[scots-l] the Gay Gordons

Ian Brockbank

Message 28517 · 30 Nov 2001 09:49:16 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

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-----Original Message-----
From: Jack Campin [mailto:xx@xxxx.xxxxx.xx.xx]
Sent: 30 November 2001 0:20
To: xxxxx-x@xxxxxx.xxxxxxxxx.xxx; XXxxxxx@xxxxxx.xxx
Subject: [scots-l] the Gay Gordons

[Gay Gordons]
> I think legend has it that the dance got its original name from the looks
> of the Gordon Highlanders' uniform.

Not from its looks, from its adoption. It could have looked like a
wheelie bin covered in rotting sacks and still got the same tune.

> Sometimes it is spelled Gey or Gei or similar variant. The "Gordons" is a
> military unit (Remember the song "Here's tae the Gordons"?). In this
> context Gay does not mean "happy", it means "fierce".

Wrong. There is no such meaning for the word in Scots or any other
language. (Even "homosexual" would make more historical sense: that's
attested as far back as the early 19th century).

> One further note: I understand now that the Gay Gordons are a military
> unit, but I do believe they are also a Highland clan, so would love some
> info on whether the two are related, how that happened & to which the song
> is pertinent, if anyone knows. Thanks! -Karen

The Gordons had ceased to be a clan in any meaningful sense by the time
the regiment was first raised (1794, as the 92nd). It was initially
recruited from areas dominated by the Gordon family (Aberdeenshire), but
every large aristocrat in Britain did the same thing on their respective
patch, and clan loyalty did *not* come into it as a factor when joining
up in Aberdeenshire any more than it did in Birmingham.

The 92nd merged with the Stirlingshire Regiment (the 75th) in 1881, to
create the Gordons that were the subject of the song/dance. They went
on to merge with the London Scottish.

The episode that acquired the Gordons the fame that led to all the
musical memorials is described in as much detail as any sane human
being would want to know at:
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Atlantis/2359/contents.html

i.e. it's the same battle as that marked by "The Heights of Dargai".
(I only just found this site; I'd already put together most of the
story myself, and everything the author says checks out with what
I've read independently).

It's not a million miles from a certain current location of infantry
warfare and not such a different kind of action, either.

A good basic web reference on Scottish regiments is the "Scots at War"
site run by Diana Henderson (all-round clued-up professional military
historian): http://www-saw.arts.ed.ac.uk/parent.html

=================== <http://www.purr.demon.co.uk/jack/> ===================

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A Django site.