“Mary Neal”


The singer is on trial for kidnapping Mary Neal. She pleads for him and he is released. She steals some of her father's wealth; they marry and set off overseas. After a near-disaster on the ship, they reject her father's offer of land if they return


A correspondent of Sam Henry's claimed that this was a true story, with the girl being kidnapped to prevent a fight between two rival suitors. Yet another case where we can't prove it false but can hardly credit it, either.

Michael Harron of County Tyrone offers more substantial details. He reports that the ship involved was the _Charlotte Douglas_, which sank June 9, 1836. Harron has seen newspaper accounts of the ship's voyage, and reports that only three were killed in the wreck. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "William (Willie) Riley (Riley's Trial) [Laws M10]" (tune)


  • Bodleian, Harding B 11(3843), "Mary Neal and John M'Cann," J. Harkness (Preston), 1840-1866; also 2806 b.11(66), "Mary Neil" ("I am a bold undaunted youth my name is John M'Cann"); 2806 b.11(259), Harding B 15(41b), "Charming Mary Neal"
  • Murray, Mu23-y1:044, "Mary Neal," James Lindsay Junr (Glasgow), 19C
  • NLScotland, L.C.Fol.178.A.2(063), "Mary Neil," James Lindsay Jr. (Glasgow), c.1875


  1. Laws M17, "Mary Neal"
  2. Greenleaf/Mansfield 92, "Mary Neal" (1 text)
  3. Peacock, pp. 216-217, "Mary Neal" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Creighton-NovaScotia 80, "Mary Nail" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. SHenry H55, pp. 479-480, "Charming Mary O'Neill" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. OLochlainn 38, "Charming Mary Neill" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. DT 582, MARYNEAL
  8. ADDITIONAL: H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 321-323, 511, "Charming Mary Neal"
  9. Roud #142
  10. BI, LM17


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1867 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(3843)); "from an Athlone ballad slip of about 1840," according to Sparling)
Found in: Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England(South)) Ireland