The Lass of Patie's Mill
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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The air is believed to date from the middle of the sixteenth century. It was first published in Orpheus Caledonias (1725). In Caledonian Companion (1743), James Oswald attributed the tune to David Rizzio - the secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots who was murdered at Holyrood Palace in 1566 (see links below). Although this is not verified, the tune has a definite Italian flavor.

The words are by the poet Allan Ramsay who was walking with the Earl of Loudon by Patie's Mill on the banks of the Irvine river. They spied a girl spreading hay in a field and the Earl commented that the she would make a "fine subject for a song." Ramsay completed the song in a few hours.

The tune (with different words) was used in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728).

The lass of Patie's Mill,
So bonnie, blythe, and gay,
In spite of all my skill
She stole my heart away.
When tedding of the hay,
Bare-headed on the green,
Love 'midst her locks did play,
And wanton'd in her e'en.

Without the help of art,
Like flow'rs which grace the wild,
She did her sweets impart,
Whene'er she spoke or smiled.
Her looks they were so mild,
Free from affected pride,
She me to love beguiled;
I wish'd her for my bride.

O! had I all the wealth
Hopetoun's high mountains fill;
Insured long life and health,
And pleasure at my will;
I'd promise and fulfil
That none but bonnie she,
The lass of Patie's mill,
Should share the same with me.
Related Links
From A Treasury of Old Scots Songs See Bibliography for full information.