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)
DT, BAILYGHO

Roud #4549
BROADSIDES:
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]
CROSS-REFERENCES:
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
Date: [n.d.]
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
Last updated in version 2.6
File: FR054

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.