Sir Hugh

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Title - Sir Hugh
Alternate Title - The Jew's Daughter
Contributors - Maggie Stewart
Reporters - Hamish Henderson

Summary - In this ballad, Sir Hugh is out playing and loses his ball over a wall. He is lured in by the woman who lives there, saying she will only return it if he goes to talk to her. She tempts him further with an apple from her father's garden. She takes him through various rooms in the house, before bidding him to take a sleep, and she stabs him, wrapping him in a cake of blood. She casts him into the draw-well.

Track Duration (h:m:s) - 00:02:47
Date Recorded - 1954.08
Language - English, Scots
Genre - Song
Collection - School of Scottish Studies

Track ID - 68905
Original Tape ID - SA1954.091
Original Track ID - SA1954.91.A2
Audio Quality - Good
Audio Format - R2R

Classification - C155; R73;

Recording Location:
  County - Aberdeenshire
  Parish - Aberdeen
  Village - Aberdeen

Item Notes - Approximately 6½ verses, although the lengths, rhythm and melody are irregular. From a similar performance on tape SA1954.088, it would appear this is the standard way in which Maggie Stewart sang the song, as opposed to any memory lapses or mis-remembering of lyrics. 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.
This version here, however, lacks any reference to the lady being a Jew's daughter, and differs in some details from most other versions, for instance the body is usually wrapped in lead.
'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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