142: Little John a Begging

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The oldest version is in the Percy Folio Manuscript. A Gilbertson printed broadside c1640-63 is in the Wood Collection. It also appears in the garlands of 1663 and 1670 and similar versions can be found in the Roxburghe and Pepys Collections. Child notices similarities of the broadside version, in the exchange of clothing with the beggar, with some versions of Hind Horn (17). The Percy copy has no text in common with the broadsides and should really be considered a separate ballad, although the stories are obviously related. It is a pity that some of the Percy text is lost to us, only eleven stanzas surviving. It is tempting to conjecture that the broadside is a remake of the earlier text.

The broadside continued to be printed into the eighteenth century, but I have seen no nineteenth century stall copies, neither has it been found in oral tradition. Through the process of linking from one RH ballad to another in designated tunes Bronson arrives at the conclusion that the broadside version’s intended tune is again the most common occurring, that of Child125/126.