The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #67277   Message #1123712
Posted By: Joe Offer
25-Feb-04 - 03:41 PM
Thread Name: Origins: John Riley
Subject: ADD: John Riley
Here's the song Giok was referring to in the thread called John Riley's Always Dry. I don't see a thread on it, although there are several Digital Tradition songs that may or may not be related to it. I found it in the blue Sing Out Collected Reprints book, transcribed from the singing of Joan Baez. Susanne (skw) has a slightly different version posted here (click)

John Riley

Fair young maid all in the garden
Strange young man pass her by
Said, "Fair maid will you marry me?"
This then, sir, was her reply

"Oh no, kind sir, I cannot marry thee
For I've a love who sails all on the seas
He's been gone for seven years
Still no man shall marry me."

"What if he's in some battle slain
Or drownded in the deep salt sea?
What if he's found another love
And he and his love both married be?"

"If he's in some battle slain
I will die when the moon doth wane
If he's drowned in the deep salt sea
I'll be true to his memory.

And if he's found another love
And he and his love both married be
I wish them health and happiness
Where they dwell across the sea."

He picked her up all in his arms
And kisses gave her one two three
Saying, "Weep no more, my own true love
I'm your long lost John Riley!"

(as sung by Joan Baez)

Notes (from Sing Out! Reprints): This tale of constant lovers with its denouement of "recognitin" is a favorite American traditional ballad. Collectors have found it in many parts of the United States and it is believed that the original is from a British broadside of the late 18th century.
There are several "John Riley" entries in the Traditional Ballad Index, and there is some crossover from one song to another. These entries seem to fit this song best.

John (George) Riley (I) [Laws N36]

