Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Nickie Tams

Scottish Song

Nickie Tams is a Scottish song. Nickie Tam (plural Nickie Tams) (Also Nicky Tam) is the name given to a pair of straps or lengths of string tied below the knee over trousers.

This raises the trousers above the level of farmyard dirt or to prevent the ingress of dust and vermin up the trouser leg.

Related Scottish Country Dances

Nickie Tams

Nickie Tams

Fin I wis only ten years auld' I left the pairish squeel
Ma faither fee'd me tae the mains tae airn ma milk an' meal
Well I first pit on ma nerra breeks tae hap ma spin'le trams
Syne I buckl'd roon ma knappit' knees a pair o' nickie tams

Well fin I first gaed oan for bailie loon an syne I gaed oan for third
An' syne, of course, I hid tae get the horseman's gripping wird
A loaf o' breid tae be ma piece, an a bottle for drinkin' drams
Bit ye canna git throw the calf-hoose door withoot yer nickie tams

Bit the fairmer fa am wi' aye noo, he's wealthy bit he's mean
Though corn's cheap, his horse is thin, his hairness fairly deen
He gars us load wir cairts ow'r fu', his conscience his nae qualms
Bits an breist-straps brak there's naithing like a pair o' nickie tams

Noo I'm coortin' bonnie Annie noo, Rob Tamson's kitchie-deem
She is five-and-forty an' I'm jist seiventeen
She clorts a muckle piece tae me wi' different kin's o' jam
An' tells me ilke nicht hoo she admires ma nickie tams

Noo I startit oot ae Sunday the kirkie for tae gyang
Ma collar it was unco ticht ma breeks were nane ow'r lang
I had ma Bible in ma pooch, likewise ma book o' Psalms
Fan Annie roart: "Ye muckle gype, tak' aff yer nickie tams"

Though unco sweir, I took them aff, the lassie for tae please
But aye ma breeks they lirket up aroon aboot ma knees
Well a wasp gaed crawlin' up ma leg in the middle o' the Psalms
Sae nivir again will I rig the kirk withoot ma nickie tams

Noo I've affen thocht I'd like tae be a bobby on the force
Or maybe I'll get on the cars tae drive a pair o' horse
Bit whitever it's my luck tae be, the bobbies or the trams
I'll never forget the happy days I wore ma nickie tams

Nickie Tams Song Video

Nickie Tams Song - Information Video
Nickie Tams
Nickie Tams Shown On "The Ploughman, Fresco" c. Mid-15th Century

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Text from this original Nickie Tams article on Wikisource.
Image copyright Jean-Pol GRANDMONT (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, GFDL ( via Wikimedia Commons.

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