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Will Ye Go to Sheriffmuir?

[ Roud V44081 ; Ballad Index Hogg1089 ; trad.]

Ewan MacColl: Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland

Ewan MacColl sang Will Ye Go to Sheriffmuir in 1962 on his Topic album The Jacobite Rebellions. He noted:

The victory at the battle of Sheriffmuir, fought between the clans under the Earl of Mar and the Hanoverian forces under the Duke of Argyle on 13 November 1715, has been claimed by both sides. Winners or losers, the Jacobites celebrated the battle in a number of fine songs, of which this is probably the least well known. There is some doubt among clan historians as to the identity of Bauld John o’ Innisture.

Isla St Clair sang Will Ye Go to Sheriffmuir on her 1972 album Isla St Clair Sings Traditional Scottish Songs.

Five Hand Reel sang Sheriffmuir in their 1978 album Earl o’ Moray.

Scotch Measure sang Sheriffmuir in gigs at the end of the 1980s. A recording of this song was released in 2020 on their download album Live 1987-88.


Five Hand Reel sing Sheriffmuir

Will ye go tae Sheriffmuir, bauld John o’ Innisture?
There tae see the noble Mar and his Hielan’ laddies.
A’ the true men o’ the North, Angus, Huntly, and Seaforth,
Scourin’ on tae cross the Forth wi’ their white cockadies.

There ye’ll see the banners flare, there ye’ll hear the bagpipes rair,
And the trumpet’s deadly blare wi’ the cannons’ rattle.
There ye’ll see the bauld McCraws, Cameron’s and ClanRanald’s raws
An’ a’ the clans wi’ loud huzzas rushin’ tae the battle.

There ye’ll see the noble Whigs a’ the heroes o’ the brigs
Raw hides an’ withered wigs ridin’ in array, man
Riven hose and raggit hools, soor milk an’ girnin’ gools,
Psalm beuks an’ cutty stools, we’ll see never mair, man.

Will ye go tae Sheriffmuir, bauld John o’ Innisture?
Sic a day an’ sic an hour ne’er was in the North, man.
Siccan sights will there be seen an’ gin some be nae mista’en,
Fragrant gales will come between frae the waters o’ Forth, man.

O, cam’ ye here the fight tae shun or herd the sheep wi’ me, man?
Or was ye at the Sherra-muir or did the battle see, man?
I saw the battle sair and teugh, my heart for fear ga’ed sough, man,
At clans frae woods in tartan duds wha glaum’d at kingdoms three, man.

The redcoat lauds wi’ black cockades, tae meet them werena slaw, man;
They rushed an’ pushed an’ bluid outgushed an’ mony’s a bouk did fa’, man.
And then Argyll led on his files, they houghed the clans like pins, man,
An’ through they dashed an’ hewed an’ slashed till fey men died awa’, man.

But had ye seen the philabegs an’ skyrin’ tartan trews, man,
When in the teeth they daured oor Whigs an’ Covenant true blues, man.
In lines extending lang an’ large they hastened tae the charge, man,
Drew blades o’ death till oot o’ breath they fled like frighted dows, man.

They’ve lost some gallant gentlemen amang the Hieland Clans, man,
I fear my Lord Panmure is slain or in his enemies’ hands, man.
Noo, wad ye sing this double flight whaur mony said guid night, man,
How Tories fell an’ Whigs tae hell flew aff in frighted bands, man.