Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


The Four Marys - who were they really?

DigiTrad:
FOUR MARY'S
MARY HAMILTON
MARY HAMILTON (2)
MARY MILD
THE FOUR MARIES


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Mary Hamilton - meanings (28)
Tune Req: Jeannie Robertson's Mary Hamilton tune (2)
Four Maries - 2 missing lines in DT (7)
Lyr Req: Four Marys (from Jean Ritchie) (8)
Four Mary's Good Version on CD (17)
Lyr Add: Mary Hamilton (Hally Wood) (23)
Mary Mild (Mary Hamilton) (6)
Lyr/Chords Req: Four Marys (12)


denglish@sprint.ca 08 Mar 99 - 09:43 PM
Bruce O. 08 Mar 99 - 10:23 PM
Barry Finn 09 Mar 99 - 12:43 AM
Bruce O. 09 Mar 99 - 01:02 AM
Barry Finn 09 Mar 99 - 01:30 AM
The Shambles 09 Mar 99 - 02:07 AM
Ritchie 09 Mar 99 - 06:56 AM
Bruce O. 09 Mar 99 - 11:15 AM
The Shambles 09 Mar 99 - 12:22 PM
Penny 09 Mar 99 - 12:56 PM
Bruce O. 09 Mar 99 - 02:49 PM
dick greenhaus 09 Mar 99 - 11:04 PM
Bruce O. 09 Mar 99 - 11:26 PM
Darrell 17 Mar 99 - 07:42 PM
Marion 17 Jul 01 - 03:20 PM
kendall 17 Jul 01 - 03:43 PM
Mary in Kentucky 17 Jul 01 - 04:10 PM
Joe_F 17 Jul 01 - 04:34 PM
GUEST 17 Jul 01 - 04:34 PM
fox4zero 17 Jul 01 - 06:17 PM
GUEST 17 Jul 01 - 06:27 PM
Penny S. 17 Jul 01 - 06:31 PM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Jul 01 - 10:26 PM
fox4zero 18 Jul 01 - 02:28 AM
Mrrzy 18 Jul 01 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,Kevin at work 18 Jul 01 - 10:31 AM
Keith A of Hertford 18 Jul 01 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,shona 18 Jul 01 - 01:14 PM
Keith A of Hertford 18 Jul 01 - 02:06 PM
fox4zero 18 Jul 01 - 02:23 PM
GUEST 18 Jul 01 - 06:53 PM
Liz the Squeak 18 Jul 01 - 06:53 PM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Jul 01 - 09:16 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Jul 01 - 06:50 PM
Malcolm Douglas 20 Jul 01 - 10:02 AM
Malcolm Douglas 20 Jul 01 - 10:08 AM
Malcolm Douglas 20 Jul 01 - 10:10 AM
MMario 20 Jul 01 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,Nora 16 Oct 03 - 02:01 PM
Menolly 16 Oct 03 - 03:47 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Oct 03 - 07:13 PM
LadyJean 17 Oct 03 - 12:37 AM
The Fooles Troupe 17 Oct 03 - 10:48 AM
Joe Offer 10 Dec 03 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 10 Dec 03 - 12:55 PM
Joe_F 10 Dec 03 - 02:41 PM
the lemonade lady 10 Dec 03 - 08:48 PM
LadyJean 11 Dec 03 - 12:07 AM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 11 Dec 03 - 12:48 PM
Jim McLean 11 Dec 03 - 01:44 PM
Jim McLean 11 Dec 03 - 01:48 PM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Dec 03 - 02:29 PM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Dec 03 - 02:31 PM
Ritchie 13 Dec 03 - 08:19 AM
GUEST,legionareuk 12 Apr 07 - 09:42 AM
leeneia 12 Apr 07 - 11:09 AM
EBarnacle 12 Apr 07 - 11:24 AM
Big Al Whittle 12 Apr 07 - 01:33 PM
TRUBRIT 12 Apr 07 - 10:47 PM
Big Al Whittle 13 Apr 07 - 02:23 AM
SussexCarole 13 Apr 07 - 03:03 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Apr 07 - 03:08 AM
Nigel Parsons 13 Apr 07 - 03:10 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Apr 07 - 03:17 AM
leeneia 13 Apr 07 - 08:40 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Apr 07 - 08:57 AM
Maryrrf 13 Apr 07 - 09:25 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Apr 07 - 11:07 AM
TRUBRIT 13 Apr 07 - 08:19 PM
Joe_F 13 Apr 07 - 09:13 PM
GUEST 14 Apr 07 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Kent Davis 14 Apr 07 - 08:50 AM
Maryrrf 14 Apr 07 - 08:39 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Apr 07 - 01:44 AM
GUEST,scrooge 05 Aug 07 - 03:11 AM
Mr Happy 05 Aug 07 - 05:25 AM
GUEST,Mary 05 Aug 07 - 06:39 AM
kendall 05 Aug 07 - 07:38 AM
EBarnacle 05 Aug 07 - 08:39 AM
Davie_ 05 Aug 07 - 11:14 AM
Stringsinger 05 Aug 07 - 02:09 PM
robinia 06 Aug 07 - 04:04 AM
Def Shepard 10 Jun 08 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Jean Brown 08 Dec 08 - 04:32 PM
Vic Smith 08 Dec 08 - 04:57 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 08 Dec 08 - 07:24 PM
GUEST 02 Nov 15 - 03:48 PM
Thompson 02 Nov 15 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,jaze 02 Nov 15 - 11:15 PM
Richard Mellish 03 Nov 15 - 07:11 AM
GUEST 03 Nov 15 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,leeneia 03 Nov 15 - 04:50 PM
Thompson 04 Nov 15 - 10:37 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: denglish@sprint.ca
Date: 08 Mar 99 - 09:43 PM

I was recently asked about a song our group plays called the four Marys. The song entions Mary Beaton, Mary Seaton, Mary Carmichael and me (whom we assume to be Mary Hamilton. However, who was Mary Hamilton? Any suggestion I have found referes to her a a part of the court of Mary Queen of Scots, (Mary Stuart) or some vague references to Tsar Peter of Russia. If anyone has further info on our dear departed Mary Hamilton, or her chums, could you please pass it on. Thanks.

