Annotation:Souters o' Selkirk (The)

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X:20 T:A North Cuntry [sic] tune T:aka The Souters of Selkirk M:6/4 L:1/4 S:Wright 1713 N: N:barred as printed;bar 3 note 6 as printe Z:p K:G G | B<d g B/c/d/B/ g | dBG B/c/d/B/ g | B/c/d/B/ gg2A | B/c/d/B/ d B/c/d/B/ g | dBG e>ce | eBdf2A :||Bee/f/g>fe | dBGBde/f/ | g>fef2A | Bde/f/g>fe | dB/c/d/B/ e c/d/e/c/ | d B/c/d/B/f2A :||B/c/d/B/ dB/c/d/B/ g | dBG B/c/d/B/ d | B/c/d/B/ gf2A | B/c/d/B/ dB/c/d/B/ g | d>Bde>ce | d>Bdf2A :||GgBg>Bg | cgBGgB | g>BgAfA | GgBg>Bg | BfBAfA | f>Agf2A :||d2_e/d/e/d/ c/B/ g | dBG d2_e/d/ | e/d/c/B/ g f2A | d2_e/d/ e/d/c/B/g | dBd ece | dBdf2A :||Bdgg e/f/g/e/ | gGgB>dg | g e/f/g/e/f2A | Bdgg e/f/g/e/ | d B/c/d/B/ec/d/e/c/ | dB/c/d/B/f2A :||

SOUTERS O' SELKIRK, THE. AKA and see "Butterfly (4) (The)," "North Country Tune (A)," "Up Wi' the Souters." AKA – "Suttors of Selkirk," "Sulters of Selkerke." Scottish, English; Slip Jig or Air (3/4 time). England, Northumberland. G Major (most versions): A Major (McLachlan, Neil). Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB (Stewart): AABBCCDD (McLachlan). "Souters of Selkirk" is considered to be a very old Scots Border region song and dance tune that may have derived from a stock-and-horn or pipe tune, despite that it was first printed in London by John Playford (as "Scotch Hornpipe") in 1687[1]. Souters is a Scots term that refers to cobblers or shoemakers. People from the Border town of Selkirk are still referred to by that name today, stemming from the fact that shoe-making was the main craft of the region in the 16th century. In a later era the Scots writer Sir Walter Scott, the author of Ivanhoe and other famous works, was for a time the sheriff of Sekirk (there is a statue of him in the marketplace). The song “The Souters of Selkirk” relates to the battle of Flodden Field, a catastrophe for the Scots, and to the men of Selkirk and their rivals from the neighboring burgh, Berwickshire (of whom it is unflatteringly said stood well back in the fray). A band of souters was led to the battle by the town clerk, one William Brydon, who was knighted on the battlefield for his bravery. Legend has it that only one souter survived the conflict to return home, although he brought an English banner with him. "This was cast low on the ground in the market place to signify that the battle had been lost. The event is commemorated as the concluding ceremony of Selkirk Common Riding by the 'casting of the colours' in which the standard bearer takes the Burgh flag and weaves a characteristic and rhythmic pattern with it round his head and shoulders to a modern version of 'Up Wi' the Souters'" (Neil, 1991). Selkirk was the place where Edward I defeated John Balliol in 1296 and began his conquest of Scotland—a year later William Wallace was proclaimed ‘Guardian of Scotland’ in the Church of St. Mary in the town.

Up wi' the Souters o' Selkirk
And down wi' fazart Lork Hume
But up wi' ilka braw callant
That sews the single-soal'd shoon;
And up wi' the lads o' the Forest
That ne'er to the Southron would yeild
But deil scoup o' Hume and his menzie
That stude sae abeigh on the field.

The first verse the the anonymous song in Johnson's Scots Musical Museum, vol. 5 (1797, No. 438) goes:

Its up wi' the Souters o' Selkirk,
And down wi' the Earl of Hume,
And here is to a' the braw laddies
That wear the single soal'd shoon:
Its up wi' the souters o' Selkirk,
For they are baith trusty and leal;
And up wi' the lads o' the Forest,
And down wi' the merse to the deil.'

The melody appears under the title "Scotch Hornpipe" in Henry Playford's Apollo's Banquet (London, 1687), as the "A North Cuntry Tune" in Daniel Wright's An Extraordinary Collection of Pleasant and Merry Humours (c. 1715), as "Sutters of Selkirk" in Adam Craig's Scottish collection (1730), and as "Souters of Selkirk" by the Northumberland piper William Dixon in his 1733 manuscript. It was included in the McLean Collection published by James Johnson in Edinburgh in 1772, and the title appears in Henry Robson's list of popular Northumbrian song and dance tunes ("The Northern Minstrel's Budget"), which he published c. 1800.

Neil (The Scots Fiddle, 1991) relates a delightfully macabre story told about one souter named Rabbie, who fashioned a pair of shoes for a stranger who eerily resembled a local man who had just passed away. Curious, Rabbie followed the man after he picked up his new shoes, and was led to St. Mary's kirkyard where he disappeared beside a grave. An alarm being spread, the casket was exhumed only to reveal a skeleton wearing a pair of new shoes! Perhaps because he was a parsimonious Scotsman, Rabbie retrieved the shoes from the grisly bones, only to soon vanish himself without a trace. The townspeople again opened the grave (for some unexplained reason) and this time the skeleton was found to be wearing not only the pair of shoes, but a night-cap belonging to Rabbie!

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 2), 1785; No. 197, p. 73. Francis Barsanti (Collection of Old Scots Tunes), Edinburgh, 1742; p. 10. Johnson (Scots Musical Museum, vol. 5), 1797; p. 450. McGibbon (Collection of Scots Tunes, vol. 3), 1762; p. 79. John McLachlan (Piper’s Assistant), 1854; No. 57, pp. 32–33. Mooney (A Collection of the Choicest Scots Tunes for the Lowland or Border Bagpipes, vol. 1), 1982; p. 18. Neil (The Scots Fiddle), 1991; Nos. 44 & 45, pp. 59 & 60. Offord (John of the Greeny Cheshire Way), 1985; p. 24. Peacock (Favorite Collection of Tunes with Variations), c. 1805; No. 37, p. 16 (appears as "Suttors of Selkirk"). Seattle/Vickers (Great Northern Tune Book, part 2), 1987; No. 398. Neil Stewart (Select Collection of Scots, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, Jiggs & Marches), 1784; No. 63, p. 29. Daniel Wright (Aria di Camera), London, 1727; No. 5.

Recorded sources : - Maggie’s Music MM220, Hesperus – “Celtic Roots” (1999). Rounder 1743, “World Library of Folk and Primitive Music Vol. 3—Scotland” (1998).

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  1. Flood, 56.