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The King’s Shilling

[ Roud - ; DT KINGSHIL ; Mudcat 137913 , 138338 ; Ian Sinclair]

Margie Sinclair sang Ian Sinclair’s song The King’s Shilling in 1979 on their group Mirk’s album Moddan’s Bower.

Jean Redpath sang The King’s Shilling in 1984 on her Minnesota Public Radio album Love Is Teasin’.

Frank Harte sang King’s Shilling on his 2001 CD of “traditional songs on Napoleon Bonaparte”, My Name Is Napoleon Bonaparte, even if the song is neither traditional nor, as a general anti-war song, mentioning the emperor.

Battlefield Band sang The King’s Shilling on their 2004 CD Out for the Night.

Siobhan Miller and Jeana Leslie sang The King’s Shilling in 2010 on their Greentrax album Shadows Tall. They noted:

A poignant anti-war song, from the woman’s perspective. Over the centuries, many thousands of Scots have taken the shilling, a coin that was a token of their recruitment into the army.

Karan Casey and James Taylor sang The King’s Shilling in this 2010 video:

The Spiers Family sang The King’s Shilling on their 2012 album Oh, Gin I Were There…. They noted:

Thought by many to be a traditional song, The King’s Shilling was written by Ian Sinclair of the folk group Mirk in the 1970s. This poignant anti-war song gets its message across gently, but effectively.

Sam Kelly sang The King’s Shilling on his 2015 album The Lost Boys, and he and Ainsley Hamill sang it on the 2022 EP The Yellow House All-Star Band.

The Haar sang The King’s Shilling in 2020 on their eponymous album The Haar.

The Yellow House All-Star Band sang The King’s Shilling on their 2022 EP. They noted:

A song dealing with the ancient tradition of pressing young men into joining the army to go off to fight some king’s war in far-off lands.

Olivia Ross sang The King’s Shilling on her 2023 album Grace the Blue.


Siobhan Miller and Jeana Leslie sing The King’s Shilling

Oh my love has left me wi’ bairnies twa
And that’s the last o him I ever saw
He’s joined the army and he’s mairched awa
He’s taen the shillin
He’s taen the shillin and he’s mairched awa

Chorus (after each verse):
Come laddies come, hear the cannons roar
Tak the Kind’s shillig; an we’re aff tae war

O, he looked sae prood and sae gallant then
Wi’ his kilt and sporran and his musket gun
And the ladies kissed them as they mairched awa
They sailed awa boys
They sailed awa boys by the Broomielaw

The pipes they played as they mairched along
And the men they sang oot a battle song
March on, march on, cried oor Captain gay
For King and country
For King and country we will fight this day

The battle echoed tae the soond o guns
And bayonets flashed in the mornin sun
The drums did beat and the cannons roared
But the shillin didna seem
The shillin didna seem much worth no more

Some lost the battle, their bodies fell
Cut doon by bayonets and by musket ball
And many o’ these brave young men
Would never fight for
They’d never fight for their King again

Sam Kelly sings The King’s Shilling

The king called, and I left my Nancy,
That’s the last of her I ever did see.
I took the musket, took the pay,
I took the shilling and rode away.

March on, I heard the captain say,
For King and Country you will fight this day.
The pipes did play as they marched along,
A thousand voices all raised in song
To the call of …

Chorus (after each verse):
Come out boys come, and hear the cannons roar
Take the king’s shilling, and you’re off to war
Take the king’s shilling,
Take the king’s shilling and you’re off to war.

The drums pounded, and the cannons roared,
And soon that shilling, it didn’t seem much at all.
The sabres shone in the morning sun,
My whole world shook to the sound of guns
As they called out …

In the melee, so many bodies fell
And of my love no news did I hear tell.
My tears now stain the flagstone floor;
I long to hear him sing just once more,
And he’d sing …