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Title: The English and Scottish popular ballads, volume 3 (of 5)

Editor: Francis James Child

Release date: June 25, 2020 [eBook #62474]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing, Katherine Ward, Alicia
Williams, David T. Jones, and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at


Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.



This Dover edition, first published in 1965, is an unabridged and unaltered republication of the work originally published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, as follows:

Vol. I—Part I, 1882; Part II, 1884
Vol. II—Part III, 1885; Part IV, 1886
Vol. III—Part V, 1888; Part VI, 1889
Vol. IV—Part VII, 1890; Part VIII, 1892
Vol. V—Part IX, 1894; Part X, 1898.

This edition also contains as an appendix to Part X an essay by Walter Morris Hart entitled “Professor Child and the Ballad,” reprinted in toto from Vol. XXI, No. 4, 1906 [New Series Vol. XIV, No. 4] of the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 65–24347
Manufactured in the United States of America
Dover Publications, Inc.
180 Varick Street
New York, N.Y. 10014

NUMBERS 114–155

Rev. Professor Skeat has done me the great service of collating Wynken de Worde’s text of The Gest of Robin Hood, the manuscript of Robin Hood and the Monk and of Robin Hood and the Potter, and all the Robin Hood broadsides in the Pepys collection. Mr Macmath has collated the fragments of the earlier copy of The Gest which are preserved in the Advocates’ Library, and, as always, has been most ready to respond to every call for aid. I would also gratefully acknowledge assistance received from Mr W. Aldis Wright, of Trinity College, Cambridge; the Rev. Edmund Venables, Precentor of Lincoln; Dr Furnivall; and, in America, from Mr W. W. Newell, Miss Perine and Mrs Dulany.

F. J. C.
February, 1888.

NUMBERS 156–188

Mr Macmath has helped me in many ways in the preparation of this Sixth Part, and, as before, has been prodigal of time and pains. I am under particular obligations to Mr Robert Bruce Armstrong, of Edinburgh, for his communications concerning the ballad-folk of the Scottish border, and to Dr Wilhelm Wollner, of the University of Leipsic, and Mr George Lyman Kittredge, my colleague in Harvard College, for contributions (indicated by the initials of their names) which will be found in the Additions and Corrections. Dr Wollner will continue his services. Mr John Karłowicz, of Warsaw, purposes to review in ‘Wisła’ all the English ballads which have Polish affinities, and Professor Alexander Vesselofsky has allowed me to hope for his assistance; so that there is a gratifying prospect that the points of contact between the English and the Slavic popular ballads will in the end be amply brought out. Thanks are due and are proffered, for favors of various kinds, to Lieutenant-Colonel Lumsden, of London, Lieutenant-Colonel Prideaux, of Calcutta, Professor Skeat, Miss Isabel Florence Hapgood, Professor Vinogradof, of Moscow, Professor George Stephens, Mr Axel Olrik, of Copenhagen (to whom the completion of Svend Grundtvig’s great work has been entrusted), Mr James Barclay Murdoch, of Glasgow, Dr F. J. Furnivall, Professor C. R. Lanman, Mr P. Z. Round, and Mr W. W. Newell.

F. J. C.
July, 1889.


114. Johnie Cock 1
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 495.)  
115. Robyn and Gandeleyn 12
116. Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly 14
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 518; IV, 496; V, 297.)  
117. A Gest of Robyn Hode 39
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 519; IV, 496; V, 240, 297.)  
118. Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne 89
119. Robin Hood and the Monk 94
120. Robin Hood’s Death 102
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 240, 297.)  
121. Robin Hood and the Potter 108
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 497.)  
122. Robin Hood and the Butcher 115
123. Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar 120
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 297.)  
124. The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield 129
125. Robin Hood and Little John 133
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 297.)  
126. Robin Hood and the Tanner 137
127. Robin Hood and the Tinker 140
128. Robin Hood Newly Revived 144
129. Robin Hood and the Prince of Aragon 147
130. Robin Hood and the Scotchman 150
131. Robin Hood and the Ranger 152
132. The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood 154
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 240.)  
133. Robin Hood and the Beggar, I 155
134. Robin Hood and the Beggar, II 158
135. Robin Hood and the Shepherd 165
136. Robin Hood’s Delight 168
137. Robin Hood and the Pedlars 170
138. Robin Hood and Allen a Dale 172
139. Robin Hood’s Progress to Nottingham 175
140. Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires 177
141. Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly 185
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 497.)  
142. Little John a Begging 188
143. Robin Hood and the Bishop 191
144. Robin Hood and the Bishop of Hereford 193
145. Robin Hood and Queen Katherine 196
viii146. Robin Hood’s Chase 205
147. Robin Hood’s Golden Prize 208
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 519.)  
148. The Noble Fisherman, or, Robin Hood’s Preferment 211
149. Robin Hood’s Birth, Breeding, Valor and Marriage 214
150. Robin Hood and Maid Marian 218
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 519.)  
151. The King’s Disguise, and Friendship with Robin Hood 220
152. Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow 223
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 241.)  
153. Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight 225
154. A True Tale of Robin Hood 227
155. Sir Hugh, or, the Jew’s Daughter 233
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 519; IV, 497; V, 241, 297.)  
156. Queen Eleanor’s Confession 257
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 498; V, 241, 297.)  
157. Gude Wallace 265
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 242.)  
158. Hugh Spencer’s Feats in France 275
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 499; V, 243.)  
159. Durham Field 282
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 297.)  
160. The Knight of Liddesdale 288
161. The Battle of Otterburn 289
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 520; IV, 499; V, 243, 297.)  
162. The Hunting of the Cheviot 303
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 502; V, 244, 297.)  
163. The Battle of Harlaw 316
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 245.)  
164. King Henry Fifth’s Conquest of France 320
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 245.)  
165. Sir John Butler 327
166. The Rose of England 331
167. Sir Andrew Barton 334
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 502; V, 245.)  
168. Flodden Field 351
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 507; V, 298.)  
169. Johnie Armstrong 362
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 520; IV, 507; V, 298.)  
170. The Death of Queen Jane 372
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 245, 298.)  
171. Thomas Cromwell 377
172. Musselburgh Field 378
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 507.)  
173. Mary Hamilton 379
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 507; V, 246, 298.)  
174. Earl Bothwell 399
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 247.)  
175. The Rising in the North 401
176. Northumberland betrayed by Douglas 408
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 299.)  
ix177. The Earl of Westmoreland 416
  (Additions and Corrections: V, 299.)  
178. Captain Car, or, Edom o Gordon 423
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 520; IV, 513; V, 247, 299.)  
179. Rookhope Ryde 439
180. King James and Brown 442
181. The Bonny Earl of Murray 447
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 515.)  
182. The Laird o Logie 449
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 520; IV, 515; V, 299.)  
183. Willie Macintosh 456
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 516.)  
184. The Lads of Wamphray 458
  (Additions and Corrections: III, 520.)  
185. Dick o the Cow 461
186. Kinmont Willie 469
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 516.)  
187. Jock o the Side 475
188. Archie o Cawfield 484
  (Additions and Corrections: IV, 516.)  
Additions and Corrections 496


