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Lady Grange's Lament

Written by Lainey Dempsey (2022), Ebow by Stevie Jones (2023)

Lady Grange's Lament

O’er this cursed isle I roam
Weepin’ fer the place I lang
ca’d home
Through the night I howl in
the salt spray wind
But nab’dy hears my moan
Can ye fau’t me fer the
And my scalding scowling
I am Lady Grange o’
Edinburgh Town
I wore satin, silk and lace

They a’ claimed I wis a devil
That I wis guided by my
fathers hand
When my husband left wi’ his
lady fair
The shame I couldne stand
Can ye fau’t me fer my
When I knew the truth tae
If oor marritch vows be
I could damn Lord Grange
tae hell

I could hae hime hanged fer
fer he wis wan o’ Charlie’s
But my James in high places
kept treacherous friends
Who conspired tae still my
Can ye fau’t me fer the
As I was beaten, bruised and
In the winter seventeen thirty
and two
I was stolen fae Edinburgh

O’er two years they forced me
On the backs o’ horses I wis
‘Cross the glens and
mountains and ocean I came
For on this foul rock tae bide
Can ye fau’t me fer my ragin’?
As Lord Lovet counts his
He shipped me o’er the dark
roarin’ sea
fer tae live like a beast in the

Seven years I’ve bin on Hirta
Where the natives dinnae
speak my tongue
Midst the filth and cauld we’re
forsaken by God
but still my hope lives on
Can ye fau’t me fer the letters?
That each night I send to sea?
May heaven’s hand guide
them tae dry land
and a ship come rescue me....

...Fae this cursed isle I roam
...(repeat rest of first verse)

Born Rachel Chiesley in 1679, Lady Grange is said to have been a ‘difficult woman’. One thing is for certain, she had a difficult life. Rachel’s father was known to beat her mother and when Rachel was 10, her mother filed for divorce. The court ruled in favour of Mrs Chiesley who, unusually for the times, retained custody of her children and was awarded financial support from her husband. Mr Chiesley was irate and shot dead the lawyer responsible for the verdict. Chiesley was then hanged publicly in Edinburgh for the crime.


When Rachel was 28 it is thought that she got pregnant to Lord Grange (James Erskine) and that this was the reason they married. This was to be her first pregnancy of 9. She would miscarry twice and three of her children would die in infancy.


Lord Grange was a self professed womaniser and prior to his separation from his wife in 1730 he had already set up home with a mistress. Lady Grange was distraught by this as well as by her husband conspiring with Jacobites. If he was caught, he’d be executed and Lady Grange would lose her standing and wealth. She threatened to expose Lord Grange if he didn’t end his affair. This backfired and resulted in her being captive for 13 years in remote exile. One of Lady Grange’s letters eventually did make it to the mainland but unfortunately a rescue attempt was foiled as she had already been moved from St Kilda to the north coast of the isle of Skye. Lord Grange continued to pay her basic expenses there and according to a letter he received from a local, his wife ‘retained wit and facetiousness’ up until her death in 1745 aged 66 years old. Lord Grange was a religious man, and though he had arranged a public funeral for his wife just after her ‘disappearance’ in 1732, he didn’t marry his mistress until after Lady Grange’s death was confirmed in 1745, as that would have been a sin before God. What a guy.

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