> Folk Music > Songs > The Laird of the Dainty Doonby

The Laird of the Dainty Doonby

[ Roud 864 ; G/D 7:1488 ; Ballad Index K179 ; trad.]

Jeannie Robertson sang The Laird of the Dentidoonbye to Alan Lomax in Aberdeen in November 1953. This recording was released in 1998 on her Rounder CD The Queen Among the Heather. She also sang this song to Peter Kennedy in Aberdeen in 1953. He included it as The Lady o' the Dainty Doon-By on the 1994 Saydisc anthology Songs of the Travelling People. And Jeannie Robertson sang The Laird o' the Dainty Doon-By on her 1960 Prestige album Scottish Ballads and Folk Songs.

Davie Stewart sang The Laird o Dainty Doonby to Alan Lomax in Dundee in December 1957. This recording was released in 2002 on Jimmy McBeath's and his Rounder anthology Two Gentlemen of the Road.

Lizzie Higgins sang The Laird o' the Dainty Doonby to Bill Leader in Aberdeen on January 5, 1968. This recording was released in 1969 on her Topic album Princess of the Thistle, and was included in 1998 on the Topic anthology Tonight I'll Make You My Bride (The Voice of the People Volume 6). Peter Hall commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

This broad and engaging ballad did not at all suit Professor Child’s somewhat fastidious taste and so did not appear in his famous anthology The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. More’s the pity. Surprisingly enough he does include The Wylie Wife of the Hie Toun Hie which tells a similar tale with the added impropriety of having a landlady acting as procuress. Herd, in his Ancient and Modern Scots Songs published the ballad, as well as a very similar piece The Young Laird o’ Keltie. Both songs still enjoy considerable popularity in North-east Scotland.

Cilla Fisher sang Laird o' the Dainty Doonby in 1978 on her and Artie Trezise's Kettle/Folk-Legacy album For Foul Day and Fair. They commented in their album notes:

This version of the song is more or less as sung by Lizzie Higgins of Aberdeen, and we were inspired to learn it after hearing it sung by Barbara Dickson. The idea of the landowner eventually marrying the daughter of a farmworker because he has made her pregnant is an enjoyable fantasy.

Scotch Measure sang The Laird of Dainty Dounby in 1985 on their eponymous Topic album Scotch Measure.

Gordeanna McCulloch got The Laird o' the Dainty Dounby from Norman Buchan and Peter Hall's book The Scottish Folksinger, and sang it in 1997 on her Greentrax CD In Freenship's Name. She noted:

This is a relatively recent adition to my repertoire but I have been familiar with it for many years from the singing of others, most notably Ronnie Alexander of Clutha. I have always enjoyed his interpretation and I wanted to achieve a similar pace and pawky feel. The text differs only slightly from Ronnie's version which was taken from the singing of the late Davy Stewart. Although the subject matter ‘rape’ is less than appealing, it is a grand song to sing. At least in the end the lass gets the Laird and secures a comfortable life for herself and her parents. I leave it to the listener to decide who got the best of the bargain.

This video shows Hunter's Law (Gillian Frame, Bella Hardy, Siobhan Miller with James Lindsay and Mike Vass) perform The Laird o the Dainty Doonby in January 2015:

Lyrics

Jeannie Robertson sings The Laird of the Denty Doonby Cilla Fisher sings The Laird o' the Dainty Doonby

A lassie was milkin' her faither's kye
When a gentleman on horseback, he cam' ridin' by.
A gentleman on horseback, he cam' ridin' by,
He was the Laird o' the Denty Doonby.

Oh, a lassie sat milkin' her faither's kye
When a gentleman on horseback, he come riding by.
A gentleman on horseback, he come riding by,
He was the Laird of the Dainty Doonby.

“O lassie, o lassie, what wad ye gie
If I was to lay ae nicht wi' ye?”
“To lie ae nicht that'll never, never dee
Suppose ye're the Laird o' the Denty Doonby.”

“Well it's oh, Bonnie Lassie, and fit will ye dee
If I was tae lay aye nicht wi' ye?”
“A nicht wi' me, that would never, never dee
Though ye're the Laird o' the Dainty Doonby.”

But he catched her by the middle sae sma',
He laid her doon where the grass grew lang.
It was a lang, lang time till he raised her up again,
Sayin', “Ye're lady owre the Denty Doonby.”

It fell upon a day, and a bonnie summer's day,
To face the lassie's father some money had to pay,
To face the lassie's father some money had to pay
Tae the Laird o' the Denty Doonby.

Well it fell upon a day, and a bonnie summer's day,
The day the lassie's faither some money had to pay,
The day the lassie's faither some money had to pay
Tae the Laird o' the Dainty Doonby.

“O good mornin', an' how dae ye do?
And hoo is yer dochter Janetie nou?
And hoo's yer dochter Janetie nou
Since I laid her in the Denty Doonby?”

Well it's, “Oh, good morning, an' how do ye do?
An hoo's yer dochter Janet aye noo?
Aye hoo's yer dochter Janet aye noo
Since I laid her in the Dainty Doonby?”

“Oh my wee Janet, she is no very weel,
My dochter Janet she cowks at her kail.
My dochter Janet she looks unco pale
Since you laid her in the Denty Doonby.”

“Oh my lea Janet, she's no very weel,
Oh my dochter Janet, she's unco' pale.
Oh my dochter Janet, she cowks at her kail
Since you laid her in the Dainty Doonby.”

He catched her by the lily-white hand,
He showed her roun' his rooms, there were twenty-one.
He placed the keys intae her hand,
Sayin', “Ye're Lady owre the Denty Doonby.”

So he's ta'en her by the lily-white hand,
He's lead her through his rooms, there were twenty and one.
He placed the keys in the bonnie lassie's hand,
He says, “Ye're Lady o' the Dainty Doonby.”

“O,” says the auld man, “what will we dae?”
“O,” says the auld wife, “we'll dance tae we dee.”
“O,” says the auld man, “I think I'll dae that tae
Since she's Lady owre the Denty Doonby.”

Well it's, “Ah,” says the auld man, “and fit will a dae.”
“Ah,” says the auld wife, “I'll dance until I dee.”
“Ah,” says the auld man, “A think I'll dae it tae
Since she's the Lady o' the Dainty Doonby.”