> Folk Music > Songs > The Wee, Wee German Lairdie

The Wee, Wee German Lairdie

[ Roud 2573 ; Ballad Index DTweeger ; Bodleian Roud 2573 ; DT WEEGERM ; Mudcat 1493 ; trad.]

Norman Buchan: 101 Scottish Songs Peggy Seeger, Ewan MacColl: The Singing Island

Ewan MacColl sang The Wee, Wee German Lairdie in 1962 on his Folkways albums Popular Scottish Songs and Songs of Two Rebellions. He noted:

This very excellent song ranks among the very best of the Jacobite relics. Using the terminology of a Scots gardener, the author has combined wit, bitterness, scorn and contempt to produce a masterpiece of political songwriting.

Nigel Denver sang The Wee, Wee German Lairdie in 1967 on his Decca album Rebellion!.

Jean Redpath sang The German Lairdie in 1985 on her anthology The Songs of Robert Burns Volume 5. Serge and Esther Hovey noted:

“The German Lairdie” was King George I, the Hanoverian Prince, who, with the support of the Whigs, ascended the throne of England after the death of Queene Anne in 1714. By now, the Act of Union (1707) and many years of cultural and economic bondage had resulted in deep hostility among the Scots. The only visible means that the Scottish people could utilize to overturn the Union was through the Jacobite movement.

In this song. Burns satirizes the “sell-out” of the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. The verses are Burns’s succinct summary of a long ballad found in Hogg’s Jacobite Relics (1819). Burns’s MS. of the tune was corrected (additional two bars added) and published by James Dick in 1903.

Five Hand Reel sang Wee Wee German Lairdie in 1976 on their eponymous first album, Five Hand Reel.

Old Blind Dogs sang The Wee Wee German Lairdie on their 1992 album New Tricks. They noted:

A satirical song of the time when the Hanoverian King, George I, succeeded the throne of Scotland and England. Had it been written today it would more than likely have featured on “Spitting Image” as it characterises a contemporary Royal.

Seannachie sang German Lairdie on their 1992 album The Devil’s Delight.


Five Hand Reel sing Wee Wee German Lairdie

Wha the de’il hae we gotten for a king
But a wee, wee German lairdie,
When we ga’ed to bring him hame,
He was delvin’ in his kail yardie.
Sheughing kail, and laying leeks,
Without the hose, an’ but the breeks,
An’ up his beggar duds he cleeks,
This wee, wee German lairdie.

And he’s clappit doon in our guidman’s chair,
This wee, wee German lairdie;
He’s brought forth of foreign trash,
An’ dibbled them in our yairdie.
He’s pu’d the rose of English loons,
And broke the harp of Irish clowns;
But our thistle tops will jag his thumbs –
This wee, wee German lairdie.

Come up amang our Hieland hills,
Thou wee, wee German lairdie,
And see how the Stewart’s lang kail thrive
They dibbled in our yairdie;
And if a stock you dare to pu’,
Or haud the yoking o’ a plough,
We’ll break your sceptre ower your mou’,
Ye feckless German lairdie!

Our hills are steep, our glens are deep,
Nae finin’ for a yairdie;
Our moorland thistles will nae pu’,
Thou wee bit German lairdie.
And we’ve the trenchin’ blades o’weir,
Wad prune ye o’ your German gear –
We’ll pass ye ’neath the claymore’s shear,
Ye feckless German lairdie!

Auld Scotland, thou’rt ower cauld a hole
For nursing siccan vermin;
For the very dogs in England’s court
Now bark and howl in German.
Then keep thy dibble in thy ain hand,
Thy spade but an’ thy yairdie;
For wha’ the de’il now claims your lands
But a wee, wee German lairdie!