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 Baron of Brackley

The Text is from Alexander Laing's Scarce Ancient Ballads (1822). A similar version occurs in Buchan's Gleanings (1825). Professor Gummere, in printing the first text, omits six stanzas, on the assumption that they represent part of a second ballad imperfectly incorporated. But I think the ballad can be read as it stands below, though doubtless 'his ladie's' remark, st. 11, is out of place.

The Story seems to be a combination of at least two. An old Baron of Brackley, 'an honest aged man,' was slain in 1592 by 'caterans' or freebooters who had been entertained hospitably by him. In 1666 John Gordon of Brackley began a feud with John Farquharson of Inverey by seizing some cattle or horses--accounts differ--by way of fines due for taking fish out of season. This eventually led to the slaying of Brackley and certain of his adherents.

Professor Child suspects a commixture of the two episodes in the one ballad, or more probably, a grafting of a later ballad on to an earlier one. The character of the Baron as revealed in the ballad more closely resembles that of the 1592 episode, while the details of the fray are in keeping with the later story.

'Peggy,' the Baron's wife, was Margaret Burnet, cousin to Gilbert, Bishop of Salisbury. After Brackley's death she married again, but not her husband's murderer, as the end of our ballad scandalously suggests.

Brackley is near Ballater, about forty miles west of Aberdeen.

Inverey cam doun Deeside, whistlin' and playin',
He was at brave Braikley's yett ere it was dawin'.                 ['yett,' gate]

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'?                ['spulyie,' spoil]

'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 widifu's*, ye may gang by,
Ye may gang to the lowlands and steal their fat ky.

[* 'widifu's,' gallows-birds (lit. 'halter-fulls')]

'Ther spulyie like rievers* o' wyld ketterin clan,
Who plunder unsparing baith houses and lan'.

[* 'rievers,' robbers; 'ketterin' = cateran, marauder freebooter]

'Gin ye be gentlemen, licht and cum [in],
Ther's meat and drink i' my ha' for every man.

'Gin ye be hired widifu's, ye may gang by,
Gang doun to the lowlands, and steal horse and ky.'

Up spak his ladie, at his bak where she lay,
'Get up, get up, Braikley, an be not afraid;
The'r but young hir'd widifu's 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 widifu's will prove themselves men.'

She called on her marys, they cam to her hand;
Cries, 'Bring me your rocks, lassies, we will them command.            ['rocks,' distaffs]

'Get up, get up, Braikley, and turn bak your ky,
Or me and 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 plunder'd 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 e'er mounted horse.

Whan all wer assembled 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 ken'd 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 gudewill,
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 hundred, 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 kill'd the first man.

First thei kill'd ane, and soon they kill'd twa,
Thei kill'd gallant Braikley, the flour o' them a'.

Thei kill'd William Gordon, and James o' the Knox,
And brave Alexander, the flour o' Glenmuick.

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, welcom'd him in,
Was kind to the man that had slain 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'.

The Gipsy Laddie

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