Bonnie Light Horseman, The

DESCRIPTION: The singer calls on listeners to hear of a "maid in distress" who wanders forlorn; "She relies upon George for the loss of her lover." She tells how he went to fight Napoleon and was slain. (She wishes she could join her lover at his grave, and die there)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1820 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 25(1107))
KEYWORDS: soldier death separation burial bird Napoleon
1760-1820 - reign of George III (the George of the song)
June 18, 1815 - Battle of Waterloo
FOUND IN: Ireland Britain(England(Lond),Scotland(Aber)) Canada(Mar) US(MA)
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #41, "TBonny Light Horseman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greig/Duncan8 1584, "Broken Hearted I Wander" (4 texts, 4 tunes)
Henry/Huntingdon/Herrmann-SamHenrysSongsOfThePeople H122a, pp. 88-89, "The Bonny Light Horseman" (1 text, 1 tune, with many variations in the source texts)
Moylan-TheAgeOfRevolution-1776-1815 181, "The Bonny Light Horseman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia 69, "Bonny Light Horseman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Thompson-APioneerSongster 28, "The Bonny Light Horseman" (1 text)
Dallas-TheCruelWars-100SoldiersSongs, pp. 92-93, "The Bonnie Light Horseman" (1 text, 1 tune)
Forget-Me-Not-Songster, pp. 191-192, "The Bonny Light Horseman" (1 text)

Roud #1185
Martin Howley, "The Young Horseman" (on Voice08)
Bodleian, Harding B 25(1107), "The Light Horseman Slain in the Wars ," J. Pitts (London), 1802-1819; also Harding B 25(260), Harding B 28(165), Firth c.14(182), Firth c.14(183), Firth c.26(266), "[The] Bonny Light-Horseman"; Harding B 18(55), Harding B 16(34a), 2806 c.16(249), Johnson Ballads 1914, Harding B 20(174), "[The] Bonny Light Horseman"; Firth b.25(230), Harding B 11(413), Harding B 15(29b), "Bonny Light Horseman Slain in the Wars"; Harding B 11(3413), "Bonny Light Horseman Slain in the Wars!"; Harding B 11(1106), "The Light Horseman Slain in the Wars" or "The Lamenting Maiden"
cf. "The Bonny Light Horseman" (adult version, per Greig/Duncan8)
NOTES [188 words]: Napoleon was famous for his handling of artillery (he was the one who gave a crowd the "whiff of grapeshot"), so it is no surprise to find a reference to "Boney" "[fixing] his cannon the victory to gain." - RBW
The ballad is recorded on one of the CD's issued around the time of the bicentenial of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. See:
Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "The Bonny Light Horseman" (on Franke Harte and Donal Lunny, "My Name is Napoleon Bonaparte," Hummingbird Records HBCD0027 (2001)) Hall, notes to Voice08: "'The Young Horseman' is the story of a British soldier who dies in the Egyptian campaign, 1798-1802"; "I once loved a soldier ... To the dark plains of Egypt he was forced for to go.... It was brave Napoleon ... slew brave MacDonald coming over from Spain." - BS
Though, to be nitpicky, Napoleon didn't himself fight the British in any significant way in Egypt. After the British beat the French fleet in Aboukir Bay, Napoleon fooled around a little in Palestone, then left the area, leaving his army in Egypt to be defeated and captured. - RBW
Probably should not be split. See Henry pp. 88-89 to help decide. - BS
Last updated in version 6.0
File: HHH122a

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