From the album Wild And Wicked Youth

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Traditional

Mark Clavey: vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover: vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Gaither: lead vocals, fiddle

Coincidentally, Mark and Mary learned this song from the singing of Lolly Foy and Betsy Smith as well. The song is not commonly performed and less frequently recorded. It is a variant of The Child Ballads' "Lady Maisry" (#65-I), and appears in William Motherwell's "Minstrelsy: Ancient and Modern". The ballad tells a particularly brutal tale of a young Scots lass being burned at the stake for having given her love (and, in some versions, her virtue) to an English lord--and it is not without historical context. Local tradition holds that many women were killed for consorting with English soldiers in the years following General George Monk's sacking of Dundee in 1651. The 19th century collector Ralph Vaughn Williams described the upbeat melody as "wonderfully incongruous" to a story rife with bleakness and tragic inevitability. This, no doubt, accounts (at least in part) for the pair of happy endings written for the song… one by Eileen McGann, whose Susie had flown before her brothers could drag her to the stake… and another by Lolly Foy in which Susie's English lord rescues her from the stake. Invariably, the responses (from traditional purists) to these 'bowdlerised' endings have come close to being as brutal as the song.

Lyrics

There was a lady from Scotland (hey my love, ho my love), there was a lady from Scotland (oh I love her dearly), there was a lady from Scotland who fell in love with an Englishman. Bonnie Susie Cleland to be married in Dundee.

Her father met her at the gate; "Will you this Englishman forsake?"

"I will not this man forsake; though you burn me at the stake"

"Where can I find man or boy to carry these tidings to my joy?" Bonnie Susie Cleland to be buried in Dundee.

"Here am I, a fine young man; I'll carry your tidings to England"

"Take to him this sheath and knife; tell him to find another wife"

"Take to him this gay gold ring; tell him I'm going to my burning"

Her father dragged her to the stake; her brothers there a fire did make.

Her Englishman rode down the lane and pulled her body from the flame, crying, “Bonnie Susie Cleland was to marry unto me,” and bonnie Susie Cleland, she was buried in Dundee.