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Child Maurice

Child Maurice or Gil Morrice is Child ballad 83.


The hero sends tokens to his lady and asks her to see him in the woods. Her lord learns of it and comes to where he will meet her, and kills him uder the impression that he is her paramour. He brings back the head, and the lady confesses that he was her illegitimate son. Her lord is deeply grieved and declares he would never have killed him if he had known.


John Home based his tragedy Douglas on it. In 1776, Hannah More wrote a poem "Sir Elfred of the Bower" inspired by the song. The ballad serves as the framework as well as the climax of the book Black is the Colour of my True Love's Heart by Ellis Peters.


Album/Single Performer Year Variant Notes
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads vol 3 Ewan MacColl 1956 Gil Morice The earliest known professional recording (8'37").
Blood and Roses Vol 2 Ewan MacColl 1981 Child Maurice This is a different version from MacColl's 1956 recording.
Right of Passage Martin Carthy 1988 Bill Norrie
Kornog Kornog 2000 Child Noryce The only known version by a French band.
The Furrowed Field Damien Barber 2000 Bill Norrie
Songs Spiers and Boden 2005 Child Morris
At Ruskin Mill Martin Carthy 2005 Bill Norrie The longest recorded version (9'06").

The James Madison Carpenter Collection has a recording by Peter Christie, from before 1955. Most of the recorded versions live up to the comment by Robert Burns in a letter dated September 1793: "It is a plaguy length". Martin Carthy's 2005 version is nine minutes long. the version by Spiers and Boden is over seven minutes, slightly longer than MacColl's 1981 version.

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