Popular Ballads of the Olden Time

The following is from Popular Ballads of the Olden Time: Third Series - Ballads of Scottish Tradition and Romance Selected and Edited by Frank Sidgwick:


The Text is from Johnson's Museum, communicated by Robert Burns.

The Story--Some editors have identified the hero of the ballad with George Gordon, fourth earl of Huntly, but upon what grounds it is difficult to see.

There are two English broadside ballads, of the first and second halves respectively of the seventeenth century, which are either the originals of, or copies from, the Scottish ballad, which exists in many variants. The earlier is concerned with 'the death of a worthy gentleman named George Stoole,' 'to a delicate Scottish tune,' and the second is called 'The Life and Death of George of Oxford. To a pleasant tune, called Poor Georgy.' One of the Scottish versions has a burden resembling that of 'George Stoole.'

The 'battle in the north' and Sir Charles Hay are not identified.

There was a battle in the north,
  And nobles there was many,
And they hae killed Sir Charlie Hay,
  And they laid the wyte on Geordie.             ['wyte,' blame]

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 look'd the letter on,
  She was both red and rosy;
But she had na read a word but twa
  Till she wallowt like a lily.                                        ['wallowt,' drooped]

'Gar get to me ray gude grey steed;
  My menyie a' gae wi' me;                                          ['menyie,' attendants]
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 appear'd 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 chain'd 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 ne'er 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, 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 tell'd 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           ['bouk,' body]
  Or I had tint my laddie.'                                           ['Or,' ere; 'tint,' lost]

He claspit her by the middle sma',
  And he kist her lips sae rosy:
'The fairest flower o' woman-kind
  Is my sweet bonnie lady!'

The Baron of Brackley

Copyright Scotland from the Roadside 2016