The Cruel Brither – Child 11


Back in the auldin days, fan these sangs wir screeved, yi coodna jist mairry a quine; ye hid tae ask aa her faimly’s permishin or yid be in trouble.  

 This sang’s aboot a knicht forgettin tae ask the lassie’s brither if it wis  aricht tae mairry her.  Big mistake! Maybe he felt insulted, or maybe he jist didna wint her tae mairy an hae bairns, as it wid cut intae his inheritance.


There’s a puckle different versions o this sang, some wi three ladies, some wi three knichts, but I’ve jist cut it doon tae one o each or we’d be here a nicht.

The earliest version comes fae a wifey caed ‘Mrs Brown o Falkland’ in 1800. She wis only in Falkland cos she moved there wi her husband fa wis a meenister.  She wis born & bred in Aiberdeenshire.


A lassie played at the cup an the baa
Hech-hey and the lily gay
And by come a knicht on a steed sae braw
And the rose is aye the reeder, aye

Oh lassie gae tae me yer hand
Hech-hey etc.
And I’ll maak ye lady ower a my land
And the rose etc.

Ye’ll hae tae ask my faither the King
And ye’ll hae tae ask my mither the Queen

Ye’ll hae tae ask my sister Ann
And ye’ll hae tae ask my brither John

He sought her fae her faither the King
And he sought her fae her mither the Queen

He sought her fae her sister Ann
But he’s forgot her brither John

Her faither’s led them through the haa
And her mither’s danced afore them aa

Her sister’s led them through the close
And her brither’s pit her on her horse

Noo as she bent ower tae gae him a kiss
He stuck a penknife intae her breest

Ride up, ride up, my foremost man
For my bride she’s lookin pale an wan

Oh fit will ye leave tae yer faither the King
The gouden cheer that I sat in

And fit will ye leave tae yer mither the Queen
The gouden coach that I rode in

And fit will ye leave tae yer sister Ann
My siller broach and my gouden fan

And it’s fit will ye leave tae yer brither John
A rope an gallows tae hang him on


Ballad: The Cruel Brither (Child 11)
Singer: Emma Spiers
Accompanists: Tom Spiers, Fiddle / Martin McDonald, Guitar



This is the tune geen wi version C in the Child Ballads

Print Version