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John Renfro Davis
This ballad is sometimes confused with Henry Martin because they are similar in story and sometimes in tune. According to Cecil Sharp, Henry Martin is probably the older ballad and was recomposed during the reign of James I. However, some scholars feel it is the other way around. The ballad appears in the Roxburghe collection dated 1710.
This ballad is Child Ballad #167.
For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.
There are many different melodies for the tune. This is based on the single line melody in Child Vol. 5. Child has two sets of lyrics for the tune, one with 82 verses and one with 64,so I stole these lyrics verbatim from Digital Tradition. The lyrics are from the Penguin Book of Folk Songs.
Percy's Reliquesgives the following history behind the ballad. In 1476 John Barton's ship was attacked by the Portuguese. Letters of reprisal were granted to Barton's sons, Andrew, Robert and John and renewed in 1506. The letters gave authorization to seize Portuguese ships only until they were repaid 12,000 ducats. However, the practice proved so lucrative that in 1563 Mary revoked the letters of marque for the Barton family which, by that time, were seen as pirates.
Twenty years later, Buchanan wrote that the ballad was based on Andrew Breton, whose father was "cruelly put to death" by the Portuguese after they plundered his ship. As the offense occurred outside of Flanders, the Flemish made a judgement against the Portuguese, who would not pay. The Scots King James granted letters of marque, but the Portuguese appealed to Henry, suggesting Andrew would be too dangerous to let loose on the high seas. Henry then sent Thomas Howard to attack Andrew on the way home from Flanders.
Sharp gives another history. A Scottish officer, Sir Andrew Barton, was attacked by the Portuguese. Letters of marque were then issued to two of his sons. The brothers, not finding sufficient Portuguese ships, began harassing English merchants. King Henry VIII commissioned the Earl of Surrey to end their piracy. He was given two vessels which he put under the command of his sons, Sir Thomas and Sir Edward Howard. They attacked Barton's ships, The Lion and the Union, and captured them. They returned triumphant on August 2, 1511.
Interestingly this ballad replaces Sir Thomas and Edward Howard with Lord Charles Howard, who was born 25 years after the battle. Lord Charles Howard, half-brother of Thomas and Edward, was Lord High Admiral who commanded the English fleet against the Armada.
See below for related links.
As itt beffell in midsummer-time,
When burds singe sweetlye on euery tree,
Our noble king, King Henery the Eighth,
Ouer the river of Thames past hee.
Hee was no sooner ouer the riuer,
Downe in a fforrest to take the ayre,
But Eighty merchants of London cittye
Came kneeling before King Henery there.
"O yee are welcome, rich merchants,
Good saylers, welcome unto me!"
They swore by the rood they were saylers good,
But rich merchants they cold not bee.
"To Ffrance nor Fflanders dare we nott passe,
Nor Burdeaux voyage wee dare not ffare,
And all ffor a ffalse robber that lyes on the seas,
And robbs us of our merchants ware."
King Henery was stout, and he turned him about,
And swore by the Lord that was mickle of might,
"I thought he had not beene in the world throughout
That durst haue wrought England such unright."
But ever they sighed, and said, "alas!"
Unto King Harry this answere againe:
"He is a proud Scott that will robb us all
If wee were twenty shipps and hee but one."
The king looket ouer his left shoulder,
Amongst his lords and barrons soe ffree:
"Have I never lord in all my realme
Will ffeitch yond traitor unto mee?"
"Yes, that dare I!" sayes my lord Charles Haward,
Neere to the king wheras hee did stand;
"If that Your Grace will give me leave,
My selfe will be the only man."
"Thou shult have six hundred men" saith our king,
"And chuse them out of my realme soe ffree;
Besids marriners and boyes
To guide the great shipp on the sea "
"Ile goe speake with Sir Andrew," sais Charles,
my lord Haward;
"Upon the sea, if he be there
I will bring him and his shipp to shore
Or before my prince I will never come neer."