D


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 08 Mar 99 - 10:23 PM

Child, #173, considered the ballad related to the story of Mary Hamilton executed in Russia on Mar. 14, 1719. No other Mary's in this story. A Mary Beaton and Mary Seaton acompanied Mary Queen of Scots to France when she was a Child, but no Mary Carmichael. The Russian story, retold in English by Child, doesn't have her pregnant by a Stuart, and the action is all in Russia, not Scotland. I't really difficult to see what more than the execution of a Mary Hamilton for infanticide is common to the story and the ballad.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 12:43 AM

Mary Stuart while in France (1548-1561) was attended by 4 Marys of the houses of Fleming, Livingston, Seton & Beaton of Creich. In 1563 in the court of Mary, Queen of Scots, a French waiting maid who was involved with the Queen's apothecary was hung for the murder of her newborn child. Skip forward to the year 1718 or 19 in the court of Peter the Great we find Mary Hamilton, a maid of honor to Empress Catharine, was also involved with a high born, she too hung for the murder of her child. The song has been found prior to the Mary Hamilton murder of 1718.

Couldn't help writting about the confusing facts about this song. At this late hour I have no restraint or shame. To the Scottish tune of "Soldier Laddie". Barry ^^

I once was a Mary but I know not when
I took my delight with the highest of men
When they asked for a maid it seems there were twenty
I'm sure they'd not miss just one pregnant lady

But I was reduced to hide in the halls
My love wouldn't take me to court or to balls
I sued for support but I couldn't get any
It was then that I thought I'd be rid of the baby

I went to Russia & I went to France
At the court of the Queens I played them at chance
The Marys all there, they were all against me
If I'd only shared my Grand Apothecary

Now I will not weep nor will I moan
For I know I'll be thought of in ballad & song
If you know my last name give it back to my baby
The baby's not dead only her mother the Lady


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 01:02 AM

Child doesn't have any versions prior to 1824, other than 4 lines from Robert Burns in a letter of Jan. 25, 1790, and 2 verses of 1823 sent by C. K. Sharpe to W. Scott. Where is that version prior to 1718 found?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 01:30 AM

Hi Bruce, from the "Viking Book of Folk Ballads" I quote"One would be tempted to consider the ballad an outgrowth of the Russian tragety of 1719 if it were not for the troublesome fact that some form of the balld seems to have circulated in Scotland before 1719". It's not said where that info was gotten from. The song quoted above is of a more recent vintage, I only wrote it a few moments ago, I did want to add a twist to the out come. Never minded all these Marys getting their necks stretched but I always wanted to see the child victims out live their courtly mothers. Good night Bruce, I'm going to bed (if I can shut this thing down) before my kids kill me. Barry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 02:07 AM

Wasn't it the title of a long running adventure strip, set in an all girls Public School, in 'Bunty'?

Not that as a big strong lad and into 'rugger and stuff', I ever read it. *smiles*


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Ritchie
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 06:56 AM

Mary's...Radleigh,Simpson,Cotter and...or something like that..like you Shambles I never read it although I may have some of the cut out dolls that were on the back of the 'Bunty' if you're interested.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 11:15 AM

Friedman didn't quote any lines or say where any could be found (other than Scotland, as one might guess), so as far as I'm concerned that's just his halucination.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 12:22 PM

Thank you Richie.

Now I know I'm not alone, I can now come out of the closet and admit it. I cut out the dolls too! *laughs*


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Penny
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 12:56 PM

By an amazing bit of synchronicity, a book I bought in a second-hand shop in Rochester, because it had the Cutty Wren in it, because I had seen the reference to it here, because I wanted the words for Red Nose Day, also has background on this song. (Stories of Britain in Song, Forbes Stuart, Longman Young, 1972)

It gives John Knox as a source: "In the very time of the General Assembly, there comes to public knowledge a haynous murther, committed in the court; yea, not far from the Queen's lap; for a French woman, that served in the Queen's Chamber, had played the whore with the Queen's own apothecary. the woman conceived and bare a child, whom, with common consent, the father and mother murthered; yet were the cries of a new-borne childe hearde, searche was made, the child and the mother were both apprehended, and so were the man and the woman condemned to be hanged in the publicke street of Edinburgh. the punishment was suitable, because the crime was haynous.

But yet was not the court purged of whores and whoredoms, which was the fountaine of such enormities; for it was well-known that lust hasted marriage betwixt John Sempill, called the Dancer, and Mary Livingstone, surnamed the Lusty. What bruit the Maries, and the rest of the dancers of the court had, the ballads of that age doe witnesse, which we for modestie's sake omit."

It also states that Sir Walter Scott found evidence of the same story in both the court of Peter the Great and in France, with the French woman becoming Mary Hamilton, the man Henry Darnley, and the time when Mary, as Queen Dowager of France, had not returned home.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 02:49 PM

Here's my new 'history' of our ballad. It seems that Queen Mary's chamblerlain, an Italian composer named David Rizzio, must certainly be the one who learned about the affair of the French woman named Mary Hamilton and the Lord Darley, the apothecary, and wrote a disguised account of it and extended the tale to its logical conclusion as "Mary Hamilton", and, of course, composed our beloved tune for it. To Darnley it wasn't well enough disguised, so taking slight umbrage at Rizzio he and friends subsequently murdered him. The English got a very much whitewashed version of the tale, because in the ballad of Lord Darly [Darnley], (ZN1112 in my broadside ballad index) we find:

There dwelt a stranger in the court,
Sinior Dauid calde by name,
He was the first that went about,
This treason vile to frame.

The English were never told what this treason vile was, but now we have cleverly deduced it. Darnley didn't outlive him by much, but he wasn't killed for infanticide as far as I have been able to discover

Plausibily can fill in most gaps in our histories quite well.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 11:04 PM

I can only quote: Folk song is always, true. Sometime, however, the facts get screwed up.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Bruce O.
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 11:26 PM

Priceless Dick, I hadn't seen that one before.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Darrell
Date: 17 Mar 99 - 07:42 PM

Thanks, all for the profusion of possibilities. Your efforts are much appreciated, and I shall return someday with another request, I am sure. Cheerz.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Marion
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 03:20 PM

So if you were performing this song, how would you introduce it?

I'd like to be able to introduce it in a few sentences without giving a full lecture about what it might be about, and yet not be too quick and dirty with the facts. Maybe I should just quote Dick...

Marion


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: kendall
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 03:43 PM

Where I come from, to be "hung" has a totally different meaning! For a woman to be "hung" is too grusome to contimplate! LOL


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 04:10 PM

Lesley Nelson has a short summary here.

I also remember (don't quote me on this) that James Michener talked about this song in his book, "The Drifters."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Joe_F
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 04:34 PM

Child eventually came to the conclusion that the resemblance to the Russian incident was a concidence. But it was quite a coincidence, including many odd details.

