“Bonnie John Seton”


Forces from north and south prepare for battle at the Brig o' Dee. John Seton, with great foresight, makes his will. He is killed in the battle, and the highlanders routed by cannon. The leaders of the enemy forces despoil Seton's body


Were it not for the mention of Montrose in the final stanzas of Child's "B" version, it would be almost impossible to connect this with historical events. As it is, the ballad focuses entirely on Seton; the setting of the battle is entirely ignored. It relates to a minor incident of the English Civil Wars, but this is rather trivial in context. Child provides such additional background as is available. - RBW

Historical references

  • Junw 18, 1639 - Montrose's attack on the Bridge of Dee


  1. Child 198, "Bonnie John Seton" (2 texts)
  2. Leach, pp. 535-536, "Bonnie John Seton" (1 text)
  3. DBuchan 36, "Bonny John Seton" (1 text)
  4. Roud #3908
  5. BI, C198


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1832
Keywords: battle death nobility
Found in: Britain(Scotland)