DESCRIPTION: A stranger urges a girl to forget her lover; she will not. He tells her that Riley had been aboard his ship, and that Riley had been killed in battle with the French. She is distressed; he reveals that he is Riley and will never again leave her
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1845 (Shield's _Songs and Ballads in use in the Province of Ulster...1845_, according to Moylan) +1818 (William Garret, _Right Choyse and Merrie Book of Garlands_)
KEYWORDS: love courting separation marriage disguise reunion
Apr 12, 1782 - The Battle of Port Royal
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,Ro,SE) Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Laws N36, "John (George) Riley I"
Greig #138, pp. 2-3, "George Rylie"; Greig #148, p. 2, "George Rylie" (1 text plus 1 fragment)
GreigDuncan5 1039, "George Riley" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
SharpAp 82, "George Reilly" (8 texts, 8 tunes)
Thompson-Pioneer 15, "George Reily" (1 text)
Brewster 39, "George Reilly" (1 text)
Eddy 37, "George Riley" (2 texts, although Laws assigns only the A text to this ballad; the B text, which is fairly short, might go with this or N37)
JHCox 95, "George Reilly" (1 text plus mention of 2 more; Laws's citations are far from clear, since he cites the same page reference under both N36 and N37, but Cox's printed text is clearly this piece; presumably he thinks one of the unprinted texts to be N37)
Hubbard, #37, "John Riley II" (1 text, which Hubbard thinks is "The Banks of Claudy" but which features this plot and the name of Riley)
Moylan 9, "George Reilly Who Fought at Port Royal Bay" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #267
cf. "The New-Slain Knight" [Child 263]
cf. "The Banks of Brandywine" [Laws H28]
cf. "The Blooming Bright Star of Belle Isle" [Laws H29]
cf. "Willie and Mary (Mary and Willie; Little Mary; The Sailor's Bride)" [Laws N28]
cf. "A Seaman and His Love (The Welcome Sailor)" [Laws N29]
cf. "William Hall (The Brisk Young Farmer)" [Laws N30]
cf. "The Plains of Waterloo (I)" [Laws N32]
cf. "Lovely Nancy (I)" [Laws N33]
cf. "Janie of the Moore" [Laws N34]
cf. "The Dark-Eyed Sailor (Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor)" [Laws N35]
cf. "John (George) Riley (II)" [Laws N37]
cf. "The Mantle So Green" [Laws N38]
cf. "MacDonald's Return to Glencoe (The Pride of Glencoe)" [Laws N39]
cf. "The Banks of Claudy" [Laws N40]
cf. "The Lady of the Lake (The Banks of Clyde II)" [Laws N41]
cf. "Pretty Fair Maid (The Maiden in the Garden; The Broken Token)" [Laws N42] (one of the most common of the ballads of this sort, often known as "John Riley")
cf. "Blackbirds and Thrushes (I)"
cf. "As Broad as I was Walking"
cf. "Come All Ye False Lovers"
cf. "Skerry's Blue-Eyed Jane"
cf. "The Banks of the Clyde"
cf. "The Banks of the Dee (II)"
cf. "Lurgan Town (I)"
cf. "The Banks of the Inverness"
cf. "Cairn-o'-Mount"
cf. "Drumallachie"
cf. "Down by the Seaside" (part of plot, lyrics)
cf. "Yon Green Valley" (lyrics)
cf. "Bleacher Lassie o' Kelvinhaugh"
cf. "The Lass of Swansea Town (Swansea Barracks)"
cf. "The Soldier's Return"
cf. "Billy Ma Hone"
cf. "Mary of Sweet Belfast Town"
cf. "As I Was Walking Down In Yon Valley" (plot)
cf. "The Plains of Waterloo" (tune, per GreigDuncan5)
George Riley
John Riley
Johnnie Riley
NOTES: The theme of a lover coming in disguise and testing his love is ancient; there is a version in Ovid's Metamorphoses (VII.685 and following). Cephalus doubts Procris, and (disguised by the goddess Diana) comes to her and tries to get her to be unfaithful to him. She utterly rejects his advances.
In that case, however, the ending is not happy. Although they are reunited, and happy for a time, she eventually starts to doubt him (prompted perhaps by his earlier doubts?). She follows him as he goes hunting, and he -- hearing a rustling in the leaves -- kills her with a cast of his javelin.
Even older, of course, is the version in the Odyssey. - RBW
See the notes to "The Plains of Waterloo (I)" [Laws N32] for Mackenzie's discussion of Laws N36 as source for "The Mantle So Green" [Laws N38] and "The Plains of Waterloo (I)" [Laws N32].
[On April 12, 1782], Admiral George Brydges Rodney defeated the French Admiral the Count De Grasse at the Battle of the Saintes in the Caribbean and brought the captured French ships into Fort Royal. (source} Moylan; George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney at the Wikipedia site). [See also Arthur Herman, To Rule the Waves, pp. 316-318; Herman notes that Rodney pioneered the attack from the leeward side, assuring that the French could not escape him by running; Herman also considers the battle to have re-established British naval dominance, which was not broken even in the Napoleonic Wars. - RBW]
Both Laws and Moylan make fight the battle between Rodney and De Grasse. Laws has Reiley serving on Belflew; Moylan makes it Balflour. Moylan notes "The Formidable was Admiral Rodney's own vessel. The Barfleur was the ship which captured de Grasse's flagship, the Ville de Paris." - BS
Brewster's version also mentions the Rodney/De Grasse battle; the ship in his text is the Belle Flower, though the date is April 10. Eddy has the date right; the ship is the Belflew. Cox also lists the Belflew (and has the April 12 date); presumably their agreement was the basis for the name in Laws.
For more on Rodney, see the notes to "Rodney's Glory." - RBW
Thompson-Pioneer and GreigDuncan5 1039B also refer to the Battle of Port Royal. Greig, who has the same text as GreigDuncan 1039A, refers to an April Battle of Port Said against the French, with the captains's names lost, but I don't find any record of such a battle; Wikipedia has Port Said not being founded until 1859 in connection with the beginning of construction of the Suez Canal ("Port Said" according to Wikipedia, accessed August 12, 2012). - BS
Last updated in version 3.8
File: LN36

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John (George) Riley (II) [Laws N37]

