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Lyr Req: The Midwife's Ghost

Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 16 May 10 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,999 16 May 10 - 10:41 AM
Dave Sutherland 17 May 10 - 02:51 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 17 May 10 - 03:28 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 17 May 10 - 03:51 PM
Jim Dixon 19 May 10 - 07:07 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: The Midwife's Ghost
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 16 May 10 - 09:54 AM

A broadside ballad, sung by Ewan MacColl on his 'Broadside Ballads, Vol. 1 (London: 1600-1700)'

Lyrics (& tune) anyone?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Midwife's Ghost
From: GUEST,999
Date: 16 May 10 - 10:41 AM

CS, I have NO sound on this machine. However, here are two sites you might try.

Ewan MacColl - The Midwife's Ghost - MP3 Downloads - Dada - [ Traduire cette page ]
Download the Dada.net MP3 of The Midwife's Ghost - Ewan MacColl - Album description Broadside Ballads, Vol. 1 (London: 1600-1700) Released on January 1, ...
us.dada.net/music/.../the-midwife-s-ghost_886518m.html - En cacheSmithsonian Folkways - The Midwife's Ghost - Ewan MacColl - [ Traduire cette page ]

The Midwife's Ghost. Track Artist Ewan MacColl. Country(s) United Kingdom Culture Group(s) Scottish ... Play, 104, The Midwife's Ghost, Ewan MacColl, 4:53 ...
www.folkways.si.edu/TrackDetails.aspx?itemid=8191 - En cache


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MIDWIFE'S GHOST (from Ewan MacColl)
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 17 May 10 - 02:51 PM

The Midwife's Ghost

To speak of murders that have been,
Committed in our sphere of late,
There's none like these I do declare,
By monstrous hand and cruel fate,
Being acted by a midwife fell,
Which in Scroop Court of late did dwell.

Mistress Atkins she there was called,
Of reputation good alway,
Till death did send its piercing dart,
And told her that he could not stay,
But she must to the Stigion Lake,
For murdering babes for parents sake.

The house whereas this midwife dwelled,
Has very much disturbed been,
With apparitions very strange,
The like whereof have not been seen,
Sometimes resembling of her shape,
At other times Hells own mouth to gape.

She finding none that would reply,
Importunate at last did grow,
On 16th of this instant March,
Unto the Maid revealed her woe,
Who then was by her mistress sent,
To fetch nightclothes incontinent.

Pray virgin stay then quoth the ghost,
For I to you will do no harm,
And tell Mary whom I love the most,
That I hereby her now do charm,
Two tiles by the fire up to take,
A board also and then to make.

A burial of what she did find,
Of decent and most handsome sort,
And let the world to know my crime,
And that I am most sorry for't,
Desiring midwifes to take heed,
How they dispose their bastard breed.

The maid at first astonished was,
At this which she herself did hear,
And to her mistress did impart,
The same as I do now declare,
Concerning of the murders starnge,
And did not seem at all to change.

Most people thay are apt of late,
To condemn most strange things as lies,
To the Cheshire Cheese you may repair,
For this they will you satisfice,
Having the children's bones to show,
In Holbourn if you do it know.

In the notes to the song MacColl states that these are eight of the actual fifteen verses as shown in "The Pepys Ballads"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Midwife's Ghost
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 17 May 10 - 03:28 PM

Thanks for the words Dave!

