Mudcat Café message #3945444 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3945444
Posted By: GUEST
21-Aug-18 - 03:16 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Turning back to Roud; he says something that might possibly be relevant to the song about Annie from the Mill of Tifty. He says that in the 17th century there was a phenomenon called 'ballading' whereby if people disliked somebody they would concoct a ballad about them. Some law cases relating to this are recorded because they ended up in the Star Chamber. Now this is where the use of a Scottish example in a discussion about Folk Song in England becomes problematic, because, of course, Roud does not mention whether something similar happened in Scotland. I don't see why not.

It appears (and I think this was in the Folk Song Journal that we were referred to earlier) that contemporary documentary evidence shows that Smith, the miller of Tifty, was in effect himself accused of witchcraft in respect of a neighbour's cows, a complaint which was referred back to the local kirk to deal with. So he seems to have been unpopular in some circles. We know this because Amanda MacLean refers to the case as mentioned in Presbytery records. And we have a song which accuses the miller, his wife, and two of his children of brutality and ultimately, murder. These are serious accusations, and ones for which there appears to be no justification. So just maybe the song was written out of spite?

According to MacLean, the 'ferm toun' of Tift was on the Fyvie estate: the Smiths appear therefore to have been tenants of the estate.

I am not arguing against Mr Carroll's interpretation of the song in terms of character being suffiently high-ranking to aspire to marry his daughter to the heir in waiting of the local castle, though I think one could reasonably do this. I think people are entitled to interpret songs however they like.

Just in case there is any misunderstanding, I have never said that people of that time might not have objected to their daughter marrying a person simply because he was a soldier: what I think I may have said is that in respect of the actual people believed by MacLean to be in some sense the 'sources' of the characters, the tenant of a mill would probably be glad to marry his daughter to somebody like Lammie, who was a member of the gentility as evidenced by his job in the Royal Guard. MacLead explains that because it did the job of guarding royalty they didn't let riff raff in (or words to that effect). The man had two wives and a fair few children and lived to a ripe age in Edinburgh.