Willie Williamson [Jenny Nettles] SA1971.214.3
This one-verse fragment of the old Scots song Jenny Nettles is also known as a reel or, as such dancing tunes are often called in Whalsay, a spring. It’s worth noting that words to such springs are still remembered around Shetland. (Roud index no. 2581).
Andrew Poleson’s fiddled version of this tune is also provided below.
Oh, saw du me Jaanie, Jaanie Nittle, Jaanie Nittle?
Saw du me Jaanie coming tae da market?
A peck o’ meal upon her back, A peck o’ meal upon her back,
‘Peck o’ meal upon her back, a baby in a blanket.
Andrew Poleson [Jenny Nettles] SA1971.212.19
Asked where he learned this tune Andrew replied “Oh, it’s just been haundit doon aa the time; it’s just an auld spring.” The label spring reminds one of the Norwegian term springar, denoting a couple dance, though the modern Norwegian springar is invariably in 3/4 (waltz) time).
A Scots version (in James Johnson’s The Scots Musical Museum 1787, vol. 1, p. 53) runs as follows:
Oh saw ye Jenny Nettle; Jenny Nettles, Jenny Nettles?
Saw ye Jenny Nettles, Coming frae the market;
Wi’ bag and baggage on her back, her fee and bountith in her lap,
Wi’ bag and baggage on her back and a babie in her oxter?
I met ayont the kairny, Jenny Nettles, Jenny Nettles.,
Singing till her bairny, Robin Rattle’s bastard;
To flee the dool upo’ the stool, and ilka ane that mocks her, [misery]
She round about seeks Robin out to stap it in his oxter.
Fy, fy! Robin Rattle, Robin Rattle, Robin Rattle;
Fy, fy! Robin Rattle, Use Jenny Nettles kindly;
Score out the blame, and shun the shame, and without mair debate o’t
Tak hame your wean, make Jenny fain the leel and leesome gate o’t.
An entry in the Scots National Dictionary explains the reference to ‘stool’.
“Sc. 1791 T. Newte Tour Eng. and Scot. 251: In most of the kirks there is a small gallery, fit to contain about half a dozen of persons, and painted black, placed in an elevated situation, near the roof of the church, which they call the cutty-stool, and on which offenders against chastity are forced to sit, during the time of divine service for three Sundays.”