Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton

 

Admiral Sir Andrew Barton was quite famous. Following his death, an English writer wrote the following
poem (which also became a folk ballad):

Sir Andrew Barton

As it befell in midsummer-time
When birds sing sweetly on every tree,
Our noble king, King Henry the Eighth,
Over the river of Thames past he.

He was no sooner over the river,
Down in the forest to take the air,
But eighty merchants of London city
Came kneeling before King Henry there.

“O ye are welcome, rich merchants,
Good sailors, welcome unto me!”
They swore by the rood they were sailors good
But rich merchants they could not be.

“To France nor Flanders dare we not pass,
Nor Bordeaux voyage we dare not fare,
And all for a false robber that lies on the seas,
And robs us of our merchantsware.”

King Henry was stout, and he turned him about,
And swore by the Lord that was mickle of might,
“I thought he had not been in the world throughout
That durst have wrought England such unright.”

But ever they sighed, and said, alas!
Unto King Harry this answer again:
“He is a proud Scot that will rob us all
If we were twenty ships and he but one.”

The king looked over his left shoulder,
Amongst his lords and barons so free:
“Have I never lord in all my realm
Will fetch yond traitor unto me?”

“Yes, that dare I!” says my lord Charles Howard,
Near to the king whereas he did stand;
“If that Your Grace will give me leave,
My self will be the only man.”

“Thou shalt have six hundred men,” saith our king,
“And choose them out of my realm so free;
Besides mariners and boys,
To guide the great ship on the sea.”

“I’ll go speak with Sir Andrew,” says Charles, my lord Howard;
“Upon the sea, if he be there;
I will bring him and his ship to shore,
Or before my prince I will never come near.”

The first of all my lord did call,
A noble gunner he was one;
This man was three score years and ten,
And Peter Simon was his name.

“Peter,” says he, “I must sail to the sea,
To seek out an enemy; God be my speed!
Before all others I have chosen thee;
Of a hundred gunners thou’st be my head.”

“My lord,” says he, “if you have chosen me
Of a hundred gunners to be the head,
Hang me at your main-mast tree
If I miss my mark past three pence bread.”

The next of all my lord he did call,
A noble bowman he was one;
In Yorkshire was this gentleman born,
And William Horsely was his name.

“Horsely,” says he, “I must sail to the sea,
To seek out an enemy; God be my speed!
Before all others I have chosen thee;
Of a hundred bowmen thou’st be my head.”

“My lord,” says he, “if you have chosen me
Of a hundred bowmen to be the head,
Hang me at your mainmast-tree
If I miss my mark past twelve pence bread,”

With pikes, and guns, and bowmen bold,
This noble Howard is gone to the sea
On the day before midsummer-even,
And out at Thames’ mouth sailed they.

They had not sailed days three
Upon their journey they took in hand,
But there they met with a noble ship,
And stoutly made it both stay and stand.

“Thou must tell me thy name,” said Charles, my lord Howard,
“Or who thou art, or from whence thou came,
Yea, and where thy dwelling is,
To whom and where thy ship does belong.

“My name,” says he, “is Henry Hunt,
With a pure heart and a penitent mind;
I and my ship they do belong
Unto the Newcastle that stands upon Tyne.”

“Now thou must tell me, Harry Hunt,
As thou hast sailed by day and by night,
Hast thou not heard of a stout robber?
Men calls him Sir Andrew Barton, knight.”

But ever he sighed, and said, Alas!
Full well, my lord, I know that wight;
He robbed me of my merchantsware,
And I was his prisoner but yesternight.

As I was sailing upon the sea,
And a Bordeaux voyage as I did fare,
He clasped me to his archboard,
And robbed me of all my merchantsware.

And I am a man both poor and bare
And every man will have his owner of me,
And I am bound towards London to fare,
To complain to my prince Henry.

“That shall not need,” says my Lord Howard;
“If thou canst let me this robber see,
For every penny he hath taken thee from,
Thou shalt be rewarded a shilling,” quoth he.

“Now God forefend,” says Henry Hunt,
“My lord, you should work so far amiss!
God keep you out of that traitor’s hands!
For you wott full little what a man he is.

