Stanley Robertson sings:
Stanley learned this rollicking version of the ballad (Child 199) from his father. Airlie castle in Perthshire was burned in 1640 when the Earl of Argyle was granted a ‘commission of fire and sword’ against the Earl of Airlie and other adherents of Charles I. Airlie had fled to England, and when Argyle approached the castle in force, Airlie’s eldest son, Lord Ogilvie, left to find assistance leaving his wife and child with a small garrison to defend the castle. Apparently Lady Ogilvie and child escaped but Argyle’s men having burned the ‘bonnie hoose’ then went on to destroy the other Airlie stronghold of Forther Castle along with the Countess of Airlie herself. Although the Airlie of 1640 was ‘wi Chairlie’ at York, many versions of the ballad such as Stanley’s include elements which link the story to the later events of 1745 where the ‘clans were awa wi Chairlie’. A great ballad for all that - and still quite widely sung in Scotland, although more commonly to a quite different tune. The Greig Duncan collection has 9 versions (GD 233).