DESCRIPTION: A stranger urges a girl to marry him; she replies that, having lost her chance to marry Riley, she intends to live single. He tries again, asking her to come to (Pennsylvania); she refuses. At last he reveals that he is Riley, and offers to marry her
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1817 (The New American Songster)
KEYWORDS: love courting separation marriage disguise
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,NE,Ro,SE,So) Ireland Britain(England)
REFERENCES (17 citations):
Laws N37, "John (George) Riley II"
Randolph 56, "John Riley" (2 texts, 1 tune)
BrownII 93, "John Reilly" (1 text, presumably this song though Laws does not list it under any Riley ballad)
BrownSchinhanIV 93, "John Reilley" (2 excerpts, 2 tunes)
Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 267-270, "Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor" (3 texts; the second, "The Sailor," with tune on p. 427, is this song; the first, "Young Willie's Return, or The Token," with tune on pp. 426-427, is "The Dark-Eyed Sailor (Fair Phoebe and her Dark-Eyed Sailor)" [Laws N35]; the third, "Billy Ma Hone," with tune on p. 427, seems to be its own song)
Flanders/Brown, pp. 135-136, "John Reilly" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wyman-Brockway I, p. 34, "John Riley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cambiaire, p. 95, "John RIley" (1 text)
McNeil-SFB1, pp. 82-83, "Young John Riley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-Singing, pp. 168-170, "John Riley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 79, "John Riley" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 210-211, "[John Riley]" (1 text, 1 tune, sufficiently abbreviated that the plot does not allow us to say which Riley ballad it is, but the first verse implies it goes here)
JHCox 95, "George Reilly" (1 text plus mention of 2 more; Laws is difficult to interpret on this point, but it appears he means one of Cox's un-printed texts to go here while the printed text in N36)
Hubbard, #36, "John Riley I" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
SHenry H826, p. 309, "James Reilly" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 149, "John Riley" (1 text)

Roud #267
Pete Seeger, "John Riley" (on PeteSeeger02, PeteSeegerCD01) (on PeteSeeger29); "Johnny Riley" (on PeteSeeger40)
cf. esp. "John (George) Riley (I)" [Laws N36] and references there
George Riley
John Riley
Johnnie Riley
NOTES: The characteristic first verse of this particular Riley ballad runs something like
As I walked out one summer's morning
To take the fine and pleasant air,
There I spied a most beautiful damsel,
She appeared to me like lilies fair. - RBW
The first two Seeger recordings have distinctly different tunes. - PJS
Last updated in version 3.8
File: LN37

Then again, it could be this one:

Pretty Fair Maid (The Maiden in the Garden; The Broken Token) [Laws N42]

