DESCRIPTION: The singer's parents lock her in a room but she goes out the window when they go to town. She meets her sweetheart who tells her "he was listed in Bredalbane's Grenadiers"
EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (Greig/Duncan6)
KEYWORDS: courting parting father mother soldier
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Greig/Duncan6 1091, "Bredalbane" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "Locks and Bolts" [Laws M13] (theme: girl locked away by father) and references there
NOTES [578 words]: Maybe this should refer to "Breadalbane" rather than "Bredalbane." There was a Breadalbane Regiment in the 1790s that included Grenadiers. See, for example, "An account of the trial of eight Soldiers belonging to Breadalbane Regiment of Fencibles, for a mutiny in the city of Glasgow, four of whom received sentence of death, three of which received a pardon at the place of execution, and the fourth was shot on Tuesday the 27th day of January 1795" (source: National Library of Scotland site). - BS
It should be noted that most regiments had a grenadier company -- generally composed of the tallest, healthiest men; presumably they were the ones the girls were most attracted to.
The first mention I can find of a Breadalbane with a standing army is "Grey John" Campbell (1635-1717), who in the reign of Charles II declared himself Viscount Breadalbane, raised a force, and started causing trouble. Charles II, not liking people who engaged in self-promotion, took away all three of Campbell's claimed titles -- but made him Earl Breadalbane and Holland (Thomson, p. 79).
Two of Grey John's sons fought on the Jacobite side at Sheriffmuir, though the old man himself was too cagey to be involved (Thomson, p. 83).
Grey John himself had in 1690 submitted some "Proposals Concerning the Highlanders" to William III -- an idea William did not accept at the time, but he did start raising troops from the Clans (Prebble, p. 21). Such forces as the crown accepted were, however, disbanded by 1717 due to fears about their loyalty (Prebble, pp. 25-26). In 1725, a few new companies were recruited, to become the famous Black Watch (Prebbler, pp. 26-27), but they were not associated with Breadalbane.
By the 1790s, though, the Jacobite cause was dead and the Highlands were considered a good sourdce for troops; several regiments were authorized (Prebble, p. 272). The fourth Earl of Breadalbane, a descendant of the uncle of Grey John, was one of those involved in raising these 23 regiments (Prebble, p. 273). One of these was called at the time the Perthshire Regiment of Fencibles, but it was composed mostly of men from Breadalbane. The Earl of Bredalbane ended up raising two battalions in 1793 (Prebble, pp. 320-321), which came to be known as the Breadalbane Fencibles. A third battalion was added in 1794.
According to Brander, p. 81, this unit mutinied in 1795, with four of the soldiers being condemned to death. Several others were sentenced to 1000 to 1500 lashes (Prebble, p. 349). Three of the four men sentenced to death were reprieved at the very last moment (Prebble, p. 351), but one was executed.
After that, it became harder to recruit for the regiment (Prebble, p. 358). Two of the battalions were reduced in 1798 (so Brander, p. 210) or 1799 (so Prebble, p. 358); only the third battalion, which was willing to serve in Ireland (at the time of the 1798 rebellion, note!) was retained. The whole was disbanded in 1802.
This raises interesting questions about the dating of the song. Was the girl imprisoned because she loved a solder -- or because she loved a soldier of particularly ill repute? If, for instance, the date of the song is 1715, she might have loved a Jacobite soldier while her parents were Hannoverian. If we date it to 1795, it might be one of the mutinous soldiers, whom her parents did not want her to approach. Or -- who knows -- maybe her parents just didn't like Campbells. Without more information, we can't really tell. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.6
- Brander: Michael Brander, The Scottish Highlanders and their Regiments, 1971 (I use the 1996 Barnes & Noble edition)
- Prebble: John Prebble, Mutiny: Highland Regiments in Revolt 1743-1804, Martin Secker & Warburg, 1975 (I use the 1984 Penguin edition)
- Thomson: Oliver Thomson, The Great Feud: The Campbells & The Macdonalds, Sutton Publishing, 2000
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