Wish Project Gutenberg would do Child, so we could *all* read it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 04:34 PM

Since it never happened, it doesn't make any difference what names someone decided to use in the ballad.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: fox4zero
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 06:17 PM

Any relationship to Mary, Mary quite contrary..... ....and pretty maids all in a row.? I remember that the "pretty maids all in a row" was a reference to the courtesans in Mary Queen of Scotts court. Reference from Oxford "Mother Goose" or "Nursery Rhymes" Larry Parish


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 06:27 PM

Just who in Queen Mary's court were courtesans? I've never heard of any. I suggest you re-read the Opie's 'The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes', notes to #342 in the 2nd. ed., 1997.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Penny S.
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 06:31 PM

The way I heard it, Contrary Mary was the Tudor one, and the pretty maids were nuns, the silver bells those rung at Mass and the cockle shells those of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. There may have been a reference to gardens planted to remind people of Catholic doctrines, with flowers (eg lilies) associated with the Virgin Mary. (I got hauled over the coals last time I referred to that, for giving no references. They're in the Forum somewhere.)

Penny


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Jul 01 - 10:26 PM

It's always a good idea to give references in cases like this, as so much imaginary nonsense is presented as (unproven) "fact" by people (present company excepted) who have heard or seem to remember reading all manner of unlikely things; that way, you're less likely to get the blame when it all turns out to be fiction!

Iona and Peter Opie (The Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes, 1951) had this to say:

"It is possible (as has been frequently stated) that this rhyme has a religious background; that it is a word-picture of Our Lady's convent has been suggested, the bells being the sanctus bells, the cockleshells the badges of the pilgrims, the pretty maids the nuns rank behind rank at offìce.  But there is disagreement as to the significance of the piece as a whole. Catholic writers feel it to be a lament for the persecution of the Roman Church; Protestant writers declare it is a lament at the reinstatement of the Roman Church.  Popular tradition has it that the original Mary was Mary Queen of Scots, who with her gay, French, and Popish inclinations much displeased the dour John Knox.  In this case the pretty maids might be the renowned Four Marys, her ladies-in-waiting, and it has even been stated that the cockleshells were the decorations upon a particular dress she was given by the Dauphin.  Such assertions are, of course, the work of the "happy guessers".  No proof has been found that the rhyme was known before the eighteenth century.  It is to be remarked, however, that there is a tune Cuckolds all a row in the I651 edition of Playford's Dancing Master.  The last line of the 1780 version of the rhyme goes Sing cuckolds all on a row and it could well be sung to the tune in The Dancing Master."

The first reference they give is toTom Thumb's Pretty Song Book (M. Cooper), vol. ii, c.1744.

Mistress Mary Quite contrary,
How does your Garden grow?
With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells,
And so my Garden grows.

For what it's worth, there is a text of Cuckolds, from D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719-20), with tune, in the DT:

Cuckolds all a row


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: fox4zero
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 02:28 AM

"Happy guessing" (on my part, at least) is the result of ingesting 50mg of Prozac daily. Larry


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 09:51 AM

This is fascinating. As Garek the Tailor once said, I believe in coincidences. Coincidences happen every day. But I don't TRUST coincidences. I think it's the same song rather than the same story...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,Kevin at work
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 10:31 AM

The four Marys that I know are...

1. Mary K.: A farm housewife in rural Massachusetts.

2. Mary R.: A nurse at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.

3. Mary D.: A New York City police officer from the 112th precinct in Forest Hills, Queens.

4. Mary M.: An assistant principal at Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, New York.

I doubt there's a ballad about any of them, but I can attest to the fact that all four are real people. Maybe I will make up a song about them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 12:33 PM

As mentioned above, the famous 4 Maries at Mary Stuart's court did not include a Mary Hamilton, but they did inspire popular ballads at the time. John Knox writing about them said,"The ballads of the age did witness which we for modesty's sake omit." Also we have the other lady in waiting hanged for infanticide. This would have greatly excited the scandal mongers of the day
It is likely that an early version of our ballad emerged at this time.
Mary Hamilton was a maid of honour at the court of Catherine the Great. She was executed for killing her baby. The father was widely believed to have been the Tsar Peter. So many parallels to the song can hardly be coincidence.
Clearly some long forgotten balladeer wove all these threads together and produced the hauntingly lovely song that has come down to us.
So you see Guest, it did happen, and it does matter. Poor Mary dieing friendless and far from home deserves to have her story sung and the cruel injustice remembered.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,shona
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 01:14 PM

Hey, i sing this song but i think it might be a different version!

Last night the queen had four mary's the nicht she'll have but three there was mary seaton and mary beaton and mary carmicheal and me.

thats the first verse of the song i sing. What it says in my song is that mary hamilton was killed in castlegate oin edinburgh because she had the kings baby and the queen found out because she heard the baby crying in the middle of the night. another interesting fact about this song is that it has loads of different versions, in fact it is the song that has the most versions of all ballads and songs and stuff. the version i sing has 24 verses. its a lovely song whichever version you sing anyway!

I dont know if i have helped!

Shona


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 02:06 PM

That's the one Shona.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: fox4zero
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 02:23 PM

Shona Would it be possible for you to post your 24 verse version of the 4 Marys? I would gladly supply the amphetamines. Thank you.

Is the jury still out? Am I a schmuck (Guest), a happy guesser (Malcolm Douglas) or something in between.

Guest Is your bark necesary? "Be a nice boy/girl" as my Mother used to say.

Larry Parish


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 06:53 PM

ok, i'll try and post it, its floating around the house somewhere, the reason being i havent sung it in a while. there are so many versions of it its unbelievable! really nice song though. i didnt understand all this with the tsar's and everything, as far as i knew, mary hamilton popped the kings sprog, the queen found out and chopped of mary hamiltons head. 24 verses just to say that eh?!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 06:53 PM

Oh thanks a bunch guys and gals... I'd just got this out of my head after it being there for a bloody month!!

Here we go again....

LTS


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jul 01 - 09:16 PM

As has already been mentioned, this is Professor Child's number #173 (English and Scottish Popular Ballads, 1884-98).   At this point, I'd best just indicate some of what's already available online at some of the more reliable sites:

In the Digital Tradition:

THE FOUR MARIES  Text and tune from the Grieg-Duncan Collection; no original source is named, but Bruce Olson has mentioned elsewhere that this one came from Susan and Mary Strachan in 1916.

MARY MILD  Another text and tune from the Grieg-Duncan Collection; no original source named.

MARY HAMILTON (2)  From a record by Jean Redpath; no tune given or previous source named. The text appears to be a cut-down version of Child's #173:I, which was taken from Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders, and was itself a collation of several texts. Jean doesn't name her source for either text or tune in the notes to her recording.