DESCRIPTION: A girl refuses to be courted by a stranger, saying she will wait for her love. The stranger counters that he may be slain, drowned, or unfaithful; she says she will be faithful anyway. He pulls out his locket, revealing him as her lost, and now rich, love
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: courting separation brokentoken
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So,SW) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England,Scotland(Aber)) Ireland Bahamas
REFERENCES (55 citations):
Laws N42, "Pretty Fair Maid (The Maiden in the Garden; The Broken Token)"
Belden, pp. 148-151, "A Sweetheart in the Army" (3 texts plus references to 2 more, 1 tube)
Randolph 55, "The Maiden in the Garden" (3 texts plus 1 fragment and 1 excerpt, 2 tunes)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 97-99, "The Maiden in the Garden" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 55A)
Bronner-Eskin1 11, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Eddy 51, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peters, pp. 165-166, "The Broken Ring" (1 text, 1 tune)
BrownII 92, "A Pretty Fair Maid in the Garden" (1 text)
BrownIII 12, "Madam, I Have Gold and Silver" (1 text, starting with "Wheel of Fortune" but ending with a "Ripest of Apples" verse and ending with a Riley stanza, from this or some other ballad of this type)
BrownSchinhanIV 92, "A Pretty Fair Maid Down in the Garden" (2 texts plus 12 excerpt, 14 tunes)
Chappell-FSRA 68, "Betty Fair Miss" (1 text, 1 tune)
Morris, #186, "Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts, 1 tune); #201, "Sailor's Return" (1 text, which opens with a "No, John, No" stanza)
Hudson 36, pp. 160-151, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text); also 37, pp. 151-152, "Annie Girl" (1 text, which conflates 2 verses of "The Drowsy Sleeper" [Laws M4], 2 or 3 of "Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)" or "No, John, No: or similar, and 3 verses probably of this)
Boswell/Wolfe 72, pp. 118-119, "Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 260-264, "The True Sweetheart," "Pretty Fair Maid," "A Pretty Fair Damsel," "A Lily Fair Damsel," The True Sweetheart" (5 texts, mostly rather short; 4 tunes on pp.423-425); in addition, p. 265, "A Soldier Boy," opens with stanzas from this song, but the conclusion is "William Hall (The Brisk Young Farmer)" [Laws N30]
SharpAp 98, "The Broken Token" (6 texts, 6 tunes)
Creighton/Senior, pp. 134-139, "Broken Ring Song" (5 texts, 2 tunes)
Creighton-NovaScotia 28, "Broken Ring" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-Maritime, p. 59, "Broken Ring Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-SNewBrunswick 24, "Broken Ring Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 584-589, "Seven Years I Loved a Sailor" (3 texts, 3 tunes; the "C" text, "Flowery Garden," grafts the "Poison in a Glass of Wine" theme (cf. "Oxford City" [Laws P30]) as the ending)
Fowke/MacMillan 65, "The Sailor's Return" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie 63, "The Single Sailor" (2 texts)
Leach, pp. 701-703, "A Sweetheart in the Army" (2 texts)
Reeves-Circle 15, "The Broken Token" (1 text)
OLochlainn 2, "A Lady Fair" (1 text, 1 tune)
McBride 47, "The Lady Fair" (1 text, 1 tune)
OBoyle, p. 34, "A Lady Fair" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
OCroinin-Cronin 184, "There Was a Lady In Her Father's Garden" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Graham/Holmes 45, "A Maid in a Floewery Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
OShaughnessy-Grainger 7, "A Fair Maid Walking All in Her Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wyman-Brockway I, p. 88, "The Sweetheart in the Army" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fuson, pp. 77-78, "Soldier, Won't You Marry Me?" (1 text, in which, despite the title, the soldier asks the girl to marry, not the reverse)
Cambiaire, pp. 64-65, "The Soldier's Return (A Pretty Fair Maid)" (1 text)
Moore-Southwest 83, "The Cowboy's Return" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-1ed, pp. 91-92, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-2ed, pp. 46-48, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
FSCatskills 22, "Johnny Riley" (1 text, 1 tune)
McNeil-SFB1, pp. 80-81, "Miss Mary Belle" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sandburg, pp. 68-69, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ord, pp. 326-327, "The Brisk Young Sailor" (1 text)
Greig #23, p. 1, "The Sailor" (1 text)
GreigDuncan5 1038, "The Single Sailor" (26 texts plus a single verse on p. 617, 16 tunes)
GreigDuncan6 1201, "She Put Her Hand into Her Bosom" (1 fragment)
Lyle-Crawfurd2 89, "Mary and Willie" (1 text)
Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 104-105, "The Young and Single Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 625, "Maid and the Sailor"; Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 307, "Maid and the Sailor" (2 texts)
Abrahams/Foss, pp. 117-118, "A Pretty Fair Miss All in a Garden" (1 text, 1 tune); also pp. 222-223 (1 tune, partial text)
JHCox 92, "A Pretty Fair Maid" (2 texts plus mention of 4 more; the "B" text includes stanzas from "Wheel of Fortune (Dublin City, Spanish Lady)")
SHenry H471, p. 317, "The Broken Ring" (1 text, 1 tune); also probably H818, pp. 317-318, "Green Garden" (1 text, 1 tune)
MacSeegTrav 27, "The Sailor's Return" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
ADDITIONAL: W. Christie, editor, Traditional Ballad Airs (Edinburgh, 1876 (downloadable pdf by University of Edinburgh, 2007)), Vol I, pp. 264-265, "The Poor and Single Sailor" (1 tune)
James P. Leary, Compiler and Annotator, _Wisconsin Folklore_ University of Wisconsin Press, 2009, article "Kentucky Folksong in Northern Wisconsin" by Asher E. Treat, p. 227, "A Fair Damsel in a Garden" (1 text, 1 tune, sung by Pearl Jacobs Borusky)
Elsie Clews Parsons, "Spirituals and Other Folklore from the Bahamas" in _The Journal of American Folklore_, Vol. 41, No. 162 (Oct-Dec 1928 (made available online by JSTOR)), Toasts and other verses: Abaco p. 467, ("One day I was walkin' along the street") (1 text)

