Elizabeth, Lady Wardlaw

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Authorship of the ballad of Sir Patrick Spens has been attributed to Wardlaw

Elizabeth, Lady Wardlaw (1677–1727), reputed author of Hardyknute, second daughter of Sir Charles Halket, was born in April 1677. She married in 1696 Sir Henry Wardlaw, 4th Baronet, of Pitreavie (see Wardlaw baronets). The ballad of Hardyknute, published in 1719 as an old poem, was supposed to have been discovered by her in a vault at Dunfermline, but no manuscript was ever produced; and in the 1767 edition of Percy's Reliques the poem was ascribed to her. The beautiful ballad of Sir Patrick Spens (F. J. Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, ii. 17) has also been asserted to be her work, one of the supporters of the theory being Robert Chambers (Remarks on Scottish Ballads, 1859). The level of accomplishment in Hardyknute, however, gives no reason for supposing that Lady Wardlaw was capable of producing Sir Patrick Spens.

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