FolkWorld #73 11/2020
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The Child Ballads

Iona Fyfe

1. Mill o' Tifty's Annie (aka Andrew Lammie, Child #233) | 2. Barbara Allen (Child #84) | 3. The Gaberlunzie Man (aka The Jolly Beggar, Child #279) | 4. Johnnie o' Breadisley (aka Johnie Cock, Child #114) | 5. Edom o' Gordon (Child #178) | 6. Jock o' Hazeldean (aka John of Hazelgreen, Child #293)

Artist Video Iona Fyfe @ FROG

Iona Fyfe: Ballads Vol I

Aberdeenshire folksinger Iona Fyfe has become one of Scotland’s finest young folk singers, rooted deeply in the singing traditions of the North East of Scotland. Ballads Vol. I is a six-track unaccompanied release featuring classic traditional ballads in their rawest form, created in lockdown. Proceed only if you are fond of protracted narrative songs of death and despair...

1. Mill o' Tifty's Annie (a.k.a. Andrew Lammie)

Artist Video »A popular ballad amongst source singers such as Jeannie Robertson, Elizabeth Stewart, John Strachan, Willie Mathieson, Jane Turriff and Lucy Stwart, Bell Duncan. Mill o’ Tifty’s Annie, set in the early 1670’s, tells the ill-fated tale of Agnes Smith (Annie) who falls in love with Lord Fyvie's servant-trumpeter, thought to be Andrew Lambe, titled in the song as Andrew Lammie. Annie’s father hears of her relationship and calls upon Lord Fyvie, who then sends Andrew Lammie to Edinburgh to “brak his tie wi’ Annie”. Lord Fyvie then makes his own marriage proposal which is rejected by Annie. She is then punished and beat by her mother, father and sisters. Her brother breaks her back across a “temple stane.” Upon her deathbed, Annie asks her mother to make her bed, and lay her face turned toward Fyvie. Many scholars and singers alike are of the opinion that the ballad is a true story - lending to its popularity amongst singers. In Fyvie kirkyard, a gravestone inscribed with ‘Heir lyes Agnes Smith who departed the 19 Janvari 1673’. Ruins of the mill still stand today. The archived recordings in the School of Scottish Studies reveal that The Mill o’ Tifty’s Annie was one of the most recorded ballads by female ballad singers in the 20c. Perhaps due to many people’s belief that the ballad is a true story. The message of the ballad is just as relevant today.«

Fiona Ross

»This muckle ballad tells the tragic, true story of Agnes Smith, affectionately known as Annie. Annie was the daughter of the local miller. She fell in love with Lord Fyvie's servant—the trumpeter Andrew Lammie. Annie's family disapproved of this relationship, believing Andrew to be beneath Annie's station. Annie's family turned on her and she was eventually killed by her brother. She died on 10 January 1673 and is buried in Fyvie Kirkyard.«

Artist Video Fiona Ross @ FROG

"Andrew Lammie" is Child ballad 233 (Roud 98). It is said to record a historical event, with the grave of the heroine in the churchyard at Fyvie.


Tifty’s Annie falls in love with Andrew Lammie, a lord's trumpeter. Her parents refuse permission because he is poor. He has to leave, and although he has promised fidelity and to return, she sickens. Her family, set against the match, try beatings to make her give him up, but it is unavailing. They may send to the lord accusing Andrew Lammie of bewitching her, but the lord believes his claim that it was only love.

She dies, either of a broken heart or her back broken by her brother. Her father may repent of his insistence. Usually, Andrew Lammie dies soon after.


Album/Single Performer Year Variant Notes
The Bonny Birdy Ray Fisher 1972 Mill O'Tifty's Annie .
The Boys of the Lough The Boys of the Lough 1973 Andrew Lammie .
Song of the Seals Jean Redpath 1978 Mill O'Tifty's Annie .
Blood and Roses - vol 5 Ewan MacColl 1986 Andrew Lammie .
The Queen Among the Heather Jeannie Robertson 1998 Bonnie Annie and Andrew Lammie Probably the longest version - over 13 minutes.
The World's Room Old Blind Dogs 1999 Mill O'Tifty .
Alison Gross Asonance 2000 Krutý bratr Czech translation (Cruel Brother).
Laughing with the Moon Hilary James & Simon Mayor 2004 Andrew Lammie .
Women Folk Gordeanna McCulloch 2005 Mill O'Tifty's Annie .
Prodigal Son Martin Simpson 2007 Andrew Lammie .
Awkward Annie Kate Rusby 2007 Andrew Lammie .
A Health To The Ladies Craig Herbertson 2011 Andrew Lammie .

