There Was an Old Miser

DESCRIPTION: The old miser's daughter is courted by a sailor. When the miser finds out, he pays a captain to impress the boy. The girl fails to save the boy, but his ship is wrecked and he escapes to shore almost alone. He finds the girl; they are married.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1854 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 c.16(16))
KEYWORDS: courting sailor father pressgang wreck escape marriage
FOUND IN: US(MA,NE) Britain(England(Lond,South))
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Cazden/Haufrecht/Studer-FolkSongsOfTheCatskills 48, "There Was an Old Miser" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lane/Gosbee-SongsOfShipsAndSailors, p. 224, "The Miser's Daughter" (1 text, 1 tune, composite)
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 222, "Transport" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Harold Nestler, "Songs from the Hudson Valley" (article in _New York Folklore Quarterly_, Volume V, #2, Summer 1949), p. 78, "The Old Miser" (1 text, missing most of the action; I suspect it's this, but it might be Laws N6 or Laws N10)

ST FSC048 (Partial)
Roud #3913
Chris Willett, "The Old Miser" (on Voice04)
Bodleian, 2806 c.16(16), "Old Miser" ("It's of an old miser in London did dwell"), Swindells (Manchester), 1796-1853; also Johnson Ballads 572, "The Old Miser"
cf. "Disguised Sailor (The Sailor's Misfortune and Happy Marriage; The Old Miser)" [Laws N6]
NOTES [152 words]: Although this song shows many similarities to Laws N6 (plus a slight similarity to "William and Harriet," Laws M7), Cazden et al consider the ending sufficiently different that they regard it as a separate ballad. Since the policy of this index is to split rather than lump, here it stands.
Roud, interestingly, lumps it with Laws N10, "The Silk Merchant's Daughter." I was tempted to do the same with the short version in Nestler, before I realized it was this.
Not every version has a happy ending; the Lane/Gosbee-SongsOfShipsAndSailors version tacks on a verse in which boy's fate is unknown and the girl curses her father. Similarly the versions noted by Ben Schwarz below. - RBW
Chris Willett's version on Voice04 and Bodleian broadsides 2806 c.16(16) and Johnson Ballads 572 include the verses in the [Supplemental Tradition text, from Cazden et al] but omit the ending: no shipwreck or happy ending. - BS
Last updated in version 6.4
File: FSC048

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.