DESCRIPTION: "Elsie Marley's grown so fine, She won't get up to serve the swine, But lies in bed till eight or nine." "Di' ye ken Elsie Marley, honey, The wife that sells the barley, honey?" Stanzas tell of how Elsie leads an elaborate lifestyle
EARLIEST DATE: 1870 (Chambers); reportedly collected by Ritson in 1784
KEYWORDS: work clothes drink death
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Scotland))
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Stokoe/Reay, pp. 70-71, "Elsie Marley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Opie-Oxford2 152, "Elsie Marley is grown so fine" (4 texts)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #246, p. 155, "(Elsie Marley has grown so fine)"
Montgomerie-ScottishNR 111, "(Saw you Eppie Marley, Honey)" (1 text)
Jack, p. 32, "Elsie Marley" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Robert Chambers, The Popular Rhymes of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1870 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 385, ("Saw ye Eppie Marly, honey")
[Cuthbert Sharp], _The Bishopric Garland, A Collection of Legends, Songs, Ballads, &c Belonging to the County of Durham_, 1834 (references are to the 1969 reprint), p. 48, "Elsie Marley" (1 text, 1 tune on p. 85)
NOTES [165 words]: According to Stokoe, Alice "Elsie" Marley was an innkeeper's wife in Pictree who, afflicted by fever, wandered from her bed and drowned in a flooded coalpit. Stokoe gives no other particulars (such as a date; the Baring-Goulds say 1768, and claim Elsie was born c. 1715), but this would explain what is otherwise a very strange song, with no real plot and an odd mix of praise and censure: Elsie is dead and being prepared for burial.
A partial argument against the Baring-Goulds' date is the claim by the Opies that the song was first printed around 1756. However, Ritson, who collected the song in 1784, also claimed that Elsie was from Pic(k)tree, and the Opies also give Alice Marley's dates as 1715-1768; they merely claim the song existed before her death. - RBW
Chambers includes two verses among "anti-Jacobite rhymes." - BS
Jack also has a version which refers to "Jacobite Charlie," in which the heroine is Eppie Marley. But there is no clear proof which version is earlier. - RBW
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