The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #143842   Message #3328221
Posted By: Steve Gardham
24-Mar-12 - 02:02 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads in 18th c. America?
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads in 18th c. America?
Recitation of the ballads as you have demonstrated here was quite common, particularly it would seem in Scotland. Some of the most prolific sources were reciters, even as late as the early 1900s when Bell Robertson delivered up to Gavin Greig her large repertoire without singing a note. She had learned many of her ballads in her youth from family singers.

Edward Peacock as mentioned in the note to The Three Ravens was a well-known Lincolnshire folklorist as were others in his family. They made frequent contributions to Notes and Queries in the late 19th century and their work is preserved in local museums and in the work of later folklorists. Ruairidh Greig who posts here occasionally would be able to put more flesh on the bones as he's from that neck of the woods.

Some of these ballads above were widely printed as stall copies and it would be a surprise if they hadn't turned up in oral tradition.
Young Beichan, Gypsy laddie, Bessy Bell, Bonny House o Airly, King Henry V, Kt & Shepherd's Daughter, Capt Wedderburn etc.

You'd be surprised how quickly literary or rewritten ballads can enter oral tradition, even in more recent times. Some of Buchan's pieces in Child for instance have been found in oral tradition locally in quite different versions. In the 19th century a German ballad was translated into French and some time later was retranslated into Portuguese. Only about 20 years later it was found very healthily embedded in oral tradition in Brazil. Scott's poetic adaptation of John of Hazelgreen occurs in oral tradition on both sides of the pond still sung to its 19th century tune.