“Murder Song”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1960 (Creighton-SNewBrunswick)
Keywords: execution trial homicide river gallows-confessions ghost
Found in: Canada(Mar)

Description

A rich lady asks poor Willie to marry. She gives him 15000 pounds for their passage to a country where he can be a gentleman. He throws her in the deep. A wave reveals the corpse. Good Friday her ghost testifies against him and he is sentenced to die

Supplemental text

Murder Song
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Helen Creighton, Folksongs from Southern New Brunswick,
#90, pp. 189-190. Collected from William Ireland, Elgin, N.B.

Young men and tender maidens attend to what I saw,
Pity me all in your minds, I hope you'll watch and pray,
Do not do as I have done, the truth I will reveal,
For the cruelty of my true love sends me to Lipper jail.

She was a lady from her birth and that I can't deny,
And I was but a poor man's son, her father's servant boy,
And when I found she was in love with me 'twas her I did beguile,
Six months or something better she was by me beguiled.

(8 additional stanzas, slightly irregular in length)

Notes

Well, almost a gallows-confession. The last verse is truncated but has his parents standing by for the execution on April 29, but -- while the ballad starts with a hope that the listeners will pray for him -- he doesn't get to repeat that request at the end.

Creighton-SNewBrunswick: "The place name may be Lipper or Lifford; it was difficult to make out." I repeat that here because it may help connect this tale with some other ballad or some specific murder. - BS

My obvious conjecture would be "Liffey." But that doesn't really help -- though obviously a lot of Irish emigrated to America, so it could connect with the emigration theme. Nor does the April 29 date, though of course that could have been garbled. - RBW

References

  1. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 90, "Murder Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST CrSNB090 (Partial)
  3. Roud #2769
  4. BI, CrSNB090