“Johnie Cock”


Johnie, despite his mother's advice, goes out to hunt the king's deer. He brings the deer down, but is betrayed by a passer-by. Seven foresters attack him; he kills all but one (and wounds that one), but is himself mortally wounded


The motif of one man fighting and defeating seven adversaries is almost a commonplace (see "Earl Brand," Child #7, and "Erlinton," Child #8, as examples). But this one has an interesting parallel to the French Song of Roland (especially in Motherwell's long text, Child's F):

Like Roland, Johnie sets out freely, despite cautions; like Roland, he is defeated and mortally wounded but defeats his attackers, whose few survivors flee; like Roland, he sends a message of his need only when it is too late; like Roland, he is given great honor after his death. - RBW


  • John Strachan, "Johnie Cock" (on FSB5) {Bronson's #12}


  1. Child 114, "Johnie Cock" (13 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #4}
  2. Bronson 114, "Johnie Cock" (16 versions)
  3. Dixon XVI, pp. 77-81, "Johnnie o' Cocklesmuir" (1 text)
  4. Ord, pp. 467-469, "Johnnie o' Cocklesmuir" (1 text)
  5. Davis-Ballads 29, "Johnie Cock" (1 text)
  6. Creighton/Senior, pp. 65-67, "Johnie Cock" (1 text)
  7. Leach, pp. 324-332, "Johnie Cock" (4 texts)
  8. Friedman, p. 233, "Johnie Cock" (2 texts)
  9. OBB 136, "Johnnie of Cockerslee" (1 text)
  10. PBB 174, "Johny Cock" (1 text)
  11. Niles 41, "Johnie Cock" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Gummere, pp. 123-126+328, "Johnie Cock" (1 text)
  13. Hodgart, p. 108, "Johnie Cock" (1 text)
  14. TBB 28, "Johnie Cock" (1 text)
  15. Darling-NAS, pp. 83-86, "Johnie Cock" (1 text)
  16. DT 114, BRAIDSLY
  17. Roud #69
  18. BI, C114


Alternate titles: “Johnnie o' Braidesley”; “Fair John and the Seven Foresters”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1780 (Percy)
Keywords: hunting fight death
Found in: Britain(England(North),Scotland(Aber,Bord,High)) US(MA,SE) Ireland Canada(Mar)