Famous Scots
- Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne (1766-1845)

Although many people may not recognise her name, Carolina Oliphant's songs are second only in popularity to Burns. She wrote such classics as "Will Ye No' Come Back Again" and "Charlie is My Darling" and "Wi' 100 Pipers An' A'".

Carolina Oliphant was born on 16 August 1766 in Gask, Perthshire. Carolina became known as the "Flower of Strathearn" because of her beauty. Both her father and grandfather had joined Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Jacobite Uprising and she herself had been named after the Young Pretender (Carolina being the feminine form of Charles) so it is not perhaps surprising that many of her songs were sympathetic to the Jacobite cause.

In those days it was not appropriate for women of her social standing to publish poetry and so for a long time they were published under the pen-name of Mrs Bogan of Bogan. Even after marrying her second cousin, Major William Nairne in 1806, she kept her writing secret from him too! They had a son, born in 1808, when she was aged 43. In 1824, following a campaign by Sir Walter Scott, peerages and titles which had been forfeited as a result of the Jacobite Uprising were restored and so Caroline became Lady Nairne.

Like Robert Burns and James Hogg, Lady Nairne collected old folk tunes and modified or put her own words to them. She showed a love of the countryside in such songs as "The Rowan Tree" and "The Pentland Hills." Her poem "The Auld House" is about her birthplace in Gask and she showed her compassion in songs such as "Caller Herring" -

Wha'll buy my caller herrin?
Oh, ye may call them vulgar farin' -
Wives and mithers, maist despairin',
Ca' them lives o' men.

Her husband died in 1830 and she then travelled through Europe, returning to Gask two years before her death on 26th October 1845. She gave permission at that stage for her collected songs (87 in all) to be published as "Lays from Strathearn". They appeared in 1846.

Return to the Index of Famous Scots

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

Separator line