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Tattie Jock

[ Roud 5915 ; G/D 3:377 ; Ballad Index GrD3377 ; trad.]

Norman Buchan and Peter Hall: The Scottish Folksinger Sheila Douglas: The Sang’s the Thing

Jack Beck sang Tattie Jock in 2001 on his Tradition Bearers album Half Ower, Half Ower tae Aberdour. He noted:

Collected by Pete Shepheard from Archie Webster of Strathkinness in Fife, this bothy ballad tells a true story culminating in transportation to Australia for the luckless farm servants. I have heard a story that one of these transportees eventually returned and, not being recognised by ‘Tattie Jock’, lifted a huge boulder to reveal the secreted tattie-shed key (and his identity)!

Jim Malcolm sang Tattie Jock on his 2014 album The Corncrake. He noted:

I learned this bothy ballad from a great authority—my little brother Scott. He sings many wonderful songs but refuses to record them. A version of this was collected by Gavin Greig and published under the name The Bothy Lads of Forfar.

Geordie Murison sang Tattie Jock on his 2017 Tradition Bearers album The Term Time Is Comin Roon. He noted:

Craigie Farm is located in the north of Fife near Tentsmuir. The farm workers were ‘bothied’ i.e. lived in farm accommodation and catered for themselves. When the farmer caught them stealing tatties he called the police. The ensuing altercation with the police led to them being deported for 14 years.


Jim Malcolm sings Tattie Jock

Ye’ll a’ hae heard o’ Tattie Jock, likewise o’ Mutton Peggy,
They had a fairm in the north o’ Fife, and the name o’ it was Craigie.

Chorus (after each verse):
Hah riddle aye roo rum di do, hah riddle aye roo rum day

Three month we served wi’ Tattie Jock, an’ weel we did agree,
Till we fund oot that the tattie shed could be opened wi’ the bothy key.

We went intae the tattie shed, oor bags were hardly full,
When Tattie Jock in ahint the door cried: “Aye ma lads bide still!”

Oh, the first he got was Willie Marr, the next was Sandy Doo,
There was Jimmy Grey an’ Wull Moncur, an’ Jimmy Pethrie flew.

They sent for ten big polismen, but nine there only came,
It dinged them sore tae lift us a’, us bein’ ten able men.

The hinmaist lad was the wisest ane, the best lad o’ us a’,
He jined a mano-war at Leith, so he didna ha’e tae stand the law.

When we were gettin’ oor sentences, we a’ stood roon’ an’ roon’,
But when we heard o’ the fourteen years, the tears come tricklin’ doon’.

When Tattie Jock he heard o’ this, he cried an’ grat richt sore,
A thousand guineas he would pay, if that wad clear oor score.

A bag o’ gowd he did produce, tae pey it there and then,
But the lawyer only said tae him that the money widna clear his men.

Noo when they mairched us up through Perth, we heard the newsboy say,
“It’s hard tae see sic able men ta’en aff tae Botany Bay.”

When we arrive in Botany Bay, some letters we will send,
Tae tell oor freends the hardships we endure in a foreign land.

Geordie Murison sings Tattie Jock

Ye’ll a hae heard o Tattie Jock, likewise o Mutton Peggy,
They kept a fairm in the hert o Fife, the name o hit wis Craigie.

Chorus (after each verse):
Sing a riddle a rue rum rido, A riddle a rue dum dae

Three month we vrocht wi Tattie Jock an weel we did agree
Til we fun oot the tattie shed cwid be opened bi the bothy key.

Ae nicht intae the tattie shed, oor bags were hardly full
An Tattie Jock ahint the door, cried, “A ma lads Stan still.”

The first they got wis Wullie Marr, the next wis Sandy Doo,
There wis Jimmy Gray an Wull Moncur, bit Jimmy Petrie flew.

They sent for ten big polis men, bit nine there only cam,
An they couldnae tak us in that nicht, us being ten able men.

The next day I wis driving dung an some were at the mill,
The foreman he’d gaen tae the ploo upon Pitlootie Hill.

The youngest lad the wisest lad, the best ane o us a,
He jined a man o war at Leith, he didna stand the law.

Fin we were getting oor sentences, we a stood roond and roond,
When we heard o the fourteen years, the tears cam tricklin doon.

Fin Tattie Jock he heard o this, he cried an grat fu sair,
A thousand guineas he wid pey, gin that wid clear oor score.

A bag o gowd he did produce, tae pey it there an then,
Bit the lawyer telt him money, na, it widna clear his men.

As they marched us up through Perth, I heard the newsboy say,
“It’s hard to see sic able men, rade off tae Botany Bay.”

Ye’ll a hae heard o Tattie Jock, likewise o Mutton Peggy,
They kept a ferm in the hert o Fife, the name o hit wis Craigie.