Dougie Mackenzie

»Again, has the lot: love, class discrimination, the airt (witchcraft) and family murder.« - Dougie Mackenzie

»Just in case we thought honour killing to be a shocking new event, here it is in our high society.« - Martin Simpson

Artist Video Artist Video Dougie Mackenzie @ FROG

Mill o' Tifty's Annie

 Listen to  Andrew Lammie / Mill o' Tifty's Annie  from:
       Steve Crawford & Sabrina Palm, Fling , Craig Herbertson,
       Hilary James, Old Blind Dogs, Fiona Ross, Kate Rusby, Martin Simpson

 Watch  Andrew Lammie / Mill o' Tifty's Annie  from:
       Iona Fyfe, Fiona Ross, Sheila Stewart, Stewarts of Blairgowrie

Lyrics (© Mainly Norfolk): Andrew Lammie / Mill o' Tifty's Annie 

2. Barbara Allen

Barbara Allen

Artist Video »Barbara Allen is considered the most widely collected ballad in the world. A broadside ballad from the 17th century, it is Scottish by origin and has been also been collected in England, Ireland and in North America. The earliest mention of the ballad is made by London-born member of parliament, Samuel Pepys in a diary entry on 2nd January 1666 detailing that a “Mrs Knipp” sang a “little Scotch song of Barbary Allen”. The ballad went on to be heavily published in literature, but also sung by several notable folksingers. Bob Dylan stated that “without Barbara Allen, there’d be no Girl From The North Country”.«

"Barbara Allen" (Child 84, Roud 54) is a traditional Scottish ballad; it later travelled to America both orally and in print, where it became a popular folk song. Ethnomusicologists Steve Roud and Julia Bishop described it as "far and away the most widely collected song in the English language—equally popular in England, Scotland and Ireland, and with hundreds of versions collected over the years in North America."


The ballad generally follows a standard plot, although narrative details vary between versions. A servant asks Barbara Allen to attend on his sick master. She visits the bedside of the heartbroken young man, who pleads for her love. She refuses, claiming that he had slighted her while drinking with friends; he dies soon thereafter. Barbara Allen later hears his funeral bells tolling; stricken with grief, she dies as well. They are buried in the same church, a rose grows from his grave, a briar from hers, the plants form a true lovers' knot.


A diary entry by Samuel Pepys on January 2, 1666 contains the earliest extant reference to the song. In it, he recalls the fun and games at a New Years party:

...but above all, my dear Mrs Knipp whom I sang; and in perfect pleasure I was to hear her sing, and especially her little Scotch song of Barbary Allen.

From this, Roud & Bishop have inferred the song was popular at that time. They suggested that it may have been written for stage performance, as Elizabeth Knepp was a professional actress, singer, and dancer.

One 1690 broadside of the song was published in London under the title "Barbara Allen's cruelty: or, the young-man's tragedy. With Barbara Allen's [l]amentation for her unkindness to her lover, and her self". Additional printings were common in Britain throughout the eighteenth century. The ballad was first printed in the United States in 1836. Many variations of the song continued to be printed on broadsides in the United States through the 19th and 20th centuries. Throughout New England, it was passed orally and spread by inclusion in songbooks and newspaper columns, along with other popular ballads such as "The Farmer's Curst Wife" and "The Golden Vanity".

Lyrics and narrative

Several early complete versions of the ballad are extant. Scottish poet Allan Ramsay published "Bonny Barbara Allen" in his Tea-Table Miscellany published in 1740. Soon after, Thomas Percy published two similar renditions in his 1765 collection Reliques of Ancient English Poetry under the titles "Barbara Allen's Cruelty" and "Sir John Grehme and Barbara Allen". Ethnomusicologist Francis Child compiled these renditions together with several others found in the Roxburghe Ballads to create his A and B standard versions, used by later scholars as a reference.

It was in and about the Martinmas time,
When the green leaves were a falling,
That Sir John Graeme in the west country
Fell in love with Barbara Allan.
O Hooly, hooly rose she up,
To the place where he was lying,
And when she drew the curtain by,
'Young man, I think you're dying.'

