Cam Ye O'er Frae France

"Cam Ye O'er Frae France?"
English title Came You Over From France?
Composer(s) Traditional
Language Scots

Cam ye o'er frae France? is a Scots mocking[1] folk song from the time of the Jacobite Revolution in the 18th century.


After the death of Queen Anne the British crown passed on to George, the Elector of Hanover. In his entourage George I brought with him a number of German courtiers, including his mistress Melusine von der Schulenburg, whom he later created the Duchess of Kendal (known as the Goose) and his half-sister Sophia von Kielmansegg (commonly referred to as the Sow). George I's wife Sophia Dorothea of Celle remained in Hanover, imprisoned at Ahlden House after her affair with Philip Christoph von Königsmarck - the blade in the song. Another historic personality in the song is John Erskine, Earl of Mar (Bobbing John) who recruited in the Scottish Highlands for the Hanoverian cause. The nickname Geordie Whelps is a reference to the House of Welf, the original line of the House of Hanover.[2]


\relative c'' { \time 3/2 \key bes \major 
bes g g d g2 | bes4 g g bes a8( bes) c8( a) | bes4 g g4 d g2 | a4 f f4 c' a8( bes) c8( a) \bar ":|:" 
g4 g' \grace { a8 } g4 fis g2 | d4 g g4. a8 bes4 g | d4 g a8( g) f8( e) f2 | a,4 f f c' d8( c) bes8( a) \bar ":|" } 
\addlyrics { Came ye o'er frae France? | Came ye down by Lun -- non? | Saw ye Geor -- die Whelps | and his bon -- ny wo -- man? | Were ye at the place | Ca'd the Kit -- tle Hou -- sie? | Saw ye Geor -- die's grace | Ri -- ding on a goo -- sie? }


Cam ye o'er frae France? Cam ye down by Lunnon?
Saw ye Geordie Whelps and his bonny woman?
Were ye at the place ca'd the Kittle Housie?
Saw ye Geordie's grace riding on a goosie?

Geordie, he's a man there is little doubt o't;
He's done a' he can, wha can do without it?
Down there came a blade linkin' like my lordie;
He wad drive a trade at the loom o' Geordie.

Though the claith were bad, blythly may we niffer;
Gin we get a wab, it makes little differ.
We hae tint our plaid, bannet, belt and swordie,
Ha's and mailins braid—but we hae a Geordie!

Jocky's gane to France and Montgomery's lady;
There they'll learn to dance: Madam, are ye ready?
They'll be back belyve belted, brisk and lordly;
Brawly may they thrive to dance a jig wi' Geordie!

Hey for Sandy Don! Hey for Cockolorum!
Hey for Bobbing John and his Highland Quorum!
Mony a sword and lance swings at Highland hurdie;
How they'll skip and dance o'er the bum o' Geordie!

(Repeat first verse)


a, a' = adj all[3]
bannet = n bonnet[3]
belive (belyve) = quickly, soon, immediately[4]
blade = a person of weak, soft constitution from rapid overgrowth; Count Philip Christoph von Königsmarck of Sweden[4]
blithe = adj festive; glad; happy; joyful. n gladly, happily.[3]
Bobbing John = John Erskine, Earl of Mar.[4] So called because he switched sides 6 times before his death.[4]
bonny = pretty, beautiful, attractive[3]
bonny woman = a woman of loose character
braid = broad
braw = adj fine; handsome; splendid; admirable; well-dressed; worthy[3]
brawly = well[5]
ca = v call[3]
claith = cloth
cloth = George Augustus[4]
cockalorum = a young cock, or little man with a high opinion of himself.[4] Alexander Gordon, Marquis of Huntly[4]
differ = n difference; dissent. v dissent.[3]
Don = diminutive of Gordon (the last syllable).[4]
frae = from[3]
gane = gone
Geordie = diminutive of George.[4] George I and/or George Augustus[4]
Geordie's grace = His Grace King George I[4]
gin = if, whether
goose = a goose; a prostitute[4]
goosie = diminutive of goose; a pig; a fat and gross person; derisive nickname for the King's mistress; 'The Goose', Countess Ehrengard Melusine von der Schulenburg, later Duchess of Kendal[4]
ha = n hall; house; mansion.[3]
ha's and mailins = houses and farmlands
hae = v have; take; credit (believe/think)[3]
Highland hurdie = a Highland soldier[4]
Highland quorum = either the hunting party on 27 August 1715 or the planning meeting on 3 September 1715[4]
hurdie = buttock
Jocky = a Scotsman.[4] James III[4]
kittle = adj adept; ticklish; tricky; v arouse, enliven; tickle; perplex; tease; titillate[3]
kittle housie = brothel;[5] St. James's Palace[4]
link = n skip; v walk smartly;[3] to make love[4]
linkin = tripping along
loom = a loom; a metaphor for female sexual organs[4]
loom of Geordie = George I's former wife, Princess Sophia Dorothea of Celle[4]
lordie = George I[4]
Lunnon = London
mailing = a leased smallholding, a farm[4]
mailings braid = broad farmlands[4]
Montgomery = Sidney, Earl of Godolphin[4]
Montgomery's lady = Queen Mary Beatrice of Modena, wife of James II and mother of James III[4]
mony = adj many[3]
niffer = haggle or exchange;[5] to exchange, to barter with objects hidden in the fists[4]
o'er = over; excessively; too[3]
o't = of it[4]
plaid = James III[4]
Sandy = diminutive of Alexander.[4]
Sandy Don = Major-General Alexander Gordon of Auchintoul[4]
thrive = success[3]
tint = lost;[5] lost (past participle of tine = to lose)[4]
to dance = to raise funds, to raise troops and prepare to fight. Compare the song To Auchindown, which has the lines: "We joined the dance, and kissed the lance, / And swore us foes to strangers."[4]
to dance a jig with Geordie = To fight with George I.[4]
trade = a business; an exchange or substitution[4]
wab = web (or length) of cloth);[5] a length of woven cloth from one loom[4]
wad = n pledge, security; wager, bet; forfeit. adj wedded. v pledge; wager, bet; wed.[3]
wha = pron who[3]
whelp = a puppy; an ill-bred child; Guelph, a political faction (left over from the Middle Ages) to which the House of Hanover belonged.[4] George I and/or George Augustus[4]

See also

For a more in depth explanation of the background of this song, please see

The Players


House of Tudor (Extreme Background)
House of Stuart
House of Hanover



More Background


The Stakes


  1. Daniel Szechi (1994-05-15). The Jacobites: Britain and Europe, 1688-1788. Manchester University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-7190-3774-0.
  2. Ewan MacColl, 'The Jacobite Risings'
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Scots-English English-Scots Dictionary. New Lanark ML: Lomond Books. 1998. p. 256. ISBN 0947782265.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 Unriddling Came Ye o'er frae France?
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Folk Songs and Ballads of Scotland
  6. Older texts may refer to the war as the War of the English Succession, or, in North American historiography as King William's War. This varying nomenclature reflects the fact that contemporaries – as well as later historians – viewed the general conflict from particular national or dynastic viewpoints.
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