The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #141964 Message #3293462
Posted By: John Minear
20-Jan-12 - 01:23 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England?
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Demon Lover in New England?
My post yesterday about "The Devil's Bride" chapter in Barbara Fass Leavy's book IN SEARCH OF THE SWAN MAIDEN, got me to thinking about my own originating story for this thread:
So old Robert Pond was a house carpenter in Dorchester, MA. He died there in 1637. About 55 years later, and 22 miles north there began the infamous Salem witch trials. Witches were accused of being "the Devil's Bride." While it would appear that there was only one North American version of our ballad that actually portrayed the man from the sea as at least supernatural and probably diabolical, it is somewhat ironical that this version supposedly was learned in Massachusetts! This was the version published by Flanders from Edith Ballenger Price of Rhode Island, collected in 1945. Supposedly, she learned it " as a young girl from "a lady living in Massachusetts, whose forebears came from England." Here is the link to that version:
Perhaps the cultural atmosphere of the Massachusetts Bay Colony at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century had something to do with why this ballad did not take root there. The Price version probably came over (in a book?) in the early part of the 19th century.
If the poor woman who left her house carpenter had made it back home, there is some likelihood she might have been burned as a witch, if she was from Massachusetts in the late 1600's. And of course, there is a link here to Dorchester! Check this out:
As far as I know, Mary Pond, who did marry a sea captain after the death of her first husband, Robert Pond the house carpenter, died of natural causes, probably in Cambridge.