A. Percy Papers, Miss Fisher’s MS., No 5, 1780.

B. ‘Johnny Cock,’ Pieces of Ancient Poetry from Unpublished Manuscripts and Scarce Books, Bristol, 1814, [John Fry], p. 53.

C. ‘Johnny Cock,’ Pieces of Ancient Poetry, etc., p. 51.

D. ‘Johnie of Cockerslee,’ Kinloch’s annotated copy of his Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 38 bis.

E. ‘Johnie o Cocklesmuir,’ Kinloch MSS, VII, 29; Kinloch’s Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 36.

F. ‘Johnie of Breadislee,’ Scott’s Minstrelsy, I, 59, 1802.

G. ‘Johnnie Brad,’ Harris MS., fol. 25.

H. ‘Johnnie o Cocklesmuir,’ Buchan’s MSS, I, 82; Dixon, Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads, p. 77, Percy Society, vol. xvii.

I. ‘Johnie of Braidisbank,’ Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, p. 23.

J. Chambers, Scottish Ballads, p. 181.

K. Finlay’s Scottish Ballads, I, xxxi: one stanza.

L. Harris MS., fol. 25 b: one stanza.

M. Froude, Thomas Carlyle, II, 335, New York, 1882, supplemented by Mrs Aitken: one stanza.

The first notice in print of this precious specimen of the unspoiled traditional ballad is in Ritson’s Scotish Song, 1794, I, xxxvi, note 25: the Rev. Mr Boyd, the translator of Dante, had a faint recollection of three ballads, one of which was called ‘Johny Cox.’ Before this, 1780, a lady of Carlisle had sent a copy to Doctor Percy, A. Scott, 1802, was the first to publish the ballad, selecting “the stanzas of greatest merit” from several copies which were in his hands. John Fry gave two valuable fragments, C, B (which he did not separate), in his Pieces of Ancient Poetry, 1814, from a manuscript “appearing to be the text-book of some illiterate drummer.”[1] I have been able to add only three versions to those which were already before the world, A, D, G; and of these D is in part the same as E, previously printed by Kinloch.

Pinkerton, Select Scotish Ballads, II, xxxix, 1783, has preserved a stanza, which he assigns to a supposititious ballad of ‘Bertram the Archer:’[2]

‘My trusty bow of the tough yew,
That I in London bought,
And silken strings, if ye prove true,
That my true-love has wrought.’

This stanza agrees with J 6, and with A 18, H 19 in part, and is very likely to belong here; but it might be a movable passage, or commonplace.

All the versions are in accord as to the primary points of the story. A gallant young fellow, who pays no regard to the game-laws, goes out, despite his mother’s entreaties, to ding the dun deer down. He kills a deer, and feasts himself and his dogs so freely on it that 2they all fall asleep. An old palmer, a silly auld, stane-auld carl, observes him, and carries word to seven foresters [fifteen B, three (?) C]. They beset Johnie and wound him; he kills all but one, and leaves that one, badly hurt, to carry tidings of the rest. Johnie sends a bird to his mother to bid her fetch him away, F 19, 20, cf. B 13; a bird warns his mother that Johnie tarries long, H 21 (one of Buchan’s parrots). The boy in A 20, 21 is evidently a corruption of bird. Information is given the mother in a different way in L. B-G must be adjudged to be incomplete; I-M are mere fragments. H has a false and silly conclusion, 22–24, in imitation of Robin Hood and of Adam Bell. Mrs Harris had heard another version besides G (of which she gives only one stanza, L), in which “Johnie is slain and thrown owre a milk-white steed; news is sent to Johnie’s mother, who flies to her son.” It is the one forester who is not quite killed that is thrown over his steed to carry tidings home, F 18, G 11. D 19, E 17, and Mrs Harris’s second version are, as to this point, evidently corrupted.

The hero’s name is Johnny Cock, B 2, C 1; Johny Cox, Rev. Mr Boyd; John o Cockis (Johny Cockis?), H 17; Johny o Cockley’s Well, A 14; o Cockerslee, D 14; of Cockielaw, in one of the versions used by Scott for F; o Cocklesmuir, E 13, H 15. Again, Johnie Brad, G 1, L; Johnie o Breadislee, F 14; Braidislee, J 2.

The hunting-ground, or the place where Johnie is discovered, is up in Braidhouplee, down in Bradyslee, A 6, high up in Bradyslee, low down in Bradyslee, A 12; Braidscaur Hill, D 6, Braidisbanks, D 12, I 1; Bride’s Braidmuir, H 2, 5; Broadspear Hill, E 2, 5; Durrisdeer only in F 4. The seven foresters are of Pickeram Side, A 3, 19; of Hislinton, F 9. B 11 reads, Fifteen foresters in the braid alow; which seems to require emendation, perhaps simply to Braid alow, perhaps to Braidislee.

With regard to the localities in A, Percy notes that Pickeram Side is in Northumbria, and that there is a Cockley Tower in Erringside, near Brady’s Cragg, and a Brady’s Cragg near Chollerford Bridge. There is a Cockley, alias Cocklaw, in Erringside, near Chollerton, in the south division of Tynedale Ward, parish of St John Lee. The Erring is a small stream which enters the Tyne between Chollerton and Chollerford. Again, Cocklaw Walls appears in the map of the Ordnance Survey, a little to the north and east of Cockley in Erringside, and Cocklaw Walls may represent the Cockley’s Well of the ballad. (Percy notes that Cockley’s Well is said to be near Bewcastle, Cumberland.) I have not found Brady’s Cragg or Pickeram Side in the Ordnance Survey maps, nor indeed any of the compounds of Braidy or Braid anywhere.

