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Wh'll be King but Charlie
Carolina Oliphant, The Baroness of Nairne

     This lady wrote so many songs and poems that it would take many pages to tell of her life. She was born in the old mansion of Gask, in the county of Perth, on the 16th of July 1766. Her mother was Margaret Robertson wife of Laurence Oliphant of Gask.

     The family of Gask were devoted Jacobites; the father and grandfather of Carolina had attended Prince Charles Edward Stewart in 1745-46 and underwent seventeen years in exile for their beliefs.  The estate of Gask was bought back from the Government in 1753. Her father would not permit the names of the present day kings and Queen to be mentioned in his presence; when his failing eyesight compelled him to seek assistance of his family in reading the newspapers, he angrily reproved the reader if the “German lairdie and his leddy” were designated otherwise than by the initial letters K and Q. The King heard of this and wrote him a letter complimenting him on the steadfastness of his principles. He did not sign the letter as King but as “Elector of Hanover”.

     Carolina in her youth was singularly beautiful, and was known in her native district by the poetical designation of “The Flower of Strathearn”.  She was as remarkable for the precocity of her intellect, as she was celebrated for the elegance of her person.  She had many suitors for her hand.  She married her second cousin Captain William Murray Nairne, on 2nd June 1806. He rose to Major and they lived in Edinburgh in a home situated at Wester Duddingston, under the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, near the city. The house was named Carolin’s Cottage.  She bore one child a son whom was named for his father.  Her husband had no knowledge at this time of her many poems and songs that she enjoyed writing.

     By an Act of Parliament, on 17th of June 1824, Major Nairne was restored to his rank in the peerage, and the subject of this notice became the Baroness Nairne.  Lord Nairne did not long survive the acquisition of the family honours; he died on 9th of July 1830. In 1837 her son died of influenza.  This was a heavy affliction and she deeply felt his death.  Friends and relatives feared the the event would overwhelm her. Slowly she yieded to her loss with a cam resignation and began many charity works.

     After the death of her son, and ‘till within two years of her own death, Lady nairne resided chiefly on the Continent.  Her health had for several years been considerably impaired, and latterly she had recourse to a wheeled chair. In the mansion of Gask, on Sunday, the 26th of October 1845, she gently sunk into her rest, at the advanced age of seventy-nine years.    

     After her ladyship’s death, it occurred to her relatives that, as there could no longer be any reason for retaining her incognita, full justice should be done to her memory by the publication of a collected edition of her songs.


Prince Charles Edward landed on the 25th of July 1745, at Lochnanuagh, an arm of the sea, dividing the districts of Moidart and Arisaig.

The news frae Moidart cam’ yestreen,
Will soon gar mony ferlie,
For ships o’ war hae just come in,
And landed Royal Charlie.

Come thro’ the heather, around him gather,
Ye’r a’ the welcomer early;
Around him cling wi’a’ your kin,
For wha’ll be king but Charlie?

Come thro’ the heather, around him gather,
Come Ronald, come Donald, come a’ thegether,
And crown your righfu’, king!
For wha’ll be king but Charlie?

The Highland clans wi’ sword in hand,
Frae John o’ Groat’s to Airlie,
Hae to a man declared to stand
Or fa’ wi’ Royal Charlie.

The Lowlands a’, baith reat an’ ssma’.
Wi’ mony a lord and laird, hae
Declar’d for Scotia’s king and law,
An’ speir ye wha but Charlie?

There’s ne’er a lass in a’ the lan’,
But vows baith late an’ early,
She’ll ne’er to man gi’e heart nor han’,
Wha wadna fecht for Charlie.

Then here’s a health to Charlie’s cause,
And be’t complete an’early;
His very name our heart’s blood warms-
To arms for Royal Charlie!

Come thro’ the heather, around him gather,
Ye’r a’ the welcomer early;
Around him cling wi’ a’ your kin,
For wha’ll be king but Charlie?

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