spoiled a better face than your own," said the dying Earl (1592). James Melville mentions contemporary ballads on the murder. Ramsay published the ballad in his Tea Table Miscellany, and it is often sung to this day.

Ballad: The Bonnie Earl Moray

(Child, vol. vi.)


Ye Highlands, and ye Lawlands
Oh where have you been?
They have slain the Earl of Murray,
And they layd him on the green.

"Now wae be to thee, Huntly!
And wherefore did you sae?
I bade you bring him wi you,
But forbade you him to slay."

He was a braw gallant,
And he rid at the ring;
And the bonny Earl of Murray,
Oh he might have been a King!

He was a braw gallant,
And he playd at the ba;
And the bonny Earl of Murray,
Was the flower amang them a'.

He was a braw gallant,
And he playd at the glove;
And the bonny Earl of Murray,
Oh he was the Queen's love!

Oh lang will his lady
Look oer the castle Down,
Eer she see the Earl of Murray
Come sounding thro the town!
Eer she, etc.


"Open the gates
and let him come in;
He is my brother Huntly,
he'll do him nae harm."

The gates they were opent,
they let him come in,
But fause traitor Huntly,
he did him great harm.

He's ben and ben,
and ben to his bed,
And with a sharp rapier
he stabbed him dead.

The lady came down the stair,
wringing her hands:
"He has slain the Earl o Murray,
the flower o Scotland."

But Huntly lap on his horse,
rade to the King:
"Ye're welcome hame, Huntly,
and whare hae ye been?

"Where hae ye been?
and how hae ye sped?"
"I've killed the Earl o Murray
dead in his bed."

"Foul fa you, Huntly!
and why did ye so?
You might have taen the Earl o Murray,
and saved his life too."

"Her bread it's to bake,
her yill is to brew;
My sister's a widow,
and sair do I rue.

"Her corn grows ripe,
her meadows grow green,
But in bonnie Dinnibristle
I darena be seen."

Clerk Saunders

Copyright Scotland from the Roadside 2019