Classic English and Scottish Ballads

Barbara Allen (Child No. 84)

Dan Tate, vocal

Roud 54; also known as "Barbry Ellen", "Bonnie Barbara Allan"; from BRI (Blue Ridge Institute) 2, 1978; recorded by George Foss, July 10, 1962, Fancy Gap, Virginia

Dan Tate
»"Barbara Allen" is one of the most beloved of the Child Ballads. Child found it published as early as 1740. It was very popular during the folk song revival of the 1950s and 1960s and can be found all over the United States and the British Isles. It also has been found in other countries.

The first commercial recording of the song, among hundreds, was by Vernon Dalhart for Columbia in 1927. Field collector George Voss (1932-2002) recorded this version in 1962 in Fancy Gap, in southern Virginia not far from the North Carolina line and near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The singer Dan Tate (1896-1990) was a banjo player who knew many songs (many of which he learned from his sister).«

Artist Video
"Classic English and Scottish Ballads from Smithsonian Folkways (from The Francis James Child Collection)", Smithsonian Folkways, 2017

The setting is sometimes "Scarlet Town". This may be a punning reference to Reading, as a slip-song version c. 1790 among the Madden songs at Cambridge University Library has 'In Reading town, where I was bound.' London town and Dublin town are used in other versions. The dying man is called Sir John Graeme in the earliest known printings. American versions of the ballad often call him some variation of William, James, or Jimmy; his last name may be specified as Grove, Green, Grame, or another. The ballad opens by establishing a festive timeframe, usually stated as May, Martinmas, or Lammas. A dialogue between the two characters follows:

O it's I'm sick, and very, very sick,
And 't is a' Barbara Allan:'
'O the better for me ye's never be,
Tho your heart's blood were a spilling.
O dinna ye mind, young man,' said she,
'When ye was in the tavern a drinking,
That ye made the healths gae round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allan?'
He turned his face unto the wall,
And death was with him dealing:
'Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Barbara Allan.'
And slowly, slowly raise she up,
And slowly, slowly left him,
And sighing said, she coud not stay,
Since death of life had reft him.
She had not gane a mile but two
When she heartd the death-bell ringing,
And every jow that the death-bell geid,
It cry'd, Woe to Barbara Allan!
'O mother, mother make my bed!
O make it saft and narrow!
Since my love died for me to-day,
I'll die for him to-morrow.'

Common variations

As with most folk songs, "Barbara Allen" has been published and performed under many different titles. The ballad and its heroine have in conjunction been called "The Ballet of Barbara Allen", "Barbara Allen's Cruelty", "Barbarous Ellen", "Edelin", "Hard Hearted Barbary Ellen", "Sad Ballet Of Little Johnnie Green", "Sir John Graham", "Bonny Barbara Allan", "Barbry Allen" among others.

Martin Simpson

»When I was about 8 years old, Miss Cook, the music teacher at Brumby Junior School taught my class a version of Barbara Allen and I still remember vividly how much I was moved by the song. I even asked if I could take home my copy of the lyrics on purple ink roneoed paper, which I can still smell.«

Artist Video Martin Simpson @ FROG

Roger Quilter wrote an arrangement in 1921, dedicated to the noted Irish baritone Frederick Ranalow, who had become famous for his performance as Macheath in The Beggar's Opera at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Quilter set each verse differently, using countermelodies as undercurrents. An octave B with a bare fifth tolls like a bell in the fourth verse. A short piano interlude before the fifth verse was commented on favourably by Percy Grainger. Quilter later incorporated the setting in his Arnold Book of Old Songs, rededicated to his late nephew Arnold Guy Vivian, and published in 1950.

American versions

The song often concludes with poetic motif of several stanzas describing symbolising fidelity in love even after death. Standard forms of such motifs are common to several ballads, including "Lord Thomas and Fair Annet", "Lord Lovel", and "Fair Margaret and Sweet William".

Notable recordings

The earliest recording of the song is probably a 1907 wax cylinder recording by composer and musicologist Percy Grainger of the Lincolnshire folk singer Joseph Taylor which was digitised by the British Library and made available online in 2018. Other traditional recordings include those of African American Hule "Queen" Hines of Florida (1939), Welshman Phil Tanner (1949), Irishwoman Elizabeth Cronin (early 1950s), Norfolk folk-singer Sam Larner (1958), and American folk singer Jean Ritchie (1961).

