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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
John Minear Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England? (182* d) RE: Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England? 17 Jan 12


With regard to versions of "The Daemon Lover"/"The House Carpenter" found in either Newfoundland or Nova Scotia, Clinton Heylin has a nice summary of the evidence, or rather the lack of evidence. Kenneth Peacock's version from Newfoundland that we have discussed above is the only example found so far. Here is what Heylin has to say about this:

"The notion that American strains of 'The Dæmon Lover' were transplanted during the early waves of emigration, i.e. no later than the mid-eighteenth century, finds a form of reverse corroboration in the almost total absence of renditions from the coastal outposts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. These two English colonies were inhabited by British settlers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but in the case of Newfoundland the early settlers came almost exclusively from the Western counties of England - Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset - where the fishing trade had been a mainstay of the local economy for a thousand years. A list of settlers on the southern shore, compiled in 1675, contained only English names. The Irish began to settle there from 1713 on but Scots remained few and far between.

Nova Scotia, despite its name (New Scotland), bestowed on it in 1622 by Sir William Alexander, was not an inviting prospect for settlement until the French renounced all rights to the territory after the Seven Years War. As W.S. MacNutt observes, "The advance-guard of the great immigration of Highland Scots to Nova Scotia did not arrive until 1773, when The Hector came to Pictou via Philadelphia."7 Not until the period 1801-1803, when eleven ships from Scotland arrived at Pictou, can "the great immigration" be said to have begun in earnest.

These two territories, early British settlements, as isolated by the sea as any Virginian mountain-range, might have been expected to yield a commensurate amount of British popular ballads. The yield has, if anything, been disproportionately small. Maud Karpeles, who visited Newfoundland in 1929, later wrote, "I had hoped that Newfoundland might yield a wealth of songs comparable with the riches that Cecil Sharp and I had discovered in the Southern Appalachian Mountains a decade earlier."8 In fact, Karpeles found just 24 Child ballads - many badly mangled by tradition - in her excavations, compared with the 45 Child ballads Sharp and she had found in the hills of Eastern America. 'The Dæmon Lover', which had yielded 22 renditions in the Appalachians, failed to yield even a solitary fragment in Newfoundland. Kenneth Peacock's even more thorough excavations in the Fifties yielded but a single 'House Carpenter', and that an English broadside derivative. In Nova Scotia, neither Helen Creighton nor W. Roy MacKenzie succeeded in tracking down one 'Dæmon Lover'. Creighton's haul was a mere eleven Child ballads. MacKenzie reluctantly admitted, in his The Quest Of The Ballad, "I have not ceased to cherish the hope that I may yet extort from some crafty singer the admission that he knows 'a line or two' of 'James Harris' ... but so far I have had to content myself with the ... unsatisfying knowledge that [it was] ... once current in the northern part of Nova Scotia."9"


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