“He is brass within, and steel without,
And beams he bears in his topcastle strong;
His ship hath ordinance clean round about;
Beside, my lord, he is very well manned.

“He hath a pinnace, is dearly dight,
Saint Andrew’s cross that is his guide;
His pinnace bears nine score men and more,
Besides fifteen cannons on every side.

“If you were twenty ships, and he but one,
Either in archboard or in hall,
He would overcome you every one,
And if his beams they do down fall.”

“This is cold comfort,” says my Lord Howard,
“To welcome a stranger thus to the sea;
I’ll bring him and his ship to shore,
Or else into Scotland he shall carry me.”

“Then you must get a noble gunner, my lord,
That can set well with his eye,
And sink his pinnace into the sea,
And soon then overcome he be.

“And when that you have done this,
If you chance Sir Andrew for to board,
Let no man to his topcastle go;
And I will give a glass, my lord,

“And then you need to fear no Scot,
Whether you sail by day or by night;
And tomorrowe’en, by seven of the clock,
You shall meet with Sir Andrew Barton, knight.

“I was his prisoner but yester night,
And he hath taken me sworn,” quoth he;
“I trust my Lord God will be forgive
And if that oath then broken be.”

“You must lend me six pieces, my lord,” quoth he,
“Into my ship, to sail the sea,
And tomorrow, by nine of the clock,
Your Honor again then will I see.”

* * * * *

And the hatch-board where Sir Andrew lay
Is hatched with gold dearly dight:
“Now by my faith,” say Charles, my lord Howard,
“Then yonder Scot is a worthy wight!

“Take in your ancients and your standards,
Yea that no man shall them see,
And put me forth a white willow wand,
As merchants use to sail the sea.”

“But they stirred neither top nor mast,
But Sir Andrew they passed by:
“What English are yonder,” said Sir Andrew,
“That can so little courtesy?”

I have been admiral over the sea
More than these years three;
There is never an English dog, nor Portingall,
Can pass this way without leave of me.

“But now yonder peddlers, they are past,
Which is no little grief to me:
Fetch them back,” says Sir Andrew Barton,
“They shall all hang at my main-mast tree.”

With that the pinnace it shot off,
That my Lord Howard might it well ken;
It stroke down my lord’s foremast,
And killed fourteen of my lord his men.

“Come hither, Simon!” says my Lord Howard,
“Look that thy words be true thou said;
I’ll hang thee at my main-mast tree
If thou miss thy mark past twelve pence bread.”

Simon was old, but his heart it was bold;
He took down a piece, and laid it full low;
He put in chain yards nine,
Beside other great shot less and more.

With that he let his gun-shot go;
So well he settled it with his eye,
The first sight that Sir Andrew saw,
He see his pinnace sunk in the sea.

When he saw his pinnace sunk,
Lord! in his heart he was not well:
“Cut my ropes, it is time to be gone!
I’ll go fetch yon peddlers back myself!”

When my lord Howard saw Sir Andrew loose,
Lord! in his heart that he was fain:
“Strike on your drums! spread out your ancients!
Sound out your trumpets! sound out amain!”

“Fight on, my men!” says Sir Andrew Barton;
“Weate, howsoever this gear will sway,
It is my Lord Admiral of England
Is come to seek me on the sea.”

Simon had a son; with shot of a gun–
Well Sir Andrew might it ken–
He shot it in at a privy pace,
And killed sixty more of Sir Andrew’s men.

Harry Hunt came in at the other side,
At at Sir Andrew he shot then;
He drove down his foremast-tree,
And killed eighty more of Sir Andrew’s men.

“I have done a good turn,” says Harry Hunt;
“Sir Andrew is not our king’s friend;
He hoped to have undone me yesternight,
But I hope I have quit him well in the end.”

“Ever alas!” said Sir Andrew Barton,
“What should a man either think or say?
Yonder false thief is my strongest enemy,
Who was my prisoner but yesterday.”

“Come hither to me, thou Gorden good,
And be thou ready at my call,
And I will give thee three hundred pound,
If thou wilt let my beams down fall.”

With that he swarmed the main-mast tree,
So did he it with might and main;
Horsely, with a bearing arrow,
Stroke the Gorden through the brain.

And he fell into the hatches again,
And sore of this wound that he did bleed;
Then word went through Sir Andrew’s men,
That the Gordan he was dead.

