There is nothing new about bad wives

(A wonderful powerful rendition)

The Baron of Brackley

Down Deeside rode Inverey a-whistlin’ and playin’
He alit at brave Brackley’s gates ere it was dawn
Cries Baron of Brackley it’s are you within
There are sharp swords at your gates would make your blood spin

Up spoke the proud Baron from the castle wall
Have you come Inverey for to plunder my hall
Or if ye be gentlemen alight and come in
If you drink of my wine you’ll no make my blood spin

Up spake his lady at his back where she lay
She heard the the cows lowing o’er hill and o’er brae
Oh rise up oh Brackley and turn back your kye
The lads of Drumwarren are driving them by

How can I rise up and go out again
For if I have one man he surely has ten
Rise up oh Brackley and be not afraid
They’re but hired young brigands with belted up plaids

She called on her ladies to come to her hand
Saying bring your rocks, lassies, we will them command
If I had a husband as what I hae nane
He’d no lie in his bed and see his kye ta’en

Arise Peggy Gordon and bring me my gun
Oh I will go out but I’ll never come in
Then kiss me my Peggy I’ll no longer stay
Oh I will go out and meet young Inverey

When Brackley was ready and stood in the close
A bonnier gallant ne’er mounted a horse
What’ll come of your lady and your bonny young son
What’ll come of them all when Brackley is gone?

Strike dogs, cries Inverey, and fight till you’re slain
For we are four-hundred, ye are but four men
Strike you proud boaster, your honor is gone
Your lands we will plunder, your castle we’ll burn

I’ll stand here, cries Brackley, do you think I would fly
But here I will fight and here I will die
First they killed ane and then they killed twa
And then they killed Brackley, the flower of them all.

Came ye by the castle and was ye in there
Saw ye Peggy Gordon a-tearing her hair
As I came by Brackley, as I came by there
I saw pretty Peggy a-braiding her hair

She was ranting and dancing and singing for joy
She swore that ere night she would feast Inverey
She ate with drank with him, welcomed him in
Was kind to the man that had slain her Baron

Oh fie on ye lady why did ye deceive
Ye opened the gates to the false Inverey
There’s grief in the kitchen, there’s mirth in the hall
For the Baron of Brackley is dead and awa’

Traditional Scottish
From the CD, Somebody (Songs of Scotland, Ireland and Early America) by Connie Dover

(the version from YouTube at the top of this post differs in some respects from the lyrics given, but the gist of the song is the same – there is a strong hint that his wife preferred the other man romantically)

A ballad based on an alleged real-life feud between John Gordon of Brackley and John Farquharson of Inverey, Braemar, whose cattle were impounded by Gordon in 1666.

ADDENDUM: I like the version by the woman singer, Ray Fisher, above. But this is a good version too, and the images in the video help provide historical context for the ballad:

6 responses to this post.

  1. Have to say I love that Ian Campbell version. That kind of nasal plaint he sings in strikes me as being very ‘folk’.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 8, 2016 at 1:28 am

      I like them both, possibly the woman, Ray Fisher, slightly more.

      The Ian Campbell version contains the images which I find add a lot to my understanding and enjoyment.

      There is a PhD thesis on why Scots ballads tend to be morbid.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 8, 2016 at 1:29 am

      People say that Steeleye Span did a lot of “nasal”, for example in singing Gaudete.

      Maybe here (they pronounce ex wrong – in Church Latin at least it is pronounced more like eggs):


      • Yes, I know a lot of Steeleye Span’s stuff. I love their Gaudete, it has two beauties – the beauty of simple choral singing, and the beauty of texturing through accent and personal vocal eccentricities. I’d go so far as to say it is a Great Discovery, and it’s no surprise that Gaudete has come to represent their style and appeared at the start of many of their albums.

  2. Anthem and dirge for the Scottish independence movement. Well, sort of. Burns obviously originally wrote it to cast scorn upon the English-Scottish union. What a piece.


    • Posted by Julian O'Dea on January 8, 2016 at 2:51 am

      A good mocking or “bauchling” song. (I think I found the word bauchling in George MacDonald Fraser’s book on the “steel bonnets”). And this one is good too:


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