There is a Braid a little to the south of Edinburgh, Braid Hills and Braid Burn; and Motherwell, Minstrelsy, p. 17, says that there is tradition for this region having been the hunting-ground.

Scott’s copy, F, lays the scene in Dumfriesshire, and there is other tradition to the same effect.[3]

Percy was struck with the occurrence of the wolf in A 17, found also in B 10, C 5. He considered, no doubt, that the mention of the wolf was a token of the high antiquity of the ballad. “Wolues that wyryeth men, wommen and children” are spoken of in Piers Plowman, C, Passus, X, v. 226, Skeat, 1886, I, 240, and the C text is assigned to about 1393. Holinshed (1577), I, 378, says that though the island is void of wolves south of the Tweed, yet the Scots cannot boast the like, since they have grievous wolves.

F is translated by Schubart, p. 187; Wolff, 3Halle der Völker, I, 41, Hausschatz, p. 224; Doenniges, p. 10; Gerhard, p. 51; R. von Bismarck, Deutsches Museum, 1858, I, 897; Cesare Cantù, Documenti alla Storia Universale, V, 806; in Le Magasin Pittoresque, 1838, p. 127 b; by Loève-Veimars, p. 296. Grundtvig, p. 269, No 41, translates a compound of F, I, E (Kinloch’s Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 36), and B; Knortz, Schottische Balladen, No 18, a mixture of F and others.


Communicated to Percy by Miss Fisher, of Carlisle, 1780, No 5 of MS.

Johny he has risen up i the morn,
Calls for water to wash his hands;
But little knew he that his bloody hounds
Were bound in iron bands. bands
Were bound in iron bands
Johny’s mother has gotten word o that,
And care-bed she has taen:
‘O Johny, for my benison,
I beg you’l stay at hame;
For the wine so red, and the well baken bread,
My Johny shall want nane.
‘There are seven forsters at Pickeram Side,
At Pickeram where they dwell,
And for a drop of thy heart’s bluid
They wad ride the fords of hell.’
Johny he’s gotten word of that,
And he’s turnd wondrous keen;
He’s put off the red scarlett,
And he’s put on the Lincolm green.
With a sheaf of arrows by his side,
And a bent bow in his hand,
He’s mounted on a prancing steed,
And he has ridden fast oer the strand.
He’s up i Braidhouplee, and down i Bradyslee,
And under a buss o broom,
And there he found a good dun deer,
Feeding in a buss of ling.
Johny shot, and the dun deer lap,
And she lap wondrous wide,
Until they came to the wan water,
And he stemd her of her pride.
He ’as taen out the little pen-knife,
’Twas full three quarters long,
And he has taen out of that dun deer
The liver bot and the tongue.
They eat of the flesh, and they drank of the blood,
And the blood it was so sweet,
Which caused Johny and his bloody hounds
To fall in a deep sleep.
By then came an old palmer,
And an ill death may he die!
For he’s away to Pickram Side,
As fast as he can drie.
‘What news, what news?’ says the Seven Forsters,
‘What news have ye brought to me?’
‘I have noe news,’ the palmer said,
‘But what I saw with my eye.
‘High up i Bradyslee, low down i Bradisslee,
And under a buss of scroggs,
O there I spied a well-wight man,
Sleeping among his dogs.
‘His coat it was of light Lincolm,
And his breeches of the same,
His shoes of the American leather,
And gold buckles tying them.’
Up bespake the Seven Forsters,
Up bespake they ane and a’:
O that is Johny o Cockleys Well,
And near him we will draw.
O the first y stroke that they gae him,
They struck him off by the knee;
Then up bespake his sister’s son:
‘O the next’ll gar him die!’
‘O some they count ye well-wight men,
But I do count ye nane;
For you might well ha wakend me,
And askd gin I wad be taen.
‘The wildest wolf in aw this wood
Wad not ha done so by me;
She’d ha wet her foot ith wan water,
And sprinkled it oer my brae,
And if that wad not ha wakend me,
She wad ha gone and let me be.
‘O bows of yew, if ye be true,
In London, where ye were bought,
Fingers five, get up belive,
Manhuid shall fail me nought.’
He has killd the Seven Forsters,
He has killd them all but ane,
And that wan scarce to Pickeram Side,
To carry the bode-words hame.
‘Is there never a boy in a’ this wood
That will tell what I can say;
That will go to Cockleys Well,
Tell my mither to fetch me away?’
There was a boy into that wood,
That carried the tidings away,
And many ae was the well-wight man
At the fetching o Johny away.


Pieces of Ancient Poetry from Unpublished Manuscripts and Scarce Books, Bristol, 1814, p. 53.

Fifteen foresters in the Braid alow,
And they are wondrous fell;
To get a drop of Johnny’s heart-bluid,
They would sink a’ their souls to hell.
Johnny Cock has gotten word of this,
And he is wondrous keen;
Heś custan off the red scarlet,
And on the Linkum green.
And he is ridden oer muir and muss,
And over mountains high,
Till he came to yon wan water,
And there Johnny Cock did lie.
They have ridden oer muir and muss,
And over mountains high,
Till they met wi’ an old palmer,
Was walking along the way.
‘What news, what news, old palmer?
What news have you to me?’
‘Yonder is one of the proudest wed sons
That ever my eyes did see.’
  *       *       *       *       *
He’s taen out a horn from his side,
And he blew both loud and shrill,
Till a’ the fifteen foresters
Heard Johnny Cock blaw his horn.
They have sworn a bluidy oath,
And they swore all in one,
That there was not a man among them a’
Would blaw such a blast as yon.
And they have ridden oer muir and muss,
And over mountains high,
Till they came to yon wan water,
Where Johnny Cock did lie.
They have shotten little Johnny Cock,
A little above the ee:
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
‘For doing the like to me.
‘There’s not a wolf in a’ the wood
Woud ’ ha’ done the like to me;
‘She’d ha’ dipped her foot in coll water,
And strinkled above my ee,
And if I would not have waked for that,
‘She’d ha’ gane and let me be.
‘But fingers five, come here, [come here,]
And faint heart fail me nought,
And silver strings, value me sma things,
Till I get all this vengeance rowght!’
He ha[s] shot a’ the fifteen foresters,
Left never a one but one,
And he broke the ribs a that ane’s side,
And let him take tiding home.
‘... a bird in a’ the wood
Could sing as I could say,
It would go in to my mother’s bower,
And bid her kiss me, and take me away.’