“Come hither to me, James Hambliton,
Thou art my sister’s son, I have no more;
I will give thee six hundred pound
If thou will let my beams down fall.

With that he swarmed the main-mast tree,
So did he it with might and main:
Horseley, with another broad arrow,
Strake the yeoman through the brain.

That he fell down to the hatches again;
Sore of his wound that he did bleed;
Covetousness gets no gain,
It is very true, as the Welshman said.

But when he saw his sister’s son slain,
Lord! in his heart he was not well;
“Go fetch me down my armor of proof,
For I will to the topcastle myself.

“Go fetch me down my armor of proof,
For it is guilded with gold so clear:
God be with my brother, John of Barton!
Amongst the Portingalls he did it wear.”

But when he had his armor of proof,
And on his body he had it on,
Every man that looked at him
Said, gun or arrow he needs fear none.

“Come hither, Horsely!” says my lord Howard,
“And look your shaft that it go right;
Shoot a good shoot in the time of need,
And for thy shooting thou’st be made a knight.”

“I’ll do my best,” says Horsely then,
“Your Honor shall see before I go;
If I should be hanged at your main-mast,
I have in my ship but arrows two.”

But at Sir Andrew he shot then;
He made sure to hit his mark;
Under the spole of his right arm
He smote Sir Andrew quite through the heart.

Yet from the tree he would not start,
But he clinged to it with might and main;
Under the collar then of his jack,
He stroke Sir Andrew through the brain.

“Fight on, my men,” says Sir Andrew Barton,
“I am hurt, but I am not slain;
I’ll lay me down and bleed a while,
And then I’ll rise and fight again.

Fight on my men,” says Sir Andrew Barton,
“These English dogs they bite so low;
Fight on for Scotland and Saint Andrew
Till you hear my whistle blow!”

But when they could not hear his whistle blow,
Says Harry Hunt, “I’ll lay my head
You my board yonder noble ship, my lord,
For I know Sir Andrew he is dead.”

With that they boarded this noble ship,
So did they it with might and main;
And found eighteen score Scots alive,
Beside the rest were maimed and slain.

My lord Howard took sword in his hand,
And smote off Sir Andrew’s head;
The Scots stood by and did weep and mourn,
But never a word durst speak or say.

He caused his body to be taken down,
And over the hatch board cast into the sea,
And about his middle three hundred crowns:
“Wheresoever thou lands, it will bury thee.”

With his head they sailed into England again,
With right good will, and force and main,
And the day before New Year’s even
Into Thames’ mouth they came again.

My lord Howard wrote to King Henry’s grace,
With all the news he could him bring:
“Such a New Year’s gift I have brought to your Grace
As never did subject to any king.”

“For merchandise and manhood,
The like is not to be found;
The sight of these would do you good,
For you have not the like in your English ground.”

But when he heard tell that they were come,
Full royally he welcomed them home;
Sir Andrew’s ship was the king’s New Year’s gift;
A braver ship you never saw none.

Now hath our king Sir Andrew’s ship,
Beset with pearls and precious stones;
Now hath England two ships of war,
Two ships of war, before but one.

“Who helped to this?” says King Henry,
“That I may reward him for his pain:”
“Harry Hunt, and Peter Simon,
William Horsely, and I the same.”

“Harry Hunt shall have his whistle and chain,
And all his jewels, whatsoever they be,
And other rich gifts that I will not name,
For his good service he hath done me.

“Horsely, right thou’st be a knight,
Lands and livings thou shalt have store;
Howard shall be Earl of Nottingham,
And so was never Howard before.

“Now, Peter Simon, thou art old;
I will maintain thee and thy son;
Thou shalt have five hundred pound all in gold
For the good service that thou hast done.”

Then King Henry shifted his room;
In came the Queen and ladies bright;
Other errands they had none
But to see Sir Andrew Barton, knight.

But when they see his deadly face,
His eyes were hollow in his head;
“I would give a hundred pound,” said King Henry,
“The man were alive as he is dead!

“Yet for the manful part that been played,
Both here and beyond the sea,
His men shall have half a crown a day
To bring them to my brother, King Jamie.”

© 2012 Stedman Family Organization Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha