Mudcat Café message #3958862 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #165063   Message #3958862
Posted By: Kevin Werner
28-Oct-18 - 05:27 AM
Thread Name: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
Subject: RE: Origins: James Madison Carpenter- Child Ballads 5
Where did the assumption that the killing was about a sister originate?
Was this assumption based on Lizie Wan (Child 51) versions that had Child 13 verses attached to the end?

The "Little Sister Mary" text sung by Nora Hicks appears to be the exception, as far as I know none of Cecil Sharp's (or any other of those I've seen) texts mention a sister.
Nimrod Workman's Child 13 has the son admit to killing his "own true love" instead of his brother, but that could just be faulty memory or a deliberate change.

It's just my opinion, but interpreting a sister into the "cutting of a bush/tree" seems to be a bit of a stretch.