“Peter Amberley”


Peter Amberly leaves Prince Edward Island to go lumbering in New Brunswick. Fatally injured in a logging accident, he bids farewell to the father whose unkindness sent him away, to his mother, sweetheart, and home


Details about this song are sketchy. The name of the youth was probably spelled "Amberley" but was generally pronounced "Emberly." (Paul Stamler points out that Louise Manny records the spelling "Amberley" on his tombstone, but it is not contemporary).

The original tune has also been lost; when John Calhoun asked Abraham Munn to set a tune, Munn also added a stanza, and Calhoun withdrew the modified text from circulation.

According to his tombstone Amberley was born in 1863. He died some time after Christmas Day, 1880. - RBW

Manny/Wilson has a detailed account of the accident and burial, the spelling and pronunciation of the name, and the replacement of the original grave marker with a monument. Warning: "A legend has grown up about the song -- that it is unlucky to sing it in the woods. If it is sung the night before a drive, the woodsmen say, someone is sure to be killed." - BS

Historical references

  • around Jan. 1881 - Peter Amberly is fatally wounded. He is eighteen years old, and has been in the woods less than a year

Cross references


  • Omar Blondahl, "Peter Amberly" (on NFOBlondahl04)
  • Marie Hare, "Peter Emberley" (on MRMHare01)
  • Wilmot McDonald, "Peter Emberley" (on Miramichi1)


  1. Laws C27, "Peter Amberley"
  2. Doerflinger, pp. 225-233, "Peter Emberley" (3 texts, 2 tunes)
  3. Greenleaf/Mansfield 164, "Peter Hembly" (1 text)
  4. Fowke/Johnston, pp. 80-81, "Peter Amberley" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Fowke/MacMillan 27, "Peter Emberley" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Creighton-NovaScotia 138, "Peter Rambelay" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Creighton-SNewBrunswick 118, "Peter Emberley" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Mackenzie 116, "Peter Ambelay" (1 text)
  9. Dibblee/Dibblee, p. 33, "Peter Emberley" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Ives-DullCare, pp. 235-236,252-253, "Peter Emberly" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Ives-NewBrunswick, pp. 99-103, "Peter Emberley" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Manny/Wilson 38, "Peter Emberley" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. FSCatskills 5, "Adieu to Prince Edward's Isle" (1 text, 1 tune)
  14. Linscott, pp. 269-272, "Peter Emily" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Scott-BoA, pp. 270-273, "Peter Emberly" (1 text, 1 tune)
  16. Beck 9, "Peter Ambelay" (1 text)
  17. Fowke-Lumbering #36, "Peter Emery" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  18. BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 258-264, "Mary Hamilton" (the "C" fragment actually comes from a text of this song rather than a version of "Mary Hamilton")
  19. Darling-NAS, pp. 181-182, "Peter Emberly" (1 text)
  21. Roud #668
  22. BI, LC27


Author: John Calhoun (sometimes attributed to Larry Gorman)
Earliest date: 1903
Found in: US(MA,NE) Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont)