“Rosie Anderson”


Rosie marries Hay Marshall, but soon attracts the attention of Lord Elgin. Elgin dances with Rosie and takes her home. After more wantonness on her part, Marshall divorces Rosie. She is left to lament her fate (and court a soldier or become a prostitute)

Supplemental text

Rosie Anderson
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

Rosey Anderson

From John Ord, Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads (1995 John Donald edition),
pp. 91-92. No source information given.

Hay Marshall was a gentleman as ever lived on earth,
He courted Rosey Anderson, a lady into Perth;
He courted her, and married her, made her his lawful wife.
And at that day, I dare to say, he loved her as his life

There was an Assembly into Perth, and Rosey she was there;
Lord Elgin danced with her that night, and did her heart ensnare,
Lord Elgin danced with her that night, and then conveyed her home;
Hay Marshall he came rushing in before he left the room.

"I'm all into surprised," he says, "I'm all into surprise,
To see you kiss my wedded wife before my very eyes."
"Do not be in surprise," he says, "not do not think it odd.
Though I've conveyed your lady home from the dangers on the road.

"I did not kiss your wedded wife, nor did I with her stay,
I only brought her safely home from the dangers on the way."
"Oh, had she not a maid," he says, "or had she not a guide?
Or had she not a candlelight, or why was she afraid?"

Betty she was called upon the quarrel for to face --
"I would have brought my lady home but Lord Elgin took my place."
"Although you be a Lord," he said, "And I but a provost's son,
I'll make you smart for this, my Lord, although you think it's fun."

He took his Rosey by the hand, and led her through the room,
Saying, "I'll send you up to fair London till a' this clash goes down;
I'll send you up till fair London, your mother to be your guide,
And let them all say what they will, I'll still be on your side."

Weeks barely nine she had not been into fair London toun
Till word came back to Hay Marshall that Rosey play'd the loon:
"Oh, woe be to your roses red that ever I loved you,
For to forsake your own husband amongst the beds o' rue."

A lady from her window high was spying with her glass,
And what did she spy but a light grey gown rolling amongst the grass;
Hay Marshall had twenty witnesses, and Rosey had but two:
"Waes me," cries Rosey Anderson, "Alas, what shall I do?

"My very meat I cannot take, mt clothes I wear them worse:
Waes me," cries Rosey Anderson, "my life's to me a curse;
If it was to do what's done," she says, "if it was to do what's done
Hay Marshall's face I would embrace, Lord Elgin's I would shun.

"The springtime it is coming on, some regiments will be here,
I'll maybe get an officer my broken heart to cheer."
Now she has got an officer her broken heart to bind,
Now she has got an officer, but he has proved unkind.

He's left her for to lie her lane, which causes her to cry:
"In Bedlam I must lie my lane, in Bedlam I must die!
Ye ladies fair, both far and near, a warning take by me,
And don't forsake your own husbands for any Lords you see."


Logan has many details about the facts behind this ballad (though providing few dates). Rosie reportedly married Thomas Hay Marshall at the age of 16, urged on more by her parents than her own desires. The divorce was rather more messy than the ballad shows, as Marshall had neglected his wife. Sadly, the affair ended with Rosie walking the streets of London.

The Lord Elgin mentioned in this ballad is also the one who walked off with the Grecian marbles. All in all, not the sort of person I'd want to let into the house. - RBW

Cross references


  • Murray, Mu23-y1:010, "Rosy Anderson," unknown (Glasgow), no date


  1. Ford-Vagabond, pp. 184-187, "Rosey Anderson" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Ord, pp. 91-92, "Rosey Anderson" (1 text)
  3. Logan, pp. 392-395, "Rosey Anderson" (1 text)
  5. ST Log392 (Full)
  6. Roud #2169
  7. BI, Log392


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1869 (Logan)
Found in: Britain(Scotland)