Old Maid's Song (I), The
DESCRIPTION: An old maid laments her state, noting that her (two) sister(s were) popular, but she's been ignored all her life. She says she'd accept almost any man, and lists the good things she'd do for him
AUTHOR: Martin Parker (source: Kittredge)
EARLIEST DATE: 1636 (broadside)
KEYWORDS: loneliness marriage nonballad family oldmaid
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,NE,Ro,So) Ireland Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber,Hebr)) Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont)
REFERENCES (20 citations):
Thompson-Pioneer 27, "The Spinster's Lament" (1 text)
Sturgis/Hughes, pp. 18-21, "The Spinster's Lament" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wyman-Brockway I, p. 65, "The Old Maid's Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard, #82, "The Old Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
SHenry H138, p. 256, "The Black Chimney Sweeper" (1 text, 1 tune, in which a "black chimney sweeper" finally marries her)
Hayward-Ulster, pp. 87-88, "The Black Chimney Sweeper" (1 text)
Flanders/Brown, p. 102, "Sisters Susan" (1 text)
Logan, pp. 353-355, "The Old Maid's Lament for a Husband" (1 text, which is not lyrically similar to the usual versions of this song but has all the same plot elements)
Williams-Thames, pp. 297-298, "Here's My Sister Betsy" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 208)
Reeves-Circle 133, "Tinker, Tailor" (1 text)
Kennedy 210, "The Poor Auld Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greig #17, p. 1, "The Old Maid's Lament for a Husband" (1 fragment which follows Logan's version)
GreigDuncan7 1378, GreigDuncan8 Addenda, "Come Ye Inksmen" (5 texts, 2 tunes)
Gatherer 40, "Auld Maid in a Garrett" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, p. 461, "I Long to be Wedding" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-SNewBrunswick 21, "Black Chimney Sweeper" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke-Ontario 26, "Come All You True Lovers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 186, "Old Maid's Song" (1 text)
DT, OLDMAID1 (OLDMAID2) OLDMAID6*
ADDITIONAL: G.L. Kittredge, editor, "Ballads and Songs" in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. XXX, No. 117 (Jul-Sep 1917 (available online by JSTOR; the entire vol. XXX is "Digitized by Google")), pp. 355-356 "The Old Maid's Song" (1 Kentucky text plus 5 related verses from Roxburghe)
Freeman Bennett, "I Long to be Wedding" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Joanna Leith, "The Poor Auld Maid" (on FSBFTX19)
Bodleian, Harding B 11(2011), "Chimney Sweep's Wedding," J.O. Bebbington (Manchester), 1858-1861; also Firth c.20(31), "Chimney Sweeper's Wedding"; 2806 c.7(10), "Chimney Sweepers Weding"[sic]
LOCSinging, as102060, "The Chimney Sweepers Weding"[sic], P. Brereton (Dublin), n.d.
cf. "Betsy Bell" (theme)
cf. "Darn the Man That I Can Get" (theme)
cf. "I'll Not Marry at All"
cf. "Time to be Made a Wife"
cf. "The Old Maid's Song" (II)
cf. "A'body's Like to be Married but Me"
cf. "No to be Married Ava" (theme)
cf. "I Wonder When I Shall Be Married" (theme)
cf. "O Gin That I Were Mairrit" (theme)
Take Her Out of Pity
The Old Maid's Lament
NOTES [223 words]: Kittredge: "The song, now in active oral circulation, is a re-arrangement of 'The Wooing Maid,' a ballad by the famous Martin Parker, which is preserved in a seventeenth-century broadside in the Roxburghe collection I:452-453 ('Roxburghe Ballads,' ed. Chappell, 3:51-56)" [Fn: "... The ballad was entered in the Stationers' Register to Thomas Lambert, 1633-36...."]
Also collected and sung by Ellen Mitchell, "An Old Maid in a Garret" (on Kevin and Ellen Mitchell, "Have a Drop Mair," Musical Tradition Records MTCD315-6 CD (2001))
Broadsides LOCSinging as102060 and Bodleian Harding B 11(2011) are duplicates. - BS
Some of the versions, such as Irish/Scottish "Old Maid in a Garret" texts, begin with lines such as "I have often heard it said by my father and my mother, That going to a wedding is the making of another, If that is so, I would go without a bidding...." The superstition about weddings coming together is attested by Iona Opie and Moira Tatem, editors, A Dictionary of Superstitions, 1989 (I use the 1999 Barnes & Noble edition), p. 433:
"c. 1635 M. Parker Wooing Maid (1 Roxburgh Ballads III.54) 'Tis said that one wedding produceth another."
"1713 Gay Wife of Bath I.1 One wedding, the Proverb says, begets another."
"1848 Dickens Dombey and Son XXXI. The cook says at breakfast-time that one wedding makes many." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.5
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 2019 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.