Little Dicky Wigburn
DESCRIPTION: Dicky's wife sends him far off to get her a cure. He meets a friend on the road who realizes the mission is a ruse to get Dicky out of the house while the wife and local clergyman make love. The friend schemes successfully to reveal the wife's deception
EARLIEST DATE: 1906 (Reeves-Circle)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Dicky's wife sends him far off to get a cure or "I shall die." He meets a friend on the road who realizes the mission is a ruse to get Dicky out of the house while the wife and local clergyman make love. The friend tells Dicky to climb into a sack. They go to Dicky's house and the friend makes up a reason to bring the sack into the house where the wife is entertaining the clergyman. In the natural course of events the subject of singing arises. The wife sings that she has tricked Dicky and she'll be with the clergyman until Dicky comes home. The clergyman sings that he is enjoying Dicky's food, ale and wife. The friend sings that Dicky is near and should come out of the sack. Dicky jumps out of the sack, grabs a club,and sings about how he will beat the clergyman. In at least one version Dicky beats his wife the next day; in another they hang the clergyman and burn Dicky's wife.
KEYWORDS: adultery trick humorous husband lover wife clergy execution
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South)) US(Ap) Ireland West Indies(Bahamas) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Williams-Thames, pp. 293-294, "Little Dicky Milburn" (1 fragment) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 227)
Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 174
Reeves-Circle, p. 286, "Oh Dickey, Oh Dickey" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Isabel Gordon Carter, "Mountain White Folk-Lore: Tales from the Southern Blue Ridge" in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 149 (Jul-Sep 1925 (available online by JSTOR)), #14 pp. 366-248 "Little Dicky Wigbun" (1 text)
Mellinger E Henry, "Still More Ballads and Folk-Songs from the Southern Highlands" in _The Journal of American Folklore_, Vol. XLV, No. 175 (Jan-Mar 1932 (available online by JSTOR)), #9 pp. 34-35 "Little Dicky Wigburn" (1 text, 1 tune)
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 2, pp. 154-155, "Little Dicky Milburn" (1 text)
Elsie Clews Parsons, Folk-Tales of Andros Island Bahamas (Lancaster: American Folk-Lore Society, 1918 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")), #37, pp. 78-79, "The Husband in the Bag" (1 text, 1 tune)
Helen Creighton, _A Folk Tale Journey through the Maritimes_, edited by Michael Taft and Ronald Caplan, Breton Books, 1993, pp. 152-154, "Dicky Melbourne" (1 text)
Johnny Cassidy, "Dickie Milburn" (on IRCassidyFamily01)
cf. "The Canny Miller and His Wife" (theme: wife sends husband away so she can have her lover come to the house)
NOTES: Most of the text is a recitation. The four verses are sung.
Henry quotes Phillips Barry: "It is the only version, as far as I know, in English, of a cante-fable widely current in central, eastern and southern Europe, the German form of which is 'Der Alte Hildebrand.'" See Grimm #95 pp. 440-444, "Old Hildebrand". The standard motif index and tale type references are K1556 ("Old Hildebrand. Hidden cuckhold reveals his presence by rhymes. He responds to the rhymes made by the wife and paramour concerning their entertainment")(TMI) and ATU 1360C, "Old Hildebrand" (ATU Part II, p. 166).
Thompson reports the tale type, aside from many European sources, "in the English tradition of North Carolina, the Negro of Louisiana and the Bahamas, and the Portuguese of Massachusetts." (Thompson, p. 204). Thompson does not cite references. I don't find the North Carolina reference in BrownI (Thompson was an editor for that volume).
Last updated in version 4.0
- (The) ATU: Hans-Jorg Uther, The Types of International Folktales, Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 2004
- Grimm: (Jacob Grimm, James Stern, editor,) The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, Pantheon Books, 1972
- Thompson: Stith Thompson, The Folktale, University of California Press, 1977
- (The) TMI: Stith Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature revised and enlarged by Stith Thompson, Indiana University Press, 1955 (Motif-Index of Folk-Literature on CDROM, Intelex Corporation, 1992
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.