Click for Bookshop

Lady Carolina Nairne


(Carolina Oliphant)

1766 - 1845

Lyricist, song-writer and poet. Born Carolina Oliphant at Gask House (Perth & Kinross), into a staunchly Jacobite family, she was the fourth child of the Laird of Gask. Nairne was educated privately, gaining skills in art, writing and music. She is known for her popular folk-songs, often on Jacobite themes, which were mostly written between the 1790s and her marriage in 1806. She married her second-cousin William Murray Nairne, the 5th Lord Nairne (1757 - 1830), and the couple lived at Caroline Cottage in Duddingston (Edinburgh), where her son was born in 1808. After the death of her husband she lived with her sickly unmarried son in England, Ireland and on the continent. Her son died in Brussels in 1837. She returned to Gask, where she died and is buried in the family chapel.

The most famous of her songs are Charlie is my Darling, The Laird o' Cockpen, The Hundred Pipers, The Rowan Tree and Will Ye No Come Back Again?. Nairne wrote both the words and music for the last two of these. Her songs were first published in the six-volume compendium The Scottish Minstrel (1821-24) under the pseudonym Mrs Bogan of Bogan. She had gone to some effort to conceal her identity, as writing songs was seen as inappropriate for a 'lady' at the time, although she subsequently became upset that her work was credited to her contemporary Robert Burns (1759-96). Her name was eventually revealed when her work were published posthumously by her sister as the Lays from Strathearn (1846) and her biography appeared in the second edition of The Scottish Minstrel (1872).

Several of her songs remain popular today. Her words appear on the memorial to the Eyemouth Disaster, while the Lady Nairne steakhouse lies next to her former home in Duddingston.


Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better