Grant, Elizabeth (DNB00)

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GRANT, ELIZABETH (1745?–1814?) song-writer, of Carron, is vaguely known as the writer of one song, 'Roy's Wife of Aldivalloch.' She was the daughter of 'Lieutenant Joseph Grant, late of Colonel Montgomerie's regiment of highlanders,' and was probably born about 1745, near Aberlour, on the Spey, Banffshire. She was married about 1763 to her cousin, Captain James Grant of Carron, near Elchies, on the Spey. Grant being unfortunate, sold Carron in 1786 or 1787 to Robert Grant of Wester Elchies, and in 1790 he died within Holyrood. Mrs. Grant was afterwards married to Dr. Murray, a Bath physician, and she died at Bath about 1814. A portrait of her is at Castle Grant, where, however, little is known of herself.

'Roy's Wife,' Mrs. Grant's only known production, instantly became popular, and it remains a favourite among standard Scottish songs. Its allusions bear upon persons and places on the Aberdeen border of Mrs. Grant's native county. There are fragments of a legendary lyric with several of the same references, but 'Roy's Wife' has completely superseded this, besides appropriating to itself the old 'Ruffian's Rant' to which it is sung. Writing to Thomson in 1793 and 1794, Burns refers to the song, and himself makes a little English experiment to the same tune, in a conciliatory address to Mrs. Riddel. As in these letters Burns calls the air 'Roy's Wife,' while his 'Ladie Onlie,' written for Johnson's 'Museum' in 1787 is set to the tune 'The Ruffian's Rant,' we get an approximate date for the appearance of Mrs. Grant's song.

[Information kindly supplied by the Rev. W. M. Birch, vicar of Ashburton; Laing's Additional Illustrations to Johnson's Museum, iv. 368; Johnson's Museum; Fraser's Chiefs of Grant; Graham's Songs of Scotland; Rogers's Scottish Minstrel.]

T. B.