Fair Margaret and Sweet William [Child 74]

DESCRIPTION: Margaret learns that her lover is to be wed. After the wedding, she (or her ghost) visits the wedding chamber and asks the husband if he is happy with his wife. He says that he would prefer her. But when he calls at Margaret's home, she is dead
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1765 (Percy); c.1720 (broadside, Bodleian Douce Ballads 1(72a))
KEYWORDS: marriage questions death ghost
FOUND IN: Britain(England,Scotland(Aber,Bord)) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont)
REFERENCES (49 citations):
Child 74, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (3 texts)
Bronson 74, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (79 versions, 4 of which are in one or another appendix, presumably because of the commonplace title and lack of text)
BronsonSinging 74, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (5 versions: #1, #11, #47, #64, #68)
Lyle-Crawfurd2 93, "Lord Thomas and Ladie Margaret" (1 text)
ChambersBallads, pp. 246-249, "Fair Margaret and Sweit William" (sic.) (1 text)
BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 134-139, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #31}
Percy/Wheatley III, pp. 124-127, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text); cf. pp. 308-312, "Margaret's Ghost" (a rewritten version, possibly by the eighteenth century poet David Mallet)
Belden, pp. 48-52, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William (4 texts)
Randolph 16, "Lady Margaret" (2 texts plus 2 fragments, 3 tunes) {A=Bronson's #43, C=#20, but very possibly not this song, D=#44}
AbrahamsRiddle, pp. 138-141, "Lady Margaret and Lord William" (1 text, 1 tune)
Moore-Southwest 19A, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William"; 19B, "Sweet William and Lady Marget" (1 text plus 1 fragment, 2 tunes)
Eddy 12, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #25}
Gardner/Chickering 5, "Sweet William and Lady Margaret" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #58}
Neely, pp. 141-142, "William and Margaret" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Brown, pp. 213-214, "Lady Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text)
Flanders/Olney, pp. 80-85, "Prince William and Lady Margaret"/"Lady Margaret and King William" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Flanders-Ancient2, pp. 122-147, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (7 texts plys 2 fragments, 5 tunes)
Davis-Ballads 19, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (12 texts plus 3 fragments, of which the "I" and "O" fragments might not be this song; 8 tunes entitled "Sweet William and Lady Margaret," "Lady Marget," "Fair Margaret and Sweet William," Lady Margaret," "Lady Margaret and Sweet William"; 13 more versions mentioned in Appendix A) {Bronson's #30, #51, #50, #59, #14, with alterations, #55, #23, #39}
Davis-More 19, pp. 138-145, "Fair Margaret and Sweet Williams" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
BrownII 20, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (4 texts plus 2 excerpts and mention of 1 more)
BrownSchinhanIV 20, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (5 excerpts, 5 tunes)
Chappell-FSRA 10, "False William" (1 text)
JonesLunsford, pp. 194-195, "Little Marget (Sweet William and Lady Margaret)" (1 text, 1 tune) {same source as Bronson's #69, but the transcriptions are quite different; this version even has an extra verse}
Hudson 11, pp. 87-90, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (2 texts)
Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 103-105, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text, properly titled "Lady Margaret," plus a quotation; tune on p. 390)
Brewster 11, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (4 texts plus a fragment, the latter short enough that it might be from something else; 1 tune) {Bronson's #13}
Ritchie-Southern, pp. 12-13, "Sweet William and Lady Margaret" (1 text, 1 tune)
SharpAp 20 "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (8 texts plus 9 fragments, 17 tunes){Bronson's #33, #73, #24, #35, #34, #14, #59, #15, #62, #52, #12, #67, #42, #41, #70, #47, #74}
Sharp/Karpeles-80E 16, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text, 1 tune, composite and abridged) {Bronson's #67}
Karpeles-Newfoundland 8, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text, 3 tunes) {Bronson's #68}
Peacock, pp. 383-384, "Fair Marjorie's Ghost" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie 7, "William and Margaret" (1 text)
Leach, pp. 247-250, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (2 texts)
Wyman-Brockway I, p. 94, "Sweet William and Lady Margery" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #9}
McNeil-SFB2, pp. 139-142, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text, 1 tune)
OBB 62, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text)
Friedman, p. 52, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William (1 text+1 fragment)
Niles 29, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Gummere, pp. 200-202+348, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text)
Chappell/Wooldridge II, pp. 131-132, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text, perhaps abridged, 1 tune) {Bronson's #78}
Abrahams/Foss, p. 180, "(Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 tune, with no source listed; partial text)
LPound-ABS, 16, pp. 40-43, "Sweet William" (1 text)
JHCox 11, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (7 texts, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #10, #26}
Gainer, pp. 42-44, "Fair Margaret and Sweet Williams (1 text, 1 tune)
Whitelaw-Ballads, pp. 77-78, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text)
Morgan-Medieval, pp. 47-50, "Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 220, "Lady Margaret" (1 text)
DT 74, LADYMARG LADYMAR2*
ADDITIONAL: John Ashton, _A Century of Ballads_, Elliot Stock, London, 1887; reprinted 1968 by Singing Tree Press, pp. 345-347, "Fair Margaret's Misfortunes or Sweet William's Dream on his Wedding Night" (1 text)

