> Lal & Norma Waterson > Songs > The Beggar Man
> Danny Spooner > Songs > The Gaberlunyie Man
> June Tabor > Songs > The Auld Beggarman

The Gaberlunzie Man / The Beggar Man / The Auld Beggarman

[ Roud 212 ; Child 279 Appendix ; Henry H810 ; Ballad Index C279A ; DT BEGGR4 ; Mudcat 1954 ; trad.]

[ See also the related ballad The Jolly Beggar (Child 279) ]

Gale Huntington: Sam Henry’s Songs of the People Alexander Keith: Last Leaves of Traditional Ballads and Ballad Airs James Kinsley: The Oxford Book of Ballads Ewan MacColl: Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger: Travellers’ Songs From England and Scotland Stephen Sedley: The Seeds of Love

John Strachan of Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, sang The Beggar Man on 16 July 1951 to Alan Lomax and Hamish Henderson. This recording was released on the anthology The Child Ballads 2 (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 5; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968). It was also included in 2002 with the title The Knight and the Shepherd’s Daughter on Strachan’s Rounder anthology Songs From Aberdeenshire. Hamish Henderson and Ewan McVicar noted:

Another native Scots ballad. It is sometimes said to reflect one of the adventures of King James IV of Scotland, who traveled the country disguised as the Guidman of Ballengeich to learn how his subjects fared. Some versions include a violent seduction verse sounding akin to rape. This ballad is intensely popular, and many Scots traditional singers have recorded it.

Maggie Murphy (née Chambers; 1924-2006) and her niece Sarah Chambers of Tempo, Co. Fermanagh sang The Auld Beggarman on 18 July 1952 to Peter Kennedy and Sean O’Boyle. This BBC recording was later included on the anthology The Child Ballads 2 (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 5; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968) and in 1996 on Murphy’s Veteran CD Linkin’ o’er the Lea as its title track. Maggie Murphy also sang Clinkin’ o’er the Lea to Keith Summers at her home in Killaculla, Tempo, Co. Fermanagh on 4 April 1975. This recording was included in 2014 on the Musical Tradition anthology of traditional songs from around Lough Erne’s shore from the Keith Summers Collection, I Pray You Pay Attention. Another recording of her singing Linkin’ o’er the Lea to Keith Summers at home 1 August 1980 was included in 1998 on the Topic anthology First I’m Going to Sing You a Ditty (The Voice of the People Series Volume 7). The Musical Tradition booklet noted:

This is Maggie’s version of the famous Gaberlunzie Man; a ballad almost entirely restricted to the Scottish repertoire—virtually all of Roud’s 103 instances are from there. Indeed, Maggie Murphy/Chambers is the Index’s sole Irish entry.

Enoch Kent sang Beggar Man in 1962 on his Topic EP The Butcher Boy, which was re-released in 1965 as part of the Topic LP Bonny Lass Come O’er the Burn. Norman Buchan noted on the second of these albums:

A version of this ballad under its more common title The Gaberlunzie Man first appears in print in 1724 in Allan Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany. Tradition in Scotland has always attributed it and its allied ballad The Jolly Beggar (Child 279) to James V. That James was a poet we know—e have Davie Lindsay’s Answer to the King’s Flyting as proof that James was not averse to challenging the best verse polemicist in Scotland at his own game. Unfortunately it is easier to prove that he was a poet than to give examples of his work. Both ballads have a certain connection with the King’s reported propensity for wandering his kingdom in disguise (The Gudeman of Ballengeich) and, presumably, seducing the farmers’ daughters in the process, if we are to believe The Jolly Beggar. Their identification with James, however, probably tell us more about the way tradition works than of historical truth.

Alan Ramsay specifically mentions The Gaberlunzie Man in his preface as one of the songs which “only wanted to be cleared of the dross of blundering transcribers and printers”—and, he might have added modestly, of editors. At any rate most versions in oral tradition (e.g. in the Gavin Greig collection) continue the story to a happy return as is sung here. Enoch first heard it from Jon McEvoy, author of The Wee Magic Stone.

This video shows Jean Redpath singing The Beggar Laddie in 1964:

Isabel Sutherland sang The Beggin’ Man in 1966 on her Topic album Vagrant Songs of Scotland. She noted:

This ballad is often said to have been written by James V, father of Mary Queen of Scots. He was reputed to have roamed the country disguised as a tinker or traveller. There are no good grounds for thinking he made the ballad. Johnny McEvoy of Glasgow (who wrote The Wee Magic Stone) gave me this version.

