The Murder of Maria Marten

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Read All About It !!'Orrible Murder!!

Maria Marten 1801-1827 foully murdered.

In the day before there were newspapers and before there were 24-hour news channels, the general public had to rely on what is called street literature to find out what was going on. The most popular form of this  was the 'broadside' - the tabloid newspapers, if you will, of their day. Sometimes they were pinned up on walls in houses or ale-houses, or sold on the streets, not unlike newspapers of today, these single sheets carried public notices, news, speeches and songs and other topics of interest, that could be read (or sung) aloud, and the Murder of Maria Marten is a text book prefect example of this tabloid style, it fits right in, even today, there is actually an opera as well, which we'll provide a link to......anyway to the events surrounding this dreadful and chilling crime that took place in Polstead, Suffolk, in May 1827.
After a brief courtship, Corder told Marten that he wished to marry her, and visited her family's home to inform them about the arrangements for the ceremony. Instead of taking her to Ipswich, however, he took her to a part of his premises called the Red Barn and murdered her. After being found guilty by the jury, Corder then confessed to the crime. He was executed on the 11th of August, 1828. A broadsheet, supposedly written by Corder himself, though this was highly unlikely,( it was the fashion to say that these "confessional ballads" were written by the condemned person) was published in London by James Catnach about this crime, and, indeed, if it had been a record album, it would have been certified as a gold record for it sold over one million copies.

as recorded by Shirley Collins and The Albion Band
Murder of Maria Marten

“If you'll meet me at the Red Barn
As sure as I have life
I will take you to Ipswich Town
And there make you my wife.”

He straight went home and fetched his gun,
His pickaxe and his spade.
He went unto the Red Barn
And there he dug her grave.

Come all you thoughtless young men,
A warning take by me
To think on my unhappy fate
To be hanged upon a tree.

My name is William Corder,
To you I do declare
I courted Maria Marten,
Most beautiful and fair.

I promised I would marry her
Upon a certain day;
Instead of that I was resolved
To take her life away.

I went unto her father's house
The eighteenth day of May
And said, “My dear Maria,
We will fix a wedding day.”

With her heart so light she thought no harm
To meet me she did go.
I murdered her all in the barn
And laid her body low.

After the horrid deed was done
She laid there in her gore
Her bleeding, mangled body lay
Beneath the Red Barn floor.

Now all things being silent
Her spirit could not rest.
She appeared unto her mother
Who'd suckled her at her breast.

For many a long month or more
Her mind being sore oppressed,
Neither at night nor yet by day
Could she take any rest.

Her mother's mind being so disturbed
She dreamed it three nights o'er,
Her daughter she lay murdered
Beneath the Red Barn floor.

She sent the father to the Barn
Where he the ground did thrust
And there he found his daughter
Lay mingling with the dust.

My trial was hard, I could not stand,
Most woeful was the sight
When her dear bones was brought to prove
Which pierced my heart quite.

Her aged father standing by,
Likewise his loving wife,
And in her grief her hair she tore
She scarcely could keep life.

Adieu adieu, my loving friends,
My glass is almost run.
On Monday next will be my last
When I am to be hung.

So all young men who do pass by
With pity look on me
For murdering of that young girl
I was hung upon a tree.

Trad. arr. Shirley Collins

No Roses 1971
Pegasus 7 (LP, UK, 1971)

 Side 1
Claudy Banks (4:37)
The Little Gypsy Girl (2:16)
Banks of the Bann (3:38)
Murder of Maria Marten (7:28)

 Side 2
Van Diemen's Land (4:59)
Just as the Tide Was A-Flowin' (2:13)
The White Hare (2:43)
Hal-an-Tow (2:54)
Poor Murdered Woman (4:17)

 All tracks Trad. arr. Shirley Collins,
published by Roberton Brown
except track1 Bob & Ron Copper,
published by Copper Songs

Shirley Collins said in the
No Roses sleeve notes:

This was Ashley's [Hutchings] choice. The tune is of the Dives and Lazarus family, one of the great melodies of the British tradition (listen to Vaughan Williams's Dives and Lazarus or Star of the County Down by Van Morrison for two examples). The Red Barn Murder has fascinated people ever since it happened last century, and Ashley's treatment of it is equally intriguing. His device of breaking the ballad up in this rather extraordinary way, and the inspired sound effect of the cart crunching on the gravel at the hanging give it a chilling edge.

Long Song Seller

The Facts of The Case

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