Much the Miller's Son

The Four Yeomen Have Merry Sport with a Stout Miller

Much the Miller's Son

CharactersName Variants: Muche, MocheBackground Essay Author: Kristi Janelle Castleberry

Much the Miller's Son is a member of Robin Hood's band from the earliest ballads. In modern depictions, Much is often portrayed joining the band after being caught poaching, though the ballads include him as a member of Robin's men without explanation. Early ballads mention Much as one of Robin's few named companions (along with Little John and Will Scarlock), and picture him as a strong, and even aggressive, man. Unlike the other figures populating the early greenwood, Much has no familiar name. According to Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman, “Much is not recorded as a Christian name during the fourteenth century and appears, therefore, to be a nickname” (101). Modern versions sometimes play with and pun upon the name Much, often giving it as a nickname with a background story of its own.
 
Although in modern versions (most notably in the films) Robin’s outlawry often begins when he saves a desperate Much from harsh penalties for poaching, a miller would have historically been more affluent than many peasants. In short, a miller is not going to go hungry. The conception of Much as the poorest and most in need of Robin’s help is thus a modern invention. This is not to say that a miller would not have been an outlaw. Barbara A. Hanawalt explains that “[m]illers, yeoman, potters, and peasants all appeared in the poems, as they did among...

Read More