> Danny Spooner > Songs > As I Came in By Fisherrow

As I Came in By Fisherrow / Musselburgh

[ Roud 8702 ; trad.]

The Scottish Folksinger Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, etc.

Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger sang As I Came in By Fisherrow in 1964 on their Folkways album Traditional Songs and Ballads. The album's booklet noted:

For some reason Robert Chambers found all but the first stanza of this charming song unpresentable! In Songs of Scotland Prior to Burns he quotes the first verse and then goes on to print “The Thistle is the Healing Plant”. Apparently, Allan Ramsay too found the song a little too strong for his taste, and, consequently, wrote a new set of words O, Mither Dear. The air is Jenny Dang the Weaver and was first published in the second edition of the Orpheus Caledonius, 1733.

Learned from print: Herd [Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, Heroic Ballads, etc.] and Scots Musical Museum.

Owen Hand sang Musselburgh on his 1966 Transatlantic album I Loved a Lass. He noted:

A young man laments the pregnancy of his girl friend and the consequences it will have for him.

Cilla Fisher sang Fisher Row in 1983 on her album Songs of the Fishing.

Ossian sang Fisherrow in 1997 on their Greentrax album The Carrying Stream. They noted:

Fornication was frowned upon by the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. The practice in the 18th century was for ‘sinners’ to publicly repent in front of the congregation whilst seated on the ‘stool of repentance’—the ‘cutty stool’ or short stool mentioned in the last verse. Sarcastic reference is also made to the fact that as in many situations there is one law for the rich and another for the poor.

Danny Spooner sang As I Came in By Fisherrow on his 2008 CD Brave Bold Boys. He noted:

[Neither] fear of the public denunciation by the kirk—such as having to mount the cuttie-stool for a number of Sundays—nor the worries of the creaking wooden (timmer) stairs, which might wake her parents, were enough to deter this ardent suitor from courting his dearie after his day's work was over. I like the reference to the fact that had they been wealthy they could have paid their way out of the punishment. The song appears in Folksongs and Ballads of Scotland, compiled and edited by Ewan MacColl (Oak 1965), where he notes that it was first published as early as 1733.

I learned the song from Gordon Mclntyre with whom I sang with for many years.

Lyrics

Ewan MacColl sings As I Came in By Fisherrow

As I came in by Fisherrow, Musselburgh was near me
I threw off my mussel-pock, courted wi' my dearie.

Chorus (after each verse):
Up stairs, doun stairs, timmer stairs fears me
I thought it lang to lie my lane when I'm sae near my dearie!

Oh had her apron bidden doun, the kirk wad ne'er hae kent it
But since the word's gane through the toon, my dear I canna mend it

But ye maun mount the cutty-stool and I maun mount the pillar
that's the way the poor folks dae, because they hae nae siller

Danny Spooner sings As I Came in By Fisherrow

As I came in by Fisherrow, Musselburgh was near me
I put off my mussel pock, courted with my dearie

Chorus (after each verse):
Up stairs, doun stairs, timmer stairs fears me
I thought it lang to lie ma lane when I'm sae near my dearie

Oh had her apron bidden doun, the kirk wad ne'er hae kent it
But since the word's gane through the toon, my dear I canna mend it

But ye maun mount the cutty-stool and I maun mount the pillar
that's the way the poor folks dae, because they hae nae siller

(repeat first verse)