A version of this article was published in English Dance and Song Volume 65 part 2
Published here by permission of the current editor, Derek Schofield

Rare Child Ballad Uncovered

a broadside version of Lord Saltoun and Auchanachie (Roud 102, Child 239)

In previous articles I have concentrated on 17th century broadside ballads, but in searching through the Harding and Madden Collections of 19th century broadsides I have come across several scarce Child Ballads and here is the first.

It simply has the title A NEW SONG and is amongst a batch of single slips in the Harding Collection in the Bodleian Library, ref B25 (794).  It has no imprint but is amongst a batch printed by the likes of Angus and Marshall of Newcastle, which gives us a likely date of between 1800 and 1828.  It is of course a version of the scarce Child Ballad (239), Lord Saltoun and Auchanachie, better known on the folk scene as Annachie Gordon (Roud 102).

Comparing it with the two main versions given in Child and those collected in the early twentieth century it has obviously been taken from oral tradition by the printer's hack.  It has become largely anglicised and there are obvious alterations due to oral transmission.  It has also become garbled in places, e.g., stanza 6.  It lacks a long section after verse 3, present in the Child versions, which contains a dialogue between Jeannie Gordon and her parents in which they are trying to persuade her to marry Lord Saltoun against her wishes.  They marry but she refuses to come to his bed and when she is forced she swoons and dies.

The main differences in this Newcastle version are the personal names; Auchanachie has become Hannah Le Gordon * and Saltoun has become Salting.  The 'room / loun' rhymes in stanza 2 are in the Scots versions 'Floor / whore'.  In stanza 3 'guineas so red' is a corruption of 'wear gowd on my head', and 'houses are let' should be 'towns all lie waste'.  In stanza 4 and in subsequent stanzas 'Miss Jeannie' has quite naturally become 'my Jenny'.  The 'chambermaid' in stanzas 5, 6 and 7 has been modernised from 'maidens', 'her bower woman' and 'handmaid'.  Stanza 6 appears in none of the Child versions and on first inspection appears to be gobbledygook, but line 2 occurs verbatim in a fragmentary version from the singing of Bell Robertson in The Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection Volume 5, no.1021.  In stanza 7, line 3, he 'kissed her cold lips which were colder than stone / clay' is given in Child.  It would appear that the 'cold chin' had been included to give it an English rhyme, but the same two final lines also occur in Bell Robertson's version.

* Regarding Auchanachie's being given a girl's name: I suppose the 'he' immediately after makes the gender clear enough and 'Hannah Le' must just have been the nearest sensible alternative for the transcriber, who wouldn't have ever heard the Gaelic name.  Such a trivial thing as correct gender didn't matter much to broadside printers.

A New Song

Hannah Le Gordon he is bonny and braw,
He would tempt any woman that ever he saw,
He would tempt any woman as well as he is done me,
And tis all for my Hannah Le Gordon I'll die.

In came her father into the room;
O, Jenny you're playing the trick of a loun,
You're liking a man that cares naething for thee,
Yet it is all for my Hannah Le Gordon I'll die.

Before I take Salting with his guineas so red,
With Hannah Le Gordon I would beg my bread,
How his houses are let and his lands they are lea,
Yet all for my Hannah Le Gordon I'll die.

Home came her true love, home came he home,
Her true love came home from the sea,
Her parents kept him long at the gate,
What aileth my Jenny she comes na out yet.

Down came the chambermaid wringing her hands,
All for your staying so long on the sands,
Your Jenny is married and now she is dead,
And it's all for staying so long on the flood.

Chambermaid, chambermaid, who was so rude,
As marry my Jenny and me on the flood,
As marry my Jenny and me out at sea,
And it's all for the sake of my Jenny I'll die.

Chambermaid, chambermaid, you'll by and by,
Show me to the room where my Jenny does lye,
He has kiss'd her cold cheek and then her cold chin,
And he's died in the room where his Jenny lay in.

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