Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Trad Tuesday: The King's Shilling sung by Mick McAuley, Winifred Horan, and Colm O'Caoimh


This is in the traditional mode though written by Ian Sinclair in the 1970s. It has been performed by many people; I featured a version sung by Karan Casey and James Taylor previously.

Ian has taken a traditional folk theme of the young man beguiled by the recruiting officers into joining the army and sealing the deal by his acceptance of money, the King’s Shilling.

According to the BBC website, History Factfiles, War and Conflict: “For many years, the private soldier's daily pay was one shilling, although money was deducted from this to pay for such things as rations, some items of uniform, medical treatment, breakages and barrack damages. It was not until 1847 that it was ordered that all soldiers had to receive at least a penny a day regardless of deductions. One shilling was given to young men who agreed to enlist in the army, and a variety of subterfuges were used by recruiting sergeants to persuade a young man to accept the money.

Often a potential recruit was made dead drunk and the shilling was slipped into his pocket: sometimes a sergeant might give a young man a shilling to run an errand for him, and then declare that he had volunteered. Once a recruit had been attested before a magistrate he received a more substantial bounty, but usually found that this was swiftly consumed in drinks for the recruiting party, ribbons for the sergeant's wife, and items of uniform that had to be purchased.”

Oh, my love has left me wi bairnies twa
An that's the last o him I ever saw
He joined the army and he mairched tae war
He took the shilling, he took the shilling,
An he mairched tae war
Come laddies, come
Hear the cannon roar,
Tak the King's Shilling,
An we're aff tae war
Oh, he stood sae proud an sae gallant then
Wi his kilt and sporran and his musket gun
The ladies kissed them as they mairched
awa
And they sailed awa by, they sailed awa
by the Broomielaw
The pipes did play as they marched along
And the soldiers sang out their battle song
"March on, march on," cried the captain gay
For king and country, for king and country
we will fight this day
Well, the battle raged to the sound of guns
And the bayonets flashed in the morning sun
The drums did beat and the cannon roared
And the shilling didn't seem, oh the shilling didn't seem much worth no more
The men they fought and the men did fall
Cut down by bayonet and musket ball
and many of these brave young men
Would never fight for, would never fight for their king again
Come laddies, come
Hear the cannon roar,
Tak the King's Shilling,
An you’ll die in war
Words:
Broomielaw: the dockside in Glasgow where soldiers took ship to go to war
King’s Shilling: offered to likely young men by recruiting officers. Its acceptance was regarded as a binding agreement to join up.

lyrics and info from http://sangstories.webs.com/kingsshilling.htm