Cruel Brother, The [Child 11]

DESCRIPTION: A man and woman agree to wed, but fail to ask her brother's permission. As the woman prepares for the wedding, her brother stabs her. She does not name her murderer, but reveals the facts in the terms of her will.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1776 (Herd)
KEYWORDS: homicide brother marriage jealousy revenge lastwill
FOUND IN: Britain(England (West),Scotland) Ireland US(Ap,NE,SE)
REFERENCES (25 citations):
Child 11, "The Cruel Brother" (14 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1}
Bronson 11, "The Cruel Brother" (10 versions)
BronsonSinging 11, "The Cruel Brother" (4 versions: #1, #4, #6, #9)
HarrisLyleMcAlpineMcLucas, pp. 26-33, "THere Were Three Ladies/There Waur Three Ladies" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1, but with differences}
GordonBrown/Rieuwerts, pp. 235-237, "Cruel Brother Or The Bride's Testament" (1 text)
Lyle-Crawfurd1 54, "The Rose Smells Sae Sweetly" (1 text)
Lyle-Crawfurd2 114, "The Rosie Smell'd Sae Sweetlie"; Lyle-Crawfurd2 135, "Fine Flowers in the Vale O" (2 texts)
Dixon-Peasantry, Ballad #2, pp. 56-59,242, "The Three Knights" (1 text)
Bell-Combined, pp. 270-271, "The Three Knights" (1 text)
SharpAp 6 "The Cruel Brother" (2 texts, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #3, #4}
Gainer, pp. 13-15, "The Bride's Murder" (1 text, 1 tune)
BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 431-433, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
Flanders-Ancient1, pp. 171-174, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text, 1 tune)
BrownII 5, "The Cruel Brother" (2 texts)
BrownSchinhanIV 5, "The Cruel Brothers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach, pp. 78-81, "The Cruel Brother" (2 texts)
Leach-Heritage, pp. 20-22, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
OBB 64, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
Friedman, p. 175, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
PBB 32, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
Niles 8, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gummere, pp. 185-187+344, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
LPound-ABS, 8, pp. 21-23, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
Whitelaw-Ballads, pp. 106-107, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)

Roud #26
Brother's Revenge
Oh Lily O
Lily O
Three Ladies Played at Ball
NOTES [221 words]: Flanders, in her notes in Ancient Ballads, observes that some scholars have seen the possibility of an incest motif in this song. Possible, of course, since the brother's extreme rage seems unreasonable. But the only real evidence is the last will scene, found in the incest ballad of "Lizzie Wan" -- but *not*, we note, in "Sheathe and Knife," nor is the last will scene in Lord Randall in any way linked with incest. - RBW
Compare the first verse lines of Child 10.H to Opie-Oxford2 479, "There were three sisters in a hall" (earliest date in Opie-Oxford2 is c.1630)
Child 10.H: "There were three sisters lived in a hall, ... And there came a lord to court them all...."
Opie-Oxford2 479 is a riddle beginning "There were three sisters in a hall, There came a knight amongst them all ...." - BS
This item is also found as Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #702, p. 275, but this appears to be simply a greeting rhyme unrelated to the various rather murderous ballads (notably Child 10 and 11) using these lines. Nonetheless the lyric may have been borrowed, since the Opies derive it from Sloane MS. 1489, which must date from the seventeenth century if not earlier (the Opies say 1630. Note that this MS. should not be confused with the famous Sloane MS. 2593, which contains many of the earliest English proto-ballad lyrics). - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: C011

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.