Norman Kennedy sang The Auld Beggar Man (A Beggarman Cam’ O’er Yon Lea) in 1968 on his Folk-Legacy album Ballads & Songs of Scotland. A 1996 live recording of this song was released in 2002 on his Tradition Bearers album Live in Scotland. He also sang The Gaberlunzie Man on the 1995 Greentrax album of songs from the Greig-Duncan Collection as performed at the Edinburgh International Festival, Folk Songs of North-East Scotland. Peter Hall noted on the first album:

Child prints The Gaberlunzie Man, a version of this ballad, from Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany, 1724, in the appendix to The Jolly Beggar (Side II, Band 5). The implication is that all other versions stem from this printed source, though Ramsay refers to a traditional origin. However, from the very earliest recited sets in The Old Lady’s Collection and in Motherwell’s manuscript, singers have ended with the daughter’s return, which is not included in the version printed by Ramsay, and this points to a separate oral currency for the song. Possibly printing has helped to standardize the text of this ballad which is among the most common of those still in popular memory in North East Scotland.

The High Level Ranters sang The Jolly Beggar in 1971 on their Trailer album High Level.

Planxty sang The Jolly Beggar in 1973 on their eponymous first album, Planxty. A 1980 live recording of this song from the Abbey Tavern was included in 2015 on their retrospective Between the Jigs and the Reels.

The Clutha sang The Gaberlunzie Man in 1974 on their Topic album Scots Ballads, Songs & Dance Tunes. Don Martin noted:

This fascinating ballad has flourished at a variety of different levels since it was first published by Allan Ramsay in his Tea-Table Miscellany of 1724. As a general rule the variants found in oral tradition are much more fluent and lively than the rather stagnant versions in the standard song collections. In Gavin Greig’s day a folk version was very popular at platform concerts in Aberdeenshire, sung by Alexander Milne of Maud. The tradition that it was composed by King James V of Scotland has been subjected to a great deal of scorn, but there is little doubt that the ballad was already old when first published early in the Eighteenth Century.

Lizzie Higgins sang The Jolly Beggar in a School of Scottish Studies recording on the 1975 Tangent anthology The Muckle Sangs (Scottish Tradition 5). A recording of her singing The Beggar Man at the Jeannie Robertson Memorial Concert in 1977 was included in 2006 on her Musical Traditions anthology In Memory of Lizzie Higgins. Another recording, made by Doc Rowe on 12 April 1988 at the National Folk Music Festival, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire, was included in 1998 on the Topic anthology It Fell on a Day, a Bonny Summer Day (The Voice of the People Series Volume 17). A recording from the Blairgowrie Folk Festival made in between 1986 and 1995 was included in 2000 on the festival anthology The Blair Tapes. The booklet accompanying Lizzie’s anthology noted:

Very widely sung in Scotland, and all but one of Roud’s 67 instances are from here. (Extraordinarily, though, Lizzie is the only singer of whom he has a recording.) Cilla Fisher and Artie Tresize sing a version in Cilla & Artie.

The lively tune first appear in the Balcarres Lute Book (1690-1700), with tune plus words in Thomson’s Orpheus Caledonius in 1725 (see the remarkably detailed accounts in Nick Parkes and John Purser’s 2006 CD-Rom of James Oswald’s Caledonian Pocket Companion). The words alone also appeared in Allan Ramsay’s highly influential Tea-Table Miscellany in 1724, and together with the equally popular thereafter, Jolly Beggar, has been attributed to James V (1512-1542), the hanger of Johnny Armstrong, who reputably wandered his kingdom in disguise, often as a beggar, as The Guidman of Ballangeich, in his sympathy with the common people, (although this may have been simply a liking for low life). His short life and troubled reign would not have left him much spare time for such sojourning, nor his marriages to two wives, the second bearing him the future, tragic Mary Queen of Scots (and France). Lizzie said this was the first song she learned from her father, when she was aged4, and was a genuine ‘pipe folksong’.

Roy Bailey sang The Beggar Man on his 1976 album New Bell Wake.

Jean Redpath sang Davy Faa on her 1977 album Song of the Seals. She noted:

This latter day and lesser known member of the Faa Family feres rather better than his classic cousin’ (Johnny Faa. a name common among the Gypsies, is that of the hero ot the Gypsy Laddie Child 200). The melody is that also used for Tramps and Hawkers and is totally infectious. I think I learned this from the singing of Arthur Argo.

A recording of Jimmy Hutchison singing The Beggarman on Jean Redpath’s BBC television series “Ballad Folk” was released in 1977 on the series album Ballad Folk. Jimmy Hutchison also sang this song on his 2000 Tradition Bearers album Corachree where he noted:.

