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Eppie Moray / Eppie Morrie

[ Roud 2583 ; Child 223 ; Ballad Index C223 ; trad.]

Jimmy McBeath from Banffshire sang Eppie Morrie to Alan Lumax in c. 1951-53. This recording was included in 2000 on the Rounder anthology Classic Ballads of Britain and Ireland Volume 2.

Ewan MacColl sang the North-east Scottish abduction ballad Eppie Moray in 1956 on his and A.L. Lloyd's Riverside album The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (The Child Ballads) Volume I. This and most of his other ballads from this series were re-issued in 2009 on his Topic CD Ballads: Murder·Intrigue·Love·Discord.

Fotheringay recorded Eppie Moray for their second album which was never finished due to the band's break-up. They recorded it too on two BBC Radio 1 sessions: on November 12, 1970 for “Folk on the BBC” and on November 15, 1970 for “Sound of the Seventies”, both with Trevor Lucas and Sandy Denny singing. At these sessions they also recorded Bold Jack Donahue, Gypsy Davey, Lowlands of Holland and Wild Mountain Thyme.

After a long time of being available on bootlegs only, in 2008 Fledg'ling Records published Eppie Moray from Fotheringay's 1970 Sound Techniques studio recordings on the Fotheringay 2 CD.

Sìleas (Patsy Seddon and Mary Macmaster) sang Eppie Morrie in 1986 on their album Delighted with Harps. Their liner notes comment:

This ballad comes from the North-east of Scotland.

A Highlander abducts an heiress and tries to force her to marry him. When she refuses in front of the minister he carries her off and tries to rape her. She successfully fights him off and in the morning scornfully demands a horse so that she may ride home to her mother “a maiden as she cam”.

The melody was transmitted to Ewan MacColl by William Miller.

Isla St Clair sang Eppie Morrie on her 2000 CD Murder & Mayhem.

Corrina Hewat released her Foot Stompin' single The Ballad of Eppie Moray in 2005.

The Shee sang Eppie Morrie in 2010 on their CD Decadence.

More Maids sang Eppie Morrie on their 2001 CD III.

This video shows the Fiddle Folk Family singing Eppie Morrie on their 2011 DVD Ungeschieden, ungekämmt, ungesehen":

Janet Russell sang Eppie Morrie in 2012 on her Harbourtown CD Love Songs and Fighting Talk.

Jim Moray sang Eppie Moray in 2016 on his CD Upcetera. He commented in his sleeve notes:

The tune appears to come from William Miller, via his son Ewan MacColl who popularised it. I'm compiled and anglicised the words from several sources.

Lyrics

Fotheringay sing Eppie Moray

Four-and-twenty Highland men
Come from the Carron side
To carry away Eppie Moray for
She would not be a bride, a bride,
She would not be a bride.

Then out it came her mither for
It was a moonlit night,
She couldn't see her daughter for
The moon it shone so bright, so bright
The moon it shone so bright.

Hold away from me, mither,
Hold away from me!
There's not a man in all Strathdon
Should married be with me, with me,
Should married be with me.

They've taken Eppie Moray,
And a horse they've bound her on,
And they had rid to the minister's house
As fast as horse could run, could run,
As fast as horse could run.

[ Then Willie he's taken his pistol out
And set it to the minister's breast,
O marry me, marry me, minister,
Or else I'll be your priest, your priest
Or else I'll be your priest.

Hold away from me, Willie,
Hold away from me,
I not avow to marry you
Except she's willing as thee, as thee,
Except she's willing as thee.

They've taken Eppie Moray then,
She'd better could not be,
And they have rid over Carron side
As fast as horse could flee, could flee,
As fast as horse could flee.

Then mass was sung and bells were rung
And they're away to bed,
And Willie and Eppie Moray,
In ane bed they were laid, were laid
In ane bed they were laid. ]

He's taken the sack from off his back
And kicked away his shoes,
And thrown away the chamber key,
And naked he's lay down, lay down
And naked he's lay down.

Hold away from me, Willie,
Hold away from me,
Before I lose my maidenhead
I'll try my strength with thee, with thee.
I'll try my strength with thee.

He's kissed her on the lily breast
And held her shoulders twa
But aye she grat and aye she spat
And turned to the wall, the wall,
And turned to the wall.

All through the night they wrestled there
Until the light of day,
And Willie grat and Willie swat
But he could not stretch her spey, her spey
He could not stretch her spey.

Weary fa' you, Willie, then,
For you could not prove a man,
For if you gained her maidenheid,
She would have held your hand, your hand,
She would have held your hand.

Go away from me, Lady,
Go away from me!
There's not a man in all Strathdon
Shall married be with me, with me,
Shall married be with me.

Go fetch me a horse,
And fetch it like a man,
And send me back to my mither
A maiden as I came, I came
A maiden as I came.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Eppie Morie: What does it all mean?