Johnnie O Braidiesley – Child 114


Lang syn in Scotland, poachin wis a really serious crime. It didna maitter if ye wir starvin, ye jist couldna dae it. The lairds owned athing on their grun an ye could be flung in jile, or even hinged for poachin. Some o them fa did poach wir thocht o as heros by the ordinary fowk, as ye hid tae be affa brave or affa hungry tae dae it. Johnnie o Braidiesley wis affa brave and enjoyed takin a deer noo an again, but he chanced his luck eence ower offin an peyed the price – but he gaed doon fechtin.


The earliest printed version o this ballad wis in Ritson’s Scottish Songs, 1794. There’s versions fae a ower Scotland, but it was affa popular in Aiberdeenshire. In this version, the action taks place near Monymusk.


Johnnie raise up on a May morning
Ca’ed for waater to wash his hands
Says, Gae lowse tae me my twa grey dogs
That lie boon in iron bands, bands
That lie boon in iron bands

Fan Johnnie’s mither heard o this,
Her hands for dule she wrang
Says, Johnnie, for yer venison
Tae the green wids dinna gang, gang
Tae the green wids dinna gang

But he has ta’en his guid bent-bow
And his arras one by one
And he’s awa tae the green wids gane
Tae ding the dun deer doon, doon
Tae ding the dun deer doon

Johnnie shot and the dun deer lapped
And he wounded her on the side
And atween the waater and the wids
The grey dogs laid her pride, pride
The grey dogs laid her pride

They ate sae much o the venison
And they drank sae much o the bleed
That Johnnie and his twa grey dogs
Fell asleep gin they were deid, deid
Fell asleep gin they were deid

Noo by there cam a silly auld man
And an ill death may he dee
For he’s awa tae Esslemont
The seven foresters for tae see, see
The seven foresters for tae see

As I cam’ in by Monymusk
And doon amang yon scrogs
The bonniest youth that ere I saw
Wis sleepin atween twa dogs, dogs
Wis sleepin atween twa dogs

The buttons that were on his sleeves
Were o the gowd sae guid
And the twa dogs that he lay atween
Their mooes were dyed wi bleed, bleed
Their mooes were dyed wi bleed

Then oot and spak the first forester
He wis headsman ower them aa
Gin this be Jock o Braidiesley
Then unto him we’ll draw, draw
Then unto him we’ll draw

The first shot that the foresters fired
It wounded him on the knee
The neest shot that the foresters fired
His heirt’s bleed blin’t his ee, ee
His heirt’s bleed blin’t his ee

Then Johnnie raised fae oot o his sleep
And an angry man was he
Says, ye micht hae waukened me fae my sleep
For my heart’s bleed blins my ee, ee
My heart’s bleed blins my ee

He’s leant his back against an aik
His fit against a stane
And he has fired at the seven them
And he’s killed them aa but ane, ane
He’s killed them aa but ane

He’s browken fower o this man’s ribs
His airm and his collar bane
And he’s pit him back upon his horse
Tae cairry the tidins hame, hame
Tae cairry the tidins hame

Now Johnnie’s guid bent-bow is broke
And his twa grey dogs are slain
And his body lies in Monymusk
And his huntin days are deen, deen
His huntin days are deen


Ballad: Johnnie O Braidiesley (Child 114)
Singer: Cameron Nixon



The tune abeen wis collected fae Mr Alex Mackay in Alford, by James Bruce Duncan aroon 1905. There are a few ither tunes in the Greig-Duncan collection, but they’re fairly similar tae this een.

Jimmy Broon’s tune is a bittie diffrint tae the printid ane, an he disna repeat the last line.

Print Version