Roud #253
RECORDINGS:
Daw Henson, "Lady Margaret and Sweet William" (AFS, 1937; on KMM)
Martin Howley, "The Old Armchair" (on IRClare01)
Bascom Lamar Lunsford, "Little Marget" (on BLLunsford02) {cf. Bronson's #69}
Jean Ritchie, "Sweet William and Lady Margaret" (on JRitchie02)
Pete Seeger, "Little Margaret" (on BroonzySeeger1); Fair Margaret and Sweet William" (on PeteSeeger16)
Mrs Clara Stevens, "Fair Marjorie's Ghost" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Art Thieme, "Fair Margaret & Sweet William" (on Thieme06)

BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Douce Ballads 1(72a), "Fair Margaret's Misfortune" or "Sweet William's Frightful Dreams on His Wedding Night: With the Sudden Death and Burial of Those Noble Lovers," S. Bates (London), c.1720; also Douce Ballads 3(27a), "Fair Margaret's Misfortunes" or "Sweet William's Dream on his Wedding Night, With the Sudden Death and Burial of Those Noble Lovers"
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "William and Margaret" (one verse and theme: jilted lover's ghost visits ex-lover) and references there
cf. "Colin and Lucy" (theme)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Lady Margot and Sweet Willie
Lady Maggie
Lyddy Margot
'Twas at the Silent Midnight Hour
NOTES: A fragment of this ballad is found in John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont's 1611 play "The Knight of the Burning Pestle," Act II, scene viii:
When it was grown to dark midnight
And all were fast asleep,
In came Margaret's grimly ghost
And stood at William's feet.
Child and Bronson both have cutting remarks about the history of this song, which was rewritten "in what used to be called an elegant style" by David Malloch/Mallet, while "a print of c. 1711 was probably occasioned by someone's invention of a fresh tune, not the least folkish in character." (This is the basis of Bronson's "A" group of tunes.)
Grieg/Keith see this as much the same ballad as Child #73, and Bronson sees similarities in the tunes, but concludes that the melodies, like the texts, justify separating them. (Note that "Fair Margaret" is *not* a murder ballad!) - RBW
See a parody attributed to David Mallet: broadside Bodleian, Firth b.22(f. 79), "William and Margaret" ("'Twas at the silent solemn hour"), S. Watts (London), 1785; also Harding B 5(58), "A Lamentable Ballad" or "The Tragical End of William and Margaret" ("When all was wrap'd in dark midnight"); Harding B 5(57), "William and Margaret." [This is Roud's #8225, and is found in ChambersBallads, pp. 249-251 and elsewhere. - RBW]
Bodleian 1785 broadside Firth b.22(f. 79) which claims to be "Mallet's William and Margaret, in Dr Piercy's Collection of old Ballads" is a joke. It is in fact a line for line parody of the poem attributed to Mallet as printed by Percy (see Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (London, 1765 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. III, Ancient Songs and Ballads, Series 3 Book 3 # 15, pp. 310-313, "Margaret's Ghost" (1 text)).
Mallet's "William and Margaret" itself was not considered a "parody" of Child 74 in any sense. Percy calls "William and Margaret" or "Margaret's Ghost", "one of the most beautiful ballads in our own or any language" and "the elegant production of David Mallet" (source: Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (London, 1765 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. III, pp. 121, 310-313). Wheatley quotes Ritson: "It may be questioned whether any English writer has produced so fine a ballad as 'William and Margaret.'" (source: Thomas Percy, Henry B. Wheatley, editor, , Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (London, 1877 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. III, p. 309). See the ballad indexed here as "William and Margaret" for more information. - BS
Last updated in version 4.2
File: C074

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