Much the Miller's Son

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Much, the Miller's Son is one of the Merry Men in the tales of Robin Hood. He appears in some of the oldest ballads, A Gest of Robyn Hode and Robin Hood and the Monk, as one of the company.[1]


In A Gest of Robyn Hode, he helps capture Richard at the Lee and when Robin lends that knight money to pay off his debts, he is one of the Merry Men who insists on giving him a horse and clothing appropriate to his station.[2] In Robin Hood and the Monk, he is one of the rescuers of the captive Robin. In this brutal ballad, he kills a page boy so that the boy can not bear word that the outlaws killed the monk of the title. He then disguises himself as the page and Little John disguises himself as the monk. The implication that Much is of small stature is not made explicit.[3]

In other tales he was known as Midge, the Miller's Son.[4] This is the name by which he is known in Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar [5] and Robin Hood and Queen Katherine (No. 145B).[6] It is also the name used by Howard Pyle for the character in his Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.[7] This is in further contrast to the ballad Robin Hood and Allan-a-Dale where he is known as Nick, the Miller's Son.[8]

In the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (starring Kevin Costner), a character resembling Much in many respects is the young boy named Wulf. Another character named "Much, the Miller's Son" does appear in the movie (played by Jack Wild) but he has very little screen time. In the earlier tales, however, Much is slightly older and takes a much more physical role. Indeed, he is a formidable fighter. Much is present from the very earliest Robin Hood ballads in which he often accompanies Little John.

Appearances in other media[edit]

Herbert Mundin portrayed Much in the 1938 Errol Flynn version The Adventures of Robin Hood. Much has a notable role in the television series Robin of Sherwood (1984–86) in which he is Robin's adopted brother (a role given to Will Scarlet in some versions). In the series he is portrayed as somewhat mentally lacking, needing Robin to look after him. It was his killing a deer without thinking of the consequences that led to them becoming outlaws.

In the British 1991 adaptation Robin Hood the character is played by Danny Webb and credited as "Mulch the Miller". He was also portrayed by Jack Wild in the Academy Award–nominated Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991).

In the children's comedy Maid Marian and Her Merry Men (1989–94) the character is parodied as a "wide boy" (one who lives by wit and guile) called Much the Mini-Mart Manager's Son.

Much played a somewhat minor role in the PC game Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood where during times when Robin Hood would consult his men for tactical advice, Much would almost always provide the worst plan with the least chance of success. His plans were often crude guesses with no real basis in tactics, which fits well with his character's background, a poor, talentless outlaw of a miller's son.

Much is the main character in a Xeric award winning webcomic, Much the Miller's Son[9] by Steve LeCouilliard. This comedy series loosely follows the legend of Robin Hood (drawing heavily from the Errol Flynn version) from the point of view of Much.

BBC series[edit]

Much is also a major character in the BBC television series Robin Hood (2006-2009), but he is no longer a miller's son — in the second episode he claims to have no family at all. Instead, he is Robin's former manservant, comrade-in-arms, and best friend from the Third Crusade, who has been given his freedom as a result of his services there but finds himself outlawed with Robin upon their return home. In this version he is the gang's cook and immensely loyal to Robin, and is often seen to be jealous of the attention Robin gives to others, especially Marian. In the series, Much was played by Sam Troughton, grandson of Patrick Troughton, the first actor to play Robin Hood on British television.

The role of Much as a cook has some literary precedent in J. Walker McSpadden's Stories of Robin Hood and His Merry Outlaws (1904). In this collection of Robin Hood tales, Much (who is still the son of a miller) is living in the household of the Sheriff of Nottingham and serving as his cook until he meets Robin and Little John and joins the Merry Men. He is portrayed as a "stout man and bold" and a highly skilled swordsman.[10]


  1. ^ Jeffrey Richards, Swordsmen of the Screen: From Douglas Fairbanks to Michael York, p 190, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Lond, Henly and Boston, 1988
  2. ^ Holt, J. C. Robin Hood p 17 (1982) Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27541-6.
  3. ^ Holt, J. C. Robin Hood p 29 (1982) Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27541-6.
  4. ^ Allen W. Wright, "A Beginner's Guide to Robin Hood"
  5. ^ "Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar" line 18
  6. ^ "Robin Hood and Queen Katherine"
  7. ^ Pyle, Howard (1929) [1883]. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 98–112.
  8. ^ "Robin Hood and Allen a Dale"
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ McSpadden, J. Walker (1904). Stories of Robin Hood and His Merry Outlaws. Thomas Y. Crowell & Company. pp. 53–56.