Bonnie House o Airlie, The [Child 199]

DESCRIPTION: Argyle sets out to plunder the home of his enemy Airlie while the latter is away (with Bonnie Prince Charlie?). Argyle summons Lady Airlie, asking for a kiss and threatening ruin to the house if she will not. She refuses; they plunder the house
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: c. 1790 (broadside)
KEYWORDS: feud courting
1640 - Argyle commissioned to clean up certain "unnatural" lords
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber,Bord)) Canada(Mar) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,So)
REFERENCES (24 citations):
Child 199, "The Bonnie House o Airlie" (4 texts)
BronsonSinging 199, "The Bonnie House o Airlie" (4 versions: #1,#11, #12, #13)
Bronson 199, "The Bonnie House o Airlie" (15 versions)
ChambersBallads, pp. 82-84, "The Bonnie House o' Airly" (1 text)
Whitelaw-Song, pp. 545-546, "The Bonnie House o' Airly" (1 text)
Hogg2 76, "Young Airly" (1 text, 1 tune)
GlenbuchatBallad, pp. 217-218, "Airly" (1 short text)
Greig #58, p. 2, "The Bonnie House o' Airlie" (1 text)
GreigDuncan2 233, "The Bonnie Hoose o' Airlie" (9 texts, 5 tunes) {A and E=Bronson's #4 and #10, C=#9, D=#5}
Lyle-Crawfurd1 65, "Airlie House" (1 text)
BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 266-269, "The Bonnie House of Airlie" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #11}
Flanders-Ancient3, pp. 191-192, "The Bonnie House of Airlie" (1 fragment, "The Sacking of Arlee")
Gardner/Chickering 80, "Prince Charlie" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #8}
Ford-Vagabond, pp. 296-299, "The Bonnie House o' Airlie" (1 text)
JHCox 20, "The Bonnie House o' Airlie" (1 text)
Moore-Southwest 37, "Lady Ogalbie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ord, p. 470, "The Bonnie House o' Airlie" (1 text)
MacSeegTrav 15, "The Bonnie House o' Airlie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton/Senior, pp. 70-71, "The Bonny House o' Arlie" (1 text plus 1 fragment, 1 tune) {Bronson's #16}
Leach, pp. 537-538, "The Bonnie House of Airlie" (2 texts)
OBB 135, "The Bonnie House o Airlie" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: R. H. Cromek, Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, (London, 1810), pp. 226-228, "Young Airlie"
Michael Brander, _Scottish and Border Battles and Ballads_, 1975 (page references to the 1993 Barnes & Noble edition), pp. 129-131, "Tne Bonnie House o' Airlie" (1 text, 3 tunes) {#3=Bronson's #12}

Roud #794
John MacDonald, "The Bonnie Hoose O' Airlie" (on Voice17)
Belle Stewart, "The Bonny Hoose o' Airlie" (on FSBBAL2) (on SCStewartsBlair01)
Lucy Stewart, "The Bonnie Hoose o' Airlie" (on LStewart1)

Bodleian, 2806 c.15(264), "The Bonnie House o' Airly" ("It fell on a day, a bonny summer day"), R. McIntosh (Glasgow), 1849-1859; also Firth b.26(179), "The Bonnie House o' Airly"
Murray, Mu23-y1:027, "The Bonnie House o' Airly," James Lindsay Jr. (Glasgow), 19C

