“The Farmer's Curst Wife”

Alternate titles: “The Old Woman and the Devil”; “The Farmer and the Devil”; “The Carle o' Killyburn Braes [Burns]”; “The Battle Axe and the Devil”; “The Farmer's Wife”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1864
Keywords: family Devil humorous Hell wife feminist
Found in: US(All) Britain(England(South,North),Scotland(Aber,Bord)) Canada(Mar,Newf) Ireland

Description

The Devil comes to claim a farmer's wife. She causes great trouble in Hell, attacking the imps with all the vigor she had once used on her family. For safety's sake, the Devil is forced to return her to her family (not necessarily to their joy)

Notes

Linscott lists this as being sung to "Liliburlero," but Bronson (who knew though he did not print Linscott's version; it's his "g") says it is "not so close to our pattern here." - RBW

Compare, for example, Bill & Belle Reed, "Old Lady and the Devil" verse 1 ("There was an old man lived the foot of the hill If he ain't moved away he's a-living there still") with Opie-Oxford2 541, "There was an old woman" ("There was an old woman Lived Under a hill, And if she's not gone She lives there still"). [Also in Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #4, p. 28. - RBW] Neither of Child's versions use this verse (earliest date in Opie-Oxford2 is 1714). - BS

Cross references

Broadsides

Recordings

References

  1. Child 278, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #41}
  2. Bronson 278, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (71 versions+2 in addenda)
  3. SharpAp 40, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (6 texts plus 1 fragment, 7 tunes) {Bronson's #31, #54, #53, #35, #56, #66, #50}
  4. BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 326-333, "The Farmer's Cursed Wife" (4 texts plus a fragment, 1 tune) {Bronson's #61}
  5. Belden, pp. 94-97, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (2 texts)
  6. Randolph 36, "The Old Man under the Hill" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #63}
  7. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 63-66, "The Old Man Under the Hill" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 36A) {Bronson's #63}
  8. Flanders/Brown, pp. 226-228, "The Scolding Wife" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #13}
  9. Flanders/Olney, pp. 49-51, "Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #60}
  10. Flanders-Ancient4, pp. 99-135, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (15 texts plus 5 fragments, 13 tunes) {L=Bronson's #60, M=#13}
  11. Linscott, pp. 188-191, "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Davis-Ballads 46, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (13 texts, 7 tunes; 2 more versions mentioned in Appendix A) {Bronson's #37, #54, #11, #46, #24, #36, #25}
  13. Davis-More 40, pp. 316-327, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (7 texts plus a fragment, 5 tunes) {BB=Bronson's #33; EE=#10}
  14. BrownII 45, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text)
  15. Chappell-FSRA 20, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 fragment)
  16. Hudson 24, pp. 124-125, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (2 texts)
  17. Shellans, pp. 18-19, "The Evil Woman" (1 text, 1 tune)
  18. Brewster 24, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #65}
  19. Gardner/Chickering 154, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (4 texts plus a fragment, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #27, #23}
  20. Creighton/Senior, pp. 95-99, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (5 texts, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #4, #38}
  21. Creighton-NovaScotia 9, "Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #5}
  22. Peacock, pp. 265-268, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  23. Mackenzie 15, "The Devil's Song" (1 text)
  24. Leach, pp. 660-662, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (2 texts)
  25. Friedman, p. 452, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text)
  26. Fowke/Johnston, pp. 172-173, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text, 1 tune)
  27. Fowke/MacMillan 75, "The Farmer and the Devil" (1 text, 1 tune)
  28. Warner 89, "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife" (1 text, 1 tune)
  29. FSCatskills 137, "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife" (1 text, 1 tune)
  30. Niles 60, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  31. Sharp/Karpeles-80E 27, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #54}
  32. Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 34-35, "The Devil and the Ploughman" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1}
  33. OLochlainn 54, "The Women Are Worse Than the Men" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #7}
  34. Hayward-Ulster, pp. 33-35, "The Ould Man of Killyburn Brae" (1 text)
  35. Scott-BoA, pp. 152-154, "The Farmer's Curst Wife (The Devil and the Farmer)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  36. Lomax-FSNA 92, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text, 1 tune)
  37. Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 131-132, "[Little Devils]" (1 text, 1 tune) {cf. Bronson's #52}
  38. Ritchie-Southern, p. 25, "The Little Devils" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #52}
  39. Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 26 "Old Lady and the Devil" (1 text, 1 tune)
  40. TBB 39, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text)
  41. Beck 43, "The Curst Wife" (1 text)
  42. JHCox 164, "The Farmer's Curst Wife" (1 text)
  43. PSeeger-AFB, p. 58, "The Devil And The Farmer's Wife" (1 text, 1 tune)
  44. Abrahams/Foss, pp. 99-101, "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife" (1 text, 1 tune)
  45. Darling-NAS, pp. 81-83, "The Farmer's Curst Wife"; "Randy Riley" (2 texts)
  46. Silber-FSWB, p. 22, "The Devil and The Farmer's Wife" (1 text)
  47. BBI, ZN960, "Give eare, my loving countrey-men"
  48. DT 278, DEVLWIFE DEVLWIF2* DEVLWIF3* DEVLWIF4*
  49. ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), pp. 274-275, "Killyburn Brae" (1 text)
  50. Roud #160
  51. BI, C278