The Murder Of Miss Wyatt (Kenneth Peacock)
Variant A

Click to jump down to Variant B (Kenneth Peacock)

See also: Henry Green (MacEdward Leach)

Come listen to a treachery
good people young and old,
Whilst I relate a story
'twould make your blood run cold;
It's of a pretty fair maid,
Miss Wyatt was her name,
Was poisoned by her husband
and he hung for the same.

Miss Wyatt she being beautiful
but not of a high degree,
Young Henry Green being wealthy
as plain as you may see;
He said, "My pretty fair maid,
if you'll become my wife,
I will guard you as a parent
throughout this course of life."

"To become your wife, dear Henry,
you have got my consent,
Before we are long married
I'm afraid you will repent;
Before we are long married
you'll think me a disgrace,
For I'm not so rich as you are,
that ofttimes being the case."

They scarce being three weeks married
Miss Wyatt she took ill,
Three doctors they were sent for
to try their noble skill;
Three doctors they were sent for
her precious life to save,
And soon it was pronounced by all
she must go to her grave.

Her brother hearing of that news
straightway to her did go,
Saying, "Sister dear, you are dying,
the doctors tell me so."
Saying, "Sister dear, you are dying,
your life is to an end,
Why have you been poisoned
by one you thought a friend?"

Young Henry Green was sent for,
his dying wife to see,
Saying, "Mary, lovely Mary,
have you been deceived by me?"
Three times she called out, "Henry!" -
and fell back in a swoon.
He gazed on her indifferently,
in silence leaved the room.

"Young Henry Green has poisoned me,
now my poor heart is broke,
And brother, when I'm dead and gone
don't have my Henry hung;
So freely I do forgive him,"
as she turned upon her side,
"I never will meet my Henry," -
she sweetly smiled and died.

Collected in 1959 by Kenneth Peacock from Mrs George William (Sarah Ann House) Decker [1905-1968] of Rocky Harbour, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.624-625, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

The Murder Of Miss Wyatt (Kenneth Peacock)
Variant B

See also: Henry Green (MacEdward Leach)

Come all ye people, young and old,
and ye will understand,
About the dreadful murder
committed in our land;
Miss Wyatt, I'm told,
was handsome but of low degree,
Young Henry Blair was wealthy,
so wealthy as could be.

He came into her dwelling place
and unto her did say:
"What time will we be married? -
I pray you name the day."
"Oh Henry, dearest Henry,
such a thing I couldn't do,
For your proud relations,
I'm not as rich as you."

"Oh Mary, dearest Mary,
when we're married hand in hand,
All my land and all my riches
they will be at your command."
"But when your parents find it out
they'll turn us from their door,
I'd sooner you get some other young girl
with gold laid up in store."

"Oh Mary, dearest Mary,
do not torment me so,
I swear by all that's sacred
that forever I'll prove true."
But little did she ever think
or did she ever expect,
That he would shortly take her life
he had sworn to protect.

They had scarce been three weeks married
when this fair one was taken ill,
The doctors they were sent for
to try their utmost skill;
They tried their best in every way
her poor life for to save,
It was certified by all doctors
that she'd go down in the grave.

Her brother heard all of it,
straight way to her did go,
Said, "Sister, are you dying,
pray tell me is it so?
Is there anyone who has murdered you,
who once you thought your friend?
Do not deny before you die,
do not the guilty defend."

"As I am on my death bed
and knowing I must die,
I know I'll have to face my God,
the same I'll never deny;
Young Henry Blair has poisoned me
who once I thought my friend,
But still I like him just the same,
come quickly for him send."

Young Henry he was summoned
his dying wife to see,
Three times she said, "Dear Henry,
were you ever deceived by me?"
Three times she said: "Dear Henry,"
and sank into death's swoon.
He gazed on her with tearful eyes
and in silence left the room.

An inquest on the body was held
according to the laws,
'Twas certified by all doctors
that poison was the cause;
Young Henry he was taken
and brought up to the jail,
For to await his day of trial,
the court would take no bail.

And when his day of trial came up
he was brought up to the stand,
To answer for the blackest crime
committed in our land;
Three times he pleaded innocent,
he did his guilt deny,
He was taken by Judge Parker
and condemned for to die.

Collected in 1951 by Kenneth Peacock from Howard Leopold Morry [1885-1972] of Ferryland, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 2, pp.626-627, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

####.... Both of the above ballads are variants of a 19th-century American broadside ballad Henry Green (The Murdered Wife) [Laws F14] Native American Balladry (G Malcolm Laws, 1964) ....####

Kenneth Peacock noted that the events described in this American murder ballad took place in February of 1845 in a town called Berlin in New York State. Mary Wyatt was an actress who travelled about with a small troupe playing 'temperance dramers' in New England. During their stay in Berlin Henry Green fell for the pretty Miss Wyatt and even joined the company for a time just to be with her. At the time, however, he was unofficially betrothed to a local belle named Alinza Godfrey who became furiously jealous of her rival. At the wedding party she and Henry had some sort of quarrel, and whatever was said apparently had a bearing on his decision to get rid of his bride, Mary. As luck would have it, Mary developed a cold at the wedding party (during the sleigh ride) and this offered the perfect opportunity for Henry to give her some 'medicine'. She died a week later of arsenic poisoning (not three weeks as in the ballad). Peacock also noted that these two variants would appear to come from different sources; and verse six, missing from Mrs Decker's version, is taken from a similar variant sung by Levi Everett Bennett [1899-?] of St Paul's, NL.

A variant was also sung by Pat Murphy [b.1887] of Calvert, and by William (Will) O'Brien [1874-1956] of Cape Broyle, NL, and published as Henry Green in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

MacEdward Leach also collected a variant published as #100, Henry Green, in Folk Ballads And Songs Of The Lower Labrador Coast by the National Museum of Canada (Ottawa, 1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.


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