Pieces of Ancient Poetry from Unpublished Manuscripts and Scarce Books, Bristol, 1814, p. 51.

Johnny Cock, in a May morning,
Sought water to wash his hands,
And he is awa to louse his dogs,
That’s tied wi iron bans.
That’s tied wi iron bans
His coat it is of the light Lincum green,
And his breiks are of the same;
His shoes are of the American leather,
Silver buckles tying them.
‘He’ hunted up, and so did ‘he’ down,
Till ‘he’ came to yon bush of scrogs,
And then to yon wan water,
Where he slept among his dogs.
  *       *       *       *       *
Johnny Cock out-shot a’ the foresters,
And out-shot a the three;
Out shot a’ the foresters,
Wounded Johnny aboun the bree.
‘Woe be to you, foresters,
And an ill death may you die!
For there would not a wolf in a’ the wood
Have done the like to me.
‘For’ ’twould ha’ put its foot in the coll water
And ha strinkled it on my bree,
And gin that would not have done,
Would have gane and lett me be.
‘I often took to my mother
The dandoo and the roe,
But now I’l take to my mother
Much sorrow and much woe.
‘I often took to my mother
The dandoo and the hare,
But now I’l take to my mother
Much sorrow and much care.’


Kinloch’s annotated copy of his Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 38 bis: a West-Country version.

Up Johnie raise in a May morning,
Calld for water to wash his hands,
And he has calld for his gude gray hunds,
That lay bund in iron bands. bands
That lay bund in iron bands
‘Ye’ll busk, ye’ll busk my noble dogs,
Ye’ll busk and mak them boun,
For I’m going to the Braidscaur hill,
To ding the dun deer doun.’
Whan Johnie’s mither gat word o that,
On the very bed she lay,
Says, Johnie, for my malison,
I pray ye at hame to stay.
Your meat sall be of the very, very best,
Your drink sall be the same,
And ye will win your mither’s benison,
Gin ye wad stay at hame.
But Johnie has cast aff the black velvet,
And put on the Lincoln twine,
And he is on to gude greenwud,
As fast as he could gang.
His mither’s counsel he wad na tak,
He’s aff, and left the toun,
He’s aff unto the Braidscaur hill,
To ding the dun deer doun.
Johnie lookit east, and Johnie lookit west,
And he lookit aneath the sun,
And there he spied the dun deer sleeping,
Aneath a buss o whun.
Johnie shot, and the dun deer lap,
And he’s scaithed him in the side,
And atween the water and the wud
He laid the dun deer’s pride.
They ate sae meikle o the venison,
And drank sae meikle o the blude,
That Johnie and his twa gray hunds
Fell asleep in yonder wud.
By ther cam a silly auld man,
And a silly auld man was he,
And he’s aff to the proud foresters,
As fast as he could dree.
‘What news, what news, my silly auld man?
What news? come tell to me:’
‘I heard na news, I speird na news
But what my een did see.
‘As I cam in by Braidisbanks,
And doun amang the whuns,
The bonniest youngster eer I saw
Lay sleepin amang his hunds.
‘His cheeks war like the roses red,
His neck was like the snaw;
His sark was o the holland fine,
And his jerkin lac’d fu braw.’
Up bespak the first forester,
The first forester of a’:
O this is Johnie o Cockerslee;
Come draw, lads, we maun draw.
Up bespak the niest forester,
The niest forester of a’:
An this be Johnie o Cockerslee,
To him we winna draw.
The first shot that they did shoot,
They woundit him on the bree;
Up bespak the uncle’s son,
‘The niest will gar him die.’
The second shot that eer they shot,
It scaithd him near the heart;
‘I only wauken,’ Johnie cried,
‘Whan first I find the smart.
‘Stand stout, stand stout, my noble dogs,
Stand stout, and dinna flee;
Stand fast, stand fast, my gude gray hunds,
And we will gar them die.’
He has killed six o the proud foresters,
And wounded the seventh sair:
He laid his leg out owre his steed,
Says, I will kill na mair.
‘Oh wae befa thee, silly auld man,
An ill death may thee dee!
Upon thy head be a’ this blude,
For mine, I ween, is free.’


Kinloch’s MSS, VII, 29: from recitation in the North Country.

Johnie rose up in a May morning,
Calld for water to wash his hands,
And he has calld for his gud gray hunds,
That lay bund in iron bands. bands
That lay bund in iron bands
‘Ye’ll busk, ye’ll busk my noble dogs,
Ye’ll busk and mak them boun,
For I’m gaing to the Broadspear hill,
To ding the dun deer doun.’
Whan Johnie’s mither heard o this,
She til her son has gane:
‘Ye’ll win your mither’s benison,
Gin ye wad stay at hame.
‘Your meat sall be o the very, very best,
And your drink o the finest wine;
And ye will win your mither’s benison,
Gin ye wad stay at hame.’
His mither’s counsel he wad na tak,
Nor wad he stay at hame;
But he’s on to the Broadspear hill,
To ding the dun deer doun.
Johnie lookit east, and Johnie lookit west,
And a little below the sun,
And there he spied the dun deer lying sleeping,
Aneath a buss o brume.
Johnie shot, and the dun deer lap,
And he has woundit him in the side,
And atween the water and the wud
He laid the dun deer’s pride.
They ate sae meikle o the venison,
And drank sae meikle o the blude,
That Johnie and his twa gray hunds
Fell asleep in yonder wud.
By there cam a silly auld man,
A silly auld man was he,
And he’s aff to the proud foresters,
To tell what he did see.
‘What news, what news, my silly auld man,
What news? come tell to me:’
‘Na news, na news,’ said the silly auld man,
‘But what mine een did see.
‘As I cam in by yon greenwud,
And doun amang the scrogs,
The bonniest youth that ere I saw
Lay sleeping atween twa dogs.
‘The sark that he had on his back
Was o the holland sma,
And the coat that he had on his back
Was laced wi gowd fu braw.’
Up bespak the first forester,
The first forester ava:
‘An this be Johnie o Cocklesmuir,
It’s time we war awa.’
Up bespak the niest forester,
The niest forester ava:
‘An this be Johnie o Cocklesmuir,
To him we winna draw.’
The first shot that they did shoot,
They woundit him on the thie;
Up bespak the uncle’s son,
The niest will gar him die.
‘Stand stout, stand stout, my noble dogs,
Stand stout, and dinna flee;
Stand fast, stand fast, my gude gray hunds,
And we will mak them dee.’
He has killed six o the proud foresters,
And he has woundit the seventh sair;
He laid his leg out oure his steed,
Says, I will kill na mair.