I learned this song from Enoch Kent whom I met in London during the early 1960s. It is a variant of The Gaberlunzie Man, which Child associates in his collection with The Jolly Beggar (Child No.279). Both ballads have been accredited authorship to James V of Scotland, but to quote Child, “The tradition as to James V is, perhaps, not much older than the publication in either case [1724 & 1769] and has no more plausibility than it has authority.”

Lal and Norma Waterson and Lal’s daughter Maria Knight sang The Beggar Man in 1977 on their album A True Hearted Girl. This track was also included on the 1992 CD reissue of For Pence and Spicy Ale and in 2003 on the Watersons’ anthology The Definitive Collection. Bob Hudson noted:

A variant of Child Ballad No. 279, often called The Gaberlunzie-Man, or The Jolly Beggar. Tradition has it that it was written by King James V of Scotland, and indeed, there were a number of ballads describing his romantic conquests while roaming the countryside in disguise. It was first printed in Thomas Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany (1724). In 1952, folklorist Peter Kennedy and Sean O’Boyle recorded two Irish women, Maggie and Sarah Chambers, singing this song (in Tempo, County Fermanagh). Both their tune and lyric are close to the one sung here, leaving one to suspect that the Irish version may have been the source for the Watersons.
Variant text: Kinsley, The Oxford Book of Ballads, no. 132.

Danny Spooner sang The Gaberlunyie Man on his 1978 album Danny Spooner and Friends. This track was also included in 2007 on his anthology Years of Spooner. He noted:

Another ballad from the Child collection, which is a variant of The Jolly Beggar (No. 279). Child says that tradition imputes the authorship of both of these to James V of Scotland, but it is a thing we well probably never know for sure. One thing that is certain, however, is that James often travelled the country dressed as a beggar doing a bit of checking up on his subjects. Historians have remarked that although he believed himself to be unrecognisable in this garb, most people had no trouble recognising him.

A ‘gaberlunyie’ man was a licensed beggar, a pre-requisite for beggars in that period.

Cilla Fisher and Artie Tresize sang The Beggar Man in 1979 on their Topic album Cilla & Artie. The noted:

We learned this from a classic recording of Maggie & Sarah Chambers from Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. While we’ve tried to retain their feeling and enthusiasm for the song, we have made some minor adjustments to the words to accommodate our Scottish style.

The Tannahill Weavers sang The Gaberlunzie Man in 1981 on their Plant Life album Tannahill Weavers IV. They noted:

Our hero arrives and is strongly ‘fancied’ by the heroine of the song. Being, presumably, a fine looking girl she attracts his attention, is rejected, and then proceeds to stick a patch over her eye and generally mess about with her appearance until she looks rough enough to completely steal the beggar’s heart.

All ends happily enough, again depending on your outlook, when the young lady comes home again with her three young children. What happens to the gaberlunzie man we, unfortunately, never know. Let us presume that all’s well that ends well.

Andy M. Stewart sang The Gaberlunzie Man in 1994 on his Green Linnet album Man in the Moon. He noted:

This delightful old song is said to have been penned by the “Merry Monarch”, King James V, father of Mary Queen of Scots. It is said that he would disguise himself as a poor man and go out amongst the common people. He was reputed to be a skillful musician and prolific poet although the Gaberlunzieman may be all that survived of his writings. A gaberlunzieman, or travelling mechanic, would mend and make articles of everyday necessity for the people he encountered as he travelled the country.

Ceolbeg sang The Gaberlunzie Man in 1996 on their Greentrax CD Five.

Malinky sang The Beggar Man in 2000 on their Greentrax album Last Leaves where they noted:

This is from the singing of Lizzie Higgins and concerns a lassie who just won’t do as she’s told, a common Malinky theme.

Isla St Clair sang The Gaberlunzie Man on her 2000 CD Royal Lovers & Scandals.

Gordon Easton sang The Beggar Man at the Fife Traditional Singing Festival, Collessie, Fife in May 2006. This recording was included in the following year on the festival CD Some Rants o’ Fun (Old Songs & Bothy Ballads Volume&3).

Lisa Knapp sang Beggar Beggar in 2007 on her first CD, Wild and Undaunted. Her version is basically Lizzie Higgins’s one with the text anglicised.

June Tabor sang The Auld Beggarman on her 2007 Topic album Apples. She noted:

Child No. 279, often called The Gaberlunzie Man, first printed version in the Tea-Table Miscellany 1724; this version collected from Maggie and Sarah Chambers of Tempo, Co. Fermanagh in the 1950s. A song “beloved by travellers and other unsettled people, and by girls who live in remote places” (Sam Henry)

Does the girl see through the beggar’s disguise, or is she just desperate to escape the slavery of her lonely farmstead home?