Hedy West

»This favourite ballad, with its story that seems singularly passive when one considers what blood-bolstered narratives most folk ballads are, is enormously widespread in the upland South of the United States, and in one state alone—Virginia—ninety-two different versions were collected. It probably owes its impressive survival to the fact that it was so often reprinted during the nineteenth century on broadsides and in cheap songbooks.«

Artist Video
Hedy West @ FROG

Charles Seeger edited a collection released by The Library of Congress entitled Versions and Variants of Barbara Allen from the Archive of Folk Song as part of its series Folk Music of the United States. The record compiled 30 versions of the ballad, recorded from 1933 to 1954 in the United States.

Baritone vocalist Royal Dadmun released a version in 1922 on Victor Records. The song is credited to the arrangers, Eaton Faning and John Liptrot Hatton.

Versions of the song were recorded in the 1950s and '60s by folk revivalists, including Pete Seeger. Eddy Arnold recorded and released a version on his 1955 album “Wanderin’.” The Everly Brothers recorded and released a version on their 1958 folk album, "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us." Joan Baez released a version in 1961, the same year as Jean Ritchie's recording. Bob Dylan said that folk songs were highly influential on him, writing in a poem that "[w]ithout "Barbara Allen there'd be no 'Girl From the North Country'; Dylan performed a live eight-minute rendition in 1962 which was subsequently released on Live at The Gaslight 1962.

The ballad was covered as a demo version by Simon and Garfunkel on their anthology album The Columbia Studio Recordings (1964-1970) and a bonus track on the 2001 edition of their album Sounds of Silence as "Barbriallen", and by Art Garfunkel alone in 1973 on his album Angel Clare.

Angelo Branduardi covered this song as Barbrie Allen resp. Barbriallen on his two music albums Cosi e se mi pare – EP " and Il Rovo e la rosa in Italian. On his French EN FRANÇAIS – BEST OF compilation in 2015 he sang this song in French-adaption written by Carla Bruni.

English singer-songwriter Frank Turner often covers the song a cappella during live performances. One rendition is included on the compilation album The Second Three Years.

UK folk duo Nancy Kerr & James Fagan included the song on their 2005 album Strands of Gold, and also on their 2019 live album An Evening With Nancy Kerr & James Fagan.

Popular culture adaptations and references

The song has been adapted and retold in numerous non-musical venues. Howard Richardson and William Berney's 1942 stage play Dark of the Moon is based on the ballad, as a reference to the influence of English, Irish and Scottish folktales and songs in Appalachia. It was also retold as a radio drama on the program Suspense, which aired October 20, 1952, and was entitled "The Death of Barbara Allen" with Anne Baxter in the titular role. A British radio play titled Barbara Allen featured Honeysuckle Weeks and Keith Barron; it was written by David Pownall and premiered on BBC Radio 7 on February 16, 2009.

The song has also been sampled, quoted, and featured as a dramatic device in numerous films:

Barbara Allen (Roud 54, Child 84; 111 entries).

The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs
»Barbara Allen is far away the most widely collected traditional song in the English language - equally popular in England, Scotland and Ireland, and with hundreds of versions collected over the years in North America. Francis J. Child, however, took little notice of the song, devoting only four pages to it, and printing only three early texts, but Bertrand Bronson makes up for this neglect with 198 tunes.
Many people have wondered why this particular song took such a hold on the public imagination, and it has come in for its share of criticism and even scorn. It is either deeply romantic or pointlessly sentimental, depending on your viewpoint, and even Bronson had a swipe at it: 'This little song of a spineless lover who gives up the ghost without a struggle, and of his spirited beloved who repents too late' (The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, II (1962), p. 321). Indeed, the lover is so weak that he often does not even have a name.
In particular, singers and commentators alike have puzzled over the apparent lack of motive for Barbara's hard-heartedness, and she has been accused of being everything from a poisoner to a witch or a prostitute, but there is no indication that there is any hidden meaning or an ancient version which has been corrupted or suppressed. All the evidence agrees: she simply took offence at him and his buddies drinking healths to the other girls and leaving her out.«

James Findlay
Julia Bishop, Steve Roud "The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs", Penguin Books, 2012

James Findlay sang Barbara Allen on the accompanying Fellside CD The Liberty to Choose: A Selection of Songs from The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.

