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Folklore: History of events/persons Child Ballads?

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caseyabrams 24 Jul 20 - 08:41 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Jul 20 - 02:34 AM
GUEST,Observer 25 Jul 20 - 07:27 AM
Steve Gardham 25 Jul 20 - 10:56 AM
Joe Offer 25 Jul 20 - 12:56 PM
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Subject: Folklore: History of events in Child Ballads?
From: caseyabrams
Date: 24 Jul 20 - 08:41 PM

Not looking for a history of the collection of the ballads, so much as a history resource for the historical context for the songs themselves (i.e.: who was Lord Randall, what war are the British soldiers trying to press Arthur MacBride in?) Thanks so much!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: History of events/persons Child Ballads?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Jul 20 - 02:34 AM

1st stop, Child's headnotes, but there is a concordance somewhere online. The romantic ballads have no foundation in history and the historical ballads normally give this information in the headnotes.
Other than that if you post a particular ballad title here you will normally get chapter and verse.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: History of events/persons Child Ballads?
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 25 Jul 20 - 07:27 AM

Using such as a historical source of accurate information is rather shaky.

I can however help with one of your questions:

"what war are the British soldiers trying to press Arthur MacBride in?"

The British Army have never "pressed" anybody and they have never had the legal power to impress anyone into service. The Royal Navy on the other hand did have such power. As to which war? IIRC the earliest mention of the song was around 1820s, 1830s somewhere down in Somerset or somewhere in the West Country so most likely candidate would be the Napoleonic War towards the end, 1814 or 1815.

A clue in the song contained in the following lines

For you would have no scruples to send us to France,
Where we could be shot without warning


Very few wars between Britain and France ever involved a British Army actually fighting on French soil.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: History of events/persons Child Ballads?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Jul 20 - 10:56 AM

Good deduction, Obs!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: History of events/persons Child Ballads?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Jul 20 - 12:56 PM

For other than historic context of the Child Ballads, there's a good, old book titled Folklore in the English & Scottish ballads, by Lowry Charles Wimberly. It was published by the University of Chicago Press in 1928m and republished by Dover Publications in 1965. Used copies are readily available, but I didn't find a download version.
You can borrow the book for an hour at archive.org, but I'm not sure what it means to "borrow" an online book for an hour.

The Traditional Ballad Index gives good historical context information on songs, and I think it covers all 305 Child Ballads.

Steve Gardham mentions a Child Ballad Concordance (click) - but I think you want a commentary, not a concordance. Child died before writing a commentary on the Ballads, but he does have fascinating commentaries in the introductions of many of the ballads in his collection.


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