cf. "Young Airly" (subject and tune)
Bonnie Den o' Airlie (broadside NLScotland L.C.Fol.70(130b), "Bonnie Den o' Airlie" ("It fell upon a day, on a bonnie simmer's day"), Poet's Box (Dundee), n.d, with no tune indicated but clearly this is meant)
NOTES [799 words]: This song seems to have originated in the period when Scotland was in open rebellion against Charles I over the issue of religion -- Charles had tried to impose an Episcopal prayer book on Scotland; that Presbyterian nation reacted with the Covenant, a defiant rejection of Charles's religious schemes. (For this see, e.g. Mitchison, p. 206ffff.)
Although almost all of Scotland accepted the Covenant, a religious agreement was not a government. The various factions proposed various ways to govern their nation. The two key factions were those headed by Montrose (who still stood by the monarchy, and who would by his military genius later become its chief prop) and Argyle (who was anti-royalist and out for his own profit).
On June 12, 1640, as Charles I was trying to attack Scotland but being delayed by his finances and the increasing unrest of his English subjects, Argyle was empowered by the Scottish parliament (then meeting for the first time without a royal representative) to deal with certain lords as enemies of the Church. One of those under suspicion was the Earl of Airlie (then away in England, apparently to avoid signing the Covenant).
Montrose had taken the lands of Airlie from the Earl's son Lord Ogilvie, but Argyle felt the urge to deal with the house more strenuously.
The earliest copies of the ballad refer to Airlie being present with "King Charlie" (Charles I, reigned 1625-1649). In later versions, "King Charlie" became "(Bonnie) Prince Charlie," a confusion perhaps encouraged by the fact that the Earl of Airlie of 1745 was a follower of Charlie.
Another possibility, mentioned by Cowan on p. 45, is that although the ballad "is usually thought to refer to Argyll'e sacking of Airlie in 1640... it may have originated in an earlier Campbell invasion of the Braes of Angus in 1591." Other than citing an article of his own, however, he gives no evidence for this, and the description above is not enough to identify the incident in the standard histories. There is a logic to the claim, since this was a period of significant conflict between James VI (who had only recently taken power in his own hands) and the Kirk over the relative responsibilities of each (Magnusson, pp. 388-390), but conflicts of that sort were so common as to prove nothing.
Cowan, p. 46, notes that the Argyle of 1640 was a prim presbyterian who surely would not have asked for a kiss; he suggests that this insertion was symbolic: Just as Argyle had plundered and ravaged the lands of Airlie (supposedly causing seven thousand pounds of damage), he was metaphorically ravising his wife as well.
The "B" text in Barry et al is even more confused, it dates itself to the days of "the wars of Roses white and red And in the days of Prince Charlie" -- which is, of course, impossible, since the Wars of the Roses took place two and a half centuries before the Jacobite rebellions, and a century and a half before Airlie's first commission. Nor were any of the royal pretenders of the period named Charles. (Indeed, until the Stuart succession, there was never a member of the English royal family named Charles; it was, after all, a French name!) The context of the version suits the Forty-Five. - RBW
Among the parodies is NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(130b), "Bonnie Den o' Airlie," Poet's Box (Dundee), c.1890.
Hogg2 76 is one of two texts Hogg has entitled "Young Airly." The other is not the Child ballad, though it shares its subject and tune.
Hogg2: "... from the verses in Cromek [i.e. Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song], and a street ballad collated." Cromek's text is one of the ones cited by Child as a source for his version C.
"Cromek died [1812] shortly after the issue [1810] of Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, which was mostly written by Cunningham, though palmed upon Cromek as recovered antiques." (source: J. Ross, The Book of Scottish Poems: Ancient and Modern, (Edinburgh, Edinburgh Publishing Co, 1878), "Allan Cunningham 1784-1842," p. 738; other sources agree)
A side note illustrating a Cunningham forgery: in 1810 Cromek printed "O Who Is This Under My Window?", a version supposedly as sung by Martha Crosbie and a probable source for Robert Burns's "A Red, Red Rose." In 1834, Cunningham, under his own name, printed "Who is this under my window?", a version supposedly sung by Martha Crosbie and a probable source for Robert Burns's "A Red, Red Rose." The difference is that in 1810, Cromek was printing one of Cunningham's "finds" as enhanced for Cromek's benefit, while 24 years later -- and 20 years after Cromek's death -- Cunningham's scholarly objective was to print the song as he really had it from the oral tradition. See Cromek pp. 178-179, "O Who Is This Under My Window?" and Cunningham pp. 419-420, ( Who is this under my window?"). - BS
BibliographyLast updated in version 4.1
File: C199

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