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1777 James Richardson’s sing-a-long of Teribus

Cornet James Richardson had a grand occasion to celebrate during his time as Cornet in 1777 – the opening of the Drumlanrig Bridge bringing a convenient new way from the Tower Knowe to the Sandbed, rather than the old road which bogled its way over the Auld Brig over the Slitrig and then down Silver Street.

[here a view looking back up the Slitrig to a Drumlanrig Bridge – still two arches, though widened in 1828 – originally it was only one cart wide with a recess on either side –  and altered in 1900 to lighten the look of the bridge by replacing the stone parapet by open ironwork.
Info from Douglas Scott’s Hawick Word Book, photo from riverwatcher05 on Flickr]

The bridge had been paid for by public subscription and opened by the Toun Piper and the drums and fifes, with the Bailies and Council processing behind. Baillie Hardie gave a speech – and Cornet Richardson waved the Flag on top of the bridge.

Song singing? very likely – but not Teribus as we know it.

Whatever was sung, it wasn’t It certainly wasn’t “our” Teribus “Scotia felt thine ire, O Odin!….”
James Hogg’s “New Common-Riding Song” was sung for the first time only in 1819.

An older common riding song was one written by Arthur Balbirnie, a foreman dyer at the Orrock Place carpet factory and originally from Dunfermline – “We’ll a’ hie to the muir a-riding……… Here from Robert Wlson’s 1825 Sketch of the History of Hawick [full text is on Google Books, this is on page 347]

Though this sings quite nicely to the current Teribus tune, Balbirnie’s words wouldn’t have been written until the 1790’s – he wasn’t working in Hawick until then. Certainly not in the 1770’s.

I haven’t come across any older version of the words – they may never have been written down until Balbirnie came to the town.  And maybe he tidied them up a bit – the first line sounds OK – though the next three are a bit forced –  and the chorus sounds pretty natural, but the language of the verses ?? “Drumlanrig gave it for providing / ancestors of martial order / to drive the English off our border” is pretty convoluted grammatically – and the “dear memorial of our valour” line doesn’t sound at all Hawick.

Maybe it was the tune which was the important thing in the first instance, and was the town song, and the words came afterwards.

[My wife is from Linlithgow, and their “Rock and the Row and the Wee Pickle Tow”does have words, but it is the tune which gets Black Bitches going.

Although I think of “Teribus” as a fife and drum tune – here by the Fife and Drums in Drumlanrig Square

with the tune whistling away above the ratt-tat-tatting of the drums, you don’t really “need” the words.

Before the Fife and Drums started up, Teribus would have been played on the border pipes by the Toun Piper – and it was written down by Walter Ballantyne the Toun Piper for the first time in 1777.

This Youtube clip gives us that 1777 version of Teribus played on the border pipes by Matt Seattle and Bill Telfer

Matt says of the 1777 tune that

it is the most structurally sound version of all, and very satisfying to play on the pipes. Simple but powerful.

and since I originally posted, he and Bill have a further version of the 1777 Teribus on Youtube

So in 1777, maybe Cornet James Richardson didn’t actually sing any words to Teribus; but he would have waved the Flag while the Toun Piper played Teribus, as he did at the opening of the Bridge, maybe in the Selkirk way .

And it wouldn’t be until 1825 that the first words were added, so he had none to sing.

To get back to Cornets, and what else do I know about James Richardson? [Courtesy – as always – of the Hawick Word Book!]

Cornet James Richardson would have been born about 1750-1760, and probably in Hawick
The cornets list describes him as a wool merchant – and he still was in 1796 when he was a witness to the birth of merchant George Gray and Mary Potts’ daughter Jane Gray.
I have nothing of him as Cornet – apart from his probable flag waving.
It is apallingly slipshod to use the LDS family search – but maybe he married Katherine Brydon on 1 January 1785, when he would have been about 25-35.
The Edinburgh Gazette on January 1821 has a notice to the creditors of James and William Richardson , late wool mechants and manufacturers as a company and James as an individual advising that the solicitor would be in the Tower Inn to pay a fiunal dividend from the estates. The Hawick Word Book – and it is always right! – has James and his brother William contributing to the war against France in 1799, and in partnership with William at the Whusky Hooses mill built in 1788 at 14 Slitrig Cescent, Hawick  There, the Richardsons dealt in wool; and manufactured carpets; and dealt in salt, tar and whisky – before the firm folded sometime around 1812, with the final winding up in 1821 – the Whisky Houses premises were  bought in about 1815 by the Pringles which may have signalled the end of the company.


About Neil Wallace

Born in the Haig Maternity, lived in Dovemount Place, and started school there at Trinity. To Burnfoot Primary then the High School. Moved away from the town to Cardiff, then Edinburgh, and now an exile in Suffolk.


2 thoughts on “1777 James Richardson’s sing-a-long of Teribus

  1. Good article, Neil.

    The tune played on fiddle in the third clip is a highland piper’s invention (as far as we can ascertain). It is NOT the same tune as the one played in the other two clips. These are also different from each other, but they are different versions of the same thing, as is the song tune which is still sung.

    We just did another take of the pipe tune –

    Matt Seattle

    Posted by Matt Seattle | April 24, 2012, 16:58
    • Matt

      I have deleted the clip of the fiddle players in Mathers Bar and their version of Teribus – my posts are confusing enough without introducing the 1950’s version Scots Guards version of Teribus for Highland Pipes [and fiddles in Mathers Bar]

      Posted by Neil Wallace | April 26, 2012, 15:31

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