The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #20256   Message #3936223
Posted By: KarenH
09-Jul-18 - 04:34 AM
Thread Name: Tune Req: St. James Infirmary Blues
Subject: RE: Tune Req: St. James Infirmary Blues
Hello. This thread lists a 19th century broadside called 'The Unfortunate Rake' as a possible ancestor of St James Infirmary.

After a couple of years spent tracing references to this so-called 19th century broadside back to the early 20th century, I have come to the conclusion that it never existed.

Many sources refer you to a version sung by A L Lloyd. This appears to be a composite. The tune is one used for a fragment collected in Ireland; the words are somewhat like a version printed on several 19th century broadside called 'The Unfortunate Lad', but not identical. The title and other changes, including the omission of a whole verse, seem to be down to Lloyd. In other words, this is, I believe, one of Lloyd's tinkerings.

I don't want to discuss this again here, as it has been gone through on other threads, but there is one thread called 'Help. The Unfortunate Rake' and another called H M Belden, Ballads and Songs - Unfortunate Rake where this topic is discussed.

See esp post at 4.49 on 27/6/2018 on the H M Belden thread, where a history of how, I believe, the Unfortunate Rake belief started out as a tentative guess and them became ensconsed in people's minds as a fact.