George Barnwell (II)

DESCRIPTION: "Vicked woman of the town", Mary Millwood seduces George Barnwell, apprentice to a London merchant. She convinces him to kill his uncle but he finds no money to rob. Millwood "peach'd him" He is hanged. Many, including the merchant's daughter, lament
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1828 (broadside, Johnson Ballads 3071)
KEYWORDS: seduction betrayal crime execution homicide robbery whore apprentice
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Williams-Thames, pp. 232-233, "Georgie Barnwell" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 355)
Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 578, "Georgie Barnwell"

Roud #546
Bodleian, Johnson Ballads 3071 View 3 of 3, "Georgy Barnwell" ("In Cheapside there liv'd a merchant"), T. Batchelar (London), 1817-1828; also Harding B 11(1307) , Firth c.17(59) , Harding B 11(4333), "Georgy Barnwell"; Harding B 11(1306), "Georgey Barnwell"; Firth b.25(503), Firth c.17(72), "George Barnwell"
NOTES [472 words]: Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 578 adds a nonsense chorus the Williams-Thames text. See the Bodleian broadsides for a similar nonsense chorus.
There are no lines shared between "George Barnwell"(I) and "George Barnwell" (II).
Percy (1765): "The subject of this ballad ["George Barnwell" (I)] is sufficiently popular from the modern play which is founded upon it. This was written by George Lillo, a jeweller of London, and first acted about 1730. As for the ballad, it was printed at least as early as the middle of the last century.... This tragical narrative seems to relate a real fact; but when it happened I have not been able to discover." For an edition of Lillo's play with a "modern" introduction and biography of Lillo [d.1739], see George Lillo (,Adolphus Ward, editor), The London Merchant, or The History of George Barnwell and Fatal Curiosity (Boston, 1906 ("Digitized by Google")). The introduction notes that, "in anticipation of the performance, the old Ballad of George Barnwell ... was reprinted ... many thousands are said to have been sold in a single day." The play had a successful first run of twenty days and was put on again at least in 1742, 1751, 1789, 1796 and 1817. Ward says, "The printed editions of this play are extremely numerous; not less than 22 are to be found in the British Museum...."
Ward writes that "there is a general agreement between ballad ["George Barnwell" (I)] and play, the play introduces some features. Of these, two, discussed below, are in the later ballad, "George Barnwell" (II).
Supposedly, according to a "memoir" quoted by Ward, "Barnwell was tried at the Kingston assizes on October 18, 1706 ... [and] sentenced to be hung in chains on Kennington Common...."
The description follows Bodleian broadside Harding B 11(1306); Williams-Thames follows this text but ends with the robbery. The broadside, but not Williams-Thames, is written in dialect: "vos" for "was," "cos" for "because," "vouldn't," "vicked," "arter" for "after," and slang like "dicky-bird" for no-good, "let loose his tripes" for murder (Williams-Thames makes this "let loose his Uncle Tripes"), and "peach'd him" for turned him in. The reference to the merchant's daughter is from the play and does not appear in the "George Barnwell" (I); in the play the daughter's name is "Maria" and, as far as I have found, Sarah Millwood is just referred to as "Millwood"; in the broadside Millwood is "Mary Millwood" and the merchant's daughter is not named. In Williams-Thames, Millwood is not named and the merchant's daughter is not mentioned. The play and "George Barnwell" (II) agree in having George hang in England, while "George Barnwell" (I) has him "hang'd in chains ... for murder in Polonia."
Incidentally, this story is not related to the ballads indexed here as "Sarah Barnwell" or "The Two Constant Lovers." - BS
Last updated in version 2.6
File: WT232

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