Digital Tradition Mirror

The Earl of Errol

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Pennywhistle notation and Dulcimer tab for this song is also available

The Earl of Errol

Errol it's a bonnie place,
It stands upon a plain;
A bad report this lady's raised
That Errol's no' a man.

cho: Wi' the rantin' o't and the dauntin' o't,
     According as ye ken,
     The thing they ca' the rantin' o't,
     Lady Errol lies her lane.

"What needs I wash my apron
And hang it on a dyke?
What needs they ca' me Errol's wife
When I gang sae maiden-like?

"What needs I wash my petticoat
Or hang it on a pin?
For lang will I gang but-and-ben
Ere I hear the bairnies' din.

"What needs I wash my apron
Or dry it upon a door?
What needs I eek my petticoat
Hangs even doon afore."

"When I cam' in by yon canal
And by yon bowling-green,
I micht hae pleased the best Carnegie
That ever bore the name.

"But as sure as your name is Kate Carnegie
And mine is Gilbert Hay,
I'll gar your faither sell his lands
Your tocher for tae pay."

"Tae gar my faither sell his lands,
Wad that no' be a sin?
Pay tocher tae a worthless lord
That cannae get a son!"

Now Errol's gotten 't at his will
Tae choose a maid himsel',
And he has chosen a country lass
Cam' in her milk tae sell.

He kept her locked intae a room
Three quarters o' a year,
And when three quarters ended were,
A braw young son she bare.

There wasnae a lord in Edinborough
But tae Peggy gied a ring,
And there wasnae a lad in a' the toon
But on Katie had a sang.

"Look up, look up, my pretty Peggy,
Look up and think nae shame;
I'll mak' ye Lady Errol," he said,
"And Kate shall be sent hame."

"Tak' hame your dochter, Carnegie," he said,
"And wed her tae a man,
For Errol cannae please her
Nor nane o' a' his men!"

Child #231
Recorded by Ewan MacColl on "Traditional Songs and Ballads,"
and printed in his book "Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland."
According to Child, Gilbert Hay, the tenth Earl of Errol, married
Catherine Carnegie on January 7, 1658. Errol died in 1674 without
having had children by Catherine. These marital problems may have
produced a hearing in 1659. (According to at least one text, the
Carnegies may have conspired to force the matter, probably to avoid
having to pay a dowry.)  To the best of my knowledge, this is the only
ballad in the Child collection to contain a clear (if indirect) reference
to homosexuality.  RW
 Or at least to infertility. I suspect that in a society that was
wrapped up in lineage, barrenness was at least as heinous a sin as
homosexuality. RG

a': all afore:
before, i.e. in front
bairnies': babies'
braw: brave, i.e. handsome
but-and-ben: in and out
ca': call
cam': came
cannae: can not
dochter: daughter
doon: down
eek: increase, i.e. lengthen
gang: go
gied: gave
gar: make, cause to
hae: have
hame: home
intae: into, i.e. in
lane: lone, i.e. alone
lang: long
mak': make
micht: might
nae: no
no': not
sae: so
sang: song
tae: to
tak': take
tocher: dowry
toon: town
wad: would
wasnae: was not


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