Cam Ye O'er Frae France
George I, being a protestant German king, was viewed with ridicule and hatred by the Jacobite rebels. This is a scurrilous attack upon him and his court.
When George I imported his seraglio of impoverished gentlewomen from Germany, he provided the Jacobite songwriters with material for some of their most ribald verses. Madame Kilmansegge, Countess of Platen, is referred to exclusively as “The Sow” in the songs, while the King's favourite mistress, the lean and haggard Madame Schulemburg (afterwards named Duchess of Kendall) was given the name of “The Goose”. She is the “goosie” referred to in this song. The “blade” is the Count Koningsmark. “Bobbing John” refers to John, Earl of Mar, who was at the time recruiting Highlanders for the Hanoverian cause. “Geordie Whelps” is, of course, George I himself. (MJ)
Ewan MacColl sang Cam Ye O'er Frae France in 1968 on his Topic album The Jacobite Rebellions. A live recording made in Chicago in September 1984 was released in 1990 on his Cooking Vinyl album Black and White.
Dick Gaughan sang Cam' Ye Ower Frae France in 1972 on his Trailer album, No More Forever. He commented in his album's sleeve notes:
Cam' Ye Ower Frae France is a witty and bitingly satirical song, which shows the general feeling of the Scots to the replacement of the Stuarts by the Hanoverarians. The Scots apparently found it illogical to have a puppet king who hardly spoke a word of English, seemed unaware of the existence of Gaelic, and appeared to have an intense preoccupation with gardening. The time signature varies between 7/4 and 6/8.
Steeleye Span sang Cam Ye O'er Frae France in 1973 on their album Parcel of Rogues, accompanying the record's title track Rogues in a Nation. They recorded it a second time for the CD Present to accompany the December 2002 Steeleye Span reunion tour.
At least five live recordings of Cam Ye O'er Frae France with several Steeleye Span line-ups are or were available:
- from the Royal Opera Theatre in Adelaide, Australia in 1982 on the on the CD Gone to Australia,
- from the Beck Theatre on September 16, 1989 on the video A 20th Anniversary Celebration,
- from Steeleye's 1991 tour on the CD Tonight's the Night... Live,
- from The Forum, London on September 2, 1995 on the CD The Journey.
- and from the Southampton Civic Hall on May 15, 2004 on both the video The 35th Anniversary World Tour 2004 and the CD The Official Bootleg.
Cam ye o'er frae France? Cam ye down by Lunnon?
Saw ye Geordie Whelps and his bonny woman?
Were ye at the place ca'd the Kittle Housie?
Saw ye Geordie's grace riding on a goosie?
Geordie, he's a man there is little doubt o't;
He's done a' he can, wha can do without it?
Down there came a blade linkin' like my lordie;
He wad drive a trade at the loom o' Geordie.
Though the claith were bad, blythly may we niffer;
Gin we get a wab, it makes little differ.
We hae tint our plaid, bannet, belt and swordie,
Ha's and mailins braid -- but we hae a Geordie!
Jocky's gane to France and Montgomery's lady;
There they'll learn to dance: Madam, are ye ready?
They'll be back belyve belted, brisk and lordly;
Brawly may they thrive to dance a jig wi' Geordie!
Hey for Sandy Don! Hey for Cockolorum!
Hey for Bobbing John and his Highland Quorum!
Mony a sword and lance swings at Highland hurdie;
How they'll skip and dance o'er the bum o' Geordie!
(Repeat first verse)
blade=a person of weak, soft constitution from rapid overgrowth;
ha's and mailins=houses and farmlands;
niffer=haggle or exchange;
wab=web (or length) of cloth)
[from: Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland]
Thanks to Patrick Montague for correcting the lyrics.