Volume V, song 496, page 512 - 'Jenny's Bawbie' - Scanned from the 1853 edition of the 'Scots Musical Museum', James Johnson and Robert Burns (Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons, 1853)
Verse 1: 'And a' that e'er my Jenny had, My Jenny had, my Jenny had And a' that e'er my Jenny had was ae bawbie. There's your plack, and my plack, And your plack and my plack, And my plack and your plack, And Jenny's bawbie.' Chorus: 'And a' that e'er my Jenny had, My Jenny had, my Jenny had: And a' that e'er my Jenny had, Was ae bawbie.' A 'bawbe', more commonly spelt 'bawbee', is a halfpenny and a 'plack' is a copper coin of the lowest denomination.
The 'Scots Musical Museum' is the most important of the numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century collections of Scottish song. When the engraver James Johnson started work on the second volume of his collection in 1787, he enlisted Robert Burns as contributor and editor. Burns enthusiastically collected songs from various sources, often expanding or revising them, whilst including much of his own work. The resulting combination of innovation and antiquarianism gives the work a feel of living tradition.
John Glen had much to say about this particular song in his book, 'Early Scottish Melodies' (1900). Firstly, he disputes William Chappell's suggestion that the tune is English in origin and, secondly, that the words to 'Jenny's Bawbie' were adapted to fit the melody. Glen acknowledges that a couple of years prior to the appearance of Jenny's Bawbie in the 'Museum' (1796), 'the same tune, under the title of 'Polly put the Kettle on', had become very popular with young ladies, by means of 'Dale's Variations for the Pianoforte''. He goes on, however, to list apearances of 'Jenny's Bawbie' in collections prior to Dale's publication, including Archibald Duff's Collection of 1794, James Aird's Selection of 1788 and Joshua Campbell's Collection of 1778.