“The Footboy”


A father learns his daughter loves a servant. He dismisses the servant, plants a ring on him, and has him arrested for robbery and hanged. The daughter climbs onto the gallows with him, stabs herself, and asks that they be buried in the same grave.


[A] similar story line to "William Riley," "Henry Connors," and "Mary Acklin" except that in none of those songs is the young man executed or does the girl kill herself.

According to Fowke/MacMillan, [this] song uses a metre and type of repetition more often found in older ballads. The fact that the servant is hanged suggests that it dates from an earlier periods than those in which the man is transported. The term "footboy" for a young manservant has a medieval flavour: it was in common use at the time of Shakespeare but had largely disappeared by the nineteenth century. - SL


  • cf. "Mary Acklin (The Squire's Young Daughter) [Laws M16]" (ring plot)
  • cf. "William Riley's Courtship" [Laws M9] (plot)
  • cf. "Henry Connors" [Laws M5] (plot)
  • cf. "Jock Scott" (plot)


  1. Fowke/MacMillan 80, "The Footboy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Roud #3580
  3. BI, FowM080


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1958 (Fowke/MacMillan)
Found in: Canada(Ont)