> Maddy Prior > Songs > John of Hazelgreen

John of Hazelgreen / Jock o’ Hazeldean

[ Roud 250 ; Child 293 ; G/D 5:1029 ; Ballad Index C293 ; Hazelgreen at Old Songs ; MusTrad DB16 ; Bodleian Roud 250 ; GlosTrad Roud 250 ; Wiltshire 147 ; DT JOCKHZLD , JOCKHZL2 ; Mudcat 1900 ; trad. / Sir Walter Scott]

Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad Airs

Packie Manus Byrne of Donegal sang Johnny o’ Hazelgreen to Mike Yates in Manchester in 1964. It was included in 2004 on the Musical Traditions anthology of songs and tunes from the Mike Yates Collection, The Birds Upon the Tree. A later recording made by Tony Engle and Mike Yates in London in 1974 was released in 1977 on his Topic album Songs of a Donegal Man. Mike Yates noted:

About 12 years ago, when both Packie and myself were living in Manchester, Packie asked me to record him playing his whistle so that he could send a tape to some relatives in North America. When the tape was completed we began to talk about ballads and l asked him whether or not he knew the one about “the milk-white steed”. Packie had only to think for a few seconds before he sang me his version of Johnny o’ Hazelgreen which, he added, he had not sung for at least 30 years. So far as l am aware Packie is the first traditional Irish singer to give us a set of this ballad, and his tune differs considerably from those which have recently been collected in Scotland. Professor Child included live Scottish versions in his collection, all of which date from the early part of the 19th century and, in the form rewritten by Sir Walter Scott, the ballad has proven especially popular in Scotland. Packie believes that the ballad was taken to Donegal by his grand-uncle, who had learnt it whilst working in Scotland, and who had taught the song to Packie’s aunt ‘Big’ Bridget Sweeney of Meenagolin, County Donegal, who in turn taught it to Packie.

Dick Gaughan sang Jock o’ Hazeldean in 1972 on his Trailer album No More Forever. This track was also included in 2005 on the Honest Jon compilation Never the Same. He noted on his now defunct website:

A reworking by Walter Scott of the old ballad Jock O Hazelgreen. Like many a Scots kid, I learned this from my mother. The guitar was tuned in the standard EADGBE tuning.


Jock o’ Hazeldean was written by Sir Walter Scott from a ballad (which is published in Christie’s Traditional Ballad Airs) entitled Jock o’ Hazelgreen, taking the first verse of his song from the third verse of the ballad.

Barbara Dickson sang Jock o’ Hazeldean, in a live folk club recording made in 1969-73, on her 2013 “folk club tapes” anthology B4 Seventy-Four.

Derek Sarjeant and Hazel King sang Jock o’ Hazeldean, as “collected orally from Scottish folksinger Hector Gilchrist”, in 1978 on their album English & Scottish Folksongs and Ballads.

Colin Thompson sang John of Hazelgreen in 1980 on his Fellside album Three Knights. This recording was included in 2006 on Fellside’s 40th anniversary anthology The Journey Continues.

John O’Hagan and Dave Howard sang Jock o’ Hazeldean on the 1987 charity cassette presented by BBC Manchester’s “Folk Like Us”, The Children in Need Album.

Martin Simpson played the tune of Jock o’ Hazeldean on his 1992 Shanachie album Leaves of Life.

Bram Taylor sang Jock o’ Hazeldean in 1993 on his Fellside CD Further Horizons. He commented in the album’s booklet:

I first started to sing this song many years ago and have recently brought it back into my current repertoire, hence its inclusion on this album. This version goes back to the National Song Book of 1906, which was a collection of Folk Songs, Carols and Rounds suggested by the Board of Education of that time, and was edited and arranged for the use of schools by Charles Villiers Stanford in 1906. A version of the song appears in Child’s collection of ballads, bur this one is firmly rooted in Sir Walter Scott’s poem (rewritten from the ballad?).

The German group Celtic Brew sang Jack o’ Hazeldean on their 1997 album Could Be Worse.

Margaret Christl sang Jack o’ Hazeldean on her 1998 album The Picture in My Mind.

The Australian group Lyrical Folkus sang Jack o’ Hazeldean on their 1998 album The Persimmon Tree.

Norman Kennedy sang Jock o Hazeldean at a concert organized by the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston in October 1999. The concert recording was released in 2004 on his Autumn Harvest CD I Little Thocht My Love Wid Leave Me.

