“The Gaberlunzie Man”


A beggar comes to a lady's door and begs lodging. That night, he lures her daughter away with him. Later he returns to the lady's door and again begs lodging. The lady says she will never lodge a beggar again. He reveals her daughter, rich and happy


Although this ballad is associated in tradition with James V of Scotland, there is no evidence that he ever sought a woman in this fashion. James V in fact married a noble foreign lady, Mary of Guise-Lorraine.

Wheatley explains "Gaberlunyie" as a compound of "gaber," a wallet, and "lunyie," the loins, i.e. a Gaberlunyie man is one who carries a wallet by his side. The fact that the title vacillates between "Gaberlunyie" and "Gaberlunzie" implies that most singers were less aware of this than the average scholar....

For the relationship between this song and "The Jolly Beggar," see the notes to that song. Due to the degree of cross-fertilization of these ballads, one should be sure to check both songs to find all versions.- RBW

The following broadsides almost certainly belong here but I could not download them: Bodleian, 2806 c.18(171), "The Beggar Man" ("There was an old man cam o'er the lea"), unknown, n.d.; also Firth c.26(57), "The Beggar Man" - BS

Cross references


  • NLScotland, RB.m.143(126), "The Beggar Man" ("There was an old man cam' o'er the lea"), Poet's Box (Dundee), c.1890


  • Maggie & Sarah Chambers, "The Beggarman (The Gaberlunzie Man)" (on FSB5 [as "The Auld Beggarman"], FSBBAL2) {Bronson's #46}
  • Liam Clancy, "Hi For the Beggarman" (on IRLClancy01)
  • Togo Crawford, "The Beggarman (The Gaberlunzie Man)" (on FSBBAL2)
  • Lizzie Higgins, "A Beggar Man" (on Voice17)
  • Ewan MacColl, "The Beggar Man" (ESFB1, ESFB2)
  • Maggie Murphy, "Clinking O'er the Lea" (on Voice07)
  • John Strachan, "The Beggarman (The Gaberlunzie Man)" (on FSBBAL2) {Bronson's #38}


  1. Child 279 Appendix, "The Gaberlunyie-Man" (sic) (1 text)
  2. Bronson (279 Appendix), "(The Jolly Beggar/The Gaberlunzie Man)" (49 versions)
  3. BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 333-336, "The Gaberlunyie Man" (1 text plus an extensive quotation from Petrie, 1 tune) {Bronson's 32}
  4. Percy/Wheatley II, pp. 67-71, "The Gaberlunyie Man" (1 text)
  5. SHenry H810, p. 269, "A Beggarman Cam' ower the Lea" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Ord, pp.375-377, "The Beggar Man" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #33}
  7. MacSeegTrav 19, "The Gaberlunzie Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Davis-More 42, pp. 333-338, "The Gaberlunyie-Man" (1 text, which though collected in Virginia comes from a man born in Scotland and is in Braid Scots)
  9. Creighton/Senior, pp. 99-101, "The Gaberlunyie Man" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #11
  10. BBI, ZN2346, "The silly poor man came over the lee" (?)
  11. Roud #119
  12. BI, C279A


Alternate titles: “The Beggar's Bride”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1724 (Tea-Table Miscellany)
Found in: Britain(England,North),Scotland)) Ireland Canada(Mar) US(NE)