Mrs. Brown Went to Town
DESCRIPTION: "Mrs Brown went to town, Riding on a pony, When she came back, she took off her hat And gave it to [or they called her] Miss Malonie"
EARLIEST DATE: 1850s (Opie-Game)
KEYWORDS: derivative humorous nonballad
FOUND IN: Britain(England(North),Scotland(Aber,High))
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Greig #159, p. 2, ("Mrs Brown went to town") (1 text)
GreigDuncan8 1617, "Mrs Brown Went to Town" (1 text)
Opie-Game, p. 441, "(Old Mrs Brown went up to town)" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: M.C. Balfour, County Folklore (London, 1904 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. IV, p. 120, ("My mother said that I should not") (1 text) [see note]
Edward W.B. Nicholson, editor, Golspie: Contributions to its Folklore (London, 1897 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 188, "Missis Brown" (1 text)
cf. "Yankee Doodle" (structure and some words)
NOTES [210 words]: Both Opie-Game and GreigDuncan8 add one or more unrelated verses that "might be used in any order" [Opie-Game].
The Balfour text is eight lines. The first four are "My Mother Said (Gypsies in the Wood)"; the last four are "Mrs Brown Went to Town." In this case "Susan Brown went to town With her breeches hanging down."
The Nicholson text has Mrs Brown return with "a Dolly Varden hat." Nicholson notes that "the 'Dolly Varden' style of dress came in about 1872." See the discussion for "The Dolly Varden Hats" song.
A parody from the 1870's: "Mr Brown went up to town On dit to see his dentist, When he came back He got the sack, Thou'rt sorry, Brown, thou wentest" (source: , The Shotover Papers, or Echoes from Oxford (Oxford, 1874-1875 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. I, No. 11 (November 28th, 1874), p. 169). - BS
The strange thought occurs to me that this might just be about Queen Victoria, her servant John Brown, and her earlier confidant Lord Melbourne. This may have come to me simply because the song is printed in GriegDuncan 8 not too far from "John Brown's Snapsack," which gives every evidence of being about Victoria and Brown. For the background on this, see the notes to "John Brown's Body," under which "John Brown's Snapsack" files. - RBW
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