Mrs Watson Gray's unique version of The Bonny Earl O Moray

Mrs Watson Gray lived at Corner House, East Street, Fochabers. She gave Carpenter about 20 ballads, especially she sang unique versions of 'Willie Mackintosh' and 'The Bonny Earl of Moray'.
Both of them had extra verses telling more of their stories.
She had heard 'The Bonnie Earl O Murray', and several others of her ballads, fifty years before, in Glenlivet.


Her first four verses tell of the murder of the Earl by Huntly.
He's ben an ben, an ben tae his bed
An wi a shairp rapier he stabbit him dead.
The lady can doon the stair, wringin her hands
'He's slain the Easl o Moray, the floor o Scotland'.
But Huntly lap on his horse, rade tae the king
'Ye're welcome hame, Huntly, an whaur hae ye been?'
'Whaur hae ye been an hoo hae ye sped?'
I''ve killed the Earl o Moray, dead in his bed.'

Although the historians agree 'that the Earl was cut down after fleeing from a house besieged and set on fire by Huntly', these verses saying he was slain in his bed are supported by ballad expert Ian Olsen, who says 'When I examined the forensic evidence of the wounds portrayed in a detailed contemporary death portrait of Moray it turned out to support' the above account.

Card image and 1931 recordings are used courtesy of the James Madison Carpenter Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.