“Robin Hood and Little John”


Robin Hood meets John Little on a bridge. They agree to fight until one falls into the brook. Robin is dunked. He blows his horn for his men and offers John a place among them. John accepts and is re-named Little John, though he is seven feet tall.


For background on the Robin Hood legend, see the notes on "A Gest of Robyn Hode" [Child 117].

Fully half the Robin Hood ballads in the Child collection (numbers (121 -- the earliest and most basic example of the type), 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 130, 131, 132, (133), (134), (135), (136), (137), (150)) share all or part of the theme of a stranger meeting and defeating Robin, and being invited to join his band. Most of these are late, but it makes one wonder if Robin ever won a battle.

This is one of the few Robin Hood ballads with a genuinely traditional tune (two, in fact), though one of the texts may have been influenced by print. - RBW


  • Bodleian, Douce Ballads 3(125a), "Robin Hood and Little John," C. Sheppard (London), 1791 [barely legible]


  • John Strachan, "Robin Hood and Little John" (on FSB5, FSBBAL2) {Bronson's #1}


  1. Child 125, "Robin Hood and Little John" (1 text)
  2. Bronson 125, "Robin Hood and Little John" (2 versions+ 1 in addenda)
  3. Creighton/Senior, p. 67, "Robin Hood and Little John" (1 fragment)
  4. Creighton-Maritime, pp. 19-20, "Robin Hood and Little John" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Leach, pp. 366-372, "Robin Hood and Little John" (2 texts)
  6. Friedman, p. 339, "Robin Hood and Little John" (1 text)
  7. Niles 45, "Robin Hood and Little John" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. BBI, RZN22, "When Robin Hood was about twenty Years old"
  9. DT 125, RHLITJON*
  10. Roud #1322
  11. BI, C125


Alternate titles: “Robin and John”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1624 (Stationer's Register)
Keywords: Robinhood outlaw fight
Found in: Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber)) US(Ap,MW,SE) Canada(Mar)