“Lady Isabel”

Author: unknown
Keywords: death stepmother poison homicide mother wine
Found in: Britain(Scotland)


Isabel's stepmother accuses Isabel of being "her father's whore," and tries to have her drink (poisoned) wine. At church; her mother advises her to take the poison. She bids farewell to her servants, drinks the poison, and dies. The stepmother goes mad


Something seems to be wrong with this ballad; there are too many loose ends. While the stepmother's actions are perhaps understandable (she thinks Isabel's father pays more attention to his daughter than his new wife), Isabel's love beyond the sea appears for only one stanza, her mother's behavior is inexplicable, and Isabel is much too passive. Presumably something has been lost. - RBW


  1. Child 261, "Lady Isabel" (1 text)
  2. Leach, pp. 633-635, "Lady Isabel" (1 text)
  3. Roud #3884
  4. BI, C261