Peter and Barbara Snape sang The Beggarman on their 2011 CD Revel & Rally. Barbara Snape noted:

A song thought to be about King James V of Scotland (1512-1542) who, wanting to move amongst his subjects, dressed himself as a beggar. According to legend, his nickname was King of the Commons. It has a humorous and simplistic storyline and there are a number of versions in existence both in Ireland and Scotland. This particular version is from the singing of Len Graham.

Arthur Watson sang The Auld Beggarman in 2012 on Shepheard, Spiers & Watson’s Springthyme album Over the Hills. They noted:

A beggar is given shelter for the night but before daybreak he and the daughter of the house steal away together.

The earliest dated version of the ballad was published in Allan Ramsay’s Tea-Table Miscellany of 1724 under the title The Gaberlunzie Man (volume 1, page 80). In all the published versions the story ends without any return (as here in verses 15 to 19). However this conclusion to the ballad appears commonly in versions collected from the oral tradition. That this fuller version of the ballad precedes Allan Ramsay is now clear as an earlier broadside has recently been identified by Emily Lyle in the National Library of Scotland that includes the later part of the ballad—and so confirms both the veracity and age of the oral tradition. The beggar in the ballad—who later turns out to be a wealthy gentleman—is often identified by traditional singers as being King James V.

Bara Bara Band sang The Beggar Man at the Leigh Folk Festival 2015. This recording was included in the same year on the festival anthology Rivers Rushes Rodents & Regicide.

Sarah Hayes sang The Beggarman in 2015 on Wildings’ eponymous CD Wildings.

Kim Lowings sang The Beggar Man on her 2018 download album of bonus tracks for their crowdfunding supporters, Wild & Wicked Youth Cover Sessions.

Iona Fyfe sang The Gaberlunzie Man unaccompanied in 2020 on her download album Ballads Vol. I.

Jim and Susie Malcolm sang The Gaberlunzie Man on their 2022 CD Auld Toon Shuffle. They noted:

Here’s a second song concerning the exploits of Stuart King James V. He was renowned for roving the country disguised as a beggar so that he could both learn of his reputation among the common folk and also carouse with impunity. This song was brought to our attention by the wonderful singing of the late Andy M  Stewart, who recorded it with Silly Wizard.

Lyrics

John Strachan sings The Beggar Man

A beggar man cam ower the lea
A-lookin oot for charity.
A-lookin oot for charity,
“Willye lodge a beggar man?”

Chorus (after each verse):
Laddie ee a tow row ree.

Doon be the fireside the auld man sat,
He keist his meal-pyokes aff his back.
He keist the meal-pyokes aff his back,
And aye he lilted and sang.

“O lassie, o lassie, ye are too young,
Ye hinna the knack o the beggin tongue.
Ye hinna the knack o the beggin tongue,
And wi me ye canna gyang.”

“I’ll bend ma back and boo ma knee,
I’ll pit a black patch on my ee.
And for a beggar they’ll tak me
And awa wi you I’ll gyang.”

Early next momin the auld wife arose,
And at her leisure she put on her clothes.
Syne tae the servant bed she goes
Tae speir for the silly peer man.

She gaed tae the bed where the beggar lay;
The strae was caul and he was away.
She clappit her hand, cried, “Waladay!
Is there ony o oor guid gear gane?”

The servant gaed where the dochter lay;
The sheets were caul and she was away.
And fast to the good-wife she did say,
“She’s awa wi the beggar man.”

Some rode on horseback and some rode on foot,
Aa but the auld wife—she wasnae fit.
She hirpled aboot fae hip tae hip
And aye she cursed and banned.

When years had passed some twa or three,
The same [beggerd barrel] came ower yon lea,
Say in, “Good wife for your court’sy,
Will ye lodge a silly peer man?”

A beggar, a beggar, I’ll never lodge again.
I hadnae a daughter but een o my ain,
And awa wi a beggar man she is gane,
And I dinna ken whence nor whaur.”

“O auld wifie, auld wifie, fit would ye gie
For ae secht o your Jean tae see?
A bairn on her back and anither at her knee
And anither on the road comin hame?”

Norman Kennedy sings The Auld Beggar Man (A Beggarman Cam’ O’er Yon Lea)

An auld beggarman cam’ o’er yon lea,
Seekin’ alms for charity,
Seekin’ alms for charity,
“Would ye lodge a beggarman?”

Chorus (after each verse):
Liddle al tee tow row ray

The nicht it was cauld and the carle was wat,
Doon by the ingleneuk he sat.
He’s thrown the meal pocks off’n his back,
An’ aye he ranted an’ sang.

