“The Fair Flower of Northumberland”

Alternate titles: “The Deceived Girl”; “The Sinful Maiden”; “Sin's Reward”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1597 (book reprinted in 1859); 1790 (Ritson)
Keywords: courting prison escape trick lie abandonment
Found in: Britain(Scotland,England(North))


A Scots soldier is captured and imprisoned. He captivates the gaoler's daughter, promising to marry her if she will free him. As soon as he is over the Scots border, he abandons her, saying he is already married. Her mother comforts her


Niles claims that all three of his informants used this song to draw a moral; in two instances they gave it a religious tone. This, obviously, is absent from all the Scottish versions. This is another instance where one questions the veracity of Niles's collections; there are no other American versions of this ballad known. - RBW

Cross references


  1. Child 9, "The Fair Flower of Northumberland" (7 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1}
  2. Bronson 9, "The Fair Flower of Northumberland" (7 versions)
  3. Stokoe/Reay, pp. 94-96, "The Fair Flower of Northumberland" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #3}
  4. Ord, p. 192, "The Flower o' Northumberland" (1 text)
  5. Leach, pp. 71-74, "The Fair Flower of Northumberland" (1 text)
  6. OBB 71, "The Fair Flower of Northumberland" (1 text)
  7. Niles 6, "The Fair Flower of Northumberland" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
  9. Roud #25
  10. BI, C009