“Molly Bawn (Shooting of His Dear)”


Jimmy goes out hunting and shoots his true love (Molly, mistaking her for a swan). He is afraid of the law, but is told that the law will forgive him. At his trial Molly's ghost appears and explains the situation; the young man is freed


Darling compares this to the story of Cephalus and Procris. The standard version is supplied by Ovid in the Metamorphoses (VII.685 and following; it starts on page 174 of the Penguin edition translated by Mary M. Innes). First he tested her love in disguise, and she passed the test. But then she heard a rumor of his unfaithfulness, and set out to watch him. He heard her in hiding, without seeing her, and threw his javelin on the assumption that she was a wild beast. It killed her.

Incidentally, Michael Grant and John Hazel, _Gods and Mortals in Classical Mythology: A Dictionary_, article on Cephalus, thinks Ovid's version of the story may conflate legends of two different heroes named Cephalus. In any case, I don't see a particularly strong parallel to the ballad; yes, the hunter kills his lover, but the motivations are very different. - RBW

Broadside LOCSinging as111140: J. Andrews dating per _Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song_ by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS


  • Bodleian, Harding B 19(11), "Young Molly Bawn," J.F. Nugent & Co. (Dublin), 1850-1899; also 2806 b.11(131), "Young Molly Bawn"
  • LOCSinging, as111140, "Polly Von Luther and Jamie Randall," J. Andrews (New York), 1853-1859


  • Louis Boutilier, "As Jimmie Went A-Hunting" (on MRHCreighton)
  • Anne Briggs, "Polly Vaughan" (on Briggs1, Briggs3)
  • Packie Manus Byrne, "Molly Bawn" (on Voice06)
  • Sara Cleveland, "Molly Bawn" (on SCleveland01)
  • Seamus Ennis, "Molly Bawn" (on Lomax42, LomaxCD1742)
  • A. L. Lloyd, "Polly Vaughan" (on Lomax41, LomaxCD1741)
  • John Maguire, "Molly Bawn Lowry" (on IRJMaguire01)
  • Maggie Murphy, "Molly Bawn" (on IRHardySons)
  • Pete Seeger, "Shoo Fly" (on PeteSeeger33, PeteSeegerCD03)
  • Phoebe Smith, "Molly Vaughan" (on Voice03)


  1. Laws O36, "Molly Bawn (Shooting of His Dear)"
  2. Randolph 54, "Molly Vaughn" (3 texts plus 2 fragments and 1 excerpt, 1 tune)
  3. Eddy 77, "Mollie Vaughn (Polly Band)" (1 text)
  4. Gardner/Chickering 14, "Molly Baun" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  5. Linscott, pp. 274-276, "Polly Van" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Karpeles-Newfoundland 26, "Shooting of His Dear" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Creighton-Maritime, p. 111, "As Jimmie Went A-Hunting" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. BrownII 76, "Molly Bawn" (1 text plus a fragment)
  9. Scarborough-SongCatcher, p. 117, "Molly Vaughn" (1 text, properly titled "The Death of Molly Bender," with very peculiar orthography; it looks like it came from a semi-literate manuscript but is said to be from a field recording)
  10. Chappell-FSRA 57, "Polly Bond" (1 fragment)
  11. SharpAp 50, "Shooting of His Dear" (6 texts, 6 tunes)
  12. Hudson 32, pp. 145-146, "Shooting of His Dear" (2 texts)
  13. Leach, pp. 700-701, "Molly Bawn" (1 text)
  14. Friedman, p. 26, "Molly Bawn" (1 text)
  15. PBB 92, "Young Molly Ban" (1 text)
  16. McNeil-SFB1, pp. 96-97, "Molly Van" (1 text, 1 tune)
  17. Meredith/Anderson, p. 196, "Molly Baun Lavery" (1 text, 1 tune)
  18. Hodgart, p. 206, "Young Molly Ban" (1 text)
  19. SHenry H114, p. 143, "Molly Bawn Lowry" (1 text, 1 tune)
  20. OLochlainn 29, "Young Molly Ban" (1 text, 1 tune)
  21. Morton-Maguire 1, pp. 1-2,99,154-155, "Molly Bawn Lowry" (1 text, 1 tune)
  22. Kennedy 330, "Polly Vaughan" (2 text, 1 tune)
  23. JHCox 102, "Mollie Vaughn" (3 texts, 1 tune)
  24. LPound-ABS, 33, pp. 78-79, "Mollie Bond" (1 text)
  25. Darling-NAS, pp. 133-134, "Molly Bawn"; "Molly Bander" (2 texts)
  27. ADDITIONAL: Kathleen Hoagland, editor, One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (New York, 1947), p. 304, "Young Molly Bawn" (1 short text)
  28. Roud #166
  29. BI, LO36


Alternate titles: “Molly Ban”; “Peggy Baun”; “Lord Kenneth and Fair Ellinour”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1806 (Jamieson)
Found in: US(Ap,MA,MW,NE,SE,So) Britain(England) Ireland Canada(Mar,Newf)