Aul' Widow Greylocks
DESCRIPTION: The singer loves and planns to marry Dally Still. When his farm fails he asks rich Widow Graylocks for help. She agrees only if he will marry her. They marry but his life became miserable. He says he will desert the widow and cross the sea.
EARLIEST DATE: 1907 (GreigDuncan7)
LONG DESCRIPTION: The singer loved and planned to marry bonny Dally Still. He bought a farm but his livestock died and crop failed. He asked rich Widow Graylocks for help but she said she'd help only if he married her. "So I gave her my hand, oh why did I agree" Dally would not speak to him and "I'm scorn'd when I gae to the mill or the kirk The lasses they despise me" "Fin I drink wi' my friends, they say I've been to blame" As "my auld wife lies snorin' by me" and he cannot forget Dally he decides "I'll leave the country and gang across the sea"
KEYWORDS: age poverty love marriage bargaining emigration abandonment farming money hardtimes derivative wife
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Greig #114, p. 2, "Aul' Widow Greylocks"; Greig #116, p. 2, "Aul' Widow Greylocks"; Greig #119, p. 3, "Aul' Widow Greylocks" (3 texts plus 2 fragments)
GreigDuncan7 1365, "Aul' Widow Greylocks" (5 texts plus a single verse on p. 512, 1 tune)
NOTES: Greig #114: "The song is evidently a parody of 'Auld Robin Gray.'"; Greig #116: "a gentleman, who now writes me: -- '"Aul' Widow Greylocks," as now furnished, undoubtedly suggests parody, but there is no such suggestion in the form I know, tho' there might be imitation.'"
Greig #119 text is "some verses of a song which suggest a connection with one of the versions of the 'Widow' given in [#116]."
Greig #116  has a correspondent supplying a "Widow" text "sung some seventy years ago." "Auld Robin Gray" was written in 1774. But Greig speculates that "as between 'Aul' Widow Greylocks' and 'Auld Robin Gray,' I take the former to be the earlier of the two, or would at least maintain that the 'Widow' is *not* founded on 'Robin' either as parody or imitation.... ["Robin"] could not have been generally known until at least about the close of the 18th century, while both versions of 'Widow Greylocks' given above can be traced back at least to the early part of the 19th century. I find it impossible to believe that, in the time available, a song could have been made and have got into such widely-parted versions." Part of Greig's rationale is that "folk-song does not borrow from literary song: it is the other way about."
I believe "Aul' Widow Greylocks" is suggested by "Auld Robin Gray" and would immediately call it to mind [Greig #116 also notes a similarity of tune in one version of "Widow"]. The first verse of "Widow" parallels "Robin" and the third line is shared. The themes of the failing farm and the sources of rescue are parallael with a few lines of "Robin" echoed by "Widow." The proposals are similar with pressure applied by the old folks. From that point on the stories take different routes to their sad endings - again with similar lines - but the story in "Robin" has no betrayal and there is no question of the "heroine" of that tale abandoning her marriage. - BS
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