MARY HAMILTON  Text and tune from the Joan Baez Songbook, with no indication given as to source.

In the Forum:

lyrics req: Four Mary's  Contains an unformatted text taken from a 1960s book with no original source named; it's actually Child's version A, which was largely taken from C.K. Sharpe's Ballad Book (1824),

There is an entry at  The Traditional Ballad Index:

Mary Hamilton [Child 173]

At Lesley Nelson's  Folk Music  site:

The Four Marys  Text and tune from Jerry Silberman's Songs of the British Isles; no original source source named.

There are two American variants with soundfiles, both of which use the best-known tune, at  The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection:

Mary Hamilton  As sung by Jane Robinson, Fayetteville, Arkansas on June 21, 1958

Four Mary's  As sung by Almeda Riddle, Heber Springs, Arkansas on October 23, 1965 ^^


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Jul 01 - 06:50 PM

And the version in The Oxford Book pof English Verse has 25 verses - but no indication where they came from.

Mind I think the distilled shorter versions that jump right into the middle of the story without any explanations are more powerful. Folk wisdom.

As for "gardens planted to remind people of Catholic doctrines, with flowers (eg lilies) associated with the Virgin Mary" - my wife remembers, when she was a child after the war in London, she used to make "grotters" with shells and glittery things by the side of the pavement. Only years later did she realise they were actually "grottoes".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 Jul 01 - 10:02 AM

The text in The Oxford Book of Ballads was taken from Scott's Minstrelsy (referred to above).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 Jul 01 - 10:08 AM

Sorry; I meant to say Oxford Book of English Verse!  The text in the Book of Ballads is Child's version G, with a tune from Mrs. Harris, whose text is Child's version.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 20 Jul 01 - 10:10 AM

...J.

Heavens, one day away with the 'phone line broken and I'm out of practice already...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: MMario
Date: 20 Jul 01 - 11:58 AM

whew! Malcolm - looks like you're making up for lost time tho. Thanks!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,Nora
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 02:01 PM

OMG! I had thought this was an easily answered question.

My husband and I were listening to Mary Hamilton, and he asked me what's the song really about? I found that I didn't have a good answer, so thought I'd go investigate.

What have I gotten myself into? I now find myself immersed in Marys up to my eyes!!

Thanks y'all for sharing and now...back to pouring over all the info presented above.

Nora


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Menolly
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 03:47 PM

I remember hearing that Marie was a name or title for a lady in waiting and so not necessarily her name !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 07:13 PM

Well, yes; but since it appears that the term "Maries" for ladies-in-waiting derived specifically from the remarkable fact of Queen Mary's having had four ladies-in-waiting who were all called Mary, that doesn't really get us all that far; though it might be, since those ladies-in-waiting were all famously called Mary, that a fictional addition to the group (or a real character introduced from elsewhere) might automatically be given that name.

Since this thread has returned from the dust of yesteryear, perhaps I should clear up one or two points which were left hanging and may mislead the unwary.

Barry Finn stated that the ballad had been found prior to 1718, subsequently quoting a statement made in the Viking Book of Folk Ballads to a "troublesome fact that some form of the ballad seems to have circulated in Scotland before 1719". The editor, Albert Friedmann, cited no authority for this statement. It may be based in part on a misunderstanding of a comment made by John Knox in his History of the Reformation, and quoted by Child (III 382, footnote; and above, in a slightly different form). Having commented upon the case of one of Queen Mary's ladies of the bedchamber, a Frenchwoman who became pregnant by the queen's apothecary and was condemned for infanticide, Knox continued:

"But not yet was the court purged of whores and whoredom, which was the fountain of such enormities; for it was well known that shame hasted marriage betwix John Semple, called the Dancer, and Mary Livingston, surnamed the Lusty. What bruit the Maries and the rest of the dancers of the court had, the ballads of that age did witness, which for modesty's sake we omit."

The scandal involving an anonymous French lady of the bedchamber and the lesser scandal involving Marie Livingston were entirely separate. There is no evidence that the ballads referred to by Knox were in any way related to the ballad of Mary Hamilton: Child himself commented: "As to the 'ballads' about the Maries mentioned by Knox, I conceive that these may mean nothing more than verses of any sort to the discredit of these ladies." (Child V, 299, footnote).

Lesley Nelson's comment at The Four Marys (referred to above) that "There is speculation that the "apothecary" was Lord Darnley in disguise" is also puzzling. She quotes no source for the anecdote, but since the event took place in 1563 and Darnley did not come to Scotland until 1565, it is worth mentioning only in case someone should unwisely attach any credence to it; particularly as the guilty apothecary, and the Frenchwoman, were both hanged in 1563. (Child, V, 298). Presumably Lesley's reference to "Other versions of this ballad (circa 1563)" are based on Friedmann's (seemingly baseless) speculation.

Child did revise, to an extent, his initial thought that an origin in the Russian incident was the only tenable basis for the ballad. This was in the light of two factors. The first was the discovery of a version (his example U: Child IV 509) which contains the lines

My love he was a pottinger,
Mony drink he gae me,
And a' to put back that bonnie babe,
But alas! it wad na do.

This from a text of 16 stanzas communicated to Walter Scott, 7th January, 1804, by Rev George Paxton, Kilmaurs, near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire (afterwards professor of divinity at Edinburgh); from the mouth of Jean Milne, his "aged mother, formerly an unwearied singer of Scottish songs." The mention of a "pottinger" (apothecary) suggested that there may after all have been a connection with the incident of 1563; what it did not prove was that the ballad is of that period.

The other factor was an article by Andrew Lang in Blackwood's Magazine (September 1895, p. 381 ff.) Lang and Child both felt it unlikely that "a ballad, older and superior in style to anything which we can show to have been produced in the 18th, or even the 17th century, should have been composed after 1719" (the date of the Russian incident involving a Mary Hamilton), and Lang's argument persuaded Child that his earlier, reluctant feeling that the Russian incident had to be the root was now more improbable than the alternative (though also still improbable) explanation; but this is "gut feeling", not firm evidence, and Child reached no firm conclusion (though Joe F implied otherwise earlier on) but left the matter open. This may be the other root of Friedmann's assertion.

All this is scarcely news; everything I have said here was known a century ago, and has been available all along to anybody with a set of Child or access to a decent public library. Nevertheless, things like this have to be repeated from time to time, because so few people read appendices or footnotes; and because so many prefer fakelore to what might actually be true. And we don't know what the truth is here, of course; perhaps the Russian incident involving a Mary Hamilton is just a coincidence, and perhaps it isn't. If we are to look for an answer solely to the time of Queen Mary, however, then the unfortunate heroine was probably not a Hamilton, nor even a Mary; but a Frenchwoman whose name we do not know, far from home and doomed by tragic circumstance.

