Lamkin [Child 93]

DESCRIPTION: (Lamkin) rebuilt a lord's castle, but was never paid. As the lord sets out on a journey, he warns his wife to beware of Lamkin. The precautions are in vain; Lamkin (helped by a false nurse) steals in and kills the lord's child (and wife) (and is hanged)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1775 (Percy)
KEYWORDS: death theft revenge children punishment homicide cannibalism
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber,Bord),England(Lond,South,West)) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,Ro,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf) Ireland
REFERENCES (58 citations):
Child 93, "Lamkin" (25 texts)
Bronson 93, "Lamkin" (30 versions (some with variants)+3 in addenda)
Bronson-SingingTraditionOfChildsPopularBallads 93, "Lamkin" (6 versions: #2, #5a, #8, #12, #27, #29)
Chambers-ScottishBallads, pp. 234-239, "Lammikin" (1 text)
Lyle/McAlpine/McLucas-SongRepertoireOfAmeliaAndJaneHarris, p. 142, "(I wald be very sorry)" (1 fragment, a single verse that the editors think is this)
Riewerts-BalladRepertoireOfAnnaGordon-MrsBrownOfFalkland, pp. 256-258, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Greig-FolkSongInBuchan-FolkSongOfTheNorthEast #40, p. 2, "Lamkin" (1 fragment)
Greig/Duncan2 187, "Lambkin" (3 texts)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1 9, "Lord Meanwell" (1 text)
Leather-FolkLoreOfHerefordshire, pp. 199-200, "Young Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #19}
Palmer-FolkSongsCollectedBy-Ralph-VaughanWilliams, #29, "Long Lankin; or, Young Lambkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #121, "Lambkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Barry/Eckstorm/Smyth-BritishBalladsFromMaine pp. 200-206, "Lamkin" (1 text plus 1 fragment, 1 tune; also extensive notes on version classification) {Bronson's #16}
Randolph 23, "False Lamkin" (1 text with variants, 1 tune) {Bronson's #25}
Eddy-BalladsAndSongsFromOhio 17, "Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #8}
Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan 127, "Lamkin" (2 texts plus mention of 1 more, 1 tune) {Bronson's #15}
Flanders/Olney-BalladsMigrantInNewEngland, pp. 104-107, "Squire Relantman" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #7}
Flanders-AncientBalladsTraditionallySungInNewEngland2, pp. 297-316, "Lamkin" (7 texts plus 3 fragments, 4 tunes) {C=Bronson's #7)
Linscott-FolkSongsOfOldNewEngland, pp. 303-305, "Young Alanthia" (1 text, 1 tune)
Beck-FolkloreOfMaine,pp. 90-91, "Lamkin the Mason" (1 text, with no indication of source)
Davis-TraditionalBalladsOfVirginia 26, "Lamkin" (3 texts plus a fragment, 1 tune entitled "Lampkin") {Bronson's #10}
Davis-MoreTraditionalBalladsOfVirginia 28, pp. 214-220, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore2 29, "Lamkin" (1 text plus assorted excerpts)
Brown/Schinhan-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore4 29, "Lamkin" (4 excerpts, 4 tunes)
Chappell-FolkSongsOfRoanokeAndTheAlbermarle 42, "Lamkins" (1 text, apparently a fragment of Child #93 (containing only a threat of cannibalism) plus three "My Horses Ain't Hungry" stanzas)
Moore/Moore-BalladsAndFolkSongsOfTheSouthwest 26, "Bow Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hubbard-BalladsAndSongsFromUtah, #10, "Lamferd" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henry-SongsSungInTheSouthernAppalachians, pp. 62-64, "Bolakin (Lamkin)" (1 text)
Gainer-FolkSongsFromTheWestVirginiaHills, p. 63, "Bolakin" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Brewster-BalladsAndSongsOfIndiana 16, "Lamkin" (1 text plus a fragment, 1 tune) {Bronson's #20}
Creighton-MaritimeFolkSongs, pp. 20-21, "Lamkin" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 806-807, "Bold Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Karpeles-FolkSongsFromNewfoundland 13, "Lamkin" (1 text, 4 tunes)
Lehr/Best-ComeAndIWillSingYou 35, "False Limkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 288-295, "Lamkin" (4 texts)
Leach-HeritageBookOfBallads, pp. 116-119, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Leach-FolkBalladsSongsOfLowerLabradorCoast 6, "Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Friedman-Viking/PenguinBookOfFolkBallads, p. 199, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Quiller-Couch-OxfordBookOfBallads 78, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Warner-TraditionalAmericanFolkSongsFromAnneAndFrankWarnerColl 102, "Bolamkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sharp-EnglishFolkSongsFromSouthernAppalachians 27, "Lamkin" (5 texts, 5 tunes){Bronson's #11, #14, #12, #4, #9}
Sharp-OneHundredEnglishFolksongs 27, "False Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
Karpeles-TheCrystalSpring 22, "Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
Grigson-PenguinBookOfBallads 64, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Niles-BalladBookOfJohnJacobNiles 38, "Lamkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
VaughanWilliams/Lloyd-PenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs, pp. 60-61, "Long Lankin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #28}
Copper-SongsAndSouthernBreezes, pp. 258-259, "False Lanky" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves-TheEverlastingCircle 80, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Hodgart-FaberBookOfBallads, p. 64, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Buchan-ABookOfScottishBallads 16, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Whiting-TraditionalBritishBallads 19, "Lamkin" (1 text)
Henry/Huntingdon/Herrmann-SamHenrysSongsOfThePeople H735, p. 133, "Lambkin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Whitelaw-BookOfScottishBallads, pp. 241-248, "Lammikin" (5 texts)
Darling-NewAmericanSongster, pp. 63-64, "Bo Lamkin" (1 text)
Morgan-MedievalBallads-ChivalryRomanceAndEverydayLife, pp. 18-21, "Lamkin" (1 text)
NorthCarolinaFolkloreJournal, W. Amos Abrams, "Frank Proffitt: A Legend A-Borning," Vol. XIV, No. 2 (Nov. 1966), p. 15, "Bo Lamkin" (1 text, a semi-legible photograph of Frank Proffitt's own manuscript)
ADDITIONAL: Bob Stewart, _Where Is Saint George? Pagan Imagery in English Folksong_, revised edition, Blandford, 1988, pp. 127-128, "Long Lankin" (1 text)

