Scotlands Songs

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The Gypsy Laddies

-6:19

Hear Jeannie Robertson’s wonderful version of a ballad that is sung in many countries, with varying words and varying tunes.

The gypsies cast a spell over the lady of the castle, and she goes off with them, but they are caught and hanged.


Three gypsies cam tae oor hall door

And oh, but they sang bonny oh

They sang so sweet and too complete

That they stole the heart of our lady oh.


For she cam tripping down the stairs,

Her maidens too before her oh,

And when they saw her weel faured face

They throwed their spell oot owre her oh.


When her good lord came home that night

He was askin for his lady oh,

But the answer the servants gave tae him,

"She’s awa wi the gypsy laddies oh”.


“Gae saddle tae me my bonnie, bonnie black,

My broon it’s ne’er sae speedy oh.

That I may go ridin this long summer day

In search of my true lady oh”


But it's he rode east and he rode west

And he rode through Strathbogie oh

And there he met a gey auld man

That was comin through Strathbogie oh


For it's "Did ye come east or did ye come west

Or did you come through Strathbogie oh

And did ye see a gey lady?

She was followin three gypsy laddies oh"


For it's "I've come east and I've come west

And I've come through Strathbogie oh

And the bonniest lady that ere I saw

She was followin three gypsy laddies oh"


For the very last night that I crossed this river

I had dukes and lords to attend me oh.

But this night I must put in ma warm feet an wide,

An the gypsies widin before me oh.


Last night I lay in a good feather bed,

My own wedded lord beside me oh.

But this night I must lie in a cauld corn barn,

An the gypsies lyin aroon me oh.


For it’s “Will you give up your houses and your lands,

An will you give up your baby oh?

An it's will you give up your own wedded lord

An keep followin the gypsy laddies oh?”


For it's “I'll give up my houses and my lands

An I'll give up my baby oh

An it's I will give up my own wedded lord

And keep followin the gypsy laddies oh”


For there are seven brothers of us all,

We all are wondrous bonnie oh

But this very night we all shall be hanged

For the stealin of the earl’s lady oh


Although this ballad is known far and wide, some singers think it is about a particular Scottish woman who lived in the 1600s, Lady Jean Hamilton of Culzean Castle in Ayrshire. Her husband was the Earl of Cassillis. In England the ballad is sometimes called ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsies’, and in the USA some singers make it happen on a ranch and call the villain who tempts the woman away ‘Blackjack Davie’.


To learn about the tune that Jeannie Robertson sings this ballad [add link for Rovin Ploughboy here]

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