For little did father or mother wit,
The day they cradled me,
What foreign lands I should travel in,
Or what death I should die.

Child IV 507-8 (version S)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: LadyJean
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 12:37 AM

Oh happy happy is the maid, whae's born of beauty free
For it was my dimpled and rosy cheeks
That was the end of me.

There's a good deal of consolation in that, at least for some of us.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 10:48 AM

Just a quick point - are all these tunes above in 3/4 or 4/4 time (or at least triple or duple time)?

(My sound card died some time ago and I can't replace it)

Robin


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 12:43 PM

Robin, go to the DT mirror, Yet Another Digital Traditon, and search for maryham* (note asterisk). You'll find sheet music for all four of our tunes.
The Traditional Ballad Index has a substantial entry on this song:

Mary Hamilton [Child 173]

DESCRIPTION: Mary Hamilton, servant to the queen, is pregnant (by the queen's husband). She tries to hide her guilt by casting the boy out to sea, but is seen and convicted. She is condemned to die
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1790
KEYWORDS: pregnancy homicide abandonment punishment execution
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
1542 - Accession of Mary Stewart
1548 - Mary Stewart sent to France (later married to King Francis II)
1561 - Mary Stewart returns to Scotland
1567 - Death of Lord Darnley. Mary Stewart deposed
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber,Bord)) US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So,SW) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (35 citations):
Child 173, "Mary Hamilton" (27 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's#5}
Bronson 173, "Mary Hamilton" (12 versions+1 in addenda)
BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 258-264, "Mary Hamilton" (2 texts plus some variants and a verse of "Peter Amberley" they claim floated in from this song, 1 tune plus some cited extracts) {Bronson's #7; the first short excerpt is from Bronson's #6}
Randolph 26, "The Four Maries" (1 fragment)
Moore-Southwest 35, "The Four Marys" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-1ed, pp. 63-65, "The Four Marys" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #9}
Owens-2ed, pp. 27-28, "The Four Marys" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Olney, pp. 79-80, "The Four Marys" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #7}
Flanders-Ancient3, pp. 163-169, "Mary Hamilton" (2 texts plus a fragment, with the fragment containing parts of "MacPherson's Lament"; 3 tunes) {B=Bronson's #7}
Davis-Ballads 36, "Mary Hamilton" (2 fragments from the same informant, 1 tune) {Bronson's #6}
Davis-More 32, pp. 245-252, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text plus 2 fragments, 1 tune) {Bronson's #8}
Leach, pp. 481-483, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text)
Leach-Heritage, pp. 86-88, "Mary Hamilton (The Four Maries)" (1 text)
Friedman, p. 184, "Mary Hamilton"; p. 219, "Mary Hamilton's Last Goodnight" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #6}
Creighton-Maritime, pp. 22-23, "Mary Hamilton" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Creighton-SNewBrunswick 3, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text, 1 tune)
OBB 83, "The Queen's Marie" (1 text)
PBB 61, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text)
Niles 51, "Mary Hamilton" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Gummere, pp. 159-161+334-335, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text)
Combs/Wilgus 32, pp. 124-126, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text)
Hodgart, p. 138, "Marie Hamilton" (1 text)
DBuchan 33, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text)
GreigDuncan2 195, "The Four Maries" (4 texts, 3 tunes) {B=#6, C=#11}
GlenbuchatBallads, pp. 27-29, "The Queen's Mary" (1 text)
Lyle-Crawfurd2 123, "Marie Hamilton" (1 text)
Ord, p. 457, "The Queen's Maries" (1 text)
TBB 23, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text)
HarvClass-EP1, pp. 117-119, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text)
Abrahams/Foss, pp. 49-52, "Mary Hamilton" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #6}
Wells, pp. 48-49, "Mary Hamilton" (1 text, 1 tune)
Whitelaw-Ballads, pp. 261-263, "The Queen's Marie"; pp. 263-264, "Mary Hamilton" (2 texts)
Silber-FSWB, p. 211, "The Four Maries" (1 text)
DT 173, MARYHAM1* MARYHAM2 MARYHAM3* MARYHAM4*
ADDITIONAL: Andrew Lang, "The Mystery of 'The Queen's Marie,'" article published 1895 in _Blackwoods Magazine_; republished on pp. 19-28 of Norm Cohen, editor, _All This for a Song_, Southern Folklife Collection, 2009

Roud #79
RECORDINGS:
Jeannie Robertson, "Mary Hamilton (The Four Marys)" (on FSB5 [as "The Four Maries"], FSBBAL2)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Purple Dress
Mary Mild
The Duke o' York's Dother
NOTES: Mary Stewart (the French used the spelling "Stuart") became Queen of Scotland when she was eight days old (1542).
Scotland being the chaotic place that it was, she was only a child when she was sent abroad to marry into and be brought up at the court of France (1548). To keep her good company, four well-bred Scots girls were sent with her to keep her company (it should be noted, though, that none of them was named Hamilton). Her husband Francis II died in 1560, however, and Mary Stewart went home.
There she married her cousin, Henry, Lord Darnley. It does not seem to have been an overly happy match, so Darnley might well have engaged in extracurricular activities. In any case, Darnley was murdered in 1567. Soon after, Mary was (forcibly?) married by the Earl of Bothwell; in that same year she was deposed in favor of her son.
Nowhere in her troubled reign do we find reference to a serving girl's pregnancy; one theory has it that the story arose with the troubles of a Mary Hamilton at the Russian court. Another theory, first advanced by Scott, connects it with members of Mary Stuart's court *other than* the four Maries and Lord Darnley.
It also occurs to me that there is the case of the son of George III, who in due time would become George IV. According to Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, Blood Royal: The Illustrious House of Hanover (Doubleday, 1980), p. 118, Prince George at one time "had fallen in love with Mary Hamilton, one of his sisters' governesses." Whether this is relevant depends of course on the earliest date of the song. There are a number of mentions in the early nineteenth century. If we can push it before about 1780, then of course this Mary Hamilton is out of the question. Of course George IV's Mary Hamilton didn't kill her baby, but her affair with the Prince of Wales might have influenced the character in this song.
For extensive discussion of the matter (which is, however, rather more theoretical than practical) see Davis-More, pp. 246-248. - RBW
Also collected and sung by Ellen Mitchell, "Mary Mild" (on Kevin and Ellen Mitchell, "Have a Drop Mair," Musical Tradition Records MTCD315-6 CD (2001)) - BS
Last updated in version 3.5
File: C173

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 12:55 PM

Does anyone have a source for the Mary Hamilton name in the Russian part of the account? I only have the story in S W Scott's Minstrelsy Of The Border, where he quotes "a correspondent" who tells in detail the tale of "Miss Hambleton, a maid of honour to Empress Catherine." Does Child have a source for a Miss Hamilton instead? I really need this information, as a new encyclopaedia entry may need correction.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Joe_F
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 02:41 PM

Ewan McVicar: Quite a few sources, summarized in the review article "Maid-of-Honour Hamilton" by M. I. Semefsky, in _Slovo i Dyelo_ (Word and Deed), St Petersburg, 1885. Child summarizes the article at some length: "When the Hamiltons first came to Russia does not appear. Artemon Sergheievitch Matveief, a distinguished personage,... married a Hamilton, of a Scottish family settled at Moscow, after which the Hamilton family ranked with the aristocracy."