“Gin I was black as ye are white,
Like yon fell snaw ahint the dyke,
I’d dress mysel’ fu’ beggar-like
An’ awa’ wi’ ye I’d gang.”

“Oh, lassie, oh, lassie, ye’re far o’er young,
An’ ye hinna got the canto’ the beggin’ tongue.
Ye hinna got the canto’ the beggin’ tongue
An’ wi’ me ye canna gang.”

“But I’ll bend my back and I’ll boo my knee;
I’ll put a black patch o’er my e’e,
An’ a richt auld beggin’ wife I’ll be,
An’ awa’ wi’ ye I’ll gang.”

Sae atween the twa they hae made a plot
Tae rise twa hours afore the lot.
Sae gently did she slip the lock,
An’ awa’ o’er the fields they ran.

Noo, early neist mornin’ the auld wife arose.
Eagerly she put on her claes,
An’ awa’ tae the bed where the servant lies
Tae inquire for the silly auld man.

The servant she gaed where the beggar lay,
But the strae was cauld and he was awa’.
Straight tae the auld wife she did say,
“Has ony o’ our guid gear gane?”

Some ran tae the coffer and some tae the kist,
But naething was stolen nor was missed,
An’ she lifted up her hands, and she cried, “God be praised,
We have lodged an honest auld man.”

The servant she gaed where the lassie lay,
But the sheets were cauld and she was awa’.
Straight tae the auld wife she did say,
“She’s awa’ wi’ the beggarman.”

Some gaed on horseback an’ some gaed on foot,
Except for the auld wife, an’ she was nae fit,
But she hoppit around fae hip tae hip,
An’ aye she cursed and banned.

Noo, a few years after, maybe twa or three,
The same beggarman cam’ o’er the lea,
Saying, “Auld wife, for courtesy,
Would ye lodge a beggarman?"”

“A beggar, a beggar I’ll ne’er lodge again,
For I aince had a dochter, ane o’ my a1n,
But awa’ wi’ the beggars she has gane,
I dinna ken whence nor where.”

“Auld wifie, auld wifie, what would ye gie,
A sight o’ your ain dochter aince mair tae see,
Wi’ ane on her back an’ ane at her knee,
An’ ane on the road comin’ hame?

“For yonder she’s comin’ tae your bower,
Wi’ silks an’ satins an’ mony’s the flower.”
An’ she lifted up her hands an’ she praised the hour
She gaed wi’ the beggarman.

Lizzie Higgins sings The Beggar Man

A beggar, a beggar cam ower the lea,
He was asking lodgings for charity.
He was asking lodgings for charity,
“Wid ye loo a beggar man-o,
Lassie, wi ma tow row ray?”

“A beggar, a beggar, I’ll never loo again.
I had a dochter and Jeannie was her name.
I had a dochter and Jeannie was her name;
She’s run awa with the beggar man-o,
Laddie, wi ma tow row ray.

“I’ll bend my back an I’ll boo my knee
An I’ll pit a black patch oer my ee.
And a beggar, a beggar they’ll tak me to be
An awa wi you a’ll gang-o,
Laddie, wi ma tow row ray.”

“Oh lassie, oh lassie, yer far too young
An ye hannae got the cant o the beggin tongue.
Ye hannae got the cant o the beggin tongue
An wi me ye winnae gang-o,
Lassie, wi ma tow row ray.”

She’s bent her back and she’s booed her knee
An she’s put a black patch oer her ee.
She has kilted her skirts up aboun her knee
An awa wi him she’s gan-o,
Laddie, wi ma tow row ray.

“Yer dochter Jean is comin ower the lea;
She’s taken hame her bairnies three
She has yin on her back, ay, another on her knee
An the other yin is toddlin hame-o,
Lassie, wi ma tow row ray.”

Lal and Norma Waterson sing The Beggar Man

An old beggar man come over the lea,
Many is the fine tale he tellt me.
“Goodwife, for your charity,
Will you lodge a lame poor man?”

Chorus (after every other verse):
With his tooren ooren an tan ay
Right an ooren fal la doo a day
Right an ooren ooren ay
With his tooren ooren aye doe

He sat himself by the chimney nook
Wi’ all his bags about his crook,
All his bags about his crook,
And so merrily he did sing.

“Well, if I was black as I was white
As the snow that falls on yon fell-dyke,
Dress meself some beggar-like
And along with you I’d gang.”

“Lassie, lassie, you’re over young,
You hannae got the cant o’ the begging tongue,
Hannae got the cant o’ the begging tongue,
So along ye cannae gang.”

“But I’ll bend my back and beck my knee,
And I’ll put a black patch on my e’e,
And for a beggar they’ll take me,
So along wi’ you I’ll gang.”

