The title page of the 1881 printing from
which the following ballads are copied, says:
MINSTRELSY OF THE SCOTTISH
Historical and Romantic
In the Southern Counties
of Scotland; With a Few of Modern Date,
Founded Upon Local Tradition
There are Scott’s notes about the
selections then an Introduction then an Appendix to Introduction. The
latter contains a letter from The Earl of Surrey to Henry VII giving an
account of the Storm of Jedburgh. There is also a passage extracted from
the Memoirs of Sir Robert Carey telling of his governance of the East
March in his father’s absence. There is a Bond of Alliance or
Feud-stanching Betwixt the Clans of Scot and Ker: A.D. 1529, written
after the battle of Melrose, but the alliance didn’t last long. The
feud again broke out in 1533 when Sir Walter Scott (of that day) was
slain in the streets of Edinburgh by the Kers. There is an
Excommunication of Border Robbers by Richard Fox, Bishop of Durham, in
the Time of Henry VII. There also is a contract betwixt the King and
Several of his Subjects (A.D. 1612) in which the Borderers renounced
their vocation of theft and robbery. Then the ballads begin. Some have
music with them. Some are written as poems with reference to the tune to
which it was sung.
There is a song about the Battle of
Otterbourne which begins:
It fell about the Lammas tide,
When the muir-men with their hay
The doughty Douglas bound him to ride
Into England, to drive a prey.
He chose the Gordons and the Graemes
With them the Lindesays, light and gay.
The notes say the Gordons were originally
settled up on the lands of Gordon and Huntly in the shire of Berwick,
and are therefore, of Border extraction.
Much history is included in the notes of
this edition and many stories are told about the Border clans. Some of
the included ballads are:
The Song of the Outlaw Murray
The Lochmaben Harper
Jamie Telfer of the fair Dodhead
The Death of Featherstonehaugh
Johnny Armstrong’s Good Night
The Lads of Wamphray
The Battle of Philiphaugh
The Gallant Grahames
The Battle of Pentland Hill
The Battle of Loudon Hill
The Battle of Bothwell Bridge
The Douglas Tragedy
Proud Lady Margaret
Sir Hugh Le Blond
Graeme and Bewick
The Lament of the Border Widow
Johnnie of Braidslee
The Dowie Dens of Yarrow
The Gay Goss-hawk
The Demon Lover
Rose the Red and White Lilly
The Wife of Usher’s Well
The Cruel Sister
The Queen’s Marie
The Bonny Hind
Thomas the Rhymer
The notes for the following ballad
about Lord Ewie say the reciter has confused some of his lineage, but
Sir Ralph Evre or Ewie or Evers was one of the bravest men of a military
race. The notes say a broad letter was patent letters of nobility. He
was enobled by Henry VIII for prosecuting the Border warfare. The
reference to the Queen’s brother - The Earl of Hereford, afterwards
Duke of Somerset, and brother of Queen Jane Seymour, made a furious
incursion into Scotland in 1545. Ewie himself was slain in the battle of
Ancram Moor, fought between him and the Earl of Angus in 1546.
Lord Ewie was as brave a man
As ever stood in his degree;
The King has sent him a broad letter,
All for his courage and loyalty.
Lord Ewie is of gentill blode,
A knighte’s son sooth to say;
He is kin to the Nevill and to the Percy,
And is married upon a Willowbe.
A noble Knight him trained upp,
Sir RafeBulmer is the man I mean;
At Flodden field, as men do say,
No better capten there was seen.
He led the men of Bishopricke,
When Thomas Ruthal bore the sway:
Though the Scottish Habs were stout and true,
The English bowmen wan that day.
And since he has kepte Berwick upon
The town was never better kept I wot;
He maintained leal and order along the Border,
And still was ready to prick the Scot.
The country then lay in great peace,
And grain and grass was sown and won;
Then plenty fill’d the market crosse,
When Lord Ewie kept Berwick town.
With our Queene’s brother he hath been,
And rode rough shod through Scotland of late;
They have burn’d the Mers and Tiviotdale,
And knocked full loud at Edinburgh gate.
Now the King hath sent him a broad
A Lord of Parliament to be:
It were well if every nobleman
Stood like Lord Ewie in his degree.