Many will be aware of the Walter Scott poem “Jock o’ Hazeldean”, which is by far the best-known version of this song, often recorded and often reprinted. However, the song has a long history going back to around 1800, separate from the Scott version. In tradition, it appears more often as “John(ny) of Hazeldean” with different twists to the story. In the Scott version, the lady elopes with her lover rather than submit to an unwanted marriage. The older versions tell a different story: the lady is weeping for her John of Hazeldean, a gentleman tells her that John is already married and that she should therefore marry his eldest son instead. He takes her to meet the son, who turns out to be none other than John of Hazeldean himself. The two marry the next day.
This storyline is only hinted at in Kathleen Williams’ version, which is curiously the only version to be collected in England and must have been preserved in gypsy repertoire, although it has been collected many times across the Atlantic, particularly in Virginia.