click to play

Now Liddesdale has ridden a raid,
But I wat better had stayed at hame;
For Micheal o Winfield he is dead,
And Jock o' the Side is prisoner ta'en.?

(Child version B follows)
For Mangerton House auld Downie is gane;
Her coats she has kilted up to her knee,
And down the water wi speed she rins,
While tears in spaits fa fast frae her eie.

Then up and bespake the lord Mangerton:
?What news, what news, sister Downie, to me??
?Bad news, bad news, my lord Mangerton;
Mitchel is killd, and tane they hae my son Johnie.?

?Neer fear, sister Downie,? quo Mangerton;
?I hae yokes of oxen four and twentie,
My barns, my byres, and my faulds, a? weel filld,
And I?ll part wi them a? ere Johnie shall die.

?Three men I?ll take to set him free
Weel harnessd a? wi best o steel;
The English rogues may hear, and drie
The weight o their braid swords to feel.

?The Laird?s Jock ane, the Laird?s Wat twa
Oh, Hobie Noble, thou ane maun be;
Thy coat is blue, thou has been true,
Since England banishd thee, to me.?

Now Hobie was a English man,
In Bewcastle-dale was bred and born;
But his misdeeds they were sae great,
They banishd him neer to return
Lord Mangerton them orders gave,
?Your horses the wrang way maun a? be shod;
Like gentlemen ye must not seem,
But look like corn-caugers gawn ae road.

?Your armour gude ye maunna shaw,
Nor ance appear like men o weir;
As country lads be all arrayd,
Wi branks and brecham on ilk mare.?

Sae now a? their horses are shod the wrang way,
And Hobie has mounted his grey sae fine,
Jock his lively bay, Wat?s on his white horse behind,
And on they rode for the water o Tyne.

At the Choler-ford they a? light down,
And there, wi the help o the light o the moon,
A tree they cut, wi fifteen naggs upo ilk side,
To climb up the wa o Newcastle town.

But when they cam to Newcastle town,
And were alighted at the wa,
They fand their tree three ells oer laigh,
They fand their stick baith short and sma.

Then up and spake the Laird?s ain Jock,
?There?s naething for ?t, the gates we maun force;?
But when they cam the gates unto,
A proud porter withstood baith men and horse
His neck in twa I wat they hae wrung,
Wi hand or foot he neer playd paw;
His life and his keys at anes they hae tane,
And cast his body ahind the wa.

Now soon they reach Newcastle jail,
And to the prisner thus they call:
?Sleips thou, wakes thou, Jock o the Side?
Or is thou wearied o thy thrall??

Jock answers thus, wi dolefu tone:
Aft, aft I wake, I seldom sleip;
But wha?s this kens my name sae weel,
And thus to hear my waes do[es] seik?

Then up and spake the good Laird?s Jock,
?Neer fear ye now, my billie,? quo he;
?For here?s the Laird?s Jock, the Laird?s Wat,
And Hobie Noble, come to set thee free.?

?Oh, had thy tongue, and speak nae mair,
And o thy tawk now let me be!
For if a? Liddisdale were here the night,
The morn?s the day that I maun die.

?Full fifteen stane o Spanish iron
They hae laid a? right sair on me;
Wi locks and keys I am fast bound
Into this dungeon mirk and drearie.?

?Fear ye no that,? quo the Laird?s Jock;
?A faint heart neer wan a fair ladie;
Work thou within, we?ll work without,
And I?ll be bound we set thee free.?

The first strong dore that they came at,
They loosed it without a key;
The next chaind dore that they cam at,
They gard it a? in flinders flee.

The prisner now, upo his back,
The Laird?s Jock?s gotten up fu hie;
And down the stair him, irons and a?,
Wi nae sma speed and joy brings he.

?Now, Jock, I wat,? quo Hobie Noble,
?Part o the weight ye may lay on me;?
?I wat weel no,? quo the Laird?s Jock,
?I count him lighter than a flee.?

Sae out at the gates they a? are gane,
The prisner?s set on horseback hie;
And now wi speed they?ve tane the gate,
While ilk ane jokes fu wantonlie.

?O Jock, sae winsomely?s ye ride,
Wi baith your feet upo ae side!
Sae weel?s ye?re harnessd, and sae trig!
In troth ye sit like ony bride.?

The night, tho wat, they didna mind,
But hied them on fu mirrilie,
Until they cam to Cholerford brae,
Where the water ran like mountains hie.

But when they came to Cholerford,
There they met with an auld man;
Says, Honest man, will the water ride?
Tell us in haste, if that ye can.

?I wat weel no,? quo the good auld man;
?Here I hae livd this threty yeirs and three.
And I neer yet saw the Tyne sae big,
Nor rinning ance sae like a sea.?

Then up and spake the Laird?s saft Wat,
The greatest coward in the company;
?Now halt, now halt, we needna try?t;
The day is comd we a? maun die!?

?Poor faint-hearted thief!? quo the Laird?s Jock,
?There?ll nae man die but he that?s fie;
I?ll lead ye a? right safely through;
Lift ye the prisner on ahint me.?

Sae now the water they a? hae tane,
By anes and twas they a? swam through;
?Here are we a? safe,? says the Laird?s Jock,
?And, poor faint Wat, what think ye now??

They scarce the ither side had won,
When twenty men they saw pursue;
Frae Newcastle town they had been sent,
A? English lads, right good and true
But when the land-sergeant the water saw,
?It winna ride, my lads,? quo he;
Then out he cries, Ye the prisner may take,
But leave the irons, I pray, to me.

?I wat weel no,? cryd the Laird?s Jock,
?I?ll keep them a?, shoon to my mare they?ll be;
My good grey mare, for I am sure,
She?s bought them a? fu dear frae thee.?

Sae now they?re away for Liddisdale,
Een as fast as they coud them hie;
The prisner?s brought to his ain fire-side,
And there o?s airns they make him free.

?Now, Jock, my billie,? quo a? the three,
?The day was comd thou was to die;
But thou?s as weel at thy ain fire-side,
Now sitting, I think, tween thee and me.?

They hae gard fill up ae punch-bowl,
And after it they maun hae anither,
And thus the night they a? hae spent,
Just as they had been brither and brither.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, Dec 1936

An edited form of the notes of Anne Gilchrist are as follows :

The ten songs which follow are taken .... from a sheet of manuscript airs which for want of a title I have named the Edinburgh MS. It was found amongst the papers of the late Frank Kidson of Leeds ... in a bundle sent to me by his niece. I have no clue whatever to the sender but the Edinburgh postmark and date Dec 23rd, 1903, on the envelope in which they were enclosed which bore the tradestamp "J and R Glen, Highland Bagpipe Makers." ...


This has been called the best ballad in the world! Jock o' the Side was a notorious Border raider of the sixteenth century. Sir Richard Maitland says of him;

He is weel kend, Johne of the Syde,
A greater thief did never ride.

The ballad ... was first printed in 1784 in the Hawick Museum, a provincial Miscellany, to which they were communicated by John Elliot of Reidheugh, an antiquary of the western Border. ... The story of Jock's escape rests upon tradition, but Henderson, in his edition of the Border Minstrelsy (1932), identifies it with an incident reported to Wolsey by Magnus, July 6th, 1527, though Child was inclined to consider it as possibly a free version of "Kinmont Willie" - another escape ballad.

As is often the case with the Journal, only the first verse is provided. I have included the verses from version B from Child for convenience.

Roud: 82 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Child: 187

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z