All the doors being locked quite tight,
The old woman rose in the middle of the night,
The old woman rose in the middle of the night
To find the old man gone.

Well, she ran to the cupboard, likewise to the chest,
All things there and nothing missed.
Clasped her hands, saying, “God be blessed,
I’ve lodged an honest old man.”

The breakfast was ready and the table was laid
And the old woman went for to look for the maid:
The sheets were cold and the bed was made,
She’s away wi’ the lame poor man.

Seven long years have passed and gone,
This same old beggar come back again.
“Goodwife, for your charity,
Will you lodge a lame poor man?”

“Well, I never lodged any but the one,
He with me only daughter’s gone,
He with me only daughter’s gone,
And I chose you to believe.”

“If it’s your daughter ye want to see,
She’s got two bairnies on her knee,
Got two bairnies on her knee
And another one comin’ round.

“Yonder she sits, yonder she stands,
The finest lady in all Scotland.
She has gold at her command
Since she went wi’ the lame poor man.”

Danny Spooner sings The Gaberlunzie Man

O a beggar, a beggar cam’ ower yon lea,
And mony fine tales he hae telt tae me,
Sayin’ guid wife fae ye’r charity
Will ye lodge a beggar man,
Lal lal tee too roo ree.

The nicht was cauld and the carl was wat,
And doon ahint the ingle he sat,
And ma daughters shoother he gang tae clap
And aye he ranted an sang
Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

O if I was black as I am white,
As the snaw that lies on yonder dyke,
I wad dress mysel’ some beggar-like,
And awa wi’ ye I’d gang
Laddie tae ma too roo ree.

O lassie, O lassie ye’r ower young
And ye haena get the cant o’ the beggin’ tongue,
No ye haena get the cant o’ the beggin’ tongue
And wi me ye canna gang,
Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

O I’ll bend my back and I’ll crook ma knee
And I’ll pit a black patch ower ma e’e,
And a beggar’s lassie they’ll tak’ me tae be,
Syne awa’ wi ye I’ll gang,
Laddie tae ma too roo ree.

Then atween the twa they made a plot
Tae rise twa hours afore the cock
And sae cannily they slippit the lock
And awa through the fields they ran,
Laddie tae ma too roo ree.

In the morning time the auld wife rose
And at her leisure pit on her claise;
Tae the servants bed she then did go
Tae spier for the silly puir man,
Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

She’s gaen tay the bed where the beggar lay,
But the strae was cauld and he was away.
And she’s clappit her hands crying “Welladay,
Is there ony o’ oor guid gear gane?”
Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

Some ran tae the coffer and some tae the kist,
But naethin’ was awa’ that could be missed,
And she danced her lane, crying, “Praise be the blessed
I’ve lodged an honest auld man.”
Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

Ah some did rin and some did ride
Tae find the place fa’ they did hide,
But they couldna find fa they did bide
As in the brae they lay.
Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

When years had passed some twa or three
That same beggar carl cam’ ower the lea,
Saying “Guid wife for ye’r charity
Will ye lodge a silly puir man?”
Lassie tae ma too roo ree.

O no, O no, I’ll not lodge again
For I ance had a dochter ain o ma ain,
But awa’ wi a beggin’ man she’s gane
And I dinna ken whence na whar.
Laddie tae ma too roo ree.

He said, “Yonder she’s comin’ ower yon lea
Wi mony a fine tale tae tell tae ye,
She’s a baby donlin’ at her knee
And another yen coming hame.
Lassie tae ma too roo ree.”

“O yonder she’s comin’ tae your bower,
In silk and satin and mony a flower.”
And the guid wife rose and she blessed the hour
She’d gane wi’ the beggin’ man.
Laddie tae ma too roo ree

Maggie Murphy sings Clinkin’ O’er the Lea

As I went clinkin’ o’er the lea,
The finest wee lad I did see
Looking for his charity,
“Would you lodge a lame poor man?”

For the night being wet and it being cold
She took pity on a poor old soul,
She took pity on a poor old soul
And she bade him for to sit down.

Chorus:
With his toura noura nontanee
Right tonouran folla dooadee
Right tonouran nouranee
With his toura noura nidoh.

But he got himself in the chimney nook
With all his bags behind the crook,
All his bags behind the crook
Right merrily he did sing.
With his toura … etc.

’Twas at the fire they made the plot
To be ready at the crowing of the cock,
To be ready at the crowing of the cock
And alongst with him she’d gang.
With his toura … etc.

For all the doors being locked quite tight
The old woman rose in the middle of the night.
The old woman rose in the middle of the night
To find the old man gone.

For she run to the cupboard, likewise to the chest
All things there and nothing missed.
Clapping her hands and the dear be blesseds,
Wasn’t he the honest old man.
With his toura … etc.

When the breakfast was ready and the table laid
The old woman went to waken the maid.
The bed was there and the maid was gone,
She’d away with a lame poor man.
With his toura … etc.

For seven years passed and gone
And this old beggar came back again,
Looking for his charity:
“Would you lodge a lame poor man?”

“For I never lodged any but the one
And with him my one daughter did gang.
And I choose you to be the very one
And I’ll have you to be gone.”
With his toura … etc.

“If it’s your one daughter you want to see,
She has two bairns on her knee.
She has two bairns on her knee
And a third one’s coming on.

“For yonder she sits and yonder she stands,
The fairest lady in all Scotland.
She has servants at her command
Since she went with the lame poor man.”
With his toura … etc.

Lisa Knapp sings Beggar, Beggar

A beggar, a beggar cam over the lea,
He was asking lodgings for charity.
He was asking lodgings for charity,
“Could you love a beggar man-o,
Lassie, with my tow row ray?”

“A beggar, a beggar, I could never love again.
For I had one daughter and Jeannie was her name.
For I had one daughter and Jeannie was her name;
She’s ran away with the begging man-o,
Laddie, with my tow row ray.

“I’ll bend my back and I’ll bow my knee
I’ll put a black patch over my eye.
And I’ll kilt my skirts up above my knee
And away with you I’ll ran, ran,
Laddie, with my tow row ray.”

“Lassie, oh lassie, you are far too young
And you haven’t got the cant of the begging tongue.
Oh you ain’t got the cant of the begging tongue
And with me you will not gang-o,
Laddie, with my tow row ray.”

But she bent her back and she bowed her knee
She put a black patch over her eye.
And she’s kilted her skirts up above her knee
And away wi him she’s aan-o,
Lassie, with my tow row ray.

“Your daughter Jean is coming over the lea;
She’s bringing home her babies three
She has one on her back and another on her knee
Anrs the other one is toddlin home-o,
Lassie, with my tow row ray.”

June Tabor sings The Auld Beggarman

As I was a-linking o’er the lea,
The finest weel that I ever did see
Looking for his charity,
“Would you lodge a lame poor man?”

For the night being wet and it being cold
She took pity on the poor old soul,
She took pity on the poor old soul
And she bade him to sit down.

Chorus (after every other verse):
With his tooran nooran nan tan nee
Right ton nooran fol the doo-a-dee
Toraan nooran noraan nee
With his tooran nooran-i-do

He sat himself in the chimbley neuk
And the bonny young daughter gave him the look.
With all his bags behind the crook
Right merrily he did sing.

Now he grew canty and she was fain,
But little did her mother ken
Just what the two of them were saying
As they sat sae thrag.

“O if I was black as I am white
Like the snow on yon fell-dyke,
I’d dress myself so beggar-like
And away with you I’d gang.”

“O lassie, lassie, you’re far too young,
And you haven’t got the lilt of the begging tongue,
You haven’t got the lilt of the begging tongue,
So with you cannot gang.”

“I’ll burden my back and I’ll bend my knee,
I’ll draw a black patch o’er my e’e,
And for a beggar they’ll take me,
And away with you I’ll gang.”

For all that the doors were locked quite tight,
The old woman rose in the middle of the night,
The old woman rose in the middle of the night
For to find the old man gone.

She’s run to the cupboard, likewise to the chest,
All things there and nothing missed.
Clapping her hands and the dear be blessed,
Wasn’t he an honest old man?

When the breakfast was ready and the table laid
The old woman went for to waken the maid:
The bed was there but the maid was gone,
Away with the lame poor man.

Now seven years were passed and gone,
And this old beggar came back again
Looking for his charity,
“Will you lodge a lame poor man?”

“I never lodged any but the one,
And with him my one daughter did gang,
And I chose you to be the very one
AndI’ll have you to be gone.”

“If it’s your daughter you want to see,
She has two bairnies on her knee,
She has two bairnies on her knee
And a third one coming round.

“For yonder she sits, yonder she stands,
The fairest lady in all Scotland.
She has servants at her command
Since she went with the lame poor man.”

Arthur Watson sings The Auld Beggarman

An auld beggarman cam ower the lea,
Wi many’s a fine tale tae tell tae me;
“O guidwife for your charity,
Wad ye lodge a beggarman?”

Chorus (after each verse):
Liddle el ti tow row ray

An the nicht wis cauld, the carle wis wet,
Intae the ingle neuk he sat;
He’s taen his meal pyoks aff his back,
An aye he rantit an he sang.