Roud #6
Jim Bennett, "Bold Lamkin" (on PeacockCDROM)
Ben Butcher, "Cruel Lincoln" (on FSB4, Voice03)
George Fosbury, "False Lamkin" (on FSBBAL1)
Mrs. Peter Mushrow, "Lamkin" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Frank Proffitt, "Bo Lamkin" (on Proffitt03)

Bodleian, Harding B 25(1048), "The Lambkin," J. Pitts (London), 1819-1844
cf. "Batson" [Laws I10] (plot)
NOTES [372 words]: John Jacob Niles claims that this song was once sung in the Louisville schools. One can only wish he had offered supporting evidence.
Anne G. Gilchrist examines the development of this ballad in "Lambkin: A Study in Evolution" (first printed in the Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, I, 1932; see now Leach/Coffin, pp. 204-224).
Gilchrist finds two basic forms of the ballad. In one, primarily Scottish, Lamkin is a mason defrauded of his pay by the lord whose castle he built. In the other, Northumbrian and English, Lamkin is simply a ruffian or a border raider (Reed, p. 152, in making the same point, quotes the verse that says that Lankin "lies in the moss," implying that he is a mosstrooper) seeking loot or perhaps the hand of the lord's daughter.
Gilchrist believes the Scottish form to be older, and believes that the other arose when the first stanza (in which the lord's fraud is described) was lost. She argues that the name "Lambkin" is diminutive of the Flemist name Lambert, and speculates that it may have been based on a (hypothesized) incident at Balwearie in Fife -- a site mentioned in some versions of the ballad, and located near a Flemish colony.
Some versions mention Lamkin catching the infant's blood in a bowl. This has caused all sorts of speculation about ritual, or perhaps about some sort of trick to further punish the child (because, according to the Bible, the blood is the life). Obviously some such explanation is possible -- but I think we have to allow the possibility that he's just a nut, or trying to avoid leaving a trail.
James Reed, in his article "Border Ballads" (which in large part parallels his book also cited here) included in Cowan, discusses this ballad on pp. 24-25, and considers it most unusual among border ballads because it features a class conflict (between the lord and Lamkin). It's an interesting point -- but the question then arises whether the song is really a border ballad. The mere fact that it has been widely collected along the border between England and Scotland does not make it one.
All in all, there is a lot we haven't figured out about this ballad! - RBW
Whitelaw-BookOfScottishBallads is one of Child's sources for composite text D. - BS
BibliographyLast updated in version 6.1
File: C093

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