Derwentwater's Farewell
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John Renfro Davis


A version of the ballad by Robert Surtees appears in Hogg's Jacobite Relics, II and one by Allan Cunningham appears in Cromek's Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song (1810).

This ballad is Child Ballad #208 (Lord Derwentwater).

James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater 1689-1716 is the subject of this ballad. Derwentwater was the son of one of Charles II's illegitimate children. He was brought up at the Palace of St. Germains as a companion to the Prince of Wales (later King James III). In 1715 he joined the Earl of Mar in the Jacobite Uprising. He was extremely popular and at the Battle of Preston argued for fighting the way out rather than surrender. However, Foster surrendered and Derwentwater was among those taken prisoner on November 14, 1715. Parliament found him guilty of treason and sentenced him to death. He was 27 when he was executed. His estate went first to the crown, which later granted it to Greenwich Hospital.

It is said that Derwentwater's wife was staying at their home on Derwentwater Lake when she heard the news. Rather than allow her possessions to be confiscated, she threw her jewels in the lake.

Legend has it that the stream that flows past his home at Dilston Hall ran red every year on the date of his execution. The Northern Lights were so brilliant on the day of his death that they were called Lord Derwentwater's Lights in the North for many years. It is also said they first appeared the day of Derwentwater's death.

For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site see Francis J. Child Ballads.

Farewell to pleasant Dilston,
My father's ancient seat,
A stranger must now call thee his,
Which gars my heart to greet;
Farewell each friendly well known face
My heart has held so dear,
My tenants now must leave their lands,
Or hold their lives in fear.

No more along the banks of Tyne
I'll rove in autumn grey,
No more I'll hear at early dawn
The lav'rocks wake the day;
And who shall deck the hawthorn bower
Where my fond children strayed?
And who, when spring shall bid it flower,
Shall sit beneath the shade?

And fare thee well, George Collingwood,
Since fate has put us down,
If thou and I have lost our lives,
Our King has lost his crown;
But when the head that wears the crown
Shall be laid low like mine,
Some honest hearts may then lament
For Radcliffe's fallen line.

Farewell, farewell, my lady dear,
Ill, ill, thou councell'dst me,
I never more may see the babe
That smiles at your knee;
Then fare ye well brave Widdrington
And Foster ever true;
Dear Shaftsbury and Errington
Receive my last adieu.

And fare thee well my bonny grey steed
That carried me aye so free,
I wish I'd been asleep in my bed
Last time I mounted thee;
The warning bell now bids me cease,
My trouble's nearly oer,
Yon sun that rises from the sea
Shall rise on me no more.

And when the head that wears a crown
Shall be laid low like mine,
Some honest hearts may then lament
For Radcliffe's fallen line
Farewell to pleasant Dilston hall
My father's ancient seat
A stranger now must call thee his,
Which gars my heart to greet.
Related Links
From A Jacobite Legacy and
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.