Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34] --- Part 01

DESCRIPTION: Two young orphaned children are left in the care of their uncle. He decides to murder them for their money. One of the hired killers has pity and spares them, but then abandons them. They die. The uncle meets countless disasters till his crime is revealed
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1595? (title of piece in Stationer's Register)
KEYWORDS: orphan money death abandonment family children
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,NE,Ro,SE,So) Britain(England) Australia Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (27 citations):
Laws Q34, "The Children in the Wood (The Babes in the Woods)"
Percy/Wheatley III, pp. 169-176, "The Children in the Wood" (1 text -- the long form)
Williams-Thames, p. 217, "Two Babes in the Wood" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 229)
Flanders-NewGreen, pp. 234-238, "The Children in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune -- the long form)
Belden, pp. 106-107, "The Babes in the Wood" (2 texts -- the short form)
BrownII 147, "The Babes in the Wood" (1 text)
Hudson 139, p. 285, "Babes in the Woods" (1 text -- the short form)
Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 57, (no title) (1 text, quite short, but it appears to be a fragment of the long form)
Brewster 71, "Babes in the Wood" (1 text -- the short form)
Grimes, p. 144, "Babes in the Woods" (1 text -- the short form)
Gardner/Chickering 141, "The Babes in the Woods" (1 text -- the long form)
Randolph 92, "The Babes in the Woods" (5 texts, 2 tunes -- the short form)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 113-115, "The Babes in the Woods" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 92A)
JHCoxIIA, #22, pp. 89-90, "Babes in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune -- perhaps a fragment of the long form)
SharpAp 47, "The Babes in the Wood" (1 text, 1 tune)
Meredith/Covell/Brown, p. 210, "(The Babes in the Wood)" (1 fragmentary text); pp. 295-296, "Babes in the Wood" (1 text+tune of the short form, plus an excerpt from the long form)
Creighton-SNewBrunswick 87, "Babes in the Wood" (1 short text, 1 tune; although only a fragment, it is clearly derived from the long form)
OBB 174, "The Children in the Wood" (1 text -- the long form)
Abrahams/Foss, pp. 121-122, ""The Babes in the Woods (1 text, 1 tune -- the short form)
LPound-ABS, 115, pp. 233-234, "Babes in the Woods" (1 text -- the short form)
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 285-286, "Babes in the Woods" (1 text, 1 tune -- the short form)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #226, pp. 148-149, "(My dear, do you know)" (the short form)
BBI, ZN1966, "Now ponder well you parents dear"
cf. Chappell/Wooldridge I, p. 92, "[The Two Children in the Wood]" (1 tune)
DT 542, BABWOOD2* PRETBABE*
ADDITIONAL: Iona & Peter Opie, The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse, pp. 42-46, "The Babes in the Wood" (1 text -- the long form)
Katherine Briggs, _A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales in the English Language_, Part A: Folk Narratives, 1970 (I use the 1971 Routledge paperback that combines volumes A.1 and A.2), volume A.2, pp. 390-391, "The Children in the Wood" (a short prose summary of the long form, with the father of the children being "A gentleman of Norfolk")

Roud #288
RECORDINGS:
Dorothy Howard, "Babes in the Wood" (on USWarnerColl01 -- the short form)
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Harding B 4(30), "The Children in the Wood" or "The Norfolk Gentleman's Last Will and Testament," W. and C. Dicey (London), 1736-1763; also Harding B 4(31), Harding B 4(34), Harding B 4(36), Johnson Ballads 2400, Harding B 30(2), Harding B 4(35), Harding B 4(37), Harding B 4(38), "The Children in the Wood" or "The Norfolk Gentleman's Last Will and Testament"
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Dunbar the Murderer" (plot)
cf. "Three Lost Babes of Americay" (plot)
cf. "The Lost Babes" (plot)
NOTES: Laws notes, "A three stanza lament on the fate of the children called 'The Babes in the Wood' is widely known in American tradition, but the long ballad is rarely met with." At first glance these two songs are hardly related (they don't even use the same metrical form), but Laws seems to want them lumped. Though we note that he lists only occurrences of the long form. But splitting seems inappropriate in the circumstances.
Hales believes this piece to be by the same author as "The Lady's Fall." - RBW
The Creighton-SNewBrunswick 87 is clearly a fragment of the Bodleian broadside version. - BS
The history and content of this song have inspired extensive discussion over the course of several centuries. It raises many difficult questions, both as to history and as to purpose. The result is a very long entry. I have therefore broken it up into the following sections, divided among four different entries in the Ballad Index. which you can search for if you don't want to read the whole thing. These aren't really chapters; the note is meant to be read continuously. But it may help you to find the part you most want. The larger part of this note is about the actions of Richard III and his usurpation of the English throne. You don't need to know all about that to be able to understand the part at the end about "The Legend of the Princes and the Content of the Song." You merely need to know that there is much debate about Richard III, and that Shakespeare's picture is impossibly one-sided. The great question is whether it is *completely* one-sided....
Contents:
*** Included in this entry:*
* Full References for the song
* Bibliography
*** Included in the Entry "Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34]" --- Part 02 (File Number Link LQ34A):*
* Speculations about the Origin of the Song
* The Historical Problem: The Black Legend of Richard III
* The Historical Sources
* The Background: The Wars of the Roses
*** Included in the Entry "Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34]" --- Part 03 (File Number Link LQ34B):*
* The Death of Edward IV and the Government of the Realm
* The Character of Richard III
*** Included in the Entry "Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34]" --- Part 04 (File Number Link LQ34C):*
* The Usurpation
* The Unknown Fate of the Princes
*** Included in the Entry "Children in the Wood, The (The Babes in the Woods) [Laws Q34]" --- Part 05 (File Number Link LQ34D):*
* Richard's Government and Tudor Government
* The Battle of Bosworth and the Death of Richard III
* The Legend of the Princes and the Content of the Song
Bibliography Last updated in version 3.0
File: LQ34

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