The Maid Freed from the Gallows

Versions of
The Maid Freed from the Gallows

"The Maid Freed from the Gallows" is one of many titles of a centuries-old folk song about a condemned maiden pleading for someone to buy her freedom from the executioner. In the collection of ballads compiled by Francis James Child in the late 19th century, it is indexed as Child Ballad number 95; 11 variants, some fragmentary, are indexed as 95A to 95K. In the Roud Folk Song Index it is number 144.

The song may have originated in continental Europe. Francis James Child found the English version "defective and distorted", in that, in most cases, the narrative rationale had been lost and only the ransoming sequence remained. Numerous European variants explain the reason for the ransom: the heroine has been captured by pirates. Of the texts he prints, one (95F) had "degenerated" into a children's game, while others had survived as part of a Northern English cante-fable, The Golden Ball (or Key). Child describes additional examples from the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Russia, and Slovenia, several of which feature a man being ransomed by a woman.

Versions of The Maid Freed from the Gallows include: