Welcome Charlie Stewart

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WELCOME, CHARLIE STEWART(, YOU’RE WELCOME). AKA and see “Charlie Stewart (2),” "Lovely Polly Stewart," “McAlman's Reel,” “Queensbury House,” “Taking a Wife,” “Ye’re Welcome Charlie Stuart.” Scottish, Canadian; Reel. Canada, Cape Breton. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABCD (sometimes played only first and last turns of this version) [Dunlay & Greenberg, Dunlay and Reich]: AAB (Skye). The title refers to the Jacobite Prince Charlie (Stewart). Around the year 1748, after the Pretender's defeat at Culloden, words were adapted to an older tune called "Miss Stewart's Reel" and the song was called "You're/Ye're Welcome Charlie Stewart." The lyric was printed in the Collection of Loyal Songs, Poems, &c. (1750), and the first stanzas go:

Chorus:
You're welcome, Charlie Stewart,
You're welcome, Charlie Stewart,
You're welcome, Charlie Stewart,
There's none so right as thou art.

Had I the power as I've the will,
I'd make thee famous by my quill,
Thy foes I'd scatter, take, and kill,
From Billingsgate to Duart.

Thy sympathising complaisance
Made thee believe intriguing France;
But woe is me for they mischance!
Which saddens every true heart.

Hadst thou Culloden battle won,
Poor Scotland had not been undone,
Nor butcher'd been with sword and gun
By Lockhart and such coweards.

MacDonald’s Skye Collection (1887) has the tune in two parts, as does Robert Bremner’s Collection (1751-1761) where it appears under the title “Queensbury House.” It is a popular reel among Cape Breton fiddlers. Dunlay and Greenberg (1996) find several tunes with similarities--in the Inverness Collection (Book II) “There’s Nae Luck About the House” has a second part that is similar to Buddy MacMaster’s second turn, and the editors believe it may have become attached to “Welcome, Prince Charlie” because the melodic contour of the first parts of both tunes is similar. They also find the second part of “Up and Waur Them A' Willie (1)” is almost the same as the first part of the “Welcome” tune. Donald MacLellan’s “Taking a Wife” is a crooked or irregular version of “Welcome, Charlie Stewart.” See notes for “Ye’re Welcome Charlie Stuart” for more history and Scottish versions of the piece.

Robert Burns wrote a song in 1791 called "Lovely Polly Stewart" (AKA - "The flower it blows, it fades, it fa's") and set it to the air of "Welcome Charlie Stewart." It honored Polly, the daughter of the poet's friend William Stewart, factor of the Closeburn Estate. Polly's (1775-1847) real name was Mary and, according to Scott Douglas as related at the Burns Country site [1]:

Polly had a somewhat erratic life. She married her cousin, by whom she had three sons. But because of some scrape, he was compelled to abscond. Later, she contracted a 'quasi-matrimonial alliance' with a farmer called George Welsh, a grand-uncle of Jane Welsh Carlyle. But as they found that they could not agree, they separated. In 1806, she came to live with her father at Maxwelton, and there formed another association, this time with a Swiss soldier caned Fleitz, with whom she went abroad. After many wanderings, she died at Florence.


Source for notated version: Buddy MacMaster (Cape Breton), who had the last turn from Joe MacLean who found it in a collection [Dunlay & Greenberg, Dunlay and Reich].

Printed sources: Davie (Davie's Caledonian Repository), Aberdeen, 1829-30; p. 7. Dunlay & Greenberg (Traditional Celtic Violin Music of Cape Breton), 1996; p. 82. Dunlay and Reich (Traditional Celtic Fiddle Music of Cape Breton), 1986; p. 55. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 45. Shears (The Cape Breton Collection of Bagpipe Music), 1995.

Recorded sources: Cape Breton's Magazine Tape, Mike MacDougall "Mike MacDougall's Tape For Fr. Hector." Celtic CX 054, Donald MacLellan (Appears as “Taking a Wife”).

See also listing at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [2]




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