Maid Freed from the Gallows, The [Child 95]

DESCRIPTION: A (woman) is about to be hanged. If she could pay her fee, she would be freed. One by one, father, brother, (and other family members) come to see her hanged, refusing to ransom her. Then her sweetheart arrives to rescue her
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1770 (Percy collection, according to Child)
KEYWORDS: execution love rescue
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland,England(North,South,West)) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So,SW) West Indies(Bahamas,Jamaica)
REFERENCES (74 citations):
Child 95, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (11 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #5}
Bronson 95, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (68 versions+2 in addenda, but the last four main entries are "Gallows" [Laws L11], and some of the fragments may be also)
BronsonSinging 95, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (8 versions: #1, #4, #17, #23, #33, #39.1, #49, #61)
GreigDuncan2 248, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (1 fragment)
Williams-Thames, pp. 281-282, "The Prickly Bush"; Williams-Thames, p. 283, "The Prickly Brier" (1 text plus a fragment) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 498; Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 218, "Prickly Brier")
Cologne/Morrison, pp. 24-25, "The Prick'ty Bush" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #19}
Reeves-Circle 87, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (1 text)
Palmer-ECS, "The Prickle Holly Bush" (1 text, 1 tune)
BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 206-213, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (4 texts plus assorted folktale versions)
Flanders-Ancient3, pp. 15-41, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (8 texts plus a fragment, 8 tunes, but of the texts, only "A," "B1," and "B2" are 'The Maid Freed" [Child 95]; the remaining six are "Gallows" [Laws L11]
ThompsonNewYork, p. 397, "(Hangman, hangman, hold the rope)" (1 text)
Belden, pp. 66-67, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #54}
Randolph 24, "Hold Your Hands, Old Man" (5 texts plus a fragment, 4 tunes) {A=Bronson's #41, D=#61, E=#12, F=#50}
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 45-47, "Hold Your Hands, Old Man" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 24E) {Bronson's #12}
AbrahamsRiddle, pp. 110-111, "Hangman on the Gallows Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnold pp. 68-69, "The Miller's Daughter" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #56}
Eddy 18, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #28}
Grimes, pp. 116-117, "Hangman" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering 50, "The Golden Ball" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #22}
Davis-Ballads 95, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (24 texts plus a fragment, 5 tunes plus a variant entitles "Maid Freed from the Gallows," "The Hangerman's Tree, or Freed from the Gallos," "The Maid Saved," "Hangsman"; 9 more versions mentioned in Appendix A) {Bronson's #9, #26, #42, #46, #40}
Davis-More 29, pp. 221-228, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (3 texts plus a fragment, 2 tunes; the two longest texts, AA and DD, both contain floating material, in the case of "D" probably from "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home (A Wild and Reckless Hobo; The Railroad Bum)" [Laws H2])
BrownII 30, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (4 texts, 5 excerpts, 1 fragment, plus mention of two more, as well as one mixed text, M, probably a combination of this with "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home (A Wild and Reckless Hobo; The Railroad Bum)" [Laws H2])
BrownSchinhanIV 30, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (8 excerpts plus mention of 1 more, 8 tunes)
Chappell-FSRA 15, "Maid Freed from the Gallows" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #34}
ReedSmith, pp. 81-83, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #5}, with excerpts from several more versions on the following pages; also p. 87, "(The Hangman's Tree)" (1 text plus some excerpts); p. 88, "The Hangman's Tree" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #48}; pp. 88-89, "(no title)" (1 text plus recitation, 1 tune) {Bronson's #49}; pp. 91-92, "(The Golden Ball)" (1 text, partly prose); p. 93, "The Golden Ball" (1 text, a singing game); #X, pp. 144-147, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (2 texts, 1 tune, plus mention of 3 more) {Bronson's #23}
Joyner, p. 27, "The Scarlet Tree" (1 text)
Morris, #163, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (4 texts, 1 tune, although the "D" text appears to be a mix of two songs) {Bronson's #16}
Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 35-42, (no general title; one version is listed as "Hangman, Slack on the Line") (3 texts plus 3 excerpts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #10}
Hudson 17, pp. 111-114, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (4 texts plus an excerpt and mention of 1 more; the "D" text is mixed with floating verses from prison songs)
HudsonTunes 19, "The Hangman's Song" (1 fragment, 1 tune) {Bronson's #52}
Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 284, (no title) (1 text)
Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 196-200, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (2 texts plus an excerpt, with local titles "The Hangman's Son" and "Hangman, Hold Your Rope"; 2 tunes on pp. 408-409) {Bronson's #37, #38}
Moore-Southwest 27A, "The Hangman Tree"; 27B, "The Raspel Pole" (1 text plus 1 fragment, 2 tunes)
Owens-1ed, pp. 45-47, "The Hangman's Rope" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #7}
Owens-2ed, pp. 26-27, "The Hangman's Rope" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brewster 17, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (1 text)
Leach, pp. 295-300, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (4 texts)
Leach-Heritage, pp. 24-28, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows," "The Golden Ball" (1 text)
Wyman-Brockway I, p. 44, "The Hangman's Song" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #35}
Fuson, pp. 113-114, "The Hangman's Song" (1 text, with an introductory verse related to "In the Pines," ending "I have done no hanging crime")
Cambiaire, pp. 15-16, "The Hangman's Song" (1 text)
Friedman, p. 131, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (4 texts)
Warner 105, "Hang Man" (1 text, 1 tune)
McNeil-SFB1, pp. 86-87, "Jimmy Loud"; pp. 88-90, "Hangman" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Roberts, #6, "Hangman" (1 text, 1 tune)
SharpAp 28, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (11 texts, most of which appear to be fragments though it's often hard to tell with this song, 11 tunes){Bronson's #30, #33, #9, #42, #6, #25, #58, #31, #39, #32, #15}
Sharp-100E 17, "The Briery Bush" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #49}
Wells, pp. 115-116, "The Hangman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Broadwood/Maitland, pp. 112-113, "The Prickly Bush" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Reeves-Sharp 61, "Maid Freed from the Gallows" (2 texts)
Niles 39, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Sharp/Karpeles-80E 14, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #30}
Sandburg, p. 72, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #23}; p. 385, "Hangman" (1 short text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #64}
Scott-BoA, pp. 14-15, "The Sycamore Tree"; pp. 207-208, "Hangman, Slack on the Line" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 282-383, "Prickle-holly Bush" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 139-141, "[Hangman, Slack Up Your Rope]" (2 texts, 2 tunes) {second tune is Bronson's #36, with differences}
Ritchie-Southern, p. 27, "The Hangman Song" (1 text, 1 tune) {approximately Bronson's #36, but Bronson's transcription, from recording, is noticeably different}
Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 822-824, "The Hangman's Tree" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #23}
TBB 5, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows (The Hangman's Tree)" (1 text)
LPound-ABS, 13, pp. 31-33, "The Hangman's Song" (1 text)
JHCox 18, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (7 texts)
JHCoxIIA, #9, pp. 38-39, "Slack Your Rope" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #27}
Gainer, pp. 64-65, "The Gallows Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
Abrahams/Foss, pp. 41-42 "Hangman, Hangman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rorrer, p. 74, "The Highwayman" (1 text, with a significant mixture of unrelated material from songs such as "The Roving Gambler"); p. 80, "Hangman, Hangman, Slack the Rope" (1 text, a fairly normal American variant)
Jekyll 18, "Saylan" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #63}
Darling-NAS, pp. 69-71, "The Hangman"; "Gallows Pole" (2 texts, the first "modernized" by Darling)
Silber-FSWB, p. 211, "The Gallows Pole" (1 text)
DT 95, HANGMN1* HANGMAN2*
ADDITIONAL: Moses Asch and Alan Lomax, Editors, _The Leadbelly Songbook_, Oak, 1962, p. 52, "Gallis (Gallows) Pole" (1 text, 1 tune)
Martha W Beckwith, "The English Ballad in Jamaica: a Note Upon the Origin of the Ballad Form" in _Publications of the Modern Language Association_ [PMLA], Vol. XXXIXI, No. 2 (Jun 1924 (available online by JSTOR)), #5 pp. 475-476, "Maid Freed From the Gallows" (1 text)
Katherine Briggs, _A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language_, Part A: Folk Narratives, 1970 (I use the 1971 Routledge paperback that combines volumes A.1 and A.2), volume A.2, pp. 567-568, "The Three Golden Balls" (1 text)
