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Donald MacGillavry

[ Roud V5328 ; trad.]

Ewan MacColl sang Donald MacGillavry on his 1962 Topic album of the Jacobite wars 1715 and 1745, The Jacobite Rebellions and included it in his 1965 book Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland. He noted:

James Hogg in his Jacobite Relics places this song as belonging to one of the Jacobite risings, either in 1715 or 1745. MacGillavry of Drumglass is one of the chiefs mentioned in the Chevalier’s Muster Roll of 1715, and in the Forty-Five rebellion the powerful clan MacIntosh was led by a Colonel MacGillavry. A bard belonging to this clan may well have written the song; on the other hand, the name might have been used as a convenient designation for loyal highlanders.

Danny Spooner, accompanied by Mick Farrell, sang Donald MacGillavry in 1978 on their album Limbo. He noted:

This appears in James Hogg’s Jacobite Relics and it is not certain whether it is from the 1715 or the 1745 rising. MacGillavry of Drumglass is mentioned in the ‘Highland Muster Roll’, believed to date from the 1715 rising, and during the ’45 the MacIntosh clan was led by a Colonel MacGillavry. Such is the power of the song that after it was recorded Mick [Farrell] was wanting to get a claymore and swat a few English (myself included).

Silly Wizard sang Donald McGillavry on their 1979 album So Many Partings. A live recording from Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, in October 1983 was included in 1986 on their REL (UK) and Green Linnet (USA) album Golden, Golden, in 1988 on their Green Linnet CD Live Wizardry, and in 2012 on their CD ‘Live’ Again. They noted on the original album:

Donald MacGillavry was captain in charge of a section of the Highland army during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. In this song, however, his name is used to represent the entire Jacobite force. We have linked with the song [the tune] O’Neill’s Cavalry March, a similarly stirring martial tune.

The Unusual Suspects sang Donald MacGillavry live at either Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, or Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, in February 2004. This recording was released in the same year on their CD Live in Scotland.


Ewan MacColl sings Donald MacGillavry

Donald’s gane up the hill hard and hungry,
Donald comes down the hill wild and angry;
Donald will clear the gouk’s nest cleverly,
Here’s to the king and Donald Macgillavry.
    Come like a weighbauk, Donald Macgillavry,
    Come like a weighbauk, Donald Macgillavry,
    Balance them fair, and balance them cleverly:
    Off wi’the counterfeit, Donald Macgillavry.

Donald’s run o’er the hill but his tether, man,
As he were wud, or stang’d wi’ an ether, man;
When he comes back, there’s some will look merrily:
Here’s to King James and Dnnald Macgillavry.
    Come like a weaver, Donald Macgillavry,
    Come like a weaver, Dnnald Macgillavry,
    Pack on your back, and elwand sae cleverly;
    Gie them full measure, my Donald Macgillavry.

Donald has foughten wi’ rief and roguery;
Donald has dinner’d wi banes and beggary,
Better it were for Whigs and Whiggery
Meeting the devil than Donald Macgillavry.
    Come like a tailor, Donald Macgillavry,
    Come like a tailor, Donald Macgillavry,
    Push about, in and out, thimble them cleverly,
    Here’s to King James and Donald Macgillavry.

Donald’s the callan that brooks nae tangleness;
Whigging and prigging and a’newfangleness,
They maun be gane: he winna be baukit, man:
He maun hae justice, or faith he’ll tak it, man.
    Come like a cobler, Donald Macgillavry,
    Come like a cobler, Donald Macgillavry;
    Beat them, and bore them, and lingel them cleverly,
    Up wi’ King James and Donald Macgillavry.

Donald was mumpit wi mirds and mockery;
Donald was blinded wi’ blads o’ property;
Arles ran high, but makings were naething, man,
Lord, how Donald is flyting and fretting, man.
    Come like the devil, Donald Macgillavry,
    Come like the devil, Donald Macgillavry;
    Skelp them and scaud them that proved sae unbritherly,
    Up wi King James and Donald Macgillavry!