I suppose the name would have become "Gamil'ton" in Russian.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 10 Dec 03 - 08:48 PM

When I saw this thread I thought it was about the four (or was it three) Mary's in the Bunty comic! sorry. Carry on.

Sal


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: LadyJean
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 12:07 AM

I believe Mary Stuart's maids were named Mary Seaton, Mary Beaton, Mary Livingstone, and Mary Hamilton. This is from Antonia Fraser's biography, and I don't put a lot of faith in popular historians.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 12:48 PM

Joe,
Thhanks indeed. The Ballad List supplied more chapter and verse on this. Still don't know why Sir Walter spelt it his way.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 01:44 PM

Ewan, the Scottish word 'hamble' means 'title to or right of possession or belonging to the home' and is also the same as 'hamelt' so one can only guess that walter Scott might have been using the old word??
Jim


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Jim McLean
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 01:48 PM

PS I have just looked in 'The Clans and Tartans of Scotland' by Robert Bain and under Hamilton, Origin of Name: Hambledon, Place name in England.
Jim


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 02:29 PM

Lady Jean, the 4 Maries were Livingstone, Fleming, Beaton, and Fleming.
Keith.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Dec 03 - 02:31 PM

Oops, and Mary Seton.
Keith.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Ritchie
Date: 13 Dec 03 - 08:19 AM

Ms Lemon, I thought you were going to give me the 4th Mary's name..
Radleigh? Simpson? and Cotter? I think were the other three but the 4th's one escapes me.... wonder what they are doing now? along with Alf Tupper, Gorgeous Gus and a host of other child hood friends I had. I think I'll write into friends re-united.
keeping it real Ritchie.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,legionareuk
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 09:42 AM

just a quick one(and maybe,off the wall)but....
has any one ever conciderd that the " queen " could perhaps be " queen elisebeth 1" and the fourth mary is in fact mary queen of scots,who we all know was killed by elisebeth 1.....
just a thought...who knows ????


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: leeneia
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 11:09 AM

In my opinion, life is too short and provides too much real nastiness to bother with this song.

It was a great relief to me to find out that there is no record of anything like this ever happening in the court of Mary, Queen of Scots. The whole story is just another item of anti-Catholic propaganda, rather like the "nuns and priests have babies and bury them at midnight" tales heard in redneck America.

As for references, I can't provide any. I read armfuls of stuff and don't memorize all those authors and titles.

Another thing - in the olden days, attitudes toward infanticide were very lax compared to modern attitudes. I won't go into gruesome detail, but the chances of Mary's court going into a tizzy and hanging a member of the nobility over an illegetimate child are small.

The tune I know for "Mary Hamilton" is very lovely, however, and I have tried to write completely new words for it. Unf'ly I am not good at rhymes and meter. I wish somebody would save it from the "Four Maries" lyrics.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 11:24 AM

The source for the Catherine/Peter the Great interpretation can be found in Massie's "Peter the Great."
The issue was not entirely the infanticide. The issue was that Peter had issued a ukase stating that there would be no infanticide [then a common practice] because Russia at that time was relatively underpopulated. Having enforced the law against the common people, he could not excuse an event that Mary Hamilton had performed more than once, including at least once after the issuance of the order.
Apparently, she was quite a bawdy lady.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 01:33 PM

like Ms Lemon in 2003, I couldn't help feel the stirring of those nascent feelings of sexual longing aroused by the three Mary's, who featured on the cover of my sister's Schoolfriend Magazine. I was particularly taken by the leader of the group, who had " a chestnut mane".

There was another story line about an unfortunate public schoolgirl called Lettice Leaf - the greenest girl in the school. Well, she wore glasses...... what a hoot!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: TRUBRIT
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 10:47 PM

Yes - my first introduction to 'The four Mary's' was via 'Bunty -- which also had a ghastly feature each week - a picture full of 'deliberate mistakes....'--three armed people and such like. I had a hard time with that......!

But unlike some of the earlier posters, I love this song .... always have done......

That is an interestin hypothesis posted by legionareuk.......


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 02:23 AM

well first I knew about the song was Joan Baez back in the 60's, and it struck me as really bloody miserable even in those days. In the 1960's, every folk club had its Joanie lookalike treating us to five or six minutes of the undiluted misery of this song's sentiments. Usually rounded off by that a utterly callous piece of philosophising in Donna Donna Donna, about those who value freedom finding wings to fly!

thank heaven there are no unwanted children and young mothers driven to extremes for us to worry about nowadays!

as for the legend of Mary Stewart - that's another real downer.

I remember my mother going to Holyrood House and seeing the spyhole where her nuptials and/or indiscretions were spyed on, and being really depressed that humanity was such a stew even in those days. Most days I pass the ruins of Wingfield Manor where Mary was imprisoned for a while, and its hard not to bring to mind the hideous cruelty meted out to her and her followers.

My instinctive reaction is to turn away from these songs. I feel somwwhat the same about those songs detailing the savagery of the Black and Tans.

Sorry can't help being squeamish! Am I the only one who feels this way about folksong?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: SussexCarole
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 03:03 AM

Was Jones the name of the 4th Mary in Bunty?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 03:08 AM

I remeber there was a fat one, who was a bit of a duffer and who was allowed to hang around with the magic circle of friends, to provide moments of low comedy - nothing seedy, you understand.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 03:10 AM

The Four Marys (Bunty): Simpson, Radleigh, Field & Cotter

Bunty was also the home of The Four Marys — Mary Simpson, Mary Radleigh, Mary Field and Mary Cotter (aka Simpy, Raddy, Fieldy and Cotty) — pupils at St Elmo's School for Girls. Most of the stories are about a running feud with the two bad girls, Mabel and Veronica, who constantly try to get the Four Marys into trouble with the formidable mortar-board-wearing headmistress Dr Gull. The Four Marys are all very similar; they simply embody being good chums and good sports, just as Mabel and Veronica embody being evil schemers. Of course their evil schemes are thwarted and the Four Marys win out at the end of every story.

