Geordie [Child 209]

DESCRIPTION: Geordie is taken (for killing a man or the king's deer). When word comes to his lady, she sets out to do all possible to save his life. In most accounts she raises his ransom, though in others Geordie is executed
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1792 (Scots Musical Museum)
KEYWORDS: execution hunting punishment rescue wife
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber,Bord),England(All)) US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,NW,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf)
REFERENCES (45 citations):
Child 209, "Geordie" (15 texts)
Bronson 209, "Geordie" (58 versions)
GlenbuchatBallads, pp. 180-182, "The Lady O Gight" (1 text)
Greig #75, p. 1, "Gight's Lady" (1 text)
GreigDuncan2 249, "Gightie's Lady" (11 texts, 6 tunes) {A=Bronson's #3, C=#37?, D=#34}
Lyle-Crawfurd2 197, "The Stealing of the King's Deer" (1 text)
Kidson-Tunes, pp. 24-26, "Geordie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Reeves-Circle 49, "Georgie" (2 texts)
BroadwoodCarols, pp. 32-33, "Georgie or Banstead Downs" (1 text, 1 tune)
OShaughnessy-Grainger 8, "Georgie" (1 text, 1 tune)
BarryEckstormSmyth p. 475, "Geordie" (notes only)
Flanders-Ancient3, pp. 231-235, "Geordie" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Belden, pp. 76-78, "Geordie" (3 texts)
Randolph 28, "The Life of Georgie" (3 texts plus 1 excerpt, 2 tunes) {Randolph's A=Bronson's #36, D=#40}
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 52-53, "The Life of Georgie" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 28D) {Bronson's #40}
Davis-Ballads 39, "Geordie" (3 texts plus a fragment, 1 tune entitled "Georgie") {Bronson's #30}
Davis-More 34, pp. 262-266, "Geordie" (1 text, 1 tune)
BrownII 38, "Geordie" (1 text, in which the condemned man is "Georgia"!)
BrownSchinhanIV 38, "Geordie" (2 texts plus 3 excerpts, 5 tunes)
Scarborough-SongCatcher, pp. 213-215, "Geordie" (1 text, with local title "Georgy-O," plus an excerpt from Christie; 1 tune on p.411) {Bronson's #5}
Chappell-FSRA 17, "Johnny Wedlock" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #49}
Moore-Southwest 40, "Georgie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Brown, pp. 241-242, "Charley's Escape" (1 text from the Green Mountain Songster)
Greenleaf/Mansfield 17, "Lovely Georgie" (1 text)
Creighton-Maritime, p. 27, "Geordie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton/Senior, pp. 73-75, "Geordie" (2 texts plus 1 fragment, 1 tune) {Bronson's #23}
Gardner/Chickering 128, "Georgie" (1 fragment)
Musick-Larkin 41, "Georgia" (1 text)
Leach, pp. 554-559, "Geordie" (3 texts)
Sharp-100E 9, "Geordie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Niles 53, "Geordie" (1 text, 1 tune)
SharpAp 34, "Geordie" (4 short texts plus 2 fragments, 6 tunes){Bronson's #50, #31, #51, #30, #55, #41}
Sharp/Karpeles-80E 24, "Georgie" (1 text, 1 tune -- a composite version) {Bronson's #30}
Wells, pp. 118-119, "Georgie" (1 text, 1 tune) {
Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 42-43, "Geordie" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #27}
Hodgart, p. 135, "Geordie" (1 text)
JHCox 23, "Geordie" (1 text)
Ord, pp. 408-410, "Gight's Ladye"; pp. 456-457, "My Geordie, O, My Geordie O" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #4}
MacSeegTrav 16, "Geordie" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Whitelaw-Ballads, pp. 567-568, "Geordie" (2 texts)
Silber-FSWB, p. 220, "Geordie" (1 text)
BBI, ZN279, "As I went over London Bridge"
DT 209, GEORDI GEORDI2* GEORDI4*
ADDITIONAL: James Johnson, The Scots Musical Museum (Edinburgh: Johnson & Co, 1792 ("Digitized by Internet Archive for NLS")), Vol. IV, #346 (second text) pp. 356-357, "Geordie - An Old Ballad") (1 text, 1 tune [of "A Country Life"]) {Bronson's #1}
James Kinsley, editor, Burns: Complete Poems and Songs (shorter edition, Oxford, 1969) #358, pp. 491-492, "Geordie -- An old Ballad" (1 text, 1 tune, from 1792)

Roud #90
RECORDINGS:
Harry Cox, "Georgie (Geordie)" (on FSB5, FSBBAL2) {Bronson's #24}
Paul Joines, "The Hanging of Georgie" (on Persis1)
Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, "Georgie" (on ENMacCollSeeger02)
Levi Smith, "Georgie" (on Voice11)

BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Harding B 11(1797), "The Life of Georgey," H. Such (London), 1849-1862; also Harding B 25(488), "Death of Georgy", W. Armstrong (Liverpool), 1820-1824; also Firth c.21(20), Harding B 11(2297), "Maid's Lamentation for her Georgy"
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Prisoner at the Bar (The Judge and Jury)" (plot)
cf. "Young Johnson" (theme of ransoming condemned prisoner)
cf. "George of Oxford" (theme and some lines) and source/stemmatic discussion there
cf. "The Death of George Stoole" (theme and some lines)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Death of Geordie
The Bog o' Gight
The Braes o' Gight
The Lady o' Gight
NOTES: The historical antecedents of this ballad are disputed. Some suggest that it is based on the life of George Gordon (1512-1562), Fourth Earl of Huntley, the son of Margaret Stewart, she being an illegitimate daughter of James IV. A blackletter ballad cited by Lloyd names Geordie as George Stoole of Northumberland, executed in 1610, but Lloyd suggests the ballad itself predates the 17th century. - PJS, RBW
To the above list of possibilities, I'm going to add one other possibility, though it is later than Lloyd's broadside. But it might have caused the song to be reshaped. According to Susan Maclean Kybett, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Dodd Mead, 1988, pp. 16-17, after the 1715 Jacobite rebellion, several peers (including, e.g., Lord Derwentwater) were condemned to death. One of them was William Maxwell of Nithsdale. His wife Winifred begged before George I for his life. Her request was refused, but she was granted a last visit -- and managed to help him escape.
I must admit to sometimes wondering if this is really a single ballad. In most texts, of course, Geordie is charged with murder. But in a few texts, such as Child's "H" and Ord's version "Gight's Ladye," the charge is poaching, and the whole feeling of the song (as well as the lyrics) is different. Coffin's notes in Flanders-Ancient3 observes that there are two endings, one with Geordie ransomed, one with him executed, and that these seem to form distinct family groups. I wouldn't be surprised if two separate songs were mixed.
On this point, see now Ben Schwartz's note below and, especially, his analysis filed under "George of Oxford." - RBW
Kidson-Tunes prints eleven of the Johnson Scot's Museum fourteen verse text (Child 209A). I believe only the Scottish ballad should be classified as Child 209 and that all others, English and North American, and Bodleian broadsides, are versions of "George of Oxford." I think the argument is futile because "George of Oxford" and its descendants are widely -- though not universally -- accepted as Child 209. See the discussion at "George of Oxford." - BS
Last updated in version 3.3
File: C209

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