Annotation:Bonny Earl of Murry (The)

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X:1 T:Bonny Earle of Murray, The M:3/4 L:1/8 R:Air B:William Thomson - Orpheus Caledonius, vol. 2 (1733, No. 4, p. 13) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G DE|G3A B A |G2D2d2|B3A Bd|{de}=f4 e d| g3 e e d|e2g2 D E|G3d TA>G|{=F}E4 d e| {ga}b3a {g}e d|e2g2 D E|G3d A>B|G4||

BONNY EARL OF MURRAY. Scottish, Air (3/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. "The Bonny Earl of Murray/Moray" [2] is a 16th century popular ballad appearing in Thompson's Orpheus Caledoneus (1733), Francis Barsanti's Collection of Old Scots Tunes (1742), Thomas Percy's (1729-1811) Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765), Francis Child's great ballad collection (1857, No. 181), and others. Percy notes: "In December, 1591, Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, had made an attempt to seize on the person of his sovereign James VI, but being disappointed, had retired towards the north. The king unadvisedly gave a commission to George Gordon, Earl of Huntley, to pursue Bothwell and his followers with fire and sword. Huntley, under cover of executing that commission, took occasion to revenge a private quarrel he had against James Stewart, Earl of Murray, a relation of Bothwell's. In the night of Feb. 7, 1592, he beset Murray's house, burnt it to the ground, and slew Murray himself; a young nobleman of the most promising virtues, and the very darling of the people." The ballad begins:
The Bonnie Earl of Moray, anonymous "vendetta portrait" of the murdered James Stewart, 2nd Earl of Moray, 1592 [1]

Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands,
Oh! Where ha'e ye been:
They ha'e slain the Earl of Murray,
And hae laid him on the green.

The last line ("And...laid him on the green") was mis-heard by someone (perhaps Sylvia Wright who wrote about it in a 1954 article) as "...And Lady Mondegreen", a mistake that engendered the new nomenclature of a mondegreen, denoting any garbled line or phrase that occurs in oral transmission of song lyrics.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Francis Barsanti (Collection of Old Scots Tunes), Edinburgh, 1742; p. 14. Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 134. Oswald (Caledonian Pocket Companion, vol. 5), 1760; p. 14. William Thomson (Orpheus Caledonius, vol. 2), 1733; No. 4, p. 13.

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