DESCRIPTION: "Killy Krankie is my song, Sing and dance it all day long, From my elbow to my wrist, Then we do the double twist." "Broke my arm, I broke my arm, a-swinging pretty Nancy." The dancers are encouraged into other difficult positions
EARLIEST DATE: 1790 (Johnson's Museum #292, according to Dick)
KEYWORDS: playparty dancing
July 27, 1689 - Battle of Killiecrankie
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Hogg1 19, "Killiecrankie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Whitelaw-Song, p. 478, "Killiecrankie" (1 text)
Wolford, p. 61=WolfordRev, p. 175, "Kilamakrankie" (1 text)
Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 111-112, "[Killy Kranky]" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-Southern, p. 4, "Killy Kranky" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hudson 54, pp. 170-171, "Killiecrankie" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: James C Dick, The Songs of Robert Burns (London: Henry Frowde, 1903 ("Digitized by Microsoft")),#300 p. 282, "Where Hae Ye Been Sae Braw, Lad?"
cf. "Sad Condition" (lyrics)
cf. "Three Miles to Corry" (tune, per Hogg1)
NOTES: Despite the Ritchie spelling, which I assume will be the best-known form of this piece, is no doubt in my mind that the title of this song derives from the battle of Killiecrankie (1689). But her words have obviously wandered far, and the tune does not match either of the two I know as "Killiecrankie."
Ritchie says that this "was both a game and a song and not much of either one. The players sang the song while they 'wound the grapevine,' ... all of which Uncle Jason [from whom she learned the song] avowed was just a good excuse to get their arms around each other."
Hudson's text (with no tune) doesn't appear to be a playparty, and clearly derives from a Scots original, but appears confused ("I've fought on land and I've fought on sea, At home I've fought my auntie O"?!). I'm still looking for an intact version of this song.
The Battle of Killiecrankie effectively ended the fight in Scotland on behalf of James II in the Glorious Revolution.
Dundee (John Graham of Claverhouse, first Viscount Dundee, 1648-1689) had had a bad reputation in Scotland until that time for his persecution of Covenanters, and was known as "Black John Graham." But, absent another royalist leader, he was "recycled" as "Bonnie Dundee" (I owe that word "recycled," which is a brilliant description of what happened, to Thomson, p. 81)
Claverhouse led a small Jacobite army in an attack on Williamite forces led by General Hugh Mackay. The Jacobite cause was entirely dependent on Dundee, but he fought in the front line of the battle (he had to prove his courage, and promised that, if he won, he would not join the fray again). The Jacobites won, but Dundee was killed, and that was that. The more so as the victory was not decisive; Mackay kept his forces together, and their losses were not extreme.
Underwood, pp. 378-379, states that Dundee had a vision before the battle, seemingly of a mortally wounded man calling the general to the field of Killiecrankie. Supposedly, every July 27, a red haze can be seen by some (but not all) over the battlefield; this is linked to Dundee's vision. Alexander, p. 134, also reports the vision to Claverhouse, and suggests it might have tempted him to avoid battle, but when Mackay approached, he fought.
(If you think this sounds very much like the story of Duncan Campbell at Ticonderoga -- yes, it does. For the Campbell legend, in addition to Richard Nardin's "The Piper's Refrain," see Borneman, pp. 136-137. Of course, the whole idea of a portent declaring "Meet me at X" goes back to Plutarch's life of Brutus; in section 36, Brutus's "evil spirit" declares that he will meet Brutus at Philippi; p. 255 in Plutarch/Scott-Kilvert. And then Shakespeare got his hands on it -- it's in "Julius Caesar,' Act IV, scene iii -- and from then on, it was pretty much a universal myth.)
Peculiarly, I recently heard a classical recording of the tune "Killiecrankie" (definitely the same melody as that recorded by Archie Fisher and others as a Jacobite tune) which claimed that it came from c. 1600, i.e. well *before* the battle. I have been unable to determine the source of this claim. But I also have heard a classical type call the piece "Gillycrankie" (not sure about the spelling, but the first consonant was pretty definitely a "G"), so what do they know?- RBW
Whitelaw-Song, p. 478, "Killiecrankie" for two texts that Roud assigns #2572. The second is listed above, with Dick and Hogg1, since it shares a verse with Hudson and another very close to Ritchie. Whitelaw-Song note for this version: "This is a fragment of an old song furbished up by Burns for Johnson's Museum." - BS
Last updated in version 3.2
- Alexander: Marc Alexander, A Companion to the Folklore, Myths & Customs of Britain, Sutton Publishing, 2002
- Borneman: Walter R. Borneman, The French & Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America, Harper Collins, 2006
- Plutarch/Scott-Kilvert, Ian Scott-Kilvert, translator, Plutarch, Makers of Rome (being of course a translation of portions of Plutarch's Lives, 1965 (I use the 1987 Penguin edition)
- Thomson: Oliver Thomson, The Great Feud: The Campbells & The Macdonalds, Sutton Publishing, 2000
- Underwood; Peter Underwood: Gazetteer of British, Scottish & Irish Ghosts, originally published as two volumes, A gazetteer of British Ghosts (1971?) and A gazeteer of Scottish and Irish Ghosts (1973?); although the two volumes still have separate title pages, the 1985 Bell edition I use has continuous pagination and a single index
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