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Penguin: Young Edwin In The Lowlands Low


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Lyr Req: Edmund and Emily / Young Emily (10)
Lyr Add: Young Emma (3)
Lyr/Chords Req: diver boy (5)

In Mudcat MIDIs:
Young Edwin In The Lowlands Low (from The Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs)

Malcolm Douglas 31 Jul 00 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Bruce O. 31 Jul 00 - 01:16 AM
Malcolm Douglas 30 Jul 00 - 10:42 PM
Alan of Australia 02 Jul 00 - 10:25 AM
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Subject: RE: Penguin: Young Edwin In The Lowlands Low
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 10:56 AM

Thankyou for clarifying the "Gilderoy" business, Bruce.  That's a very good point, too, about JFSS numbers; I've been quoting directly from Lloyd's notes, and hadn't thought to cross-reference with Margaret Dean-Smith's index, though I have been using it to find versions of songs under other names.  In future I shall give both volume and issue number where I can; pagination is by volume, so that's still a safe guide.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: Young Edwin In The Lowlands Low
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 31 Jul 00 - 01:16 AM

The version of the "Gilderoy" tune in 'Pills to Purge Melancholy' I gave in response to an inquiry, but it is a poor version of the tune that is usually ignored. The earliest good version is in Alex Stuart's 'Musick for Allan Ramsay's Collection of Scots Songs' (Tea Table Miscellany), c 1726. [There is an excellent copy of this book in the Library of Congress]. This latter version of the tune has been reprinted several times: JFSS #7, p. 120, 1905; Simpson's 'The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music', #159, 1966 (whence the ABC as B159 on my website), and Fleischmann's 'The Sources of Irish Traditional Music', #468, 1998.

Note that Malcolm refers to JFSS by vol. number, but I use issue number. The EFDSS has been a bit ambiguous about which to use. The 1954 cumulative index of JFSS and JEFDSS uses the issue number, and as my set is unbound issues that's easiest for me, and I can cite the year of issue instead of the year of the completed volume. There are 5 issues per volume, but taking one issue per year is only a rough approximation.

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Subject: Origins: Young Edwin In The Lowlands Low
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 30 Jul 00 - 10:42 PM

From the notes to the Penguin Book (1959):

"This ballad was evidently a great favourite, for versions of it were printed on balladsheets by many printers in England, Scotland and Ireland.  Several versions have been found in the Northeast and the upland South of America.  The hero is variously given as Young Edwin, Young Edward, and Young Edmund.  Mrs. Hopkins's tune is sometimes used for the carol,  Come All You Worthy Christians ¹ (e.g. FSJ vol.I, p.74).  It appears to be related to the well-known  Dives and Lazarus  melody (perhaps both are descended from a common ancestor) ².  Other English versions have been reported from oral tradition in Sussex (FSJ vol.I, p.124), and Hampshire ³ (Folk Songs from Hampshire, G.B. Gardiner, 1909).  A Canadian set collected by Maud Karpeles is given in FSJ vol.VIII, pp.227-8."  -R.V.W./A.L.L.

This version was collected by Charles Gamblin and Ralph Vaughan Williams from Mrs. Hopkins of Axford, Basingstoke, Hampshire, in 1907, and was first published in the Folk Song Journal, vol.III, p.266.

There is another version on the DT:

Edward in the Lowlands  Collected by Cecil Sharp from Mrs. Jane Gentry, Hot Springs NC, in 1916.

DT #330
Laws M34
@courting @elope @murder @family @dream @premonition @sailor

There is an entry at The Traditional Ballad Index:
Edwin (Edmund, Edward) in the Lowlands Low

Some other titles:

Young Edmond Dell
The Lowlands Low
The Ploughboy of the Lowlands
Young Emma
Young Emsley

² See, in particular, two posts from Bruce Olson on the subject:  Note re. Gilderoy/ Dives & Lazarus/ Star of the County Down tune family  and  .abc of Gilderoy,  from D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy, 1719; apparantly the earliest known version.