An fen the auldwife she wis fast asleep,
Intae the dother’s bed he did creep;
Intae the dother’s bed he did creep,
He wis a gey auld beggarman.

“An noo if I wis black as I am white,
Like the snaw that lies ahin yon dyke;
I’d dress masel fu beggar-like,
An awa wi you I’d gang.”

“Aye, but lassie, lassie ye are far ower young,
An ye hanna got the cant nor the beggin tongue;
Ye hanna got the cant or the beggin tongue,
An wi me ye canna gyang.

“Aye, but I’ll bend my back and I’ll boo ma knee,
I’ll pit a black patch ower ae ee;
An for a beggar they’ll tak me,
An awa wi you I’ll gyang.”

Noo these twa thegither they hae laid up a plot,
Tae rise twa oors afore the fowk;
Sae cannily he’s slippit the lock,
An it’s oot ower the fields they ran.

An it’s early that mornin the auldwife arose,
An cannily pit on her claes;
An stracht tae the servant’s bed she gaes,
Tae speir for the peer auld man.

An the servant gaed far the auld man lay,
The sheets wis cauld, he wis away;
She’s lifted up her hands, crying, “Weel-a-day!
Has ony o oor gweed gear gane?”

An some ran tae the coffer an some ran tae the kist,
But nothin wis awa that could be missed;
She’s lifted up her hands, crying, “Praise be tae the Blessed!
That we hae lodged an honest auld man.”

“Noo that nothin is awa that we can learn,
There’s kye tae milk, there’s milk tae kirn;
Gae but tae the room, lass, an wauken up the bairn,
An aye, an bid her come speedily ben.”

So the servant gaed far the dother lay,
The sheets wis cauld, she wis away;
The sheets wis cauld an she wis away,
She wis awa wi the beggar man.

An it’s some rade on horseback, some ran on fit,
It’s aa bit the auldwife, she wisna fit;
She’s hirpled up an doun fae hip tae hip,
An aye she has cursed an banned.

Far awa oot ower the lea,
Fu snug in a glen far nane could see;
These twa mi muckle sport an glee,
Fae a new cheese cut a whang.

Noo a few years later, mebbe twa, mebbe three,
That same auld beggar man cam ower the lea;
“O guidwife for your cherity,
Wad ye lodge a beggar man?”

“O noo a beggarman, a beggarman I’d never lodge again,
I haed a dother, een o ma ain;
I haed a dother, Jeannie wis her name,
An she’s awa wi a beggar man.”

“Aye, bit aulwifie, aulwifie fit wad ye dee,
A sicht o yer ain daughter Jean tae see;
A sicht o yer ain daughter Jeannie for tae see,
Her that’s awa wi the beggar man?”

“For yonder she’s comin oot ower the lea,
Wi many’s a fine tale tae tell tae ye;
She’s a bairn on her back, she’s anither at her knee,
She’s anither on the road comin hame.

“An it’s yonder she’s comin intae the bower,
Wi silks an satins an mony’s a flooer;
She’s lifted up her airms an she’s praised the oor,
She’s awa wi the beggar man.”

Jim and Susie Malcolm sing The Gaberlunzie Man

The pawky auld carle cam o’er the lea
Wi’ mony guid-e’ens and guid-days tae me,
Sayin’, “Guid wife for your charity
Would you lodge a leal poor man?”

Chorus (after each verse):
Laddie wi my tow-ro-ae.

The nicht being cauld, the carle being wat,
It’s doon ayant the ingle he sat.
My dochter’s shouthers he began tae clap
And cadgily ranted and sang.

Between the twa was made a plot,
They’d rise a wee afore the cock
And wilily they shot the lock
And fast to the bent they are gane.

The aul wife gaed whaur the beggar layu,
The strae was cauld, and he was away.
She clappit her hands cryin “Waladay!
For some of our gear will be gane!”

The servant gaed whaur the dochtor lay,
The sheets were cauld, she was away.
And fast to the guid wife she gan say,
“She’s awa wi the beggarman.”

“O fy gar ride and fy gar rin
And haste ye find these traitors again!
For she’s be burnt and he’s be slain,
The waefu’ Gaberlunzieman!”

Meanwhile farhind oot o’er the lea,
Fu-snug in a glen where nane could see,
The twa wi’ kindly sport and glee
Would lo’e the hale day lang.

Oh the lady cam riding o’er the lea,
Efter mony years her guidwife tae see.
She had wedded a lord, nae begger he,
That had gaed as the beggarman.

Well the lady came riding o’er the strand
Wi’ fower and twenty at her command,
She was the brawest in the land
And she went wi’ the beggarman.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Greer Gilman for the transcription of Lal and Norma Waterson’s singing.