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 Laird of Knottington

The Text was sent to Percy in 1768 by R. Lambe of Norham. The ballad is widely known in Scotland under several titles, but the most usual is The Broom of Cowdenknows, which was the title used by Scott in the Minstrelsy.

The Story is not consistently told in this version, as in 11.3,4 the daughter gives away her secret to her father in an absurd fashion.

An English song, printed as a broadside about 1640, The Lovely Northerne Lasse, is directed to be sung 'to a pleasant Scotch tune, called The broom of Cowden Knowes.' It is a poor variant of our ballad, in the usual broadside style, and cannot have been written by any one fully acquainted with the Scottish ballad. It is in the Roxburghe, Douce, and other collections.

There was a troop of merry gentlemen
  Was riding atween twa knows,                     ['knows,' knolls]
And they heard the voice of a bonny lass,
  In a bught milking her ews.                          ['bught,' sheep-pen]

There's ane o' them lighted frae off his steed,
  And has ty'd him to a tree,
And he's gane away to yon ew-bught,
  To hear what it might be.

'O pity me, fair maid,' he said,
  'Take pity upon me;
O pity me, and my milk-white steed
  That's trembling at yon tree.'

'As for your steed, he shall not want
  The best of corn and hay;
But as to you yoursel', kind sir,
  I've naething for to say.'

He's taen her by the milk-white hand,
  And by the green gown-sleeve,
And he has led her into the ew-bught,
  Of her friends he speer'd nae leave.

He has put his hand in his pocket,
  And given her guineas three;
'If I dinna come back in half a year,
  Then luke nae mair for me.

'Now show to me the king's hie street,
  Now show to me the way;
Now show to me the king's hie street,
  And the fair water of Tay.'

She show'd to him the king's hie street,
  She show'd to him the way;
She show'd him the way that he was to go,
  By the fair water of Tay.

When she came hame, her father said,
  'Come, tell to me right plain;
I doubt you've met some in the way,
  You have not been your lain.'                       ['your lain,' by yourself]

'The night it is baith mist and mirk,
  You may gan out and see;
The night is mirk and misty too,
  There's nae body been wi' me.

'There was a tod came to your flock,  ['tod,' fox]
  The like I ne'er did see;
When he spake, he lifted his hat,
  He had a bonny twinkling ee.'

When fifteen weeks were past and gane,
  Full fifteen weeks and three,
Then she began to think it lang
  For the man wi' the twinkling ee.

It fell out on a certain day,
  When she cawd out her father's ky,
There was a troop of gentlemen
  Came merrily riding by.

'Weel may ye sigh and sob,' says ane,
  'Weel may you sigh and see;
Weel may you sigh and say, fair maid,
  Wha's gotten this bairn wi' thee?'

She turned hersel' then quickly about,
  And thinking meikle shame;
'O no, kind sir, it is na sae,
  For it has a dad at hame.'

'O hawd your tongue, my bonny lass,
  Sae loud as I hear you lee!
For dinna you mind that summer night
  I was in the bught wi' thee?'

He lighted off his milk-white steed,
  And set this fair maid on;
'Now caw out your ky, good father,' he said,
  'She'll ne'er caw them out again.

'I am the laird of Knottington,
  I've fifty plows and three;    ['plows': as much land as a plough will till in a year]
I've gotten now the bonniest lass
  That is in the hale country.'

The Whummil Bore

Copyright Scotland from the Roadside 2016