³ The Hampshire version referred to above may be seen, with tune, at Lesley Nelson's  Folk Music  site:

Young Edwin in the Lowlands Low

There are two American versions at the  Max Hunter Folk Song Collection:

Young Emily  Mrs. Pearl Brewer in Pocahontas, Arkansas on May 27, 1959; with soundfiles.

Young Edward, The Driver Boy  Mr. Fred High in High, Arkansas on February 11, 1959; with soundfiles.

There is a Newfoundland version (no tune given) at  Burin Peninsula District Drama:
Edwin in the Lowlands Low, Or Young Edmund  "Sung by Mrs. Curran at Conception Harbour, 23rd October, 1929".

There are a number of broadside texts at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads.  Where duplicate copies exist, I have linked to the most easily legible.

Young Edwin in the Low Lands Low  Printed between 1842 and 1855 by W. Jackson & Son, (late J. Russell,) 23, Moor Street, Birmingham.

Young Edwin in the Lowlands Low    Printed between 1849 and 1862 by H. Such, 123, Union Street, Boro' S.E., and at 83, White Cross St., St. Luke's, London.

Young Edwin in the Lowlands Low    Printed between 1813 and 1838 by J. Catnach, 2, Monmouth Court, Seven Dials, London.

Young Edwin in the Lowlands Low    Printed by R.G. Edwards, West Street, Leominster.
Young Edwin of the Lowlands Low    Printed between 1796 and 1853 by Swindells, Manchester

Young Edmund in the Lowlands Low  Printed between 1819 and 1844 by J. Pitts, Wholesale Toy and Marble Warehouse, 6, Gt. St. Andrew Street, Seven Dials, London.

These last are all large images.

¹ Lyrics for Come All Ye Worthy/Faithful Christians may at present be found at  Rick's Music Pages:
Come All Ye Worthy Christians

or at  Sabine Baring-Gould and the Folk Songs of South-West England  (PDF file with lyrics and staff notation).


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From: Alan of Australia
Date: 02 Jul 00 - 10:25 AM

From the Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs, Ed Pellow's rendition of the tune of Young Edwin In The Lowlands Low can be found here.


Come all you wild young people, and listen to my song,
While I will unfold concerning gold, that guides so many wrong.
Young Emma was a servant maid and loved a sailor bold.
He ploughed the main, much gold to gain for his love, as we've been told.

He ploughed the main for seven years and then he returned home.
As soon as he set foot on shore, unto his love did go.
He went unto young Emma's house, his gold all for to show,
That he had gained upon the main, all in the Lowlands low.

'My father keeps a public house down by the side of the sea,
And you go there and stay the night, and there you wait for me.
I'll meet you in the morning, but don't let my parents know
Your name it is Young Edwin that ploughed the Lowlands low.'

Young Edwin he sat drinking till time to go to bed.
He little thought a sword that night would part his body and head,
And Edwin he got into bed and scarcely was asleep,
When Emily's cruel parents soft into his room did creep.

They stabbed him, dragged him out of bed, and to the sea did go.
They sent his body floating down to the Lowlands low.
As Emily she lay sleeping, she had a dreadful dream;
She dreamed she saw Young Edwin's blood a-flowing like the stream.

'Oh father, where's the stranger come here last night to lay?'
'Oh, he is dead, no tales can tell,' her father he did say.
'Then father, cruel father, you'll die a public show,
For the murdering of Young Edwin that ploughed the Lowlands low.

'The fishes of the ocean swim o'er my lover's breast.
His body rolls in motion, I hope his soul's at rest.
The shells along the seashore that are rolling to and fro
Remind me of my Edwin that ploughed the Lowlands low.'

So many a day she passed away and tried to case her mind,
And Emma, broken-hearted, was to Bedlam forced to go.
Crying: 'Oh, my friends, my love is gone, and I am left behind.'
Her shrieks were for Young Edwin that ploughed the Lowlands low.

Sung by Mrs Hopkins, Axford, Basingstoke, Hants. (C.G. and R.V.W. 1907)

Click here for another version.

Previous song: The Young And Single Sailor.
Next song: The Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime.


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