Artist Video James Findlay

Barbara Allen

 Listen to  Barbara Allen  from:
       Blackmore's Night, Blue Horses, Rose Laughlin, Lilly Bros, Frank Luther,     
       Findlay Napier, Jean Ritchie, Alasdair Roberts, Martin Simpson, Steve Tilston, 
       Lucy Wainwright Roche, Hedy West   
 Watch  Barbara Allen  from:
       Bluehorses, James Findlay, Iona Fyfe, Nancy Kerr, Ye Vagabonds
Lyrics (© Mainly Norfolk): Barbara Allen / Barbary Allen / Barbary Ellen 

3. The Gaberlunzie Man (a.k.a. The Jolly Beggar)

The Gaberlunzie Man

Artist Video »First printed in Allan Ramsay’s The Tea-Table Miscellany in 1724. The Gaberlunzie Man is a Child ballad which appears in numerous collections. Gavin Greig states: “It is somewhat akin to The Jolly Beggar and The Beggar Laddie. Tradition has ascribed it to James V, as his chronicle of one of his adventures in the guise of “the goodman of Ballangeich,” but unless Ramsay brushed it up, or previous singers had altered it, the anachronisms of sheets and hats in a sixteenth-century Scottish farmers house dispose of the claim of royal authorship.” The Jolly Beggar was found in a broadsheet circa 1670-75 in the Pepsin Collection. Greig states: “Child who printed five versions of this ballad calls it “ a sort of Gaberlunzie Man with a romantic conclusion.” The Gaberlunzie Man is a ballad which undoubtably has one of the highest number of variations - both in text, melody, form and structure and voicing of place. There is a version of the song which includes the chorus “We’ll gang nae mair a-rovin, ...”«

The Jolly Beggar, also known as The Gaberlunzieman, is Child ballad 279. The song's chorus inspired lines in Lord Byron's poem "So, we'll go no more a roving".


June Tabor

»Child No. 279, often called The Gaberlunzie Man, first printed version in the Tea-Table Miscellany 1724; this version collected from Maggie and Sarah Chambers of Tempo, Co. Fermanagh in the 1950s. A song “beloved by travellers and other unsettled people, and by girls who live in remote places” (Sam Henry) Does the girl see through the beggar's disguise, or is she just desperate to escape the slavery of her lonely farmstead home?«

Artist Video June Tabor @ FROG

A beggar comes over the hills one day, and knocks on the door of a local farmer and asks for a roof for the night. Curiously, he will not accept a bed in the barn, but wishes only to sleep by the kitchen fire. Late at night, the farmer's daughter comes down to lock the kitchen door. The beggar and daughter exchange words, and fall in love. They sleep together, and through some unmentioned premise, the daughter accuses the man of being a nobleman come dressed as a beggar to woo her. He convinces her that he is indeed only a beggar, and she kicks him out. However, it turns out he was, in fact, a noble.


The Gaberlunzie Man

 Listen to  The Jolly Beggar / The Gaberlunzieman  from:
       Broom Bezzums, Ceolbeg, James Findlay, Kilshannig, Pressgang,
       Lissa Schneckenburger, Seldom Sober Company, June Tabor 

 Watch  The Jolly Beggar / The Gaberlunzieman   from:
       Iona Fyfe, Andy Irvine, Planxty, Jean Redpath 
Lyrics (© Mainly Norfolk): The Beggar Man / The Auld Beggarman / The Jolly Beggar 

4. Johnnie o' Breadisley (a.k.a. Johnie Cock)

Johnny of Braidislee-Samuel Edmund Waller

Artist Video »A poacher ballad, Johnnie or Jock goes hunting against the warning of his mother and kills a deer. Whilst resting with his hunting dogs, he is spotted by a man who walks to Esslemont and turns him hin to a group of foresters. When the foresters attack him, he kills all seven, but is mortally injured himself – in some versions, he escapes. The protagonist of the ballad is known by several names – Johnny Cock in the borders, Johnnie o’ Breadisley, Johnny o’ Cocklesmuir, Johnnie o’ Braidisbank and in Jeannie Robertson’s Aberdeenshire version as Johnnie the Brine. Almost all the known versions have been collected in Scotland and it is still part of the living tradition with traditional singers from Fife to Aberdeenshire and to the Borders continuing to provide fresh variants.«

