“The Old Oak Tree”


(Betsy) sets out from home to meet her love and never returns. Her widowed mother, after a long search, dies of grief. The girl's body is found during a hunt with the murderer's knife still there. He confesses the crime and (dies/kills himself)


Bodleian Library site Ballads Catalogue appears to have two broadsides for this ballad

Bodleian, Harding B 40(5), "The Old Oak Tree" ("The night was dark, cold blew the wind"), J.F. Nugent and Co.? (Dublin?), 1850-1899; also Harding B 26(481), "The Old Oak Three," P. Brereton (Dublin), c.1867

However, I was unable to read either of them. - BS


  • Robert Cinnamond, "The Old Oak Tree" (on IRRCinnamond02)
  • Warde Ford, "Beneath the Old Oak Tree" (AFS 4195 A1; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
  • Tom Lenihan, "The Old Oak Tree" (on IRTLenihan01)


  1. Laws P37, "The Old Oak Tree"
  2. Doerflinger, pp. 283-285, "The Old Oak Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. SHenry H207, pp. 417-418, "The Old Oak Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Morton-Ulster 15, "The Old Oak Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Morton-Maguire 49, pp. 141-143,175, "The Old Oak Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Munnelly/Deasy-Lenihan 11, "The Old Oak Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Gardner/Chickering 33, "The Old Oak Tree" (1 text plus mention of 1 more, 1 tune)
  8. Greenleaf/Mansfield 55, "Squire Nathaniel and Betsy" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Peacock, pp. 628-629, "The Old Oak Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Leach-Labrador 12, "The Old Oak Tree" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  11. Dibblee/Dibblee, pp. 80-81, "The Old Oak Tree" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Manny/Wilson 66, "Eliza Long (The Old Oak Tree)" (1 text, 1 tune)
  13. DT 514, OLDOAKTR
  14. Roud #569
  15. BI, LP37


Alternate titles: “The Squire”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1921 (Greenleaf/Mansfield)
Found in: US(MW) Canada(Mar,Newf) Ireland