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William Douglas

Maxwelton Braes are bonnie
Whare early fa’s the dew,
Whare me and Annie Laurie
Made up the promise true;
Made up the promise true
And ne’er forget will I;
And for Bonnie Annie Laurie,
I’d lay down my head and die.

She’s backit like the peacock,
She’s breistit like the swan,
She’s jimp about the middle,
Her waist ye weel may span;
Her waist ye weel may span,
And she has a rolling eye;
And for Bonnie Annie Laurie,
I’d lay down my head and die.

Footnote:  Last week’s song ‘Bonnie Annie Laurie’ by Lady John Scott was based on a much older air ‘Maxwelton Braes’ by William Douglas, and as promised we now bring you his  original two verses in praise of his love, Annie Laurie, She was born on 16 December 1682, the youngest of seven children, Her parents were Sir Robert Laurie of Maxwelton and his second wife, Jean, daughter of Riddell of Minto, She, as the song describes, was a noted beauty, and she inspired William Douglas of Fingland, a cadet of the Queensberry family, to write the above verses in her praise, Douglas was a Jacobite and had to flee Scotland to the Low Counties but Bonnie Annie Laurie seems to have got over his departure rather quickly and after several love-affairs married Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch in 1710. Apparently it was a very happy marriage, William Douglas eventually received a government pardon and returned to Scotland and was seen at a ball in Edinburgh by Annie’s cousin, Mrs Riddle of Glenriddle, Mrs Riddle wrote to her cousin mentioning that William had returned and received in return the terse comment – ‘I trust that he has forsaken his treasonable opinions and that he is content’. She died in 1761 at the age of seventy-nine but thanks to her former swain, William Douglas, and Lady John Scott, her name, in song, lives on forever.



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