The ffirst of all my lord did call
A noble gunner hee was one;
This man was three score yeeres and ten,
Anr Peeter Simon was his name.
"Peeter," sais hee, "I must sayle the sea,
To seeke out an enemye; God be my speed
Before all others I have chosen thee;
Of a hundred gunners thoust be my head."
"My lord," sais hee, "if you have chosen mee
Of a hundred gunners to be the head,
Hange me att your maine-mast tree
If I misse my marke past three pence bread."
The next of all my lord he did call,
A noble bowman hee was one;
In Yorekeshire was this gentleman borne,
And William Horsley was his name.
"Horsley," sayes hee, "I must sayle to the sea,
To seeke out an enemye; God be my speede
Before all others I have chosen thee;
Of a hundred bowemen thoust be my head."
"My lord," sais he, "if you haue chosen mee
Of a hundred bowemen to be the head,
Hang me att your mainemast-tree
If I misse my marke past twelve pence bread."
With pikes, and gunnes, and bowemen bold
This noble Haward is gone to the sea,
On the day before midsummer-even,
And out att Thames mouth sayled they.
They had not sayled dayes three
Upon their journey they tooke in hand,
But there they mett with a noble shipp,
And stoutely made itt both stay and stand.
"Thou must tell me thy name," sais Charles,
my lord Haward,
"Or who thou art, or ffrom whence thou came,
Yea, and where thy dwelling is,
To whom and where thy shipp does belong."
"My name," says hee, "is Henery Hunt,
With a pure hart and a penitent mind;
I and my shipp they doe belong
Unto the New-castle that stands vpon Tine"'
"Now thou must tell me, Harry Hunt,
As thou hast sayled by day and by night,
Hast thou not heard of a stout robber?
Men calls him Sir Andrew Bartton, Knight.
But ever he sighed, and sayd, "Alas!
Ffull well, my lord, I know that wight;
He robd me of my merchants ware,
And I was his prisoner but yesternight."
"As I was sayling upon the sea,
And a Burdeaux voyage as I did ffare,
He clasped me to his archborde,
And robd me of all my merchantsware."
"And I am a man both poore and bare,
And every man will have his owne of me,
And I am bound towards London to ffare,
To complaine to my prince Henerye."
"That shall not need," sais my lord Haward;
"If thou canst lett me this robber see,
Ffor euery peny he hath taken thee ffroe,
Thou shalt be rewarded a shilling." quoth hee.
"Now God fforefend" sais Henery Hunt
"My lord, you shold worke soe ffarr amisse!
God keepe you out of that traitors hands!
For you wott ffull litle what a man hee is.
"Hee is brasse within, and steele without,
And beames hee beares in his topcastle stronge;
His shipp hath ordinance cleane round about;
Besids, my lord, hee is verry well mand.
"He hath a pinnace, is deerlye dight,
Saint Andrews crosse, that is his guide;
His pinnace beares nine score men and more,
Besids fifteen cannons on euery side.
"If you wvere twenty shippes, and he but one,
Either in archboard or in hall,
He would overcome you everye one,
And if his beames they doe downe ffall"
"This is cold comfort" sais my Lord Haward,
"To wellcome a stranger thus to the sea;
I'll bring him and his shipp to shore,
Or else into Scottland hee shall carrye mee"
"Then you must gett a noble gunner, my lord,
That can sett well with his eye,
And sinke his pinnace into the sea,
And soone then overcome will hee bee.
"And when that you haue done this,
If you chance Sir Andrew for to bord,
Lett no man to his topcastle goe;
And I will giue you a glasse, my lord."
"And then you need to ffeare no Scott,
Whether you sayle by day or by night;
And to-morrow, by seven of the clocke,
You shall meete with Sir Andrew Barton, Knight.
"I was his prisoner but yesternight,
And he hath taken mee sworne," quoth hee;
"I trust my Lord God will me fforgive
And if that oath then broken bee."
