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The Bogheid Crew

[ Roud 5406 ; G/D 3:409 ; Ballad Index GrD3406 ; trad.]

John Strachan of Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, sang The Bogheid Crew on 16 July 1951 to Alan Lomax and Hamish Henderson. This recording was included in 2002 on Strachan’s Rounder anthology Songs From Aberdeenshire. Hamish Henderson and Ewan McVicar noted:

A wonderfully detailed account of harvesting by hand in about the 1870s. In Greig-Duncan are 26 verses listing 16 farm and harvest workers, the farmer, and his wife. John Strachan’s version omits not only another three-person hairst team, but also the outdoor worker who mucked and fed the beasts and the three indoor workers. Another omitted verse includes the composer’s explanation that he was the last of the scythe-wielding reapers and was “right glad to follow up the merry crew and wag the hindmost blade”. An atmospheric last verse in Greig-Duncan says, “Eliza Clubb our kitchen maid is handsome neat and tight, / She sang to us some lovely sangs when we come hame at night.”


John Strachan sings The Bogheid Crew

It was in the year 1870 on August the fifteenth day,
From the pairish o Langside I northward took my way.

The momin bein fair an clear, I traiveled on wi speed,
I was gyan tae be a hairst hand at the fairm o Bogheid.

Now I am not a poet, nor yet a learned man,
But I will sing a verse or twa and spread them as I can.

John MacNab, our foremost man, was sturdy, brave and strong,
Sae canny’s he pits in his scythe and carries on the throng.

His gaitherer she cam frae Greenbank, McLennan was her name.
She was the flooer o aa oor flock, a handsome clever dame.

And Esselmont he band tae her, he was a sturdy cheil,
Ye wadna seen a jollier crew upon a harvest field.

Willy Kidd, oor second man, he filled his berth rieht weel,
He pleased baith the girlies, the truth I mean to tell.

Jean Forsyth she gaithered tae him, wi her lovely curly hair,
I hope they’ll meet in wedlock’s bands, they’ll be a slashing pair.

And as for Kidd’s bandster, they caa him Geordie Grant,
He’s sometimes in a merry mood, and sometimes like a saunt.

Mrs Seler she gaithers tae me, alang the bout wi speed,
And although she isny very big she is a gaitherer gweed.

And Jimmy Gray he band to her the sheaves that she laid doon,
They made him for to thraw his face, he was only but a loon.

Noo Charlie Watt and Davie Gray, they’re in the list you’ll find,
They have tae march in order and trail the rakes behind.

We hae a jolly maister, a tall and stately man,
Who can conduct his farm work with mickle skeel and can.