Scott’s Minstrelsy, I, 59, 1802; made up from several different copies. Nithsdale.

Johnie rose up in a May morning,
Called for water to wash his hands:
‘Gar loose to me the gude graie dogs,
That are bound wi iron bands.’
When Johnie’s mother gat word o that,
Her hands for dule she wrang:
‘O Johnie, for my bennison,
To the grenewood dinna gang!
‘Eneugh ye hae o the gude wheat-bread,
And eneugh o the blude-red wine,
And therefore for nae vennison, Johnie,
I pray ye, stir frae hame.’
But Johnie’s buskt up his gude bend bow,
His arrows, ane by ane,
And he has gane to Durrisdeer,
To hunt the dun deer down.
As he came down by Merriemass,
And in by the benty line,
There has he espied a deer lying,
Aneath a bush of ling.
Johnie he shot, and the dun deer lap,
And he wounded her on the side,
But atween the water and the brae,
His hounds they laid her pride.
And Johnie has bryttled the deer sae weel
That he’s had out her liver and lungs,
And wi these he has feasted his bludey hounds
As if they had been erl’s sons.
They eat sae much o the vennison,
And drank sae much o the blude,
That Johnie and a’ his bludey hounds
Fell asleep as they had been dead.
And by there came a silly auld carle,
An ill death mote he die!
For he’s awa to Hislinton,
Where the Seven Foresters did lie.
‘What news, what news, ye gray-headed carle?
What news bring ye to me?’
‘I bring nae news,’ said the gray-headed carle,
‘Save what these eyes did see.
‘As I came down by Merriemass,
And down amang the scroggs,
The bonniest childe that ever I saw
Lay sleeping amang his dogs.
‘The shirt that was upon his back
Was o the holland fine;
8The doublet which was over that
Was o the Lincome twine.
‘The buttons that were on his sleeve
Were o the gowd sae gude;
The gude graie hounds he lay amang,
Their mouths were dyed wi blude.’
Then out and spak the first forester,
The heid man ower them a’:
If this be Johnie o Breadislee,
Nae nearer will we draw.
But up and spak the sixth forester,
His sister’s son was he:
If this be Johnie o Breadislee,
We soon shall gar him die.
The first flight of arrows the foresters shot,
They wounded him on the knee;
And out and spak the seventh forester,
The next will gar him die.
Johnie’s set his back against an aik,
His fute against a stane,
And he has slain the Seven Foresters,
He has slain them a’ but ane.
He has broke three ribs in that ane’s side,
But and his collar bane;
He’s laid him twa-fald ower his steed,
Bade him carry the tidings hame.
‘O is there na a bonnie bird
Can sing as I can say,
Could flee away to my mother’s bower,
And tell to fetch Johnie away?’
The starling flew to his mother’s window-stane,
It whistled and it sang,
And aye the ower-word o the tune
Was, Johnie tarries lang!
They made a rod o the hazel-bush,
Another o the slae-thorn tree,
And mony, mony were the men
At fetching our Johnie.
Then out and spake his auld mother,
And fast her teirs did fa;
Ye wad nae be warnd, my son Johnie,
Frae the hunting to bide awa.
‘Aft hae I brought to Breadislee
The less gear and the mair,
But I neer brought to Breadislee
What grieved my heart sae sair.
‘But wae betyde that silly auld carle,
An ill death shall he die;
For the highest tree on Merriemass
Shall be his morning’s fee.’
Now Johnie’s gude bend bow is broke,
And his gude graie dogs are slain,
And his bodie lies dead in Durrisdeer,
And his hunting it is done.


Harris MS., fol. 25: from Mrs Harris’s recitation.

Johnnie Brad, on a May mornin,
Called for water to wash his hands,
An there he spied his twa blude-hounds,
Waur bound in iron bands. bands
Waur bound in iron bands
Johnnie’s taen his gude bent bow,
Bot an his arrows kene,
An strippit himsel o the scarlet red,
An put on the licht Lincoln green.
Up it spak Johnnie’s mither,
An’ a wae, wae woman was she:
I beg you bide at hame, Johnnie,
I pray be ruled by me.
Baken bread ye sall nae lack,
An wine you sall lack nane;
Oh Johnnie, for my benison,
I beg you bide at hame!
He has made a solemn aith,
Atween the sun an the mune,
That he wald gae to the gude green wood,
The dun deer to ding doon.
He luiket east, he luiket wast,
An in below the sun,
An there he spied the dun deer,
Aneath a bush o brume.
The firsten shot that Johnnie shot,
He wounded her in the side;
The nexten shot that Johnnie shot,
I wat he laid her pride.
He’s eaten o the venison,
An drunken o the blude,
Until he fell as sound asleep
As though he had been dead.
Bye there cam a silly auld man,
And a silly auld man was he,
An he’s on to the Seven Foresters,
As fast as he can flee.
‘As I cam in by yonder haugh,
An in among the scroggs,
The bonniest boy that ere I saw
Lay sleepin atween his dogs.’
  *       *       *       *       *
The firsten shot that Johnnie shot,
He shot them a’ but ane,
An he flang him owre a milk-white steed,
Bade him bear tidings hame.


Buchan’s MSS, I, 82; Dixon, Scottish Traditional Versions of Ancient Ballads, p. 77, Percy Society, vol. xvii.

