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The King’s Shilling

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 138338 ; Ian Sinclair]

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

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.

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

Olivia Ross 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 alon;g
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