#01696
The Worcester Tragedy (Kenneth Peacock - Variant A)

Jump down to Variant B (Kenneth Peacock)
#1040: YouTube video by threelegsoman
©2009 ~ Used with permission ~

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My parents reared me tenderly
and good learning gave to me,
They bound me 'prentice to a miller
to which I did agree,
Till I fell in love with a pretty girl
with a dark and a rolling eye,
I told her I would marry her
if she would with me lie.

I courted her for six long months,
a little now and then,
How shamed I was to marry her
I was so young a man,
Till at length this fair girl proved
with child and unto me did cry,
Oh Jimmy dear, come marry me,
or else for you I'll die."

I rod' unto her sister's house
about eight o'clock that night,
But little did that poor girl think
I owed her any spite.
I askèd her to take a walk
down in the meadows gay,
And there we'd sit and talk awhile
and fix our wedding day.

In taking a stake of hewn ash
I fell her to the ground,
And soon the blood of innocence
came trinkling from her wounds.
Now with the blood of innocence
my hands and clothes are dyed,
Instead of being a breathless corpse
I wish she were my bride.

I rod' unto my master's house
about twelve o'clock that night,
My master he arose and for me
he struck a light.
He askèd me and he questioned me
what stained my hands and clothes,
And this to him I answered ready,
"It's the bleeding of my nose."

I callèd for a candle
to light myself to bed,
And knowing at that same time
my true love she lay dead.
And now with the blood of innocence
my hands and clothes are dyed,
Instead of being a breathless corpse
I wish she were my bride.

This cruelty is known by all,
for this pretty girl was found
A-floating by her brother's door
in fair Worcester town.
When I was taken prisoner
both judge and jury agreed
For murdering of my own true love
that hangèd I must be.

Collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1959 from Mrs Charlotte Decker [1884-1967] of Parson's Pond, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2, pp.638-639, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

The video above features a 12-string guitar performance of this variant made especially for GEST by Tony Archibald from Port St Mary on the Isle of Man.


The Miller Boy (Kenneth Peacock - Variant B)

My father 'prenticed me a miller boy,
Good learning gave to me,
Till I fell a-courting of a fair pretty girl
At the age of twenty-three.

I courted her for several months,
A little now and then,
Till I felt ashamed for to marry her
For I being so young a man.

I said, "My dear, let's take a walk
Down by some meadow gay,
It's there we'll sit together
And plan our wedding day."

Collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1960 from James (Jim) M Keeping [1891-?] of Burnt Islands, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 2, p.640, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
####.... Author unknown. Variant A and Fragment B are both variants of British broadside ballads, The Wexford Girl (The Oxford, Lexington, or Knoxville Girl; The Cruel Miller, etc.) [Laws P35, pp.104-112] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G Malcolm Laws, 1957). Also a variant of a British broadside ballad, The Cruel Miller, published by J Pitts (London) sometime between 1819 and 1844, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Harding B 11(755) ....####
Kenneth Peacock noted that for Irish variants of this murder ballad see The Wexford Girl. The Worcester Tragedy and The Miller Boy fragments appear to be based on an English broadside of about 1700 entitled The Berkshire Tragedy; or The Wittam Miller. Variant A is much closer to the original than either of the Irish variants, which omit the young man's occupation and the reason for the murder ("by you I am with child"). Another possible source or influence is another English broadside describing a similar murder which took place in Reading in 1774.


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