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Glasgow Peggy

[ Roud 95 ; Child 228 ; G/D 4:850 ; Ballad Index C228 ; Mudcat 72182 ; trad.]

Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad Airs The Singing Island

Ewan MacColl sang Glasgow Peggie in 1956 on his and A.L. Lloyd’s Riverside anthology The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (The Child Ballads) Volume II. He also sang Glasgow Peggy in 1956 on his and Peggy Seeger’s Tradition album Classic Scots Ballads, and in 1964 on his Folkways album The English and Scottish Popular Ballads: Vol. 2—Child Ballads. The latter album’s notes commented:

“Common in stalls,” says Motherwell, “under this title (Glasgow Peggy) or that of The Earl of Hume or The Banks of Omey”. The ballad is encountered rarely outside Scotland. The version given here is from the singer’s father.

The elopement is one of the most common themes in Scots Traditional Ballads. When the protagonists are a Lowland lass and a Highland lad the issue is nearly always a happy one. The air is a fairly common one and in its slow form is used widely by Aberdeenshire ballad singers.

Alex Campbell sang Glesca Peggy in 1965 on his eponymous Transatlantic album Alex Campbell.

Almeda Riddle from Heber Springs, Arkansas, sang Peggy of Glasgow in 1972 on her Rounder album Ballads and Hymns From the Ozarks.

Silly Wizard sang Glasgow Peggy, with quite different verses to Ewan MacColl’s, in 1978 on their second album, Caledonia’s Hardy Sons. They noted:

This version of the ballad was collated by Andy [M. Stewart] and retains the story while using, we think, the best verses available from other versions. It tells the story of a highly successful abduction of a young lady by Lord Donald MacDonald of Skye.

Janice Burns & Jon Doran sang Glasgow Peggy in 2020 on their eponymous EP Janice Burns & Jon Doran. They noted:

A Scots ballad we learned from the singing of Ewan MacColl and his album The English and Scottish Popular Ballads: Vol. 2—Child Ballads.

Compare to this the related song Kilbogie (G/D 4:851) which even has the same Roud number.


Ewan MacColl sings Glasgow Peggy

Highland lads are brisk and braw,
Highland lads are young and merry.
And I’ll awa’ tae Glesca toon
To steal awa’ my bonny Peggy.

Her faither he’s got word o’ this
And O but he was wondrous angry;
“Ye can tak’ my owsen and a’ my kye,
But leave to me my bonnie lassie.”

“Ye can keel your owsen and a’ your kye,
For I hae cows and ewes already.
I’ll no’ tak’ your owsen and a’ your kye,
But I’ll steal awa’ your bonnie Peggy.”

He’s mounted up on his milk white steed
And she is on his wee grey naigie;
And they hae rid to the break o’ day,
He’s ta’en awa’ the bonnie lassie.

They rid ower hills and they rid ower dales,
They rid through moors and mountains monie
Until they met wi’ the Earl o’ Hume,
Ridin’ wi’ his young son Johnnie.

Then oot and spak’ the Earl o’ Hume
And O but he was wondrous sorry,
“The bonniest lass in Glesca toon
And she’s awa’ wi’ a Highland Johnnie.”

They rid ower hills and they rid ower dales,
They rid through moors and mossen monie
Until they cam’ to yonder glen,
And she’s lain doon wi’ her Highland laddie.

Her bed was o’ the gay green turf,
her blankets o’ the brackens bonnie,
Wi’ her tartan plaid beneath her heid
And she’s lain doon wi’ her Highland laddie.

“There are blankets and sheets in my faither’s hoose,
There are sheets and blankets a’ made ready.
And wouldna he be angry at me
For lying doon wi’ a Highland laddie!”

He’s ta’en her up yon high, high hill
When that the sun was shining clearly;
Says, “A’ that ye see belongs to tee,
For lying doon wi’ a Highland laddie.

“A’ that ye hae left behind
Was a wee cot-hoose and a wee kail-yairdie.
But now ye’e the heir o’ a’ my lands,
For lying doon wi’ a Highland laddie!”

Silly Wizard sing Glasgow Peggy

First when I come tae Glesga toon
The Hieland troops were a’ before me,
And the bonniest lass that e’er I saw,
She lived in Glesga, they ca’ed her Peggy.

Their chief did meet her faither soon
And oh, but he was wondrous angry.
He says, “Ye mon tak my oxen and kye
But ye maunna tak my bonnie Peggy.”

“Oh, haud yer tongue, ye gude auld man,
For I’ve got coos and yowes already.
I come nae to steal yer oxen nor kye
But I will hae yer bonny Peggy”

He set her on his guid black horse
And he himsel’ on a fine grey naigie.
And they’re awa’ mony miles to the north
And nane wi’ them, but the bonny Peggy.

And I’ve got noo a thousand sheep
A’ grazing on yon hills sae bonny,
And ilka hundred, a shepherd has
Although I be but a Hieland laddie.

Oxen and sheep are guid and guid enough
But corn stacks are mickle better;
They will stand in the drift and snow
When the sheep will be with the wind and the weather.

Ah but I’ve got fifty acre of land,
And it’s a’ plood and sown already.
I am Lord Donald of the Isles
And why shud nae Peggy be called my lady?

And see ye no yon castles and towers,
The sun shines on sae bricht and bonny?
I am Lord Donald o’ the Isles,
And I think I’ll marry as blithe as ony.