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The Laird o Cockpen

[ Roud 2859 ; Ballad Index Log355 ; Bodleian Roud 2859 ; DT COCKLAIR ; Mudcat 167259 ; Lady Nairne]

The Tannahill Weavers sang The Laird o’ Cockpen in 1978 on their Plant life album The Old Woman’s Dance.

Jean Redpath sang The Laird o’ Cockpen in 1986 on her album of the songs of Lady Nairne, Will Ye No Come Back Again?.

Sheena Wellington sang The Laird o’ Cockpen in 2003 on her Greentrax album Hamely Fare. She noted:

Carolina Oliphant, the Lady Nairne, (1766-1845) wrote these words to an old tune When She Cam Ben She Bobbed. Carolina’s family were Jacobites who lost lands and influence through their support for the Stewart cause. The song is political—the Laird is Hanoverian and Mistress Jean a Jacobite—and its fine use of Scots and feisty, though probably accidental, feminism are a delight.

I once got into a bizarre conversation at a London party with a sociologist who mistook “Fashious” for “Fascist” and thought the Laird was Scotland’s version of Sir Oswald Mosley!

Fiona Ross sang The Laird o Cockpen in 2017 on her Tradition Bearers album with Tony McManus, Clyde’s Water. She noted:

Although I was aware of this song, I didn’t start singing it until it was suggested to me by the wonderful fiddler Chris Duncan in NSW, Australia. At first, the lively tune appealed to me more than the words, but I very much enjoy the haughty laird’s indignation when his marriage proposal receives the knockback it deserves!


Fiona Ross sings The Laird o Cockpen

The Laird o’ Cockpen he was prood, he was great
His mind was ta’en up wi the things o the state
He’s wanted a wife his braw hoose tae keep
But favour wi wooin was fashious tae seek

Doon by the dykeside a lady did dwell
At his table heid he thocht she’d look well
McLeish’s ae daughter o Clavers ha’ lee
A penniless lass wi a lang pedigree

His wig was well pouthered and as guid as new
His waistcoat was white and his coat it was blue
He put on a ring and a sword and cocked hat
And wha could refuse a laird wi a’ that?

He’s ta’en the grey mare and he’s rade cannily
He’s rapped at the yetts o’ Clavers ha’ lee
Gae tell Mistress Jean tae come speedily ben
She’s wanted tae speak wi the Laird o’ Cockpen

Mistress Jean she was makin the elderflooer wine
And what brings the laird at sic a like time?
She’s put aff her apron, put on her silk goon
Her mutch wi red ribbons and gaed awa doon

And when she cam ben he bowed fu low
And what was his errand he soon let her know
Amazed was the laird when the lady said “naw”
And wi a leigh courtsey she’s turned awa

Dumfoun’ered was he, but nae sigh did he gie
He mounted the mare and he rade cannily
And aft times he thocht as he gaed through the glen
She was daft tae refuse the Laird o’ Cockpen