Johnnie raise up in a May morning,
Calld for water to wash his hands,
And he’s commant his bluidy dogs
To be loosd frae their iron bands. bands
To be loosd frae their iron bands
‘Win up, win up, my bluidy dogs,
Win up, and be unbound,
And we will on to Bride’s Braidmuir,
And ding the dun deer down.’
When his mother got word o that,
Then she took bed and lay;
Says, Johnnie, my son, for my blessing,
Ye’ll stay at hame this day.
There’s baken bread and brown ale
Shall be at your command;
Ye’ll win your mither’s blythe blessing,
To the Bride’s Braidmuir nae gang.
Mony are my friends, mither,
Though thousands were my foe;
Betide me life, betide me death,
To the Bride’s Braidmuir I’ll go.
The sark that was on Johnnie’s back
Was o the cambric fine;
The belt that was around his middle
Wi pearlins it did shine.
The coat that was upon his back
Was o the linsey brown;
And he’s awa to the Bride’s Braidmuir,
To ding the dun deer down.
Johnnie lookd east, Johnnie lookd west,
And turnd him round and round,
And there he saw the king’s dun deer,
Was cowing the bush o brune.
Johnnie shot, and the dun deer lap,
He wounded her in the side;
Between him and yon burnie-bank,
Johnnie he laid her pride.
He ate sae muckle o the venison,
He drank sae muckle bleed,
Till he lay down between his hounds,
And slept as he’d been dead.
But by there came a stane-auld man,
An ill death mat he dee!
For he is on to the Seven Foresters,
As fast as gang could he.
‘What news, what news, ye stane-auld man?
What news hae ye brought you wi?’
‘Nae news, nae news, ye seven foresters,
But what your eyes will see.
‘As I gaed i yon rough thick hedge,
Amang yon bramly scroggs,
The fairest youth that eer I saw
Lay sleeping between his dogs.
‘The sark that was upon his back
Was o the cambric fine;
The belt that was around his middle
Wi pearlins it did shine.’
Then out it speaks the first forester:
Whether this be true or no,
O if it’s Johnnie o Cocklesmuir,
Nae forder need we go.
Out it spake the second forester,
A fierce fellow was he:
Betide me life, betide me death,
This youth we’ll go and see.
As they gaed in yon rough thick hedge,
And down yon forest gay,
They came to that very same place
Where John o Cockis he lay.
The first an shot they shot at him,
They wounded him in the thigh;
Out spake the first forester’s son:
By the next shot he maun die.
‘O stand ye true, my trusty bow,
And stout steel never fail!
Avenge me now on all my foes,
Who have my life i bail.’
Then Johnnie killd six foresters,
And wounded the seventh sair;
Then drew a stroke at the stane-auld man,
That words he neer spake mair.
His mother’s parrot in window sat,
She whistled and she sang,
And aye the owerturn o the note,
‘Young Johnnie’s biding lang.’
When this reached the king’s own ears,
It grievd him wondrous sair;
Says, I’d rather they’d hurt my subjects all
Than Johnnie o Cocklesmuir.
‘But where are all my wall-wight men,
That I pay meat and fee,
Will gang the morn to Johnnie’s castle,
See how the cause may be.’
Then he’s calld Johnnie up to court,
Treated him handsomelie,
And now to hunt in the Bride’s Braidmuir,
For life has license free.


Motherwell’s Minstrelsy, p. 23.

Johnie rose up in a May morning,
Called for water to wash his hands, hands
And he is awa to Braidisbanks,
To ding the dun deer down. down
To ding the dun deer down
Johnie lookit east, and Johnie lookit west,
And it’s lang before the sun,
And there he did spy the dun deer lie,
Beneath a bush of brume.
Johnie shot, and the dun deer lap,
And he’s woundit her in the side;
Out then spake his sister’s son,
‘And the neist will lay her pride.’
  *       *       *       *       *
They’ve eaten sae meikle o the gude venison,
And they’ve drunken sae muckle o the blude,
That they’ve fallen into as sound a sleep
As gif that they were dead.
  *       *       *       *       *
‘It’s doun, and it’s doun, and it’s doun, doun,
And it’s doun amang the scrogs,
And there ye’ll espy twa bonnie boys lie,
Asleep amang their dogs.’
  *       *       *       *       *
They waukened Johnie out o his sleep,
And he’s drawn to him his coat:
‘My fingers five, save me alive,
And a stout heart fail me not!’
  *       *       *       *       *


Chambers’s Scottish Ballads, p. 181, stanzas 13, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 26: from the recitation of a lady resident at Peebles.

His coat was o the scarlet red,
His vest was o the same;
His stockings were o the worset lace,
And buckles tied to the same.
Out then spoke one, out then spoke two,
Out then spoke two or three;
Out spoke the master forester,
‘It’s Johnie o Braidislee.
‘If this be true, thou silly auld man,
Which you tell unto me,
Five hundred pounds of yearly rent
It shall not pay your fee.’
  *       *       *       *       *
‘O wae be to you seven foresters!
I wonder ye dinna think shame,
You being seven sturdy men,
And I but a man my lane.
‘Now fail me not, my ten fingers,
That are both long and small!
Now fail me not, my noble heart!
For in thee I trust for all.
‘Now fail me not, my good bend bow,
That was in London coft!
Now fail me not, my golden string,
Which my true lover wrocht!’
  *       *       *       *       *
He has tossed him up, he has tossed him doun,
He has broken his collar-bone;
He has tied him to his bridle reins,
Bade him carry the tidings home.


Finlay’s Scottish Ballads, I, xxxi.

‘There’s no a bird in a’ this foreste
Will do as meikle for me
As dip its wing in the wan water
An straik it on my ee-bree.’


Harris MS., fol. 25 b.

But aye at ilka ae mile’s end
She fand a cat o clay,
An written upon the back o it
‘Tak your son Johnnie Brod away.’


Froude’s Life of Carlyle, 1795–1875, II, 335, New York, 1882, completed by a communication of Mr Macmath: as sung by Carlyle’s mother.

‘O Busk ye, O busk ye, my three bluidy hounds,
O busk ye, and go with me,
For there’s seven foresters in yon forest,
And them I want to see.’ see
And them I want to see


‘The Seven Forsters at Pickeram Side’ is a title supplied by Percy.

62. I wun is added by Percy, at the end.

73, 173. one water.

151. Oh.

194. bord words, or bood words.

B follows C in Fry without a break. Words distinguished by ’ ’ in B, C are emendations or additions of Fry. 4, 5 come between 12 and 13.

11. braid alow.

101. the word.

105. would have.

112. hearted.

133. bows.

