Ballads & Poems

Here are ballads and poems about and/or by the Elliots. The most famous is probably "The Flowers of the Forest", written by Jane Elliot in a carriage after a converstion about the Battle of Flodden.

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The Flowers of the Forest

I've heard them lilting at our ewe-milking,    
Lasses a' lilting before dawn o' day;    
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning—    
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.    

At bughts, in the morning, nae blythe lads are scorning, 
Lasses are lonely and dowie and wae;    
Nae daffing, nae gabbing, but sighing and sabbing,    
Ilk ane lifts her leglin and hies her away.    

In hairst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering,    
Bandsters are lyart, and runkled, and gray:     
At fair or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching—    
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.    

At e'en, in the gloaming, nae swankies are roaming    
'Bout stacks wi' the lasses at bogle to play;    
But ilk ane sits eerie, lamenting her dearie—     
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.    

Dool and wae for the order sent our lads to the Border!    
The English, for ance, by guile wan the day;    
The Flowers of the Forest, that fought aye the foremost,    
The prime of our land, lie cauld in the clay.     

We'll hear nae mair lilting at our ewe-milking;    
Women and bairns are heartless and wae;    
Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning—    
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.    

Glossary of terms: loaning = lane, field-track. wede = weeded. bughts = sheep-folds. daffing= joking. leglin = milk-pail. hairst = harvest. bandsters = binders. lyart = gray-haired. runkled = wrinkled. fleeching = coaxing. swankies = lusty lads. bogle = bogy, hide-and-seek. dool = mourning.

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Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, possessed of a highly cultivated mind, wrote the beautiful pastoral song: "My sheep I neglected, I broke my sheep-hook" - pronounced by Dugald Stewart "to be remarkable for sound philosophy and purity of English style". He died in 1777.

My sheep I neglected, I broke my sheep hook,
And all the gay haunts of my youth I forsook:
No more for Amynta fresh garlands I wove;
Ambition, I said, would soon cure me of love.
But what had my youth with ambition to do?
Why left I Amynta, why broke I my vow?

Through regions remote in vain do I rove,
And bid the wide world secure me from love.
Ah, fool! to imagine that aught could subdue
A love so well founded, a passion so true!
Ah, give me my sheep, and my sheep hook restore,
And I ll wander from love and Amynta no more!

Alas, 'tis too late at thy fate to repine!
Poor shepherd, Amynta no more can be thine!
Thy tears are all fruitless, thy wishes are vain,
The moments neglected return not again.
Ah, what had my youth with ambition to do?
Why left I Amynta, why broke I my vow?

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Little Jock Elliot was a member of the Elliot family of Liddesdale. Little Jock was the man who wounded the Earl of Bothwell, before he became the husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. Bothwell was in pursuit of Little Jock and had wounded him. Little Jock stabbed Bothwell. After Little Jock's fight with Bothwell, his fame spread far and wide.

Little Jock Elliot

Wha daur meddle wi' me?
Wha daur meddle wi' me?
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi' me?

I ride on my fleet-footed grey,
My sword hangind doun by my knee,
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi' me?

In raids I ride always the foremost,
My straik is the first in melee,
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi' me?

I ne'er was afraid of a foe,
Or yield I liefer wad die;
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi' me?

I've vanquished the Queen's Lieutenant,
And garr'd her troopers flee;
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi' me?

Wha daur meddle wi' me?
Wha daur meddle wi' me?
My name is little Jock Elliot,
And wha daur meddle wi' me?

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Accustomed to warfare since the days of Edward I, the Borderers had fine-tuned their survival techniques over the centuries. Only the hardiest and most alert remained alive. They had acquired an almost sixth sense when it came to foreseeing danger. The early warning system of fires on the hill tops and mounted messengers were effective in time of trouble, allowing the Borderer to either scatter to the hills or seek safety in the nearest castle or peel (pele) tower. There is a wonderful line in the ballad "Lock the Door, Larriston" saying "The Armstrongs are flying, the widows are crying" This ballad epitomizes and captures the spirit of the border raids.

Lock the Door, Larriston

Lock the door, Larriston, Lion of Liddesdale
Lock the door, Larriston, Lowther comes on
The Armstrongs are flying,
The Widows are crying,
The Castleton's burning and Oliver's gone.
Lock the door, Larriston; high in the weather gleam
See how the Saxon plumes bob in the sky -
Yeoman and carbineer,
Billman and halberdier,
Fierce is the foray and far is the cry.

Bewcastle brandishes high his proud scimitar,
Ridley is riding his fleet-foot grey;
Hedley and Howard there,
Wandale and Windermere,
Lock the door, Larriston, hold them at bay.
Why dost thou smile, noble Elliot of Larriston?
Why does the joy-candle gleam in thine eye?
Thou bold border-ranger
Beware of the danger.
Thy foes are relentless, determined, and nigh.

Jock Elliott raised up his steel bonnet and lookit,
His hand grasped the sword with a nervous embrace;
Oh, welcome, brave foemen,
On earth there are no men
More gallant to meet in the fray or the chase.
Little know you of the hearts I have hidden here;
Little know you of our moss trooper's might;
Linhope and Sorbie true,
Tundhope and Milburn too,
Gentle in manner, but lions in fight.

I have Mangerton, Ogilvie, Raeburn, and Metherble,
Old Sim, of Whitram and all his array.
Come all Northumberland,
Teesdale and Cumberland,
Here at the Breeker Tower end shall the fray.
Scowled the broad sun o'er the links of green Liddesdale,
Red as the beacon-light tipped he the wold;
Many a bold martial eye
Mirror'd that morning sky
Never more oped on his orbit of gold.

Shrill was the bugle's note, dreadful the warrior shout,
Lances and halberts in splinters were torn;
Helmet and haubert then
Brav'd the claymore in vain,
Buckler and armlet in shivers were shorn.
See how they wane, the proud files of the Windermere,
Howard ah! Woe to the hopes of the day;
Hear the wild welkin rend,
While the Scots shouts ascend,
Elliot of Larriston! Elliot for aye!


Elliot Crest

Boldly and Rightly

Clan Chief

Clan Chief Margaret Eliott
Chief Margaret Eliott
Margaret of Redheugh
Newcastleton
Roxburghshire TD9 0SB
Scotland

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Book for Sale

The society has copies of the book "Clan", by David P. Elliot for sale for $18. If you would like to order it, please send us an email.

bookclancover150

The story draws heavily on the Clan system in Scotland in a very turbulent period in The Borders. It includes both contemporary and historical information which will interest those who enjoy supernatural or historical or thriller genres.

David Elliot is 57, frustrated, out of work and has three failed marriages behind him. In 2007 he goes to the Borders of Scotland hoping that his ancestry will help him find some validation of his life. Accompanied by his daughter, son-in-law and his grandson Thomas, he finds that his bloodline leads his family into terrifying danger. 700 years of history threaten those he holds dearest, as myth and reality of “The Bloodiest Valley in Britain” combine.

The corruption of the rich and powerful meets legend as Good and Evil clash over the ancient Throne of Scotland and power in the modern world. William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, Border Reivers, creatures of supernatural horror and past heroes of the Elliot Clan are all involved, as the evil Lord William de Soulis actions his plan to assume power over an unsuspecting world.

All that stands against him is a family fighting desperately to protect a child. Their only weapon is their love of family… the power of their Clan.