“The Lad in the Scotch Brigade (The Banks of the Clyde)”


Geordie and Jean meet on the banks of the Clyde. She tries to dissuade him from "going to fight for his queen." She gives him a lock of her hair. In the battle a bullet "buried that dear lock of hair in his heart." Jean and his mother comfort each other.

Supplemental text

Lad in the Scotch Brigade, The (The Banks of the Clyde)
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From MacEdward Leach, Folk Ballads & Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast,
#133, pp. 320-321. "Sung by Ned Odell, Pinware, June 1960."

Note that Leach spells the lad's name Gordie, not Geordie.

The tune as supplied is fitted to the second verse, not the first.

On the banks of the Clyde stood a lad and his lassie;
The lad's name was Gordie and the Lassie's was Jean;
She threw her arms round him and cried, "Do not leave me,"
For Gordie was going to fight for his queen.

She game him a lock of her bright auburn tresses;
She kissed him and pressed him once again to her heart
Till his eyes spoke the love which his lips could not utter;
The last words were spoken; they kissed and depart.

(4 additional stanzas)


This ballad is reported in _What We Sang Down on the Farm: A Forgotten Manuscript on Western Canadian Singing Traditions_ by David A.E. Spelling in Canadian Journal for Traditional Music (1985). The article includes an anonymous undated manuscript collected in Alberta by Dr. Robert E. Gard in the 1940s. The author of that manuscript recalls that "our favourite war song was 'The Lad in the Scotch Brigade,' a product of the war in Egypt and the Soudan." The manuscript then summarizes the ballad and includes the chorus from the broadside omitted in the Leach-Labrador version.

The Alberta source, in placing the war "in Egypt and the Soudan" was probably imagining it to be about the recent (1884-1885 and 1896-1898) wars against the Dervish Empire. The ballad does not name the battle at which the hero is killed but refers only to "the great victory." In those "river wars" the "great victory" was the Battle of Omdurman, September 2, 1898. However, one of Roud's sources for #1784, as "The Scotch Brigade," was _Delaney's Song Book No.1_ published in 1892, before the second Dervish war. Too bad: the Scotch Brigade -- the 94th Regiment of Foot -- was in the second war against the Dervish Empire. It does not seem that the Scotch Brigade was in Egypt at any other time. You can find a history of the Scottish Brigade at the Dungarvan Museum site Historical Articles - BS

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(2032), "The Lad in the Scotch Brigade" or "The Burning Plains of Egypt" ("On the banks of the Clyde stood a lass [sic] and a lassie"), unknown, n.d.
  • NLScotland, RB.m.143(125), "The Scotch Brigade," Poet's Box (Dundee), c. 1880-1900


  1. Leach-Labrador 133, "The Banks of the Clyde" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST LLab133 (Partial)
  3. Roud #1784
  4. BI, LLab133


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1945 (Spelling)
Found in: Canada(Newf,West)