43. Out-shot.


“There is a West-Country version of this ballad, under the title of Johnie of Cockerslee, 12differing very little from the present. The variations in the reading I have marked at their respective places.” Kinloch. Assuming that Kinloch has given all the variations (which include six entire stanzas), the West-Country version is reproduced by combining these readings with so much of the other copy, Kinloch’s Ancient Scottish Ballads, p. 38, as did not vary.

153. Kinloch neglected to alter Cocklesmuir here.


63. lying is struck through, probably to improve the metre. Kinloch made two slight changes in printing.


51. Mony ane. (?)

91. Johnnie lap: probably an error of the copyist.

92, 182. wound: cf. 202.

214. bidding.

Dixon has changed stane-auld to silly-auld in 111, 121, 203; Cockis to Cockl’s in 174; and has Scotticised the spelling.


Motherwell notes a stanza as wanting after 3, some stanzas as wanting after 4, 5.


“The version of the ballad here given is partly copied from those printed in the Border Minstrelsy and in the publications of Messrs Kinloch and Motherwell, and is partly taken from the recitation of a lady resident at Peebles and from a manuscript copy submitted to me by Mr Kinloch. The twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, twenty-first, twenty-second, twenty-third, twenty-sixth, and twenty-seventh stanzas are here printed for the first time.” Chambers. The 14th stanza had been printed by Scott, F 12; the 23d, repeated here (6), by Pinkerton; the 27th is D 20. The first half of the 12th is D 131,2, and the remainder Chambers’s own: compare his 11 and F 11, from which it seems to have been made.


“I have heard another version, where Johnnie is slain and thrown ‘owre a milk-white steed.’ News is sent to Johnnie’s mother, who flies to her son; But aye at ilka ae mile’s end, etc.”


“While she [Carlyle’s mother] was at Craigenputtock, I made her train me to two song-tunes; and we often sang them together, and tried them often again in coming down into Annandale.” The last half of the stanza is cited. Letter of T. Carlyle, May 18, 1834, in Froude’s Life, 1795–1835, II, 335.

“Mrs Aitken, sister of T. Carlyle, sent me [January 15, 1884] the first two lines to complete the stanza of this Johny Cock, but can call up no more of the ballad.” Letter of Mr Macmath.


Sloane MS., 2593, fol. 14 b, British Museum.

Printed by Ritson, Ancient Songs, 1790, p. 48, and by Thomas Wright, Songs and Carols (selected from the Sloane MS.), No X, London, 1836, and again in his edition of the whole MS. for the Warton Club, 1856, p. 42. The manuscript is put at about 1450.

Wright remarks on the similarity of the name Gandelyn to Gamelyn in the tale assigned to the Cook in some manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales, and on the resemblance of the tale of Gamelyn to Robin Hood story. But he could hardly have wished to give the impression that Robin in this ballad is Robin Hood. This he no more is than John in the ballad which precedes is Little John; though Gandelyn is as true to his master as Little 13John is, and is pronounced to be by the king, in ‘Robin Hood and the Monk.’ Ritson gave the ballad the title of ‘Robin Lyth,’ looking on the ‘lyth’ of the burden as the hero’s surname; derived perhaps from the village of Lythe, two or three miles to the north of Whitby. A cave on the north side of the promontory of Flamborough, called Robin Lyth’s Hole (popularly regarded as the stronghold of a pirate), may have been, Ritson thinks, one of the skulking-places of the Robin who fell by the shaft of Wrennok. “Robin Hood,” he adds, “had several such in those and other parts; and, indeed, it is not very improbable that our hero had been formerly in the suite of that gallant robber, and, on his master’s death, had set up for himself.” Thought is free.

Translated by Grundtvig, Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, page 44, No. 6.

I herde a carpyng of a clerk,
Al at ȝone wodes ende,
Of gode Robyn and Gandeleyn;
Was þer noner þynge.
Robynn lyth in grene wode bowndyn
Stronge theuys wern þo chylderin non,
But bowmen gode and hende;
He wentyn to wode to getyn hem fleych,
If God wold it hem sende.
Al day wentyn þo chylderin too,
And fleych fowndyn he non,
Til it were a-geyn euyn;
Þe chylderin wold gon hom.
Half an honderid of fat falyf der
He comyn a-ȝon,
And alle he wern fayr and fat i-now,
But markyd was þer non:
‘Be dere God,’ seyde gode Robyn,
‘Here of we xul haue on.’
Robyn bent his joly bowe,
Þer in he set a flo;
Þe fattest der of alle
Þe herte he clef a to.
He hadde not þe der i-flawe,
Ne half out of þe hyde,
There cam a schrewde arwe out of þe west,
Þat felde Robertes pryde.
Gandeleyn lokyd hym est and west,
Be euery syde:
‘Hoo hat myn mayster slayin?
Ho hat don þis dede?
Xal I neuer out of grene wode go
Til I se [his] sydis blede.’
Gandeleyn lokyd hym est and lokyd west,
And sowt vnder þe sunne;
He saw a lytil boy
He clepyn Wrennok of Donne.
A good bowe in his hond,
A brod arwe þer ine,
And fowre and twenti goode arwys,
Trusyd in a þrumme:
‘Be war þe, war þe, Gandeleyn,
Her-of þu xalt han summe.
‘Be war þe, war þe, Gandeleyn,
Her of þu gyst plente:’
‘Euer on for aner,’ seyde Gandeleyn;
‘Mysaunter haue he xal fle.
‘Qwer-at xal our marke be?’
Seyde Gandeleyn:
‘Eueryche at oþeris herte,’
Seyde Wrennok ageyn.
‘Ho xal ȝeue þe ferste schote?’
Seyde Gandeleyn:
‘And I xul ȝeue þe on be-forn,’
Seyde Wrennok ageyn.
Wrennok schette a ful good schote,
And he schet not to hye;
Þrow þe sanchoþis of his bryk;
It towchyd neyþer thye.
‘Now hast þu ȝouyn me on be-forn,’
Al þus to Wrennok seyde he,
‘And þrow þe myȝt of our lady
A bettere I xal ȝeue þe.’
Gandeleyn bent his goode bowe,
And set þer in a flo;
14He schet þrow his grene certyl,
His herte he clef on too.
‘Now xalt þu neuer ȝelpe, Wrennok,
At ale ne at wyn,
Þat þu hast slawe goode Robyn,
And his knaue Gandeleyn.
‘Now xalt þu neuer ȝelpe, Wrennok,
At wyn ne at ale,
Þat þu hast slawe goode Robyn,
And Gandeleyn his knaue.’
Robyn lyȝth in grene wode bowndyn

Written continuously, without division of stanzas or verses. The burden, put after 1, stands at the head of the ballad.

