“Lizie Wan”


(Geordy) finds his sister (Lizie Wan) crying. When he asks why, he is told that she is pregnant by him. He kills her to hide his crime. He is revealed by the blood on his sword, and is forced away from home


John Jacob Niles claims that, in his experience, the only people willing to sing this song were men. He points out that Sharp's informant was a man; so was the singer who gave the song to Flanders. As usual, though, one must wonder about Niles's sources. In any case, Bronson lists four versions from women. - RBW

Niles may claim that the only informants willing to sing the song are men, but Vaughan Williams/Lloyd's version was collected from a Mrs. Dann of Cottenham, Cambs. Lloyd notes, however, that this was the only version of the ballad found in oral tradition in England, and that no new Scottish version has been reported since 1827. -PJS

On the scientific evidence that brothers and sisters raised apart are particularly likely to fall in love, and some further speculation as to why, see the notes to "Babylon, or, The Bonnie Banks o Fordie [Child 14]." - RBW

Cross references


  • Jeanie Robertson, "My Son David" (on LomaxCD1700)


  1. Child 51, "Lizie Wan" (2 texts)
  2. Bronson 51, "Lizie Wan" (7 versions plus the #10 text of "Edward," which is actually "Lizie Wan")
  3. SharpAp 14 "Lizzie Wan" (1 text, 1 tune){Bronson's #2}
  4. Flanders/Olney, pp. 143-145, "Fair Lucy" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #5b}
  5. Flanders-Ancient1, pp. 332-338, "Lizie Wan" (2 texts, 2 tunes, which differ though both informants cited the same source) {A1=Bronson's #5b, A2=#4}
  6. Leach, pp. 167-169, "Lizie Wan" (2 texts)
  7. Friedman, p. 159, "Lizie Wan" (1 text)
  8. PBB 38, "Lizie Wan" (1 text)
  9. Niles 21, "Lizie Wan" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, p. 65, "Lucy Wan" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #3}
  11. DT 51, LIZIWAN1*
  12. Roud #234
  13. BI, C051


Alternate titles: “Lizie May”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1776 (Herd)
Found in: Britain(Scotland,England) US(Ap,NE,SE)