Up and Waur Them A', Willie (II)
DESCRIPTION: In battle against the Whigs the Highland standard loses its top and "second-sighted Sandy said, We'll do nae gude at a'." In battles the Whigs showed fear, but if you ask who won the day: "We baith did fight, and baith were beat, And baith did rin awa"
EARLIEST DATE: 1821 (Hogg2)
KEYWORDS: rebellion nonballad Jacobites
Nov 13, 1715 - Battle of Sheriffmuir
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Hogg2 5, "Up and Waur Them A', Willie" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL:James Kinsley, editor, Burns: Complete Poems and Songs (shorter edition, Oxford, 1969) #212, pp. 320-322, "Up and warn a' Willie" (1 text, 1 tune, from 1788)
NOTES: Hogg2: .".., there not being a Willie of any note in the whole Jacobite army. So that the chorus must have been an older one, adapted, not improbably, from a song of King William's time."
Hogg2, regarding the standard, quoting George Charles of Alloa: "The Earl of Mar erected the Chevalier's standard there, on the 6th of September, 1715, and proclaimed him King of Scotland, England, France, and Ireland, &c.... It is reported, that when this standard was first erected the ornamental ball on the top fell off, which depressed the spirits of the superstitious Highlanders, who deemed it ominous of misfortune in the cause for which they were then appearing."
For a political anti-Whig song to the same tune and format see Robert Burns, The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns (New Lanark,2005), p. 277, "Election Ballad for Westerha'." - BS
That John Erskine, Earl of Mar (1675-1732) could mess up even something this elementary is easy to imagine. He had signed the Act of Union joining England and Scotland, then tried to have it repealed (Fry/Fry, p. 191). The accession of George I caused him to send what Magnusson, p. 562, calls a "grovelling letter of loyalty," but George snubbed him (Mitchison, p. 322) and Mar decided to rebel and join the Jacobites. He had to leave London in disguise aboard a collier, He raised the Jacobite standard -- but he hadn't told his alleged King James VIII and III! (Magnusson, p. 563). Naturally it took the Old Pretender some time to arrive.
Mar meanwhile managed to raise a mixed force of Highlanders and Lowlanders -- but at Sheriffmuir, on November 13, 1715, could not beat an army he outnumbered at least two to one (Magnusson, pp. 564-565). Nor could he hold together his army after that (Magnusson, p. 566). The only other significant Jacobite field force had surrendered at Preston at almost the same time (Fry/Fry, p. 192. This was the force led by Lord Derwentwater, hero of the ballad of the same name). Combine the incompetent Mar with the unenthusiastic Old Pretender, and you had a disaster. The reference to "baith" sides running away is presumably to Sheriffmuir; both armies at that battle had their right wings flee (Mitchison, p. 323).
One wonders what would have happened had "second-sighted Sandy" told those around him that Mar would flee the country in 1716, to live in exile with the Old Pretender -- and become a double agent selling secrets to Westminster (OxfordCompanion, p. 616). The man had the brains of a sea slug, and even less principle. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
- Fry/Fry: Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry, The History of Scotland, 1982 (I use the 1995 Barnes & Noble edition)
- Magnusson: Magnus Magnusson, Scotland: The Story of a Nation, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000
- Mitchison: Rosalind Mitchison, A History of Scotland, second edition, Methuen, 1982
- OxfordCompanion: John Cannon, editor, The Oxford Companion to British History, Oxford, 1997
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