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Lady Maisry

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Place Collected: Didbrook
Date collected: 1927-1935
Roud Number: 45
Other Numbers: Child 65

Most English versions of this song content themselves with a part of the story, namely that the lady is dying and sends her sister’s son to fetch her husband. However, he arrives too late and finds that she has already died. The full sinister plot is revealed in earlier Scottish versions of the ballad. The lady is Scottish who falls in love with an English lord. Her family is outraged and prepare to burn her. She sends for her lover, but he arrives too late as the punishment has already been carried out. In some versions he wreaks vengeance on the family. Versions can be traced back to the late 18th century. Although folksong collectors like to name versions of the ballad “Lady Maisry”, this name has been lost from English versions, that often start “Mother, mother, make my bed.” It is remarkable that Mr and Mrs Nightingale knew different tunes for this ballad.

Notes by Gwilym Davies