Andy Irvine

»This is a famous traditional ballad from Scotland that I've known for years. Johnny is evidently an outlaw or at least a man who pays little regard to the game-laws. Despite his mother's warning, he sets out one day to ‘bring the dun deer down’. His dogs & himself feast on the deer to such an extent that they all fall asleep. The foresters are tipped off by an interfering old codger and wound Johnny mortally as he sleeps. Johnny wakes in a rage and kills six of them. The seventh one suffers multiple injuries and is put on his horse to ride out of the forest and tell the news. Johnny Moynihan sings a version called Johnny O'Cocklesmuir where the hero kills six, wounds one and rides off unscathed.«

Artist Video Andy Irvine @ FROG

Johnie Cock (also Johnny O'Breadisley or Jock o' Braidislee) is the 114th Child Ballad, existing in several variants. The Child Ballads were a collection of 305 ballads from England and Scotland, collected by Francis James Child in the late 19th century.


Johnie Cock is warned by his mother that he is in danger but nevertheless goes poaching and kills a deer. He feeds his dogs and sleeps in the woods. A man (sometimes a palmer, a medieval European pilgrim to the Holy Land) betrays him to foresters, who attack him while he sleeps. Johnie wakes. Either he or his nephew rebukes them for the attack, in most variants saying that even a wolf would not have attacked him like that. In most variants, he fights and kills all of his assailants but one, whom he wounds.

In several versions, he dies of his wounds while still in the wood. In one variant, he is laid low, and the king sends him a pardon.

Johnny O'Breadisley

 Listen to  Johnie Cock / Johnny O'Breadisley  from:
       Jeana Leslie & Siobhan Miller, Old Blind Dogs, June Tabor

 Watch  Johnie Cock / Johnny O'Breadisley  from:
       The Corries, Iona Fyfe, Top Floor Taivers/a>

Lyrics (© Mainly Norfolk): Johnie Cock / Johnny the Brine / Johnny o' Bredislee 

5. Edom o' Gordon

Edom o' Gordon

Artist Video »Edom o’ Gordon is a historical ballad which narrates the burning of the Forbes’s Corgarff Castle by the Gordons in November 1571. It was not Adam (or Edom) of Gordon who burnt Towie’s House (Corgarff Castle), but Captain Thomas Ker, who was sent by Adam Gordon. The song reflects a voicing of place, which personally strikes personal significance since the Gordon’s is the family who ruled over Huntly and the Miltown of Strathbogie, where I grew up.«


»To start us off, a 16th century spat between clan Gordon and clan Forbes in Aberdeenshire. George Gordon, the Catholic Earl of Huntly, was Mary Queen of Scots' lieutenant-governor, and his brother Adam, or Edom, was sometimes called the Queen's deputy-lieutenant in the north. In November 1571, Captain Thomas Ker was sent by Adam Gordon to take Corgarff Castle (‘Towie's Hoose’) for Queen Mary, a seat of the Forbeses belonging to Alexander (or John) Forbes. The men were refused entry by Forbes's wife Margaret Campbell. They then burned the house, killing up to 30 of its occupants. As the Child ballad collection states, “The details are somewhat in dispute; but there must have been something quite beyond the common in Captain Ker’s proceedings, for they are denounced even in those days as infamous, and the name of Adam Gordon is said to have been made odious by them.”«

Artist Video Malinky @ FROG

Edom o Gordon or Captain Car (Child #178, Roud #80) is a traditional Scottish ballad that exists in several versions. The ballad recounts the gruesome events of Gordon's (or, in some versions, Car's) burning down of his enemy's castle that killed the lady of the house, her children and most of the servants.


Edom o Gordon (or Captain Car) and his men need shelter from the cold weather of Martinmas and decide to seek it at the house of the Rodes. When the lady of the castle sees the troops arriving, she is disappointed that they are not those of her returning husband, but his enemy's. She climbs to the top of the tower and tries to negotiate with Gordon (or Car), but he demands that she open up the castle and, worse still, sleep with him. After she refuses, he vows to burn down the building with her three children still inside. To achieve this, he offers one of the servants, Jock, a fee for his help. He agrees and the fire is started. Attempting to save the youngest daughter, the lady throws some sheets down so that the besiegers might catch the baby but, instead, when she is thrown from the blaze, Gordon (or Car) impales her on the end of his spear.

