“Willie Macintosh”


Willie Macintosh (probably in revenge for the slaying of the Earl of Murray; see Child 181) swears he will burn Auchindown, even if Huntly murders him. Macintosh succeeds in his efforts


The Willie Macintosh of this ballad was an ally of the Earl of Murray; [to avenge] Murray's death, he and his followers harried the Earl of Huntly, whose followers eventually caught up with Macintosh's men and defeated them. Contrary to the ballad, this Willie didn't burn Auchindown castle; that had been burned by another Willie Macintosh forty years before. - PJS

The only [known] tune [for this song] was miraculously preserved by either [Ewan] MacColl's father or else his mother. Yeah, sure! - AS

And Barry et al argue that the piece wasn't really meant to be sung. But even Bronson admits the effectiveness of the tune supplied by MacColl. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1592 - Vendetta between the Earl of Huntly and Clan Macintosh


  1. Child 183, "Willie Macintosh" (2 texts)
  2. Bronson 183, "Willie Macintosh" (1 version)
  3. BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 264-266, "Bonny Willie Macintosh" (1 text, learned in Scotland)
  4. Friedman, p. 266, "Willie Macintosh" (1 text)
  5. OBB 134, "Willie Macintosh"
  6. Roud #4010
  7. BI, C183


Alternate titles: “The Burning of Auchindown”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1808 (Finlay)
Keywords: feud revenge fire
Found in: Britain(Scotland) US(NE)