Jock the Leg and the Merry Merchant [Child 282]

DESCRIPTION: A "merry merchant" comes to a tavern and finds himself in a series of contests with (a disguised) Jock the Leg. They set out together, and Jock demands the merchant's pack. The merchant fights him off, then six of his men as well; they declare friendship
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1827 (Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1)
KEYWORDS: robbery outlaw fight
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber,Bord))
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Child 282, "Jock the Leg and the Merry Merchant" (1 text)
Bronson 282, "Jock the Leg and the Merry Merchant" (7 versions)
Bronson-SingingTraditionOfChildsPopularBallads 282, "Jock the Leg and the Merry Merchant" (3 versions: #2, #5, #6)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #35, p. 1, "Jock the Leg and the Merry Merchant" (1 text)
Greig/Duncan2 263, "Jock the Leg and the Merry Merchant" (6 texts, 5 tunes) {A=Bronson's #2, B=#6, C=#1, D=#5, E=#3}
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1 59, "Jock t' Leg and the Merry Merchant" (1 text)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 94, "Jackie with the Leg" (1 text)

Roud #3856
cf. "The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood" [Child 132] (plot)
NOTES [442 words]: Child observes that this is essentially a Robin Hood ballad with the names changed. One wonders if it might not be a Scottish redaction of "The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood." - RBW
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 94 is different from the other versions I've seen, including Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1. Usually Jock blows his horn and has his men appear. Although the agreement had been that each man should blow his horn ["Give me a blast o my little wee horn, And I'll give you another"] the merchant never gets his turn [why not?]. In Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 the merchant does take his turn: "he blew louds blasts three And a hundred and fiftie gude bay dogs Cam linking our the lee"; the merchant tells Jock that the dogs are for Jock's men and he himself will take on Jock. The day goes poorly for Jock's men, at least: "The bay dogs fed on human flesh It was a waeful day." Child says of the ballad in its more common form that it, "but for names (and Jock the Leg is only a thin shrouding for Little John), might have gone with the Robin Hood ballads." Buchan, in Child's source, assumes that Jock the Leg is Little John [see Peter Buchan, Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1875 (reprint of 1828 edition)), Vol II, pp. 313-314]. While in the Robin Hood contest ballads the cycle hero can be given a good battle his defeat does not take these proportions. In this case the two combatants do not end as friends and the merchant leaves defiantly: "I'll hae nane o thy free discharge But I'll travel land and sea." Is this what "Jock the Leg and the Merry Merchant" originally looked like? Or, is this a parody of the original ballad? Or should it have an entry all its own?
[It sounds to me like a variation on the Friar Tuck legend, as found in Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar [Child 123], in which Robin and Tuck both call for help -- Robin from his band, Tuck from his dogs. Possibly the Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 text is a composite of Child 282 with Child 123, attracted by the Robin Hood parallels mentioned by Child. I'd like to see at least one other such version before splitting them, though. - RBW]
"Jock the Leg, the usual name for a pocket-knife, is a corruption of Jacques de Liege, the tradesman who supplied Scotland with cutlery in the days of the Guises" [P.C.B, "How Lord P became our Rector," in Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country, (London, 1863 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. LXVIII, July 1863, p. 51]. [Mary of Guise was married to James V of Scotland in 1538, became regent over her daughter -Mary Queen of Scots - in 1554, and died in 1560.] - BS
Last updated in version 4.1
File: C282

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