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Broadside ballad entitled 'Bonnets o' Blue'


Verse 1: 'Here's a health to them that's awa', / Here's a health to them that's awa', / And wha winna wish guid luck to our cause / May never guid luck be their fa', / It's guid to be honest and wise, / It's guid to be honest and true, / It's guid to support Caledonia's cause, / And bide by the bonnets o' blue.'

'Bonnets-o' Blue' could refer to two groups in Scottish Highland history. The Jacobite followers of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who fought government forces in 1715 and 1745, wore blue bonnets with white cockades. However, the government's Royal Highland Regiment, or Black Watch, which was formed from six independent companies in 1739, also wore blue bonnets with a 'Red Hackle' badge. The reference to 'Donald the chief o' the clan' does not clarify which group the song refers to, as Highland clansmen fought with both parties.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable period of publication: 1870-1890   shelfmark: L.C.1269(147a)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Bonnets o' Blue'
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