Four Marys, The | Bowing Down Home

About this tune

The Four Marys, also known as Mary Hamilton (Child Ballad #173) is an old Scottish song. The chorus is as follows.

Last night there were four Marys
Tonight there'll be but three:
There was Mary Seaton and Mary Beaton
And Mary Carmichael and me.

At least three of the Four Marys (Seaton, Beaton, and Carmichael) were ladies in waiting for Mary Queen of Scots (b. 1542), who was executed by her cousin Elizabeth I of England in 1587. It is to be presumed from the Child Ballad that Hamilton was the fourth Mary (that is, the narrator), but apparently opinions are divided – not only on that point – but also as to whether the situation described in the lyrics corresponds to any known historical events.

Waltzing came relatively late to PEI and for many years good waltzing tunes were scarce. It therefore became common practice to employ instrumental and song airs in 3/4 or 6/8 time to accompany the dance.

Notation for this tune as played by Sid Baglole is in Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island.

Tune Selections

Hardy, Ralph (mand) - Four Marys, The (mand) Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, gtr
Jackson, Preston (harmonica) - Home Waltz / Four Marys Accompanied by: Doug Matheson, pno; Stan Chaisson, gtr; Theo Weigers, drums
McPhee, Angus - Four Marys, The Accompanied by: Cynthia Jay Crane, pno; Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
Mellish, Reg - Four Marys Accompanied by: Ken Perlman, bjo
Central Kings
O'Connor, Jimmy - Four Marys, The Accompanied by: Dot MacCauley, gtr
South Kings