Friday, January 20, 2012

Lady Margaret Ogilvy of Airlie

"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband; but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."--Proverbs 12:5

After the success of last year's calendar, I made another one, containing 12 more noble women. The first one is Lady Margaret Ogilvy of Airlie. The dates of her birth and marriage are unknown, but I believe that c. 1590 and c. 1613 are fairly close (one son who inherited the title Lord Airlie was born c. 1615).

Much of her life is unknown, being recorded chiefly in a ballad named The Bonnie Hoose of Airlie. This ballad is set in 1640, during the beginning of the turmoil of the English Civil War. As the song goes, Lord Airlie and his men went to join the King's forces in Scotland, leaving Airlie Castle relatively undefended. A Covenanting army under the Marquis of Argyle appeared and Argyle asked for "one kiss" from Lady Airlie. Despite an overwhelming enemy army, she scorned the proposal. Furious, Argyle fired Airlie Castle, burning the lady inside.

When the Royalists found out about Argyle's faithless attack:

"'Draa yir dirks, draa yir dirks!' cried brave Lochiel;

'Unsheathe yir swords!' cried Chairlie,

'An we'll kennle sic a lowe roond the fause Argyll

'An we'll licht it wi a spark oot'n Airlie!'"

Facing a strong enemy army, Lady Airlie had held Airlie Castle--and her honour--for her husband, and she is to be commended.

Note 1: versions of The Bonnie Hoose o' Airlie differ, mine taken from

Note 2: Despite references to "Chairlie" and "Lochiel", this song is set in 1640, not 1745. "Lochiel" refers to Allan Cameron of Lochiel.

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