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Updated 04/24/2013


All the Bluebonnets are Over the Border

This tune goes by a number of names including ďAll the Blue Bonnets are Over the Border," "Over the Border," "Blue Bonnets Jig," "Blue Bonnets," and "Scotch Come Over the Border."

Samuel Bayard thinks this tune was fashioned in the 1740's into a quick dance piece in 6/8 from a slow 3/4 time song tune from about 1710 or earlier called "O Dear Mother (Minnie) What Shall I Do?" This "Blue Bonnets Over the Border" was in turn the basis for a 4/4 version called "Braes of Auchtertyre/Auchentyre," "Belles of Tipperary" and "Beaus of Albany;" out of this group of tunes came "Billy in the Lowground/Low Land." Michael Diack's, on the other hand, has written in his Scottish Country Dances that "Blue Bonnets" is derived from a 17th-century Scottish tune called "Lesley's March to Scotland." If this is the "Leslie's March" printed by Oswald (1755) and Watts' Musical Miscellany (1731), then the resemblance seems obscure and based on a few motifs. The tune, correctly classified a jig, often appears under the label 'country dance tune' because of its long association with the dance. Neil's (1991) version is an adaptation of one appearing in Uilleam Ross's Collection of Pipe Music (1869), and the piece is said to be a quickstep march of the Black Watch.

'Blue bonnets' is a euphemism for the Scots, stemming from the custom of Jacobite troops to identify themselves with a white cockade worn on a blue bonnet. The white cockade emblem is said to have originated when Bonnie Prince Charlie plucked a wild rose and pinned it to his hat. Lyrics to the tune were written by Sir Walter Scott, who based them on an old Cavalier song (Scott also mentions the song in his novel The Monastery).


Lyrics by
Sir Walter Scott

  March, march, Ettrick and Teviotdale,
Why the deil dinna ye march forward in order?
March, march, Eskdale and Liddesdale,
All the Blue Bonnets are bound for the Border.
Many a banner spread
Flutters above your.head,
Many a crest that is famous in story.
Mount and make ready then,
Sons of the mountain glen,
Fight for the Queen and the old Scottish glory
Come from the hills where your hirsels are grazing,
Come from the glen of the buck and the roe;
Come to the crag where the beacon is blazing,
Come with the buckler, the lance, and the bow.
Trumpets are sounding,
War-steeds are bounding,
Stand to your arms then, and march in good order;
England shall many a day
Tell of the bloody fray,
When the Blue Bonnets came over the Border.