“Hieland Laddie”


Used by sailors as they stowed cotton or lumber. "Were you ever in Quebec? Bonnie Laddie, Hieland Laddie, Stowing timber on the deck, Bonnie Hieland Laddie"


Some versions of this song have verses or chorus about "Donkey riding, donkey riding, Riding on a donkey." This is legitimate shipboard technology, referring to a donkey engine (which might indeed need someone "riding" it to keep it running), but also caused the song to be tempting to children.

Since, however, there is no possible way to separate sea versions from kids' versions, I keep them as one song.

Riding the donkey might also be known as "donkeying around." Modern folkies may recognize this from Larry Kaplan's song "Old Zeb." - RBW

Same tune

  • Mussel Mou'd Charlie (Kinloch, pp. xi-xiii)

Cross references


  • Pete Seeger, "Hieland Laddie" (on PeteSeeger26)


  1. Doerflinger, pp. 50-51, "Highland Laddie" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  2. Colcord, p. 95, "Highland Laddie" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Harlow, pp. 72-73, "Riding on a Donkey" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Hugill, pp. 143-150, "Heiland Laddie," "Donkey Riding," "My Bonnie Highland Lassie-O" (5 texts, 5 tunes plus fragments) [AbEd, pp. 115-121]
  5. Sharp-EFC, XXVI, p. 30, "Heave Away, My Johnny" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Fowke/Johnston, pp. 38-39, "Donkey Riding" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 64, "Donkey Riding" (1 text)
  8. Silber-FSWB, p. 96, "Hieland Laddie" (1 text)
  10. ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "Highland Laddie" is in Part 2, 7/21/1917.
  11. Roud #4691
  12. BI, Doe050


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1857
Keywords: nonballad shanty work
Found in: US(MA,SE) Britain(Scotland) Canada(Que)