The Sorrowfull Lover's Regrate, or The Low​-​lands of Holland, 1776

by Isabel Northwode

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This is a recording of the song now widely known as Lowlands of Holland, using the lyrics which were published in 1776. I sang straight from a facsimilie of the original lyric page, which contains no sheet music, so I chose one of the many melodies now floating around. I actually prefer a slightly different version of this song, amalgamated from several of the early versions, but I wanted to upload one which remains true to the original.

In this particular pamphlet the song was titled "The Sorrowfull Lover's Regrate, or The Low-lands of Holland," and it can be found in the Edinburgh library. Alas, the 1760 garland version is still nowhere to be found, and of course earlier oral traditions, perhaps dating to the Anglo-Dutch Naval Wars of the 1670s (hinted at in alternative verses describing Holland as cold and full of money - European Holland - instead of warm and full of sugar cane - Surinam, Brazil, or some other part of New Holland), are now thoroughly lost. Many versions hint more strongly at the presence of a press-gang to force the young husband off to sea, and place the events more firmly within the context of a war. Yet this late-18th century version still provides a window into the lot of seafarers and their families, as well as British views of Holland's New-World territories as merely an extension of itself. The strong connection drawn here between Holland and its colonial territories (to the point where only the presence of sugar cane tells the listener that 'the Lowlands of Holland' are not Holland itself) is particularly interesting in light of the fact that Britain was, at that moment, losing a large chunk of its own territory in North America, and could no longer draw that strong connection between itself and the arms of its own empire. Yet the verses concerning Holland's strength on the sea and its expansive ambitions also illustrates strongly that Britain was much more concerned with the encroachments of other empires in Jamaica and the Caribbean than it was with the departing Americans.


released March 24, 2015
The track image is a detail from volume 4, page 128 of the 1662-5 Atlas Maior, a stunning achievement of early modern mapping. One copy is now held at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, shelfmark EMW.X.017.



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Isabel Northwode Toronto, Ontario

Peryn Westerhof Nyman, aka Isabel Northwode, is an historical reenactor who performs music from a variety of time periods. Originally from Canada, she is currently based in the UK.

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