Olive Lewin, Forty Folk Songs of Jamaica (Washington: General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, 1973), pp. 87-89, "Sailor Girl from Asia" (1 text, 1 tune)
Elsie Clews Parsons, Folk-Tales of Andros Island Bahamas (Lancaster: American Folk-Lore Society, 1918 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")), #104, pp. 152-154, "The Maid Freed From the Gallows" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #144
RECORDINGS:
James "Iron Head" Baker, "Young Maid Saved from the Gallows" (AFS 204 A2, 1934)
Bentley Ball, "Gallows Tree" (Columbia A3084, 1920)
Roy Harvey, Jess Johnston & the West Virginia Ramblers, "John Hardy Blues" (Champion 16281, 1931; on StuffDreams1) [see NOTES]
Fred Hewett, "The Prickle Holly-Bush" (on Voice03)
Harry Jackson, "The Hangman's Song" (on HJackson1) (in this version the true love pays the hangman to ensure that the hanging will take place)
Lead Belly, "The Gallis Pole" (Musicraft 227, rec. 1939)
A. L. Lloyd, "The Prickly Bush" (on ESFB1, ESFB2)
Walter Lucas & the people of Sixpenny Handley, Dorset, "The Prickle Holly Bush" (on Lomax41, LomaxCD1741) {Bronson's #20}
[Asa] Martin & [Bob] Roberts, "Hang Down Your Head and Cry" (Conqueror 8207, 1933) [see NOTES]
Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, "The Highwayman" (a heavily modified version; Columbia 15160-D, 1926; on CPoole03); "Hangman, Hangman, Slack the Rope" (a more normal version; Columbia 15385-D, 1929; rec. 1928)
Almeda Riddle, "Hangman Tree" (on LomaxCD1705)
Jean Ritchie, "Hangman" (on JRitchie01) {Bronson's #36?}
Julia Scaddon, "The Prickelly Bush [The Pricketty Bush]" (on FSB4, FSBBAL1)
Sarah Anne Tuck, "The Pricketty Bush (The Maid Freed from the Gallows)" (on FSBBAL1)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Gallows" [Laws L11] (plot)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Golden Ball
The Prickilie Bush
The Gallows Pole
Granny and the Golden Ball
NOTES: This very popular ballad is identical in plot with "Gallows" [Laws L11], and lumping editors will lump them; individual collections should be checked carefully.
Scarborough notes that southern Blacks turned this song into drama -- in a rather depressing way: The magical ball could be used to turn a Black girl into a pretty White.
The "golden ball" of some versions appears to have a complex history. Katherine Briggs, British Folktales (originally published in 1970 as A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales), revised 1977 (I use the 1977 Pantheon paperback edition), pp. 28-31, has a tale which is clearly a version of Grimm #4, "A Tale About the Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was," in which the boy seeks a golden ball which his love has lost. She is to be hung for the loss; he arrives just in time to save her. This is evidently a conflation of two separate tales; Briggs, p. 31, points to Tristram E. Coffin's article "The Golden Ball and the Hangman's Tree," on pp. 23-28 of Folklore International (1967) for an explanation of how they were combined.
For the folktale of "The Golden Ball" itself, see another Briggs publication, Katherine Briggs, A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language, Part A: Folk Narratives, 1970 (I use the 1971 Routledge paperback that combines volumes A.1 and A.2), volume 1, pp. 280-282, "The Golden Ball." - RBW
The Martin & Roberts recording is a weird mishmosh: one verse that sounds like it's from the "Ten Thousand Miles Away from Home" family, one from this song, and one more or less from "Roving Gambler." I put it here because that middle verse is most explicitly from here, whereas the others are vaguer.
The Roy Harvey, recording, meanwhile, is equally weird; the tune is from "John Hardy," all right, but the lyrics are "Maid Freed from the Gallows." Don't ask me what's going on. - PJS
Jekyll's "Saylan" is classified by Jekyll as an "Annancy" story. It is a cante fable following the Ashanti (West African) tradition: A stepmother and her daughter frame her husband's daughter -- apparently named "Saylan" -- for the death of a horse she has been hired to care for. The horse's owner, a sailor, takes her to town to hang her. She sings "Sister, you bring me some silver" and the answer is "No, my child, I bring you none." Her brother has brought no gold. But her lover has brought both silver and gold and sings "Yes, my dear, I bring you some. I come to town to see you save, save you mus' be saved."
Broadwood writes of Jekyll's "Saylan": "This is a version of 'The Maid freed from the Gallows," "The Golden Ball," or "The Prickly Bush" (Lucy E. Broadwood, "English Airs and Motifs in Jamaica" in Walter Jekyll, Jamaican Song and Story (New York: Dover Publications, 1966 (Reprint of David Nutt, 1907)), #18, p. 287, "Saylan"). - BS
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