Unfortunate Miss Bailey
DESCRIPTION: Captain Smith seduces Miss Bailey, who hangs herself. One night her ghost returns and upbraids him, saying she's been ill-used, and the parson won't bury her. The captain gives her money to bribe the sexton, whereupon she vanishes, content.
AUTHOR: George Colman
EARLIEST DATE: 1803 (Love Laughs at Locksmiths)
KEYWORDS: seduction suicide humorous nightvisit ghost soldier
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond)) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Friedman, p. 54, "Unfortunate Miss Bailey" (1 text)
Fowke/Johnston, pp. 183-185, "Unfortunate Miss Bailey" (1 text, 1 tune)
PBB 88, "Unfortunate Miss Bailey" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 182, "Unfortunate Miss Bailey" (1 text)
Bodleian, Hard B 25(1257), "Miss Bailey's Ghost," J. Evans (London), 1780-1812 [only partly legible]; also probably Harding B 25(1869), "Unfortunate Miss Bailey," J. Jennings (London), 1790-1840 [illegible]
cf. "The Hunters of Kentucky" [Laws A25] (tune)
NOTES: This song is variously credited to George Colman the elder (1732-1794) and George Colman the younger (1762-1836). As it appears in the latter's play "Love Laughs at Locksmiths," the younger seems a stronger candidate. - RBW
The first four verses of "Unfortunate Miss Bailey" appear... in "Love Laughs at Locksmiths." The comic-opera (piss-poor, BTW;
I've read it) premiered on July 25, 1803 at the Haymarket Theatre, London. The "new song" was written by someone only identified as "Risk." It was a curtain closer and the action had no relation to the play.
[A version appears in the] Levy Collection:
Box 049 Item 070 Page 001 Box 049 Item 070 Page 002
Levy Call Number: Box 049, Item 070
Title: Unfortunate Miss Bailey.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: na
Publication: London : M. Kelly at his Musical Saloon Pall Mall
Form of Composition: strophic with chorus
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: A Captain bold in Hallifax that dwelt in Country Quarters
First Line of Chorus: Oh Miss Bailey unfortunate Miss Baily
Performer: Sung By Mr. Mathews, in the Comic Opera of Love Laughs at Locksmiths.
Subjects: Courtship & love; Suicide; Hangings; Intoxication;
Deceit; Supernatural beings; Briber
The occasionally-sung fifth verse (Marais & Miranda, me, some feller up at Old Songs Fest a few weeks back) is hand written on this copy of the song. There's no hint who wrote it or when or where but (for the little I can tell) it's in quill pen & 19th century.
The play opened in NY as soon as 1807 and the song was also printed and instantly became a pop hit there. - AS
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