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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Oswald, Mrs Lucy (c. 1760 - 97)

Daughter of Wayne Johnstone of Hilton, she married Richard A. Oswald of Auchincruive. She was a celebrated beauty, but died in Lisbon of pulmonary consumption. Burns wrote 'O Wat Ye Wha's in Yon Town' for Jean Lorimer, but, with the name 'Jean' changed to 'Lucy', sent it instead to Lucy Oswald, 'that incomparable woman' as he called her, in May 1795.

Writing to Thomson from Ecclefechan on 7th February, Burns said: 'Do you know the air - I am sure you must know it — 'We'll gang nae mair to yon town'? I think, in slowish time, it would make an excellent song. I am highly delighted with it, and if you should think it worthy of your attention, I have a fair Dame in my eye to whom I would consecrate it.' The tune comes from Bremner's Scot's Reels, 1757, and was also used by Burns for another and superior version of the song, 'There's nane shall ken, there's nane can guess'. The song appeared in Thomson's work with the name Jean, and in Johnson's with the compliment to Lucy.

Lucy Oswald composed the pedestrian air 'Captain Cork's Death', to which Burns's song 'Thou lingering star with lessening ray' (called by Currie 'To Mary in Heaven !') was set. It is now commonly sung to the tune 'Mary's Dream' composed by John Lowe, a Galloway divinity student and minor poet who died in America in 1798.

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Robert Burns Store

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

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