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Lady Nairne

Lady Nairne


Daughter of a staunchly Jacobite family, Carolina Oliphant, whose married name was Lady Nairne, first became interested in old Scots songs through the work of Burns. She collected old airs, setting her own words to them; her work includes the Jacobite classics, Charlie is my Darlin’, and the haunting lament for the lost cause,
Will Ye No’ Come Back Again?, as well as others such as The Rowan Tree and The Auld Hoose. Her work was published posthumously.

More About Lady Nairne. She was born Carolina Oliphant, and picked up the title through her marriage to Major Nairne. Her own family, who had been in Perthshire since the 13thcentury, claimed a relationship to royalty, as practically anybody could, and can. What we remember her for today is her delightful 'Annie Laurie'. A lot of people assume that 'Annie Laurie' was written by Robert Burns. In fact, Lady Nairne was one of the first 'respectable' Scots to see the talent of Burns, and she persuaded her brother to help Burns's first book into print.

Carolina Oliphant, like the rest of her family, was a keen Jacobite, and her first name was borrowed from Prince Charlie. She had been a delicate child, but blossomed out in her teens as 'the pretty Miss Car', and became a striking beauty as a woman. Burns's attempt to use more 'refined' English for the words to old Scottish melodies encouraged Carolina to do some other own writing, and she went out and found some standard tunes to apply her muse to.

Lady Nairne was prey to a compulsion common to Scottish writers: she hid her identity behind a pen name, Mrs Bogan of Bogan. She had her work The Scottish Minstrel published in Edinburgh. Her lyrics included 'The Laird o'Cockpen', 'Wha'll be King but Charlie', 'Charlie is my Darling'. 'The Hundred Pipers', 'The Land o' the Leal' and 'Bonny Charlie's Noo Awa".

But the big legacy left by this delightful lady, known to her neighbours as 'the Flower of Strathearn', remains 'Annie Laurie'. It belongs to nobody but Lady Nairne.