"You must lend me sixe peeces, my lord;" quoth hee
"Into my shipp, to sayle the sea,
And tomorrow, by nine of the clocke,
Your Honour againe then will I see."
And the hache-bord where Sir Andrew lay
Is hached with gold deerlye dight:
"Now by my ffaith;" sais Charles, my lord Haward
"Then yonder Scott is a worthye wight!"
"Take in your ancyents and your standards,
Yea that no man shall them see,
And put me fforth a white willow wand,
As merchants use to sayle the sea."
But they stirred neither top nor mast,
But Sir Andrew they passed by:
"whatt English are yonder," said Sir Andrew
"That can so litle curtesye?"
"I have beene admirall over the sea
More then these yeeres three;
There is never an English dog, nor Portingall
Can passe this way without leave of me."
"But now yonder pedlers, they are past
Which is no litle greffe to me;
Ffeich them backe;" sayes Sir Andrew Barton
"They shall all hang att my maine-mast tree.
With that the pinnace itt shott of
That my Lord Haward might it well ken
Itt stroke downe my lords fforemast
And killed fourteen of my lord his men.
"Come hither, Simon!" sayes my lord Haward
"Looke that thy words be true thou sayed;
I'll hang thee att my main-mast tree
If thou misse thy marke past twelve pence bread.
Simon was old, but his hart itt was bold;
Hee tooke downe a peece, and layd itt ffull lowe
He put in chaine yeards nine,
Besids other great shott lesse and more.
With that hee lett his gun-shott goe;
Soe well hee settled itt with his eye,
The ffirst sight that Sir Andrew sawe,
Hee see his pinnace sunke in the sea.
When hee saw his pinnace sunke,
Lord! in his hart hee was not well:
"Cutt my ropes! itt is time to be gon!
I'le goe ffeitch yond pedlers backe my selfe!"
When my lord Haward saw Sir Andrew loose,
Lord! in his hart that hee was ffaine:
"Strike on your drummes! spread out your ancyents
Sound out your trumpetts! sound out amaine!"
"Ffight on, my men!" sais Sir Andrew Bartton;
Weate, howsoever this geere will sway,
Itt is my lord Admirall of England
Is come to seeke mee on the sea."
Simon had a sonne; with shott of a gunn-
Well Sir Andrew might itt ken-
He shott itt in att a priuye place,
And killed sixty more of Sir Andrews men.
Harry Hunt came in att the other syde,
And att Sir Andrew hee shott then;
He drove downe his fformast-tree,
And killed eighty more of Sir Andrews men.
"I have done a good turne," sayes Harry Hunt;
"Sir Andrew is not our kings ffriend;
He hoped to haue undone me yesternight,
But I hope I have quitt him well in the end."
"Ever alas!" sayd Sir Andrew Barton
"what shold a man either thinke or say?
Yonder ffalse theeffe is my strongest enemye
Who was my prisoner but yesterday.
"Come hither to me, thou Gourden good,
And be thou readye att my call,
And I will give thee three hundred pound
If thou wilt lett my beames down ffall"
With that hee swarved the maine-mast tree,
Soe did he itt with might and maine;
Horseley, with a bearing arrow,
Stroke the Gourden through the braine.
And he ffell into the haches againe,
And sore of this wound that he did bleed;
There word went through Sir Andrews men,
That the Gourden hee was dead.
"Comie hither to me, James Hambliton,
Thou are my sisters sonne, I have no more;
I will give thee six hundred pound
If thou will lett my beames downe ffall."
With that hee swarved the maine-mast tree,
Soe did hee itt with might and maine:
Horseley, with another broad arrow,
Strike the yeaman through the braine.
That hee ffell downe to the haches againe;
Sore of his wound that hee did bleed;
Covetousness getts no gaine,
Itt is verry true, as the Welchman sayd.
But when hee saw his sisters sonne slaine,
Lord! in his heart hee was not well:
"Goe ffeitch me downe my armour of prooffe,
For I will to the topcastle my-selfe.
