Monday 15 August 2011

19: The False Knight

This tale of stranger danger was collected from Mrs Stanley of New Ferry (who also provided the version of Marco and Pedro that I used a few weeks back) and published in Dorothy Dearnley's Seven Cheshire Folk-songs in 1967. Pete and Chris Coe sang a similar version of the song on their album "Open the Door and Let Us In" (possibly derived from the same source, although there do appear to be some differences).

This is a local version of the traditional old ballad "The False Knight on the Road", most often associated with Scotland; in all versions, a child is met by a "false knight", that is, the devil in disguise; the child refuses to give ground to the devil or accomodate him in any way (generally being quite cheeky to him), and in the end wishes him back to hell. Francis James Child included "The Fause Knight on the Road" as ballad #3 in his multi-volume Popular English and Scottish Ballads, published between 1882 and 1898 - he provides 3 different versions of the same tale from a variety of sources. The Wirral version is slightly unusual in that the child is a girl rather than a boy (as in most other versions).

The False Knight is #20 in the Roud folksong index.

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