Scots Sangs Fur Schools

Traditional and new Scots songs for use in Scottish schools

COULTER'S CANDY

In the 1870s Robert Coultart, a mill worker in Galashiels, made aniseed-flavoured toffee in his house, and sold it around all the fairs and markets in the Borders. He played his whistle and made up his song to call the children to buy his sweets.

There are many old and new verses to the song. One of them says he wore a ‘big lum hat’, another that he carried a basket on his head.

But a man called John A. Anderson who saw him wrote, ‘He wore a tam a shanter or was it a Balmoral bonnet? With a pheasant’s feather sticking straight up from a buckle above his ear. A shiny black bag slung over his shoulder held stock of the famous candy!’ The candy was a hard toffee flavoured with aniseed.


Chorus

Ally bally, ally bally bee

Sittin on yer mammy’s knee

Greetin for a wee bawbee

Tae buy some Coulter’s Candy.


Willie wept baith lang and sair

Till he got a penny tae share

Noo he’s tumblin doon the stair

Tae buy some Coulter’s Candy.


Poor wee Annie was greetin tae

What could poor auld Mammy dae?

But gie them a penny atween them twae

Tae buy mair Coulter’s Candy.


Oor wee Jeannie wis lookin affa thin

A rickle o banes covered ower wi skin

Noo she’s gettin a wee double chin

Sookin Coulter’s Candy.


Here comes Coulter doon the street

The man the bairns aa like tae meet

His big black bag it hauds a treat

It’s full o Coulter’s Candy.


Performed by Katherine Campbell and Ewan McVicar


Additional verse

Mammy, gie’s ma thriftie doon

Here’s auld Coulter comin roond

He’s got a basket on his croon

Singin and sellin candy

A ‘thriftie’ was a child’s money box.


For the full story of Robert Coultart and his candy see the book Doh Ray Me When Ah Wis Wee, 2007.