Bonnie Annie [Child 24]

DESCRIPTION: A ship's captain seduces (Annie) and takes her to sea with him. The ship they are sailing is caught in a storm which will not die down. (The crew) decides that Annie is the guilty party and throws her overboard. (The captain may order her rescue)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1827 (Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2)
KEYWORDS: seduction sea death storm childbirth pregnancy bastard
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South),Scotland) US(NE)
REFERENCES (16 citations):
Child 24, "Bonnie Annie" (3 texts)
Bronson 24, "Bonnie Annie" (18 versions)
Bronson-SingingTraditionOfChildsPopularBallads 24, "Bonnie Annie" (3 versions: #2, #16, #17)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 85, "The High Banks o Yarrow" (1 text)
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 20, "Bonnie Annie" (1 text)
Reeves/Sharp-TheIdiomOfThePeople 9, "The Banks of Green Willow" (1 text)
Karpeles-TheCrystalSpring 29, "The Banks of Green Willow" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #1}
Palmer-FolkSongsCollectedBy-Ralph-VaughanWilliams, #31, "The Banks of Green Willow" (1 text, 1 tune)
VaughanWilliams/Lloyd-PenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs, p. 15, "The Banks of Green Willow" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
Butterworth/Dawney-PloughboysGlory, p. 12, "The Banks of Green Willow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Purslow-TheConstantLovers, p. 4, "The Banks of Green Willow" (1 reconstructed text, 1 tune)
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Gl 85, "Banks of Green Willow" (1 text)
Buchan-ABookOfScottishBallads 45, "Bonnie Annie" (1 text)
Greig/Duncan6 1225, "Bonnie Annie" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Stone-SeaSongsAndBallads LXXIV, pp. 142-144, "Bonnie Annie" (1 text)

Roud #172
cf. "Captain Glen/The New York Trader (The Guilty Sea Captain A/B) [Laws K22]" (Jonah theme) and references there
There Was a Rich Merchant that Lived in Strathdinah
NOTES [401 words]: In the VaughanWilliams/Lloyd-PenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs version, the sailor Johnny has persuaded the girl to steal her mother's money and run away to sea with him. When she has his baby, he (not the crew) throws her overboard, along with her baby. - PJS
Many versions seem to blame the disaster on the simple fact that there is a woman aboard the ship. This Female Jonah idea was well-known among sailors. Even such a relatively enlightened character as Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, Nelson's second in command at Trafalgar, could write, "I never knew a woman brought to sea in a ship that some mischief did not befall the vessel" (see Cordingly, p. 154).
Child comments that the versions known to him are "much disordered," and this applies to the versions I know also. The defects forced Child to speculate on the "true" form of the ballad. He didn't find much except the Jonah connection. I find myself wondering, however, if it might not be influenced by Marie de France's Breton Lai "Eliduc," which was probably fairly well known in England in the Middle Ages. Eliduc is forced to flee France due to slander, leaving his wife behind. In England, he becomes involved with the princess Guilliadun. After some complications, they elope. A storm arises, and Guilliadun, learning that Eliduc is a bigamist, dies and is thrown into the sea. There is a complicated ending in which Guilliadun is brought back to life (for a summary, see Gerritsen & van Melle, 94), but the middle section of the romance sounds very like this ballad.
Other versions sound much like a version of the romance of Apollonius of Tyre, on which Shakespeare's "Pericles" is based -- well-known in Latin; Enk, p. 232, says there are about sixty copies. Enk, p. 228, describes a section of the romance as follows (thanks for Steve Roud for making this available to me): "So Apollonius went once more aboard a ship, this time accompanied by his wife. At sea she gave birth to a child, but at the delivery she fell into a state of coma. Since no corpse was tolerated on board, the inconsolable Apollonius had a watertight coffin made, and placed alongside the lifeless body a quantity of gold, as well as an inscribed wax-tablet and, sad at heart, entrusted the coffin to the sea."
That description comes from the Latin romance. In English, it was known mostly from Gower. Who, to be sure, was not a likely source for a folk ballad! - RBW
Bibliography Last updated in version 6.2
File: C024

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 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.