From the recording Jefferson and Liberty
Along with about 300 tunes, the term "Planxty" has been attributed to Turlough O'Carolan, and refers to a tune or song that was written in honor of a particular person. This tune is one of two that O'Carolan wrote in honor of George Brabazon. It also became popular in Scotland where it was known as "Prince Charlie's Welcome to theIsland of Skye."
The song "Sir John Fenwick's the Flower Among them All" was written in honor of Sir John Fenwick of Wallington, a Jacobite conspirator who was arrested and executed in 1697 for plotting to kill King William. Brand's History of Newcastle relates a history of the song: "There are but few of those interesting memorials of ancient days now left amongst us of the class to which this melody belongs, viz., the 'Gathering Tunes', or tunes played to collect the tenants and retainers of some Border chief to the fray. This air is one of the best, not only for its own characteristic beauty, but also for the melancholy historic associations connected with it. It is traditionally stated that it was the tune to which the Jacobite friends of the brave and unfortunate Sir John Fenwick marched to his seat at Wallington when he was concerting plans for the overthrow of William of Orange and the restoration of James the Second. A few years afterwards this song, thoughtlessly sung, cost two of the gentlemen of the county their lives."
While the words were penned for Sir John, the tune was taken from a 16th century song, "Mary Scott, the Flower of Yarrow." Mary Scott was a real life personage, the daughter of Philip Scott of Dryhope Tower and renowned for her beauty, who lived in Yarrow during the 16th century. She married a notorious border reiver named Watt Scott of Harden in 1576 and bore him four sons and six daughters during their 30-year marriage, one of whose descendants was Sir Walter Scott. The song "Mary Scott, the Flower of Yarrow," was in turn based on a 15th century tune, "When ye cold winter nights were frozen." The "Long Cold Nights" title for the tune stems from a song printed by D'Urfey in 1687, later expanded on in a broadside ballad.