The Four Marys - traditional

refrain: Yestere'en the Quene had four Marys
The nicht she'll hae but three
There was Mary Seaton and Mary Beaton
Mary Carmichael and me

Little did my mother think
The day she cradled me
The lands I was to travel in
The death I was to dee
O tie a napkin round my een
No let me see to dee
And send nae word to me dear mother
Wha's far awa' o'er the sea
And I wish I could lie in our ane kirkyard
'Neath yon old oak tree
Where we pulled the rowans and strang the gowans
My brothers and sisters and me


But why should I fear a nameless grave
When I've hopes for eternity
And I'll pray that the faith of a dying thief
Be given through grace to me


This is a medieval Scottish song. It tells the story of one of Mary Stewart's (Mary Queen of Scots) waiting women who was executed in one of the many political upheavals of her reign.

The idea of the Queen having four ladies in waiting who were all called Mary is not so unlikely, since most people used a far narrower range of first names than we have today. The majority of women in Britain in this period were called either Mary, Elizabeth or Anne.

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