Margaret Bennett sang Jock o Hazeldean in 2001 on her Foot Stompin’ CD In the Sunny Long Ago…. She noted:

Sir Walter Scott composed this song based on a traditional Border Ballad, John of Hazelgreen. I like the occasional ballad to have a happy ending and, better still, the lady to marry the man she loves. Martyn and I have enjoyed performing this and other Scott compositions at Abbotsford—a wonderful setting for a ceilidh.

Ian Anderson sang Jock o’ Hazeldean in 2002 on the Borders Tradition CD Borders Sangsters.

Carolyn Robson sang Jock o’ Hazeldean on her 2003 album Dawn Chorus. She noted:

Though Scottish, written by Walter Scott, this song is set in Northumberland where a lady, betrothed to a local Lord, is in love with another with whom she elopes over the border into Scotland. Brian Watson found the small farmhouse of Hazeldean on the Ordnance Survey map situated just north of Hexham, my home town.

Ivan Drever sang Jock o’ Hazeldean on his 2004 album Tradition. He noted:

Always a favourite, the song has been covered by many artists over the years. It was written by Sir Walter Scott based on a much older ballad.

Annie Grace sang Jock o’ Hazeldean in 2004 on her Greentrax CD Take Me Out Drinking Tonight.

James Raynard sang Jock o’ Hazeldean in 2005 on his CD Strange Histories.

The Witches of Elswick sang John of Hazelgreen in 2005 on their second and last album, Hell’s Belles. They noted:

Fay [Hield] got this from American singer Molly Andrews who calls it “a pleasing variant collected from Robert Shiflett, Brown’s Cove, Virginia, 1961”. We like the bit where he kisses her ruby lips three times, then goes for the chin. We’ve all tried it out on our boyfriends and it’s taken quite a while to get some very strange pictures out of our heads while we sing it.

Andrew Cadie sang Jock o’ Hazeldean on his 2006 album The Snow Tree.

Al O’Donnell learned Jock o’ Hazeldene from Dick Gaughan in the 1970s and sang it live at Cobblestone, which was released in 2008 on his CD Ramble Away.

Maddy Prior sang Jock of Hazeldean in 2008 on her Park Records CD Seven for Old England. She noted:

This is in Child as John of Hazelgreen, but the version sung here was forged by Sir Walter Scott, which he based on the first traditional verse.

Walter Scott is unpopular among many Scots for re-writing and romanticising Scottish history, which he undoubtedly did, but I just love this song, which I first heard Dick Gaughan sing, before he discovered it was from Scott’s pen.

Jim Malcolm sang Jock o’ Hazeldean on his 2013 album Still. He noted:

I have been singing this song for many years—it’s an adaptation by Sir Walter Scott of the older ballad John o’ Hazelgreen.

This video shows Jim Malcolm singing Jock o’ Hazeldean at the Institute of Musical Traditions, Rockville, Maryland, USA, on 25 November 2013:

Pete Wood sang Jock o’ Hazeldean on his 2014 CD Young Edwin. He noted:

Associated by many with Sir Walter Scott, others say its origin is this side of the border.

Fraser and Ian Bruce sang Jock o’ Hazeldean in 2017 on their album with Pete Clark amd Gregor Lowrey, Auld Hat New Heids.

Anna & Elizabeth sang John of Hazelgreen on their 2018 album The Invisible Comes to Us. Their version is that of Victoria Morris, Brown’s Cove, Virginia as collected by Arthur Kyle Davis on 10 March 1933 and printed in his book More Traditional Ballads of Virginia (1960).

Iona Fyfe sang Jock o’ Hazeldean unaccompanied in 2020 on her download album Ballads Vol. I.

Olivia Ross sang Jock o’ Hazeldean, with lyrics very similar to Dick Gaughan’s, on her 2023 album Grace the Blue.

Adam Holmes sang Jock o’ Hazeldean on his 2024 album The Voice of Scotland.


Packie Manus Byrne sing Johnny o’ Hazelgreen

One night as I rode o’er the lea with moonlight shining clear;
I overheard a fair young maid lamenting for her dear.
She did cry as I drew nigh, the better it might have been;
For she was letting the tears roll down for Johnny o’ Hazelgreen.

