“Bonnie Jeanie Cameron”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1901 (Ford)
Keywords: love disease Jacobites
Found in: Britain(Scotland)

Description

"You'll a' hae heard tell o' bonnie Jeanie Cameron, how she fell sick... And a' that they could recommend her Was ae blythe blink o' the Young Pretender." She sends a letter to Prince Charlie, who arrives soon after and takes her in his arms.

Notes

Ford has several stories allegedly about the later life of this young woman, who supposedly died in 1773. I checked both a biography of Bonnie Prince Charlie and assorted histories of the Forty-Five, however, and found no mention of a liaison, even brief, with a woman of this name.

Abby Sale pointed me to the apparent solution to the question. According to a web commentary on Eyre-Todd's _Ancient Scots Ballads_, based on Ray's _Complete History of the Rebellion_, Cameron had been born as early as 1695, and had been in trouble with men by the time she was in her mid-teens. Not even putting her in a nunnery could apparently control her passions, and after the death of her father and brother, managed to take a spot as "tutor" to her nephew, who reportedly was of limited intellectual capacity.

At the time of the 1745 rebellion, Ray reports, Cameron raised the Camerons of Glendessary, bringing some 250 men to Bonnie Prince Charlie, who under the circumstances naturally treated her to a large dose of his considerable charm. Considering that Jean Cameron was rather older than Charlie's mother, one doubts any romantic connection. But singers might easily ignore that.

The Eyre-Todd report continues through much contradictory data, finally going so far as to speculate that perhaps there were *two* Jean Camerons. I must add that the histories no more mention Jean Cameron of Glendessary as a leader of soldiers than as a love interest of Prince Charles. - RBW

References

  1. Ford-Vagabond, pp. 221-223, "Bonnie Jeanie Cameron" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #13082
  3. BI, FVS221