Scottish Rhyme – I’ll Tell Ma Mither

Gillian wrote me,

The following is a Scottish rhyme that I was brought up hearing. I’m afraid I don’t know how it originated…


My mother said I never should
Play with the gipsies in the wood
They tugged my hair and broke my comb
I’ll tell my mither when I get home.
My mither says that I must go
With my daddy’s dinner, oh.
Chappit tatties, beef and steak,
Twa reed herrin’ and a bawbee bake.
I cam’ til a river and I couldna get across,
So I paid five bob for an auld done horse.
I jamped on his back; and his banes gae a crack.
And I had tae play the fiddle til the boat cam’ back.


If anyone has any information about the origin of this rhyme, please write me.

Thanks! – Lisa

For other Scottish rhymes and children’s songs, visit Mama Lisa’s World’s U.K. Page!

This article was posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2005 at 8:32 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, I'll Tell Ma Mither, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Nursery Rhymes About Animals, Nursery Rhymes About Horses, Rhymes by Theme, Scotland, Scottish, Scottish Nursery Rhymes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “Scottish Rhyme – I’ll Tell Ma Mither”

  1. Alisa Says:

    I know this is a response to an old post, but there is a neat similarity between an old American folksong, Turkey in the Straw, and the lyrics in your Scottish version of I’ll Tell Ma Mither. The stanza in Turkey is:
    I came to the river and I couldn’t get across
    So I paid five dollars for a big bay hoss
    He wouldn’t go forward and he wouldn’t stand still
    So he went up and down like an old saw mill

  2. Lisa Says:

    Stephen wrote me, “The rythym and the obvious third and forth line lead me to believe that this is a scottish variant of I’ll tell me Ma which I can see you also have on your site. I hope that this helps.”

    Best wishes,


  3. Payal Says:

    I am Scottish born and I thought the rendering of Loch Lomond was lovely. I deeply appreciate it when when people outside of Scotland singthe songs of Scotland. It is a lovely gesture. Thank you so much. Sincerely, Iona Syke

    P.S. There are plenty more traditional songs of Scotland which you can lend your voice to.

  4. Elspeth Durrand Says:

    The version sung to me by my granny was….
    Ma mither said that I must go, with ma daddy’s denner oh, chappit tatties, beef and steak, three salt herring an a ha’penny cake. I came to a river, I couldna get across so I paid five shillings for an old blind horse. I jumped on his back and I gave him such a crack that I made him play the fiddle til the boat came back

  5. Carol Burns Says:

    This is word for word what my grandmother used to say to me. Thank you Elspeth.

  6. Hjo Says:

    I was mashing tatties today and for some strange reason the rhyme came into my head but I could only remember

    Chappit tatties, beef and steak, ??? and a bawbee bake.

    So your page popped up, thanks for filling in the blanks.

  7. Lisa Says:

    Karen wrote, “‘My mammy said I must go with my daddy’s dinner.’ I was taught this as a child. Both my parents are from Glasgow.”

  8. Catherine Says:

    My maw say’s I’ve to go way my faithers dinner oh.
    Mince and tatties, stew and steak wae a wee bit currant cake.
    Fir he’s a fisherman, he caught a wee but trout.
    He said tae the trout dis your mither know your out.
    Singing don’t be weary try an be cheery don’t be weary for were all going home.

    I came to a river and I coudnae get across. I paid 10 bob for an old scabby horse.
    I jumped on its back it’s bones gave a crack,
    I played my fiddle till the boat came back
    The boat came back, we all jumped in, the boat capsized an we all fell in.
    Singing, don’t be weary try an be cheery don’t be weary fur were all going home.

    This is the version I was taught as a girl in Glasgow

  9. Lisa Says:

    Claire wrote, “Hi, seen your post on Scottish rhymes and I too was brought up hearing this song at home. My Mither say’s – (Stew and Tatties)
    The next bit is;

    ..The boat came back
    We ah jumped in..
    The boat capsized and we ah fell in!

    I don’t know the origin but I was brought up in Dundee and back when my father was a child in the 1940’s they lived in tenements and in the ‘backs’ or the ‘greenies’ as they called the back areas behind the tenements where they would hang washing and the children would play.. the adults would sing both songs and play instruments to entertain themselves. It was a close community and everyone sang and got involved apparently..
    Sounds great if you ask me among all the poverty, there was a real community spirit and positivity…”

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