“What is your trouble, my lovely maid or what caused you to roam?
Is it your father or mother that’s dead or have you got no home?”
“My parents they are both alive and plainly to be seen;
But I have lost my own true love, called Johnny o’ Hazelgreen.”

“What sort of boy is your Hazelgreen? He’s one I do not know.
He must be a braw young lad because you love him so.”
“His arms are long, his shoulders broad, he’s comely to be seen,
And his hair is rolled like chains of gold, he’s Johnny o’ Hazelgreen.”

“Dry up your tears, my lovely maid, and come along with me.
I’ll have you wed to my only son, I never had one but he.
Then you might be a bride,” I said, “to any Lord or King.”
’But I’d far rather be a bride,” said she, “to Johnny o’ Hazelgreen.”

She got on her milk-white steed and I got on my bay.
We rode along that moonlight night and part of the next day.
When we came up to the gate the bells began to ring.
And who stepped out but the noble knight they called Johnny o’ Hazelgreen.

“You’re welcome home, dear father,” he said, “You’re welcome home to me.
You’ve brought me back my fair young maid I thought I’d never see.”
The smile upon her gentle face, As sweet as grass is green.
So I hope she’s enjoying her married life with Johnny o’ Hazelgreen.

Dick Gaughan sings Jock o’ Hazeldean

“Why weep ye by the tide, lady, why weep ye by the tide?
A’ll wad ye tae my youngest son an ye shall be his bride,
An ye shall be his bride lady sae comely tae be seen.”
But aye she lout the tears dounfaa for Jock o Hazeldean

“Nou let this willfu grief be dune an dry those cheeks sae pale,
Young Frank is chief of Erthington an Lord o Langleydale.
His step is first in peacefu haa, his sword in battle keen.”
Bit aye she lout the tears dounfaa for Jock o Hazeldean.

“A coat o gowd ye sallnae lack nor kaim tae bind your hair,
Nor mettled hound nor managed hawk nor palfrey fresh an fair.
An you, the foremaist o them aa sall ride, our forest queen.”
Bit aye she lout the tears dounfaa for Jock o Hazeldean.

The kirk was deckt at mornintide, the tapers glimmert fair;
The priest an bridegroum wait the bride an Dame an Knight were there.
They searcht for her in bower an haa the lady wisnae seen—
She’s owre the border an awa wi Jock o Hazeldean.

The Witches of Elswick sing John of Hazelgreen

An old knight rode one summer’s day
Down by the greenwood side,
And there he spied a fair young maid
And all alone she cried.

As he drew near there unto her
To learn what this could mean;
Her lamentation it was all
For John of Hazelgreen.

“You’re welcome home, my fair young one,
You’re welcome home with me;
And you may wed my eldest son,
A bold young man is he.”

“I would not wed your eldest son
If he were lord or king;
I ne’er intend to be the bride of none
Save John of Hazelgreen.

“For he is tall, his shoulders broad,
The fairest of the king;
His hair hangs down in links of gold,
My John of Hazelgreen.”

He’s drawn her up unto his steed
And they rode into town;
Up jumped bold John of Hazelgreen
To lift his lady down.

Three times he’s kissed her ruby lips,
Three times he’s kissed her chin;
He’s ta’en her by the lily-white hand
To lead his lady in.

Her tears were dry, her sorrow gone,
But a surprise had been
To learn the old knight’s eldest son
Was John of Hazelgreen.

“If I should ever thee forsake
May Heaven forsake me;
And cast me in the brimstone lake
For all eternity.”

Anna & Elizabeth sing John of Hazelgreen

As I were walking one fair May morning
All down by the greenwood side,
And there I spied a pretty fair miss
And all alone she cried.

“You’re welcome home, my pretty fair miss
You’re welcome home with me
And you may have my oldest son
A husband for to be.”

“Oh, I don’t want your oldest son
For he’s neither lord nor king,
I never intend to be the bride of none
John over the Hazelgreen.”

As I were riding the ink black road,
The road run near to the town,
All up stepped John o’ Hazelgreen
And helped his lady down.

His hair were long, his shoulders were broad
He was the flower of all his kin,
His hair hung down like links of gold,
John over the Hazelgreen.

’Tis forty times he kissed her cheeks
And forty times her chin,
And forty times her red and rosy lips
And led his lady in.

“If ever I a vow break on you, my love,
Oh, heaven will forsake on me
And send me down to the torment place
Where I never return to thee.”