The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

XIV. Scottish Popular Poetry before Burns

§ 19. Anonymous Songs

Of a considerable number of songs of the eighteenth century, the authorship is either doubtful or quite unknown. There’s nae luck aboot the Hoose has been attributed both to William Julius Mickle, author of the ballad of Cumnor Hall, and to Jean Adams of Greenock, authoress of a book of religious verse; but Burns states that it first came on the streets as a ballad in 1771 or 1772, and it may not be by either of them. Two verses were added to it by James Beattie, author of The Minstrel, who confined himself almost wholly to English verse, but wrote a rather clever riming epistle, in the Habbie Simson stave, To Mr. Alexander Ross, whose “hamely auld-warldmuse,” he said, had provoked him to ape “in verse and style,” our “guid plain country folks.” The song O weel may the Boatie Row was attributed by Burns to John Ewen, an Aberdeen merchant; but, in any case, it appears to have been suggested by some old fisher chorus.

Excellent anonymous songs—all probably, and some certainly, not of earlier date than the eighteenth century—are Ettrick Banks, Here awa there awa, Saw ye my Father, The Lowlands of Holland, Bess the Gawkie, I had a horse and I had nae mair, Hooly and Fairly, Willie’s gane to Melville Castle and O’er the Moor amang the Heather (which Burns said he wrote down from the singing of a disreputable female tramp, Jean Glover, and which, if not largely by Burns, is not all by Jean, and is probably in part founded on an old song).