"Goe ffeitch me downe my armour of prooffe,
For it is guilded with gold soe cleare;
God be with my brother, John of Bartton!
Amongst the Portingalls hee did itt weare."
But when hee had his armour of prooffe,
And on his body hee had itt on,
Every man that looked att him
Sayd, "Gunn nor arrow he neade feare none"
"Come hither, Horsley!" sayes my lord Haward,
"And looke your shaft that itt goe right;
Shoot a good shoote in the time of need,
And ffor thy shooting thoust be made a knight!"
"I'le doe my best," sayes Horsley then,
"Your Honor shall see beffore I goe;
If I shold be hanged att your mainemast,
I have in my shipp but arrowes tow."
But att Sir Andrew hee shott then;
Hee mede sure to hitt his marke;
Vnder the spole of his right arme
Hee smote Sir Andrew quite through the hart.
Yett ffrom the tree hee wold not start,
But hee clinged to itt with might and maine;
Vnder the coller then of his jacke,
He stroke Sir Andrew thorrow the braine.
"Ffight on my men," sayes Sir Andrew Barton,
"I arm hurt, but I am not slaine;
I'le lay mee downe and bleed a-while,
And then I'le rise and ffight againe.
"Ffight on my men," sayes Sir Andrew Bartton
"These English doggs they bite soe lowe;
Ffight on ffor Scottland and Saint Andew
Till you heare my whistle blowe!"
But when they cold not heare his whistle blow,
Sayes Harry Hunt, "I'le lay my head
You may bord yonder noble shipp, my lord,
For I know Sir Andrew hee is dead."
With that they borded this noble shipp,
Soe did they itt with might and maine;
The ffound eighteen score Scotts alive,
Besids the rest were maimed and slaine.
My Lord Haward tooke a sword in his hand,
And smote off Sir Andrews head;
The Scotts stood by did weepe and mourne,
But never a word durst speake or say.
He caused his body to be taken downe,
And ouer the hatch-bord cast into the sea,
And about his middle three hundred crownes:
"whersoever thou lands, it will bury thee."
With his head they sayled into England againe,
With right good will, and fforce and main,
And the day beffore Newyeeres even
Into Thames mouth they came againe.
My lord Haward wrote to King Heneryes grace,
With all the newes hee cold him bring:
"Such a Newyeeres gifft I have brought to your Grace
As neuer did subject to any king.
"Ffor merchandyes and manhood,
The like is nott to be ffound;
The sight of these wold doe you good,
Ffor you haue not the like in your English ground."
But when hee heard tell that they were come,
Full royally hee welcomed them home;
Sir Andrew's shipp was the kings Newyeeres guifft;
A braver shipp you never saw none.
Now hath our king Sir Andrews shipp,
Besett with pearles and precyous stones;
Now hath England two shipps of warr,
Two shipps of warr, before but one.
"who holpe to this?" sayes King Henerye,
"That I may reward him ffor his paine:"
"Harry Hunt, and Peeter Simon,
William Horseleay, and I the same."
"Harry Hunt shall haue his whistle and chain
And all his jewells, whatsoever they be
And other rich giffts that I will not name
For his good service he hath done."
"Horslay, right thoust be a knight,
Lands and livings thou shalt have store
Haward shall be erle of Nottingham
And soe was never Haward before.
"Now, Peeter Simon, thou art old;
I will maintaine thee and thy sonne;
Thou shalt have five hundred pound all in gold
Ffor the good service that thou hast done."
Then King Henerye shiffted his roome
In came the Queene and ladyes bright;
Other arrands they had none
But to see Sir Andrew Bartton, Knight.
But when they see his deadly fface,
His eyes were hollow in his head;
"I wold give a hundred pound," sais King Henry
"The man were alive as hee is dead!
"Yett for the manfull part that hee hath playd
Both heere and beyond the sea,
His men shall have halfe a crowne a day
To bring them to my brother, King Jamye!"
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.