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 (27 citations):
Child 11, "The Cruel Brother" (14 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1}
Bronson 11, "The Cruel Brother" (10 versions)
Bronson-SingingTraditionOfChildsPopularBallads 11, "The Cruel Brother" (4 versions: #1, #4, #6, #9)
Lyle/McAlpine/McLucas-SongRepertoireOfAmeliaAndJaneHarris, pp. 26-33, "THere Were Three Ladies/There Waur Three Ladies" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1, but with differences}
Riewerts-BalladRepertoireOfAnnaGordon-MrsBrownOfFalkland, pp. 235-237, "Cruel Brother Or The Bride's Testament" (1 text)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1 54, "The Rose Smells Sae Sweetly" (1 text)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 114, "The Rosie Smell'd Sae Sweetlie"; Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 135, "Fine Flowers in the Vale O" (2 texts)
Dixon-AncientPoemsBalladsSongsOfThePeasantryOfEngland, Ballad #2, pp. 56-59,242, "The Three Knights" (1 text)
Bell-Combined-EarlyBallads-CustomsBalladsSongsPeasantryEngland, pp. 270-271, "The Three Knights" (1 text)
Gundry-CanowKernow-SongsDancesFromCornwall, p. 7, "The Three Knights" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #7}
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 6 "The Cruel Brother" (2 texts, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #3, #4}
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, pp. 13-15, "The Bride's Murder" (1 text, 1 tune)
Barry/Eckstorm/Smyth-BritishBalladsFromMaine pp. 431-433, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
Flanders-AncientBalladsTraditionallySungInNewEngland1, pp. 171-174, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 5, "The Cruel Brother" (2 texts)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore4 5, "The Cruel Brothers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 78-81, "The Cruel Brother" (2 texts)
Leach-HeritageBookOfBallads, pp. 20-22, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 64, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
Friedman-Viking/PenguinBookOfFolkBallads, p. 175, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
Grigson-PenguinBookOfBallads 32, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
Niles-BalladBookOfJohnJacobNiles 8, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gummere-OldEnglishBallads, pp. 185-187+344, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
Pound-AmericanBalladsAndSongs, 8, pp. 21-23, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
Whitelaw-BookOfScottishBallads, pp. 106-107, "The Cruel Brother" (1 text)
SongsOfManyNations, "Flowers in the Valley" (1 text, 1 tune) (12th edition, p. 3, which appears to be a rewrite of Bronson's #10, which itself appears to have been bowdlerized by informant or collector)

Roud #26
Rose McCartin, "The Keeper of the Game" (on IREarlyBallads)
Brother's Revenge
Oh Lily O
Lily O
Three Ladies Played at Ball
NOTES [292 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, which has parallels in the incest ballad of "Lizzie Wan" [Child 51] -- but *not*, we note, in that other incest ballad, "Sheathe and Knife" [Child 16], nor is the last will scene in "Lord Randall" [Child 16], in which the singer condemns his murderer as in this ballad, in any way linked with incest. Thus there is only one other real instance of a combination of incest and murder and a last will. That's not enough evidence for me to be convinced that it's hidden somewhere in this ballad. - RBW
Compare the first verse lines of Child 10.H to Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 479, "There were three sisters in a hall" (earliest date in Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes is c.1630)
Child 10.H: "There were three sisters lived in a hall, ... And there came a lord to court them all...."
Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 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-AnnotatedMotherGoose #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
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File: C011

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