“Clerk Colvill”


(Clerk Colvill) is warned (by his mother/lover) not to be too free with women. He refuses the advice; "Did I neer see a fair woman, But I wad sin with her body?" A woman gives him a fatal headache and turns into a mermaid to avoid being killed by him


A number of scholars (Coffin, Lloyd, Bronson) have speculated that "Clerk Colvill" is actually a fragment of a longer ballad, "George Collins," with "Lady Alice" [Child 85] forming the rest. See the discussion in the notes to "Lady Alice." - RBW


  1. Child 42, "Clerk Colvill" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
  2. Bronson 42, "Clerk Colvill" (1 version)
  3. Leach, pp. 149-150, "Clerk Colville" (1 text)
  4. OBB 29, "Clerk Colven" (1 text)
  5. Friedman, p. 30, "Clerk Colvill" (1 text, which includes textual interpolations heretofore unpublished)
  6. Gummere, pp. 197-199+347-348, "Clerk Colven" (1 text)
  7. Hodgart, p. 39, "Clerk Colvill" (1 text)
  8. DT 42, CLRKCLVL
  9. Roud #147
  10. BI, C042


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1769 (Herd)
Found in: Britain(Scotland(Aber))