I'll check those links Bruce, and see if I can cobble a tune from them.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Midwife's Ghost
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 17 May 10 - 03:51 PM

Aha! Here is a recording of the ballad:
The Midwife's Ghost

I think she's singing the full piece. Cheers anyhoo for your help folks.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MIDWIVES GHOST / THE MIDWIFE'S GHOST
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 19 May 10 - 07:07 PM

From the broadside (Pepys 2.145) at The University of California Santa Barbara English Broadside Ballad Archive (See Crow Sister's link above.):


A New BALLAD of
The Midwives Ghost:


Who appeared to several People in the House where she formerly lived in Rotten-Row in Holbourn, London, who were all afraid to speak unto her; but she growing very Impetuous, on the 16th. of this Instant March, 1680, declarred her mind to the Maid of the said House, who with an Unanimous Spirit adhered to her, and afterwards told it to her Mistris, how that if they took up two Tiles by the Fire-side, they should find the Bones of Bastard-Children that the said Midwife had 15 years ago Murthered, and that she desired that her Kinswoman Mary should see them decently Buried; which accordingly they did, and found it as the Maid had said. The Bones are to be seen at the Cheshire-Cheese in said place at this very time, for the satisfaction of those that believes not this Relation.

To the Tune of, When Troy Town, etc.

To speak of Murthers that have been
  committed in our Sphear of late;
There's none like these I shall declare,
  by monstrous hand, and cruel Fate:
Being acted by a Midwife fell,
Which in Scroop-Court of late did dwell.

Mistris Atkins she there was call'd,
  of Reputation good alway;
Till Death did send his piercing Dart,
  and told her that he could not stay:
But she must to the Stigion Lake,
For murthering Babes for Parents sake.

She seeing now her time was come,
  most bitterly began to weep;
And lifting up her hands on high,
  she took a short, not lasting sleep:
Six months ago, as I am told,
Before she did this same unfold.

Therefore not to detain you long
  to this discourse, I now will press;
Which is a truth assuredly,
  as many know, and you may guess:
When as 'tis plainly told herein,
Whereas their bones are to be seen.

The House whereas this Midwife liv'd,
  hath very much disturbed been;
With Apparitions very strange,
  the like whereof hath not been seen:
Sometimes resembling of her shape,
At other times Hells mouth to gape.

Which put the people in great fear,
  that there had taken up abode,
Being loath for to disclose the same,
  for fear expersions they should load
On her whom they really thought
Could never be to Lewdness brought.

But still they daily was opprest,
  with dismal shapes, and Lightings strange
That by no means they could not rest,
  being very loath from thence to range:
They told some Neighbours secretly,
Desiring them their Faith to try.

To speak unto this Spirit strange,
  if that occasion they saw;
But they thereby was daunted quite,
  and very much was kept in awe:
The hair o' their heads standing on end,
To see their late Familiar Friend.

She finding none that would Reply,
  importunate at last did grow;
A'th 16th. of this Instant March,
  unto the Maid reveal'd her Woe:
Who then was by her Mistris sent,
To fetch Night-cloaths Incontinent.

pray Virgin stay, then quoth the [ghost?],
  for I to you will do no harm;
And tell Mary whom I love most,
  that I hereby, her now do charm,
Two Tiles by'th fire up to take,
A Board also, and then to make

A Burial of what she finds,
  in decent and most handsome sort;
And let the World to know my Crime,
  and that I am most sorry for't:
Desiring Midwives to take heed,
How they dispose their Bastard-breed.

She having now reveal'd her mind,
  did vanish in a Flash away,
And none doth know where she's confin'd,
  until the General judgement-day:
When as she shall the answer make,
For what she then did undertake.

The Maid at first astonish'd was,
  at this which she her self did hear;
And to her Mistris did impart,
  the same that now I do declare:
Concerning of the Murthers strange,
And did not seem at all to change.

Which being throughly searched out,
  accordingly it did appear;
The Maid she spoke of is suppos'd,
  to be her kind Kinswoman neer:
That will fulfill her will, 'tis said,
She being a Religious Maid.

Most People they are apt of late,
  to condemn (most) strange things as lyes,
To'th Cheshire-Cheese you may repair,
  for this they will you satisfice:
Having the Childrens Bones to show,
In Holbourn if you do it know.

F I N I S.

London, Printed for T. Vere, at the Sign of
The Angel in Guiltspur-Street. 1680.


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