Skye Boat Song (Over the Sea to Skye)
DESCRIPTION: "Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing... Carry the lad that's born to be king Over the sea to Skye." The singer grieves over the dead of Culloden, and wishes Bonnie Prince Charlie a safe escape
AUTHOR: Words: Harold Boulton / Music: Annie MacLeod
EARLIEST DATE: 1884 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: Jacobites ship escape sea royalty
1720-1788 - Life of Charles Edward Stuart, "Bonnie Prince Charlie"
1722-1790 - Life of Flora MacDonald
1745-1746 - '45 Jacobite rebellion led by Bonnie Prince Charlie
Apr 16, 1746 - Battle of Culloden. The Jacobite rebellion is crushed, most of the Highlanders slain, and Charlie forced to flee for his life.
Jun 28-29, 1746 - Aided by Flora MacDonald, and dressed as her maidservant, Charles flees from North Uist to Skye in the Hebrides.
Sep 20, 1746 - Charles finally escapes to France
FOUND IN: Britain US(MW,So)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Brewster 79, "Speed, Bonnie Boat" (1 fragment plus a copy of Boulton's original text)
Moore-Southwest 61, "Flora MacDonald and the King" (1 text, 1 tune)
Jack, p. 260, "The Skye Boat Song" (1 text)
Fireside, p. 18, "Skye Boat Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
NLScotland, RB.m.143(121) "Over the Sea to Skye," Poet's Box (Dundee), c.1890
cf. "Flora MacDonald's Lament" (subject)
cf. "Twa Bonnie Maidens" (subject)
NOTES: It is ironic to note that, while this song had a certain vogue as an art piece, the only traditional collections seem to have been in North America.
Susan Maclean Kybett, in Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Biography of Charles Edward Stuart (Dodd, Mead, 1988), pp. 232-233, makes an interesting observation: Although the song says that Flora (MacDonald) will keep watch over Charlie during the passage: "It was actually the Prince who kept watch by Flora's weary head during their storm-tossed crossing of the sea of the Hebrides. Having been up the last two nights sewing, she fell asleep while Charles sang Jacobite songs, such as 'The Twenty-ninth of May' from the rising of 1715 and 'The King Shall Enjoy His Own Again....'" - RBW
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