“Lamkin”

Alternate titles: “Lamfin”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1775 (Percy)
Keywords: death theft revenge children punishment homicide cannibalism
Found in: Britain(Scotland(Aber),England(Lond,South,West)) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf) Ireland

Description

(Lamkin) rebuilt a lord's castle, but was never paid. As the lord sets out on a journey, he warns his wife to beware of Lamkin. The precautions are in vain; Lamkin (helped by a false nurse) steals in and kills the lord's child (and wife) (and is hanged)

Notes

John Jacob Niles claims that this song was once sung in the Louisville schools. One can only wish he had offered supporting evidence.

Anne G. Gilchrist examines the development of this ballad in "Lambkin: A Study in Evolution" (first printed in the _Journal of the Emglish Folk Dance and Song Society_, I, 1932; see now MacEdward Leach and Tristram P. Coffin, eds, _The Critics and the Ballad_, pp. 204-224).

Gilchrist finds two basic forms of the ballad. In one, primarily Scottish, Lamkin is a mason defrauded of his pay by the lord whose castle he built. In the other, Northumbrian and English, Lamkin is simply a ruffian or a border raider, seeking loot or perhaps the hand of the lord's daughter.

Gilchrist believes the Scottish form to be older, and believes that the other arose when the first stanza (in which the lord's fraud is described) was lost. She argues that the name "Lambkin" is diminutive of the Flemist name Lambert, and speculates that it may have been based on a (hypothesized) incident at Balwearie in Fife -- a site mentioned in some versions of the ballad, and located near a Flemish colony. - RBW

Cross references

Broadsides

Recordings

References

  1. Child 93, "Lamkin" (25 texts)
  2. Bronson 93, "Lamkin" (30 versions (some with variants)+3 in addenda)
  3. Leather, pp. 199-200, "Young Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #19}
  4. BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 200-206, "Lamkin" (1 text plus 1 fragment, 1 tune; also extensive notes on version classification) {Bronson's #16}
  5. Randolph 23, "False Lamkin" (1 text with variants, 1 tune) {Bronson's #25}
  6. Eddy 17, "Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #8}
  7. Gardner/Chickering 127, "Lamkin" (2 texts plus mention of 1 more, 1 tune) {Bronson's #15}
  8. Flanders/Olney, pp. 104-107, "Squire Relantman" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #7}
  9. Flanders-Ancient2, pp. 297-316, "Lamkin" (7 texts plus 3 fragments, 4 tunes) {C=Bronson's #7)
  10. Linscott, pp. 303-305, "Young Alanthia" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Davis-Ballads 26, "Lamkin" (3 texts plus a fragment, 1 tune entitled "Lampkin") {Bronson's #10}
  12. Davis-More 28, pp. 214-220, "Lamkin" (1 text)
  13. BrownII 29, "Lamkin" (1 text plus assorted excerpts)
  14. Chappell-FSRA 42, "Lamkins" (1 text, apparently a fragment of Child #93 (containing only a threat of cannibalism) plus three "My Horses Ain't Hungry" stanzas)
  15. MHenry-Appalachians, pp. 62-64, "Bolakin (Lamkin)" (1 text)
  16. Brewster 16, "Lamkin" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune) {Bronson's #20}
  17. Creighton-Maritime, pp. 20-21, "Lamkin" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  18. Peacock, pp. 806-807, "Bold Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  19. Karpeles-Newfoundland 13, "Lamkin" (1 text, 4 tunes)
  20. Lehr/Best 35, "False Limkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  21. Leach, pp. 288-295, "Lamkin" (4 texts)
  22. Leach-Labrador 6, "Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  23. Friedman, p. 199, "Lamkin" (1 text)
  24. OBB 78, "Lamkin" (1 text)
  25. Warner 102, "Bolamkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  26. SharpAp 27, "Lamkin" (5 texts, 5 tunes){Bronson's #11, #14, #12, #4, #9}
  27. Sharp-100E 27, "False Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
  28. PBB 64, "Lamkin" (1 text)
  29. Niles 38, "Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  30. Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 60-61, "Long Lankin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #28}
  31. Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 258-259, "False Lanky" (1 text, 1 tune)
  32. Hodgart, p. 64, "Lamkin" (1 text)
  33. DBuchan 16, "Lamkin" (1 text)
  34. TBB 19, "Lamkin" (1 text)
  35. SHenry H735, p. 133, "Lambkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  36. Darling-NAS, pp. 63-64, "Bo Lamkin" (1 text)
  37. DT 93, BLAMKIN* BOLAMKN2* BOLAMKN3*
  38. Roud #6
  39. BI, C093