From The Times Online

Nigel


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 03:17 AM

Anybody remeber the play, Daisy Pulls it Off?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: leeneia
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 08:40 AM

Loved your post, weelittledrummer.

I share your feelings about people who take over the stage with morbid, interminable ballads.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 08:57 AM

Well actually that is not quite the way I would describe it. One of the best things I ever saw in a folk club was Taffy Thomas/Tim Laycock doing the Long Larkin Ballad with Magic Lantern - its all down to how its done. And that song ended up with people being burned alive!

I'm not saying these things are without value. Its just that song has never seemed rise above providing five or six minutes of insight into an extremely miserable landscape.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 09:25 AM

Well to each his own, I have to say that this is one of my favorite ballads and I absolutely love Joan Baez' version. And I don't think I'm the only one that likes it, it's on my CD and several people have said it is their favorite song on the album. The Four Marys to me is interesting because of the details - I can imagine the conflicting feelings of Mary Hamilton as she is taken to the gallows. And I wonder about her situation, maybe she had little choice if she was seduced by a man of a much higher station. Whether or not this actually happened in the court of Mary Queen of Scots is irrelevant - it surely DID happen time and time again. The dilema of what to do with an illegitimate child when the WOMAN bore all the stigma and disgrace...

I will admit to being one of those who gladly sits through long ballads - even the sad ones, provided the singer does a good job of singing/telling the tale.

One man's meat is another man's poison, I guess!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 11:07 AM

what would be the conflicting feelings on being taken to the gallows - I should have thought it was a pretty one dimensional situation?

On the other hand, you've got to laugh.... I don't think so.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: TRUBRIT
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 08:19 PM

Mary's version of the song is super -- so well done - anfd I had the pleasure of hearing it live at the Getaway last year. Speaking personally, I love the song.....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 09:13 PM

I particularly like the detail of the king thinking he can make amends by inviting her to dinner. Just like a man!

All the same -- in another age, of another sex, and deficient in empathy, I still feel, when I hear that song: that's the way it is.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Apr 07 - 08:40 AM

Leenia on April 12 notes that "in the olden days, attitudes toward infanticide were very lax compared to modern attitudes" and Ebarnacle notes on the same day that infanticide was, in the time of Peter the Great "a common practice". Does anyone know of any references for these statements? Seems to me that, if infanticide were common and attitudes toward it were lax, then the point of the song becomes "What a shame that Mary was executed for a minor thing like killing her baby." Somehow I find that doubtful, but I admit that I am not an expert on the history of Renaissance Scotland or early modern Russia.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,Kent Davis
Date: 14 Apr 07 - 08:50 AM

"guest" of 14 April 8:40 is me. Apparently I've lost my cookie.
Kent Davis


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 14 Apr 07 - 08:39 PM

Well there are plenty of ballads that deal with infanticide, so I don't doubt that it was common, especially in light of the fact that there was no effective birth control and an unmarried woman who gave birth faced social ostracism, disgrace and could very well find it difficult if not impossible to support a child on her own. But, I've never heard that attitudes towards the practice were lax.   

Regarding Mary Hamilton - I wasn't really referring to conflicting feelings about going to the gallows - everybody would view that prospect with dread, but her feelings about the whole situation - guilt for what she had done along with anger at having been used and then cast off.   I think there are several very rich scenes in the ballad - the verse about the provost's wife and the bailiff's wife who express sympathy, and she tells them 'you need not weep for me, for had I not slain my own wee babe this death I would not die", the scene with the king described above, the scene where as she faces the gallows...What can I say, I've always liked the song!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Apr 07 - 01:44 AM

as the french say, everyone to his goat!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,scrooge
Date: 05 Aug 07 - 03:11 AM

What does the reference to the wedding mean?

"Oh rise arise Mary Hamilton
Arise and come with me
There is a wedding in Glasgow town
This night we'll go and see
She put not on her robes of black
Nor her robes of brown
But she put on her robes of white
To ride into Glasgow town
And as she rode into Glasgow town
The city for to see
The bailiff's wife and the provost's wife
Cried Alack and alas for thee"

Why would someone about to be hung go off to see someone's wedding?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 05 Aug 07 - 05:25 AM

The Four Marys
The Four Marys was the longest story the comic ran - drawn by artist Barrie Mitchell, it spanned right from its creation in 1958 to its end in 2001. When the strip started, public boarding schools like St. Elmo's, the girls' boarding school, were common, but as time went on, they became less accessible to 'Bunty's general audience, which was possibly why The Comp (see below) was introduced. It centred around four young teenagers who lived in a girls-only boarding school in Elmbury, and often had problems with studying, being bored, or helping (and being hindered by) the other girls or teachers within the school. The Four Marys appeared to be about 14 in age, although it was never concrete- the only hint given is that they are over 12, but under 17.

Regular characters included-

Lady Mary Radleigh (Raddy): Raddy was the only blonde of the four, a polite but outspoken girl with a rather wealthy family (their home, Radleigh Hall, was featured intermittently in the strip). Raddy was depicted as the responsible one of the four who ran for school campaigns, took on prefecting duties and took up activist causes. Her well-placed upper-class connections meant that her father (Earl Radleigh) could usually support her in whatever scheme her attention was placed on.

Mary Simpson (Simpy): Simpy, a dark curly-haired girl, was a scholarship student from a lower-class background who was excellent at maths and had won her place at St. Elmo's through sheer hard work and dedication. At the time of 'Bunty's creation, this was a rather political topic - admission to upper-class public schools still mainly ran on wealth, and the class divide was a hotly debated issue. Simpy, although accepted without question by the other Marys, nevertheless had a good deal of prejudice from her classmates, and many of her plotlines were centred around the difficulty of dealing with her separation of class.

Mary Field (Fieldy) and Mary Cotter (Cotty): Fieldy as the short-haired sporty member of the group, as her name suggests. An extremely active and energetic girl, Fieldy won a great deal of trophies for the school during her stint there. Cotty, the last member of the group, was artistic, long-haired and polite - a shy, well-spoken and sweet balance to Fieldy's vivaciousness.

Mabel Lentham and Veronica Lavery: The school bullies. Snobbish, upper-class and unlikeable, Mabel and Veronica usually ended up causing trouble for the four Marys out of spite. Mabel was clearly the ringleader, leading the rather weaker and less confident Veronica along in her wake.