Roud #264
Clarence Ashley, "Pretty Fair Damsel" (on CloseHomeMS)
Mary Cash, "Lady in Her Father's Garden" (on IRTravellers01)
Elizabeth Cronin, "There Was a Lady In Her Father's Garden" (on IRECronin01)
Cousin Emmy [Cynthia May Carver], "Pretty Fair Miss Out In the Garden" (Decca 24213, 1947; on ConstSor1)
Louise Foreacre, "Down in Grandma's Garden" (on Stonemans01)
Warde & Pat Ford, "The Soldier's Sweetheart" (AFS 4204 B1, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Sarah Hawkes, "Returning Sweetheart" (on Persis1)
Roscoe Holcomb, "Fair Miss in the Garden" (on Holcomb1) (on FOTM)
Maggie Murphy, "Seven Years Since I Had a Sweetheart" (on IRHardySons)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Pretty Fair Miss Out in the Garden" (on NLCR06)
Dellie Norton, "Pretty Fair Miss in Her Garden" (on DarkHoll)
Sarah Anne O'Neill, "Standing in Yon Flowery Garden" (on Voice10)
Mrs. Clara Stevens, "Seven Years I Loved a Sailor" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Mrs. William Towns, "A Fair Maid Walked in her Father's Garden" (on Ontario1)
Doug Wallin, "Pretty Fair Miss in a Garden" (on Wallins1)
Martin Young & Corbett Grigsby, "Pretty Fair Miss in the Garden" (on MMOKCD)

Bodleian, Harding B 17(180a), "The Loyal Sailor," J. Ferraby (Hull), 1803-1838; also Harding B 11(4354), Firth c.12(335), "Young and Single Sailor"
cf. "John (George) Riley (I)" [Laws N36] and references there
cf. "The Bleacher Lassie" (tune, per GreigDuncan5)
The Sailor's Return
The Single Soldier
John Riley (III)
Flowery Garden
The Sailor Boy
The Sailor's Return
Seven Years I Loved a Sailor
A Lady in Her Garden Walking
A Fair Maid
A Lady Walking
NOTES: Eddy's version of this piece may be the only one of these disguised love songs in which the man admits what he is: A creep who sneaks up on his faithful true love.
The second Sam Henry version, "Green Garden," is marked as Laws N42 but with a question mark. I understand the editors' hesitation, but there are enough links to other texts of the song that I think we can list it here. It's not as if we need another Broken Token ballad....
Paul Stamler suggested filing Art Thieme's song "That's the Ticket" here. Since this index occasionally pretends to something resembling scholarship, I couldn't bring myself to do it. But if you want to see the essence of Broken Token absurdity, that song (on Thieme03) probably sums it up as well as is humanly possible. - RBW
The last three verses of Mary Cash's version on IRTravellers01 are the "Phoenix Island" verses from "O'Reilly from the County Leitrim": as a result, the suitor is finally rejected. Jim Carroll's notes to IRTravellers01 cite another version from Mary Delaney who "had the suitor even more fimly rejected:
For it's seven years brings an alteration,
And seven more brings a big change to me,
Oh, go home young man,
choose another sweetheart,
Your serving maid I'm not here to be."
Mary Delaney's "Phoenix Island" on IRTravellers01 is even more extreme (see notes to "O'Reilly from the County Leitrim," which generally ends unfavorably for the suitor).
GreigDuncan6 seems a poorly remembered fragment of the Laws N42 broken ring verse with sexes reversed: "She put her hand into her bosom With fingers neat and small And pulled out the gay gold ring I gave her at the ball" instead of "He put his hand into his pocket, His fingers they being long and small, Pulled out the ring that was broke between them; And when she saw it she down did fall." If there had been another verse there might have been a reason to assign it somewhere else. - BS
The motif of a virtuous girl in a garden is an ancient one. A source that would have been well-known in medieval times is that of Susanna, found in the apocryphal/deuterocanonical additions to the book of Daniel. This story invited elaboration -- and, indeed, we find such elaboration in the Middle English alliterative poem "A Pistel of Susan." This was popular enough to survive in five manuscripts (which is a substantial number), with the earliest being from the late fourteenth century (see Thorlac Turville-Petre, Alliterative Poetry of the Later Middle Ages: An Anthology, Routledge, 1989, p. 120).
On p. 121, Turville-Petre adds, "Susan is based on the story of Susan and the Elders.... The poet makes two notable alterations. In place of the account of how the Elders secretly burned with lust for Susan.... (Daniel xiii.10-14), the poet substitutes an extended description of Susan's garden (ll. 66-117). He also adds a moving stanza describing Susan's farewell-meeting with her husband Joachim after her condemnation (ll. 248-60). The effect of both alterations is to focus attention and sympathy on Susan."
On p. 122, Turville-Petre declares that the story in the Pistel makes Susan a romance heroine, from which it is only one step to a ballad. He also compares the story of Emily in Chaucer's Knight's Tale, lines 1034-1055. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.8
File: LN42