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The Four Marys

The comments on the Four Marys prompted me to look up the background.
This is what I found. Originally titled Mary Hamilton  (child #173)
Mary Hamilton one of Mary Stuart's four companions, bears a child to the
"highest Stuart of all," kills it and hides the body, denying its
existance even to her lover.  When the body is found, Mary is taken to
Edinburgh, tried, sentenced, and hanged.
Sir Walter Scott in his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish  Border" (1802)
explained, that although the event took place in the court of Mary
Stuart, the "highest Stuart" was not involved, nor was Mary Hamilton.
Rather, a French serving woman bears a child by Mary Stuart's
apothecary.  the two of them kill the child and both were hanged in
Edinburgh.  It seems that Mary Stuart had complained about her husband,
Lord Henry Darnley's infidelity.  Somehow the story got rearranged to
the Queen's companion and Lord Darnley.
I have a new CD of old songs. It includes another version of this piece,
and does not in any way, except for one chorus to resemble the
original.   Child printed 15 versions, with some 28 texts.  Not
surprising that this version is in variant to what I learned originally.

The four Marys being Mary Hamilton, Mary Seaton, Mary Carmichael, and
Mary Beaton.  regards, Sally

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