Miss Creef and Dr Gull/Miss Mitchell: The Marys' form mistress and headteacher respectively. Miss Creef (nicknamed 'Creefy') was a strict dark-haired spinster who always dressed in an academic gown and mortar-board. She was uptight and fastidious, like the early headmistress Dr Gull. Dr Gull was replaced after some time with Miss Mitchell, a young, blonde and very pretty woman who often came as a comic contrast the severity of Miss Creef.

The St. Bartoph Boys:Four boys who went to the local boys' boarding, St. Bartophs. They would occasionally meet up with the Marys in town, or for school functions like dances. Mabel and Veronica were always notoriously jealous of their enemies' friendship to the boys.

The Four Marys was always the staple story of 'Bunty', and the one it was most famous for. Even though the concepts of the comic strip became archaic as time went on, it was kept on for posterity and ran right to the end of the series.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunty


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,Mary
Date: 05 Aug 07 - 06:39 AM

err from Memory:

Mary Beaton, Mary Seaton, Mary Carmichael and of course ME



Mary


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: kendall
Date: 05 Aug 07 - 07:38 AM

scrooge, as I inperpret it, she is being decieved into going to Glasgow because she is not supposed to know what her fate it. Of course, she does know.
Another slant is, the original word was "Hanging". Who knows? Sounds like a lot of poetic licence to me.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 05 Aug 07 - 08:39 AM

The Peter the Great reference can be found in Massie's book Peter the Great. He did really good documentation for a popular [sic] history book.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Davie_
Date: 05 Aug 07 - 11:14 AM

GOOGLE UP MARY HAMILTON


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Aug 07 - 02:09 PM

My wife's name is Mary Hamilton but she says it's nothing to lose her head over.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: robinia
Date: 06 Aug 07 - 04:04 AM

Who were they really? As Mary Garvey says, the song says all we need to know on that point. But of course, what it really dwells upon (just as Macpherson's Lament does) is the singer's brave spirit. Hence those "inexplicable" verses that contrast weeping spectators with the condemned woman's "inappropriate" dress and demeanor.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Def Shepard
Date: 10 Jun 08 - 02:02 PM

I prefer Mr. Happy's definition of The Four Marys :-D

sign me
an old Bunty reader


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: GUEST,Jean Brown
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 04:32 PM

The 4 Maries:
Mary Seaton
Mary Beaton
Mary Livingston
Mary Fleming.

The song tells of Mary Seaton, Mary Beaton, Mary Carmichael and me (Mary Fleming)

Yestreen (Yesterday?) the Queen had four Maries, the nicht she'll hae but three
There was Mary Seaton, Mary Beaton and Mary Carmichael and me

How often hae I dressed my Queen, and put gouds(plaits?) in her hair,
But noo I've gotten for my reward, the gallows to be my share.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: Vic Smith
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 04:57 PM

Menolly wrote (some time ago):-
I remember hearing that Marie was a name or title for a lady in waiting and so not necessarily her name !

Interesting..... It makes me think of a couple of verses from a Scots ballad that I sing called Lord Gordon's Kitchen Boy.
Lord Gordon's daughter falls in love with Willie, her father's kitchen boy. Their love seems to be impossible but she builds and equips a fine ship for Willie to captain......

They hadna' sailed a week, a week,
A week but barely three,
When far unto the coast of Spain,
The wind did blaw them free.
A lady on the castle wa'
Beheld the day going down
And there she spied the bonniest ship,
Come sailing tae her town.

"Come here, come here, my Marys a'
D'ye no see what I see?
Here I spy the bonniest ship
That ever sailed the sea.
It's busk and busk, my Marys a'
Busk and mak' ye fine.
Whilst I must go down to the shore
And mak' her captain mine."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Mary's - who were they really?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 07:24 PM

On youtube, type in George Pickow, and you'll find two sisters sitting a porch swing in Kentucky, singing "Four Marys" as their family knows it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Marys - who were they really?
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 15 - 03:48 PM

My mother was from Bishopbriggs and her name was Mary Fleming. I just have a hunch.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Marys - who were they really?
From: Thompson
Date: 02 Nov 15 - 06:57 PM

The idea that the Four Marys attending Mary Queen of Scots were connected with the Bunty characters is utterly, utterly unbelievable.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Marys - who were they really?
From: GUEST,jaze
Date: 02 Nov 15 - 11:15 PM

All I know is Mary Hamilton got my hyper son to sleep many nights. I used to sing to him at night to get him to sleep, mostly old folk songs. He loved Old Blue and Stewball and a bunch of others. But the one song that usually did the trick was Mary Hamilton. He was usually asleep before I finished!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Marys - who were they really?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 03 Nov 15 - 07:11 AM

Besides the name "Mary Hamilton", another piece of evidence in favour of the Russian incident as at least contributing to the ballad is the dialogue between MH and "the King". Although we normally use an anglicised version of the Russian title, "Czar" or "Tsar", Peter the Great could reasonably be called a king, but not anyone in the court of Mary QoS.

On the other hand, the events as recounted in the ballad are normally set in Edinburgh (apart from one version with the very surprising Glasgow) and Mary QoS did have "four Marys".

So the ballad does seem to be a concatenation of at least those two elements, whether consciously put together by whoever first cast the story into the form of the ballad or combined through confusion at an earlier stage.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Marys - who were they really?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Nov 15 - 11:45 AM

From published sources at the time :--
When Mary Queen of Scots first appeared in public to show her new child to her loving subjects they cried out with one voice "Get back tae France ye French hoor an tack yer Italian bastard wi ye".
She backed up this popularly expressed opinion by later giving birth to twins who could not have been fathered by her, then, husband at the time of conception.

Do not take my word for it---read your history


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Marys - who were they really?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 03 Nov 15 - 04:50 PM

Really, they cried that long sentence out with one voice?

Hardly likely, is it? It would have taken a cheerleading captain to teach them the words, conduct a practice and signal when to do it.
============
A word of caution - not every book claiming to be a history book actually relates history.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: The Four Marys - who were they really?
From: Thompson
Date: 04 Nov 15 - 10:37 AM

Of course the political crowds would scream at any woman whose religion was not theirs that she was a whore; standard insult against women even today, and especially in her century. The Tudors, a psychopathic lot, were ace manipulators, and had certainly turned the English against the Stuarts.

She miscarried twins in July, her husband having died in January. So these six-month foetuses, being twins, may quite possibly have been tiny…

Don't take my word for it, read your history, and use your brains ;)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 25 May 4:35 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.