The Lass of Roch Royal
A woman comes to Gregory's castle, pleading to be let in; she is either pregnant or with a newborn son. His mother turns her away; sometimes she tells her that he went to sea, and she goes to follow him and dies in shipwreck. Gregory wakes and says he dreamed of her. He chases her, finds her body, and dies.
Alternate titles of "The Lass of Roch Royal" include "Lord Gregory", "Fair Anny", "Oh Open the Door Lord Gregory", "The Lass of Loch Royal" "The Lass oc Ocram", and "Mirk Mirk".
The New-Slain Knight has, in some variants, verses identical to those of some variants of The Lass of Roch Royal, where the woman laments her baby's lack of a father.
Also Child ballad number 216 ("The Mother's Malison") is almost identical to "The Lass of Roch Royal" only in a reversed manner, telling the story of a young man looking for his beloved.
The Northamptonshire poet John Clare wrote a poem "The Maid Of Ocram, Or, Lord Gregory" presumably based on an Irish version of the ballad. Clare was influenced by Gypsy travellers and may have heard folk songs and ballads from them.
Early Printed Versions
This ballad was printed as a broadside ballad under the title "The lass of Ocram". J Pitts of Seven Dials, London published it sometime between 1819 and 1844. It was also published by Catnach, also of London, and Collard of Bristol.
The Roud Folk Song Index lists 12 versions collected from traditional singers from Scotland, 4 from Ireland, 1 from Canada and a massive 82 from the USA, with 30 from Virginia. However, many of these are based on the "Who's gonna shoe your pretty little foot, who's gonna glove your hand" motif. For example, the version listed for Charlie Poole, entitled "When I'm Far Away" from North Carolina goes as follows:
Who's gonna smoke the old clay pipe? x3
When I am far away
Who's gonna be your little man?
Who's gonna glove your little hand?
Who's gonna shoe your little foot?
Who's gonna kiss your little lips?
There are longer versions, notably Jean Ritchie's "Fair Annie of Lochroyan", which fairly accurately tells the story, ending with a quatrain:
Then he took out a little dart
That hung down by his side
And thrust it through and through his heart
And then fell down and died.
There are recordings of 7 versions on the Tobar an Dualchais/Kist of Riches website - three by Scottish traveller Charlotte Higgins, and one each by John McEvoy, a 13 year old Isla St Clair, Stanley Robertson and Cathal O'Connell.
Recordings by Revival Singers and Groups
- "Lord Gregory" on The Corrie Folk Trio and Paddie Bell by The Corries (1965)
- "Lord Gregory" on Fifth Album by Judy Collins (1965)
- "Anne of Lochroyan", by Isla St Clair, recorded 1971 (Tangent Records)
- "Lass of Loch Royal" on Silly Sisters by Silly Sisters (1976)
- "Lord Gregory" on Peat Fire Flame by The Corries (1977)
- "Lass of Lochroyan" on New Directions in the Old by Roy Bailey (1997),
- "Lord Gregory" on "Crook of My Arm" by Alasdair Roberts (2001)
- "Lord Gregory" on Bloody Men by Steeleye Span (2006)
- "Lord Gregory" on The Dark Ages EP by Equation (2000)
- "Fair Annie of Lochroyan" on "British Traditional Ballads in the Southern Mountains, Volume 1"; performed by Jean Ritchie, (1960)
- Francis James Child, English and Scottish Popular Ballads, "The Lass of Roch Royal"
- The Dead
- Lord Gregory
- Aytoun, Ballads of Scotland, (1858): https://archive.org/details/balladsofscotlan01ayto
- Jamieson, Popular Ballads & Songs (1806): https://archive.org/details/popularballadsa06jamigoog
- Bell, Early Ballads, (1861): https://archive.org/details/earlyballadsillu00bellrich
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