Brown Robyn's Confession [Child 57]
DESCRIPTION: Brown Robyn and his men go to sea and meet a fierce storm. They cast lots to learn who is to blame, and Brown Robyn himself is thrown overboard. He sees the Virgin Mary, who offers to let him come to heaven or return to his men. He chooses heaven
KEYWORDS: ship crime sea storm religious incest
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Child 57, "Brown Robyn's Confession" (1 text)
Bronson (57) [Brown Robin's Confession], comments only with the tune belonging to "Captain Glen"
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 21, "Brown Robyn's Confession" (1 text)
Grigson-PenguinBookOfBallads 8, "Brown Robyn's Confession" (1 text)
Gummere-OldEnglishBallads, pp. 142-143+331, "Brown Robyne's Confession" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #412, "Brown Robyn" (1 text)
cf. "Captain Glen/The New York Trader (The Guilty Sea Captain A/B) [Laws K22]" (Jonah theme) and references there
NOTES [218 words]: This appears to be the only legitimate ballad that supports the doctrine of Justification by Faith. It is rather odd to find such a thing in Presbyterian Scotland. Especially given that Robyn had had incestuous relations with both his mother and his sister. - RBW
The theme of the sailor thrown overboard to calm a storm sent by God is found in Jonah 1.1-16. - BS
It should be noted that the "Jonahs" actually did exist, and did suffer for it. One case with an interesting analogy to this ballad happened in the reign of King Stephen of England (1135-1154). Stephen, for most of his reign, was plagued by revolt and civil war. One of those who rebelled against him was Geoffrey de Mandeville. But de Mandeville was killed by a crossbowman in 1144 (see Jim Bradbury, Stephen and Matilda: The Civil War of 1139-1153, 1996 (I use the 1998 Sutton paperback), p. 131).
As was normal at the time, Geoffrey's personal army started to dissolve after his death; his followers were loyal to him, not to his cause. His senior infantry officer was named Reiner. Reiner tried to flee to the European mainland (whence he apparently came), but his ship grounded. The sailors cast lots to determine who was guilty, and Rainer and his wife were chosen. They were cast adrift in a small boat and died (Bradbury, p. 132). - RBW
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