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Scottish German History
Germany Thomas
Thanks to Wolfgang Schlick for sending this in


Oh! my Love's in Germany

Oh, my love's in Germany, Send him hame, send him hame,
Oh, my love's in Germany, Send him hame.
Oh, my love's in Germany,
Lang leagues 0' land and sea
Frae Westrey and frae me, Send him hame, send him hame.
Oh, my love's in Germany, Send him hame.

Oh, weary fa' the war, Send him hame, send him hame,
That tysed my love sae rar, Send him hame.
Oh, were he hame again,
How blythe we'd be and rain,
But he's rar ayont the main, Send him hame, send him hame.
Oh, my love's in Germany, Send him hame.

Oh, wad some birdie say, Send him hame, send him hame,
To my sodger far away, Send him hame.
How lonely sighs his May,
Conntin' year and month and day,
For oh! her heart is wae, Send him hame, send him hame.
Oh, my love's in Germany, Send him hame.

Oh! my Love’s in Germany is one of the ancient Orkney Melodies collected by Colonel David Balfour of Balfour [and Trenaby – 1811-1887]. When the Collection was first published by Ballantyne, hanson & co., Edinburgh, in 1885, Colonel Balfour made the following note about the song:

"The many versions of this song still orally current in Orkney, its many local allusions, and the name of "Germany Thomas," confirm my belief in the uniform local tradition that its author was Colonel Thomas Traill of Holland, in Orkney, founder of an important family in that county, but as an officer of rank under Gustavus Adolphus, generally known as "Germany Thomas," and the lamenting lady his wife, Mariota or May Craigie."

Howie Firth, the editor of the reprint of Balfour’s collection makes the following notes within his Foreword:

" ... An example of the surprising depth that can be found below the surface of this collection comes with the song 'Oh, my Love's in Germany.' The song is well known in Scotland, and the tune was indeed taken by Burns for 'Ye Jacobites by Name.' Balfour says that there was a local tradition that it was originally composed by Colonel Thomas Traill of Holland, in Papa Westray, who went to join the forces of Gustavus Adolphus in Germany about the year 1630.

Among the points Balfour notes is the name 'Germany Thomas' given to the tune, and it is very interesting to look at one of the notes that Ernest Marwick appended to his classic anthology of Orkney verse. He quoted from a booklet published in 1883 by Dr William Traill of Woodwick, who also spoke of the name 'Germany Thomas' being remembered by the Traills of Holland. Colonel Traill's reputation as a writer of songs is strengthened by a song given by Dr Traill and entitled 'Till All the Floods Run Dry,' which is the earliest of the various versions of a song that Robert Bums altered and adopted into 'The Red, Red Rose.' According to Dr Traill, there had long been a tradition in the family that 'Germany Thomas' had written the original:

Farewell, farewell, my dearest dear
Now farewell for a while,
Tho' I must go, I'll come again,
If 'twere ten thousand mile.
Ten thousand mile, my dearest dear,
Through Flanders, France and Spain,
My heart can never be at ease,
Till I see thee again.

Certainly the words seem to fit the departure of a soldier for the Thirty Years War. Sweden in the 17th century offered military and commercial opportunities to Scots; Orkney had had a run of bad harvests in the years between 1623 and 1636, and indeed the scale of Orcadian emigration can be seen in the figure quoted by Hugh Marwick of 78 Orcadians who between 1613 and 1650 became citizens of the Norwegian town of Bergen.

The Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus had in his service no fewer than 34 Scots colonels and 50 lieutenant-colonels, many of whom had been enlisted in a big recruiting drive in the period 1629-1631. Amongst the veterans of Swedish service who later went back to a distinguished military career in Scotland were the two Leslies, Alexander and David. James King, who was born in the island of Hoy in Orkney in 1589, entered Swedish service in 1615, became in 1632 a colonel and two years later Major-General.

Others of the King family were also in the Swedish service, and it seems very likely indeed that serving with Gustavus Adolphus there was a very strong Orcadian contingent, amongst them Colonel Thomas Traill of Holland in Papa Westray, whose thoughts in Germany were with his wife in Orkney:

Oh! all our friends we ne'er shall please
They look with angry eye;
But I will love thee faithfullie
Till all the floods run dry.
Till all the seas run dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt with the sun,
I still will love thee faithfullie,
Till all these things be done.
... "

After his military service in the Thirty Years War ‘Germany Thomas’ returned to his estates in Orkney. His home was Holland Farm (that is "the farm on the high land") the biggest farm on Papa Westray where he lived for the rest of his life as Laird of Papa Westray. As one of the richest Orcadians of his time he had control of bigger parts of the northern isles of Orkney, especially on Papa Westray, Westray and North Ronaldsay. Together with his wife Mariota they had later on 5 children (George, Patrick, Thomas, William and Elizabeth).

You can visit Wolfgang's Orkney & Shetland web site at http://homepages.compuserve.de/WFKSchlick/OrkneyundShetland/index001.htm but it is in German!


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