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Updated 04/25/2013


Caller Herrin'
Lady Nairne

This song, by Carolina Oliphant (Lady Nairne), is one of many which she wrote in the first half of the 19th century. Prior to her death in 1845 she had published her works under the pseudonym of "Bogan of Bogan."   Caroline was descended from an old family which had settled in Perthshire in the 13th century, and could boast of kinship with the royal race of Scotland. Her father, Laurence Oliphant, was one of the foremost supporters of the Jacobite cause, and she was named Carolina in memory of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. In the schoolroom she was known as pretty Miss Car, and afterwards her striking beauty and pleasing manners earned for her the name of the Flower of Strathearn.

In 1806 she married WM Nairne, who became Baron Nairne in 1824. Following the example set by Robert Burns in the Scots Musical Museum, she undertook to bring out a collection of national airs set to appropriate words. To the collection she contributed a large number of original songs, adopting the signature BB - Mrs Bogan of Bogan. The music was edited by RA Smith, and the collection was published at Edinburgh under the name of the Scottish Minstrel (1821-1824). After her husband's death in 1830 Lady Nairne took up her residence at Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, but she spent much time abroad. She died at Gask on the 26 October 1845.

The tune is by Nathaniel Gow Nathaniel Gow (17631831) was the fourth son of Niel Gow, and a celebrated performer, composer and arranger of tunes, songs and other pieces on his own right. He wrote about 200 compositions including the popular "Caller Herrin".

Lyrics by Lady Nairne

Wha'll buy my caller herrin'?
They're bonnie fish and halesome farin';
Wha'll buy my caller herrin',
New drawn frae the

When ye were sleepin' on your pillows,
Dream'd ye aught o' our puir fellows,
Darkling as they fac'd the billows,
A' to fill the woven willows?
Buy my caller herrin',
New drawn frae the


Wha'll buy my caller herrin'?
They're no brought here without brave darin';
Buy my caller herrin',
Haul'd through wind and rain.


WhaIl buy my caller herrin'?
Oh, ye may ca' them vulgar farin'
Wives and mithers, maist despairin',
Ca' them lives o' men.


When the creel o' herrin' passes,
Ladies-clad in silks and laces,
Gather in their braw pelisses,
Cast their heads and screw their faces,


Caller herrin's no got lightlie:
Ye can trip the spring fu' tightlie;
Spite o' tauntin', flauntin', flingin',
Gow had set you a' a-singing


Neebour wives, now tent my tellin';
When the bonnie fish ye're sellin',
At ae word be in yere dealin' -
Truth will stand when a' thin's failin',