“The Lady of Carlisle”

Alternate titles: “In Roslyn Isles There Lived a Lady”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1845 (broadside, Harding B 16(327a))
Keywords: contest courting clothes marriage animal
Found in: US(Ap,MW,NE,SE) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(Scotland(Aber),England(So)) Ireland


Two brothers court a lady. Unable to choose between them, she decides to find out who is braver. She throws her fan into a den of lions and says she will marry whoever recovers it. The sea captain does so; she offers herself as the prize


Kennedy notes, "Lions were kept at the Tower of London from the time of Henry III [reigned 1216-1272] until 1834." Sam Henry dates this to an actual event in the reign of Francis (I? -- reigned 1515-1547) of France. This is more probable than most of these derivations (how many people in the world are that silly?), but as usual, it cannot be proved.

The notes in Brown posit a different original, claiming (following Barry?) that it originated in Spain, spread to France and Italy, and inspired Schiller ("Der Handschuh"), Browning, and Leigh Hunt ("The Glove and the Lions"). Belden (_The Vulgar Ballad_, p. 6) thinks he finds traces of a broadside published between 1814 and 1834. Again, proof is lacking. - RBW




  1. Laws O25, "The Lady of Carlisle"
  2. Flanders/Olney, pp. 207-208, "In Castyle there Lived a Lady" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 36, "Lady of Carlisle" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. SharpAp 66, "The Bold Lieutenant" (4 texts, 4 tunes)
  5. SHenry H474, pp. 488-489, "The Glove and the Lions" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. McBride 49, "London City" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Karpeles-Newfoundland 36, "The Bold Lieutenant" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  8. Creighton-NovaScotia 43, "Lion's Den" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Creighton-Maritime, pp. 34-35, "The Lady's Fan" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Mackenzie 22, "The Lady's Fan" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Kennedy 133, "The Lion's Den" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Ord, pp. 393-394, "The Lion's Den" (1 text)
  13. BrownII 89, "The Glove" (2 texts)
  14. Hudson 29, pp. 139-141, "The Faithful Lover, or The Hero Rewarded" (1 text)
  15. Brewster 59, "The Lady's Fan" (1 text)
  16. Silber-FSWB, p. 146, "Lady Of Carlisle" (1 text)
  17. Darling-NAS, pp. 130-131, "Carolina Lady" (1 text)
  18. DT 335, LDYCRLIL* LDYCRL2*
  19. Roud #396
  20. BI, LO25