While these grisly events are unfolding, the lord of the manor arrives and rushes over to the castle to save his wife and children but he is too late – they are all dead. He sets his own troops to battle those of his enemy and, from the ensuing battle, only five of Gordon's (or Car's) original fifty men return home.


The first printing of "Edom o Gordon" was in 1755 by Robert and Andrew Foulis. The story is thought to document a real historical event of 1571 as told in The Diurnall of Occurents (1755), although some of the details are speculative. Edom o Gordon is usually identified as Adam Gordon of Auchindoun, supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots, Captain Car as Captain Kerr, one of his lieutenants, and the lady of the castle as Margaret Forbes (née Campbell) of the Forbes clan (supporters of James VI and the Gordon clan's arch-enemies). The castle is thought not to be Rhodes Castle but the House of Towie (Toway) at Corgarff.

Iona Fyfe & Luc McNally

 Listen to  Edom o Gordon  from:

 Watch  Edom o Gordon  from:
       Iona Fyfe, Alison McMorland

Lyrics (© Mainly Norfolk): Edom o Gordon 

6. Jock o' Hazeldean (a.k.a. John of Hazelgreen)

Jock o' Hazeldean

»I heard this song at folkclubs and singarounds, growing up in the North East of Scotland. But never quite appreciated it’s beauty until I heard Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol recorded a version for the soundtrack of AMC’s Turn Washington’s Spies series. Norman Kennedy states: “Walter Scott built this still popular song from fragments of the ballad John of Hazelgreen.”«

Maddy Prior (Steeleye Span)

»This is in Child as John of Hazelgreen, but the version sung here was forged by Sir Walter Scott, which he based on the first traditional verse. Walter Scott is unpopular among many Scots for re-writing and romanticising Scottish history, which he undoubtedly did, but I just love this song, which I first heard Dick Gaughan sing, before he discovered it was from Scott's pen.«

Artist Video Maddy Prior @ FROG

John of Hazelgreen or Jock O'Hazeldean is Child ballad 293. Jock o'Hazeldean was a poem based on a fragment of the ballad by Sir Walter Scott. Versions of the ballad were published by Chambers, Kinloch and Buchan. The version printed by John S. Roberts (1887) was compiled from those of Kinloch and Buchan.


A man asks a maid why she is weeping; it is for the love of John of Hazelgreen. He offers to marry her to his oldest, or youngest, son if she will forsake him, and she refuses. Nevertheless, he takes her with him, and he proves to be John of Hazelgreen's father, and informs his son that he is marrying her that day.

The Jock of Hazeldean version has a different plot. The father of the groom tries to reconcile the woman to marrying his son, but she is utterly passive in the face of her prospective father-in-law's enticements, replying only by weeping. However, at the very end of the song, she turns out to have been playing a waiting game; she has disappeared with her lover Jock O'Hazeldean, eloping across the English-Scottish border.

Jock o' Hazeldean

 Listen to  Jock o' Hazeldean  from:
       Annie Grace, Jim Malcolm, Maddy Prior, Ian Smith

 Watch  Jock o' Hazeldean  from:
       The Corries, Barbara Dickson, Gary Lightbody, Jim Malcolm, Jim Moray, Maddy Prior

Lyrics (© Mainly Norfolk): John of Hazelgreen / Jock o' Hazeldean 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [,,,,,]. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Date: October 2020.

Photo Credits: (1),(2),(19) Iona Fyfe, (3) Dougie Mackenzie, (4) Fiona Ross, (6) Barbara Allen, (7) Dan Tate, (8) Martin Simpson, (9) Hedy West, (11) James Findlay, (12) The Gaberlunzie Man, (15) Andy Irvine, (16) Johnny of Braidislee (Samuel Edmund Waller), (17) Edom o Gordon, (19) Maddy Prior, (20) John of Hazelgreen (unknown/website); (5) 'Andrew Lammie', (10) 'Barbara Allen', (14) 'The Jolly Beggar', (17) 'Johnie Cock', (21) 'John of Hazelgreen' (by ABC Notations); (13) June Tabor, (18) Malinky (by Walkin' Tom).

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