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Johnie Scot / Johnny Scott

[ Roud 63 ; Child 99 ; G/D 5:1013 ; Henry H736 ; Ballad Index C099 ; DT JSCOTT1 , JSCOTT2 ; trad.]

Gale Huntington: Sam Henry’s Songs of the People Alexander Keith: Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad Airs James Kinsley: The Oxford Book of Ballads

Mary Baylon sang Johnny Scott to Seán Corcoran at Ardee, Co Louth, on 2 October 1971. This recording was included in 1985 on the Folk Music Society of Ireland anthology Early Ballads in Ireland 1968-1985, reissued on CD in 2015 by An Goílín.

Seán Corcoran sang Johnny Scott himself on 1977 on his, Eddie Clarke’s, Maeve Donnelly’s, and Mairéad Ní Dhomhnaill’s Green Linnet album Sailing Into Walpole’s Marsh.

Susan McKeown sang the Child ballad Johnny Scott in 2007 on her CD Sweet Liberty. She noted:

This is an ancient ballad which apparently dates to the 16th century. I learned it from the singing of the fine-voiced Seán Corcoran.

The Macmath Collective sang Johnie Scot on their 2015 CD Macmath: The Silent Page. They noted:

The story of Johnie Scot, who falls in love with the King’s daughter Jeanie, came from the singing of Jean Hannay from Newton Stewart. She worked at Airds of Kells as a nursemaid.


Susan McKeown sings Johnny Scott

Johnny Scott’s a-hunting gone to the wildest hills and woods,
To the fairest young lady in all England, young Johnny had a child.

King Edward he wrote him a broad letter, signed it with his hand
Saying, “ Give you this to young Johnny Scott as soon as he does land.”

And the very first line that Johnny read his, eyes they filled with tears,
Saying, “Must I go back to far England? I fear I will never return.”

And out bespoke his old age father from his chamber where he lay,
Saying, “A thousand men I will send along with you for to bear you company.”

As they were mounted on their milk-white steeds all comely to behold,
And the hair that hung down over Johnny’s shoulder shone like the beaten gold.

And the very first town that they rode through, they made the trumpets sound,
And the very next town that they rode through, the drums they beat all around.

And the very next town that they came to it was to England town
And who should he see but his fair lady and she lying in irons bound.

“Come down, come down. Lady Margit,” he cried, “and speak one word to me!”
“Oh how can I come down, Lord Johnny?”, she cried, “King Edward has bolted me!

“Oh my stockings are made of the cold iron, my boots of tethers brown,
And my garters are made of the coldest steel that e’er was in England found.”

Oh and one is to the kitchen gone, and one is to the hall,
And one is to the parlour gone amongst the nobles all.

And Johnny went to the Sing’s hall door and jingled at the bell,
And there was no one so ready as the old witch herself for to rise up and welcome him in.

“Are you the hing of Auburn?”, she says, “or James our Scottish king?
Or are you the bastard’s father?”, she says, “from Ireland has come?”

“I’m not the hing of Auburn,” he says, “nor James your Scottish king.
But I am a noble prince,” he says, “from Ireland has come.”

“Well there is an Italian all in this house, he kills men three by three,
And tomorrow morning at eight o’clock it’s on his sword you’ll be.”

Well Johnny and the Italian fought til the blood flew like the rain
’Til at length on the top of Johnny’s broad sword the Italian was sorely slain.

He put his hand onto his sword and stroked it o’er the plain,
Saying, “Is there any more of youse English lords would like to be sorely slain?”

He put his hand onto his horn, he blew loud and high,
“A priest, a priest!”, Lord Johnny he cried, “for to wed my love and I!”

The Macmath Collective sings Johnie Scot

Johnie Scot’s a huntin’ gane to England’s woods sae wild,
Until the King’s own dauchter dear she gans to him wi’ child.

“If she be with bairn,” her mother says, “as I trew weel she be,
We’ll put her in a dark dungeon, hunger her till she die.”

The king he wrote a lang letter and sealed it wi’ his hand,
An sent it tae young Johnie Scot tae speak at his command.

When Johnie read the letter lang the tear blindit his ee,
“I must awa to auld England, King Edward writes for me.”

It’s up an spoke his old faither and a blythe auld man wis he,
“I’ll send five hunner o’ my brisk young men to bear Johnie companie.”

And when he came to Newcastle he reined his horse about,
Wha did he see but his ain Jeanie at a window looking out.

“Come hame, come hame o’ Jeanie!”, he cried, “come hame, come hame tae me.”
“I canna come hame, Johnie!”, she said, “King Edward has bolted me.

“My stockings are o’ the heavy iron, I feel them very cold.
My breastplate’s o’ the beaten steel instead o’ beaten gold.”

Then up and spoke the King himself, and an angry man was he,
“The fairest flooer in a’ my court, she gans wi’ child tae thee.

“There is a talliant in my court, this day he’s killed three,
And by the morn at ten o’clock he’ll kill thy men and thee.”

Johnie took his sword in hand and he walked across the plain.
There’s many a weeping lady there to see young Johnie slain.

But Johnie was a valliant man, weel taught in war was he.
And on the point o’ his broad sword the talliant stickit he.

“A priest, a priest!”, Johnie he cried, “to wed my bride and me!”
“A clerk, a clerk!”, her faither said, “to tell her tocher wi.”

“I’m wanting none of your gold,” he said, “as little o your gear.
Just gie me my own true-love, I think I’ve won her dear.”