“There’s Nae Luck Aboot the Hoose”,
Kathleen McKellar Ferguson
“Up and Waur Them A’ ”,
Battlefield Band

There’s Nae Luck Aboot the Hoose” is a song by the Scottish poet Jean AdamJean Adam (30 April 1704 – 3 April 1765) was a Scottish poet whose best-known work is “There’s Nae Luck Aboot The Hoose”. , set to the music of “Up an’ Waur Them A’ ”.[1][a]The subject of “Up an’ Waur Them A’ ” is thought to be a summoning of the Highland clans in preparation for the Battle of Sherrifmuir (1715), an inconclusive encounter in the first Jacobite rebellion.[2] Her fellow poet Robert Burns described its “one of the most beautiful songs in the Scots, or any other language”.[3]

The subject of the song is the excitement, relief and frenetic activity when the master of the house – the “gudeman” – returns from a long sea journey.[4] That must have been a familiar emotion to Adam as a child, as her father was a mariner and her grandfather a shipmaster.[3]

Authorship controversy

The widow of the Scottish poet William Julius Mickle claimed that her husband was the author of the words to “There’s Nae Luck”, but the available evidence seems to contradict that idea. Adam ran a school at her home in Greenock until 1751, and one of her pupils, Mrs Fullarton, recalled that she often heard Adam recite the words and claim them as her own.[3]

Robert Burns contributed the song for publication in the fifth volume of the Scots Musical Museum, a series published between 1787 and 1803, which may account for some sources attributing the song to him,[1] but the weight of academic opinion is now in favour of Adam as being the true author.[3]




Burns Scotland. The “Scots Musical Museum” - Volume VI, Song 595, Pages 614 and 615 - “Nae Luck about the House When Our Goodwife’s Awa.” 2019, http://www.burnsscotland.com/items/v/volume-vi,-song-595,-pages-614-and-615-nae-luck-about-the-house-when-our-goodwifes-awa.aspx.
Burns Scotland. The “Scots Musical Museum” – Volume II, Song 188, Pages 195 and 196 – “Up and Warn a” Willie. 2019, http://www.burnsscotland.com/items/v/volume-ii,-song-188,-pages-195-and-196-up-and-warn-a-willie.aspx.
Traditional Scottish Songs. There’s Nae Luck About the House. http://www.rampantscotland.com/songs/blsongs_luck.htm.
Williamson, Karina. “Adam, Jean.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Online, Oxford University Press, 2004, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/103.