Little Sir Hugh

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Title - Little Sir Hugh
Contributors - Andrew Stewart
Reporters - Hamish Henderson
Item Person - Hugh of Lincoln

Summary - Andrew Stewart recalls the story of the ballad, 'Little Sir Hugh', in which a young boy is lured into a house by a woman, who stabs him to death and dumps his body down a well. He sings a fragment as follows:

She rolled him in a cake of lead
And bid him take a sleep
And dropped him into yon draw-well,
It was fifty fathoms deep.

Track Duration (h:m:s) - 00:01:02
Date Recorded - 1956
Date of Content - 1255 to 1255
Language - English
Genre - Song, Information
Collection - School of Scottish Studies

Track ID - 27597
Original Tape ID - SA1956.127
Original Track ID - SA1956.127.B3
Audio Quality - Fair
Audio Format - R2R

Classification - C155; R73;

Recording Location:
  County - Lanarkshire
  Parish - Glasgow
  Village - Glasgow

Item Notes - 1 verse of 4 lines. In more complete versions of this ballad, we learn that the woman who lures the boy to his death is a "Jew's daughter". When the boy does not return home, his mother goes seeking him, and finds his corpse in the well. In the supernatural dialogue that follows, the boy's ghost instructs his mother to make preparations for his burial.
This ballad is said to reflect the circumstances surrounding the death of a young boy, Hugh of Lincoln (1247-1255), whose murdered body was found in a well. The accusation, threatening and execution of a Jewish man for this crime, coupled with the rampant anti-semitism of the time, began a pogrom in which many Jews were murdered. Hugh became a martyr for Christians, with sites he had been associated with becoming pilgrimage places. In some versions, the murderer is not a Jew, but a Gypsy.
'A Scottish Ballad Book' (D. Buchan, 1973) pp. 80-81
'Andrew Crawfurd's Collection of Ballads & Songs' vol. 1 (E. Lyle, 1975) pp. 31-33
'Ancient & Modern Scottish Songs' vol. 1 (D. Herd, 1869, 1973) pp. 96-98
'A Scots Musical Museum' vol. 6 (J. Johnson & R. Burns, 1853 edition) no. 582

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