And for & always.

14. gynge.

43. I now.

45. Robyn wanting.

51. went.

76. Ti I.

93. & xx.

102. hir.

123. ȝewe.

124. seyd.

143. þu myȝt.

174. Gandelyyn: knawe.

Last line: bowdyn.


a. Two fragments, stanzas 1134–1282, 1612–170, of an edition by John Byddell, London, 1536: Library of the University of Cambridge.[4]

b. A fragment, stanzas 533–1113, by a printer not identified: formerly in the possession of J. Payne Collier.[5]

c. ‘Adambel, Clym of the cloughe, and Wyllyam of cloudesle,’ William Copeland, London [1548–68]: British Museum, C. 21, c. 64.[6]

d. ‘Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesle,’ James Roberts, London, 1605: Bodleian Library, C. 39, Art. Selden.

e. Another edition with the same title-page: Bodleian Library, Malone, 299.

f. ‘Adam Bell, Clime of the Cloug[he], and William off Cloudeslee,’ Percy MS., p. 390: British Museum. Hales and Furnivall, III, 76.

‘Adam Bell’ is licensed to John Kynge in the Stationers’ Registers, 19 July, 1557–9 July, 1558: Arber, I, 79. Again, among copies which were Sampson Awdeley’s, to John Charlewood, 15 January, 1582; and, among copies which were John Charlwoode’s, to James Robertes, 31 May, 1594: Arber, II, 405, 651. Seven reprints of the seventeenth century, later than d, are noted in Mr W. C. Hazlitt’s Handbook, p. 35.

The larger part of a has been reprinted by Mr F. S. Ellis, in his catalogue of the library of Mr Henry Huth, I, 128 f, 1880.[7] b was used by Mr W. C. Hazlitt for his edition of the ballad in Remains of the Early Popular Poetry of England, II, 131.[8] c was reprinted 15by Percy in his Reliques, 1765, I, 129, with corrections from f; and by Ritson, Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry, 1791, p. 5, with the necessary emendations of Copland’s somewhat faulty text. d is followed by a Second Part, described by Ritson, in temperate terms, as “a very inferior and servile production.” It is here given (with much reluctance) in an Appendix.

Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly, outlawed for breach of the game-laws, swear brotherhood, and betake themselves to Inglewood, a forest adjacent to Carlisle. William is a wedded man, and one day tells his brethren that he means to go to Carlisle to see his wife and children. Adam would not advise this, lest he should be taken by the justice. William goes to Carlisle, nevertheless, knocks at his window, and is admitted by Alice, his wife, who tells him with a sigh that the place has been beset for him a half year and more. While they make good cheer, an old woman, whom William had kept seven years for charity, slips out, and informs the justice that William is come to town.[9] The justice and the sheriff come presently with a great rout to take William. Man and wife defend the house till it is set on fire. William lets his wife and children down with sheets, and shoots on till his bowstring is burnt, then runs into the thick of his foes with sword and buckler, but is felled by doors and windows thrown on him, and so taken. The sheriff orders the gates of Carlisle to be shut close, and sets up a gallows to hang William. A boy, friendly to the family, gets out at a crevice in the wall, and carries word to Adam and Clim, who instantly set out for the rescue.

Adam and Clim find the gates shut so fast that there is no chance of getting in without a stratagem. Adam has a fair written letter in his pocket: they will make the porter think that they have the king’s seal. They beat on the gate till the porter comes, and demand to be let in as messengers from the king to the justice. The porter demurs, but they browbeat him with the king’s seal; he opens the gate; they wring his neck and take his keys. First bending their bows and looking to the strings, they make for the market-place, where they find Cloudesly lying in a cart, on the point to be hanged. William sees them, and takes hope. Adam makes the sheriff his mark, Clim the justice; both fall, deadly wounded; the citizens fly; the outlaws loose Cloudesly’s ropes. William wrings an axe from the hand of an officer, and smites on every side; Adam and Clim shoot till their arrows are gone, then draw their swords. Horns are blown, and the bells rung backwards; the mayor of Carlisle comes with a large force, and the fight is hotter than ever. But all for naught, for the outlaws get to the gates, and are soon in Inglewood, under their trysty-tree.

Alice had come to Inglewood to make known to Adam and Clim what had befallen her husband, but naturally had not found them, since they were already gone to William’s rescue. A woman is heard weeping, and Cloudesly, taking a turn to see what this may mean, comes upon his wife and three boys. Very sad she is, but the sight of her husband makes all well. Three harts are killed for supper, and William gives Alice the best for standing so boldly by him. The outlaws determine to go to the king to get a charter of peace. William takes his eldest son with him, leaving Alice and the two younger at a nunnery. The three brethren make their way to the king’s presence, without leave of porter or announcement by usher, kneel down and hold up their hands, and ask grace for having slain the king’s deer. The king inquires their names, and when he hears who they are says they shall all be hanged, and orders them into arrest. Adam Bell once more asks grace, since they have come to the king of their free will, or else that they may go, with such weapons as they have, when they 16will ask no grace in a hundred years. The king replies again that all three shall be hanged. Hereupon the queen reminds the king that when she was wedded he had promised to grant the first boon she should ask; she had hitherto asked nothing, but now begs the three yeomen’s lives. The king must needs consent.

Immediately thereafter comes information that the outlaws had slain the justice and the sheriff, the mayor of Carlisle, all the constables and catchpolls, the sergeants of the law, forty foresters, and many more. This makes the king so sad that he can eat no more; but he wishes to see these fellows shoot that have wrought all this woe. The king’s archers and the queen’s go to the butts with the three yeomen, and the outlaws hit everything that is set up. Cloudesly holds the butts too wide for a good archer, and the three set up two hazel rods, twenty score paces apart; he is a good archer, says Cloudesly, that cleaves one of these. The king says no man can do it; but Cloudesly cleaves the wand. The king declares him the best archer he ever saw. William says he will do a greater mastery: he will lay an apple on his son’s head (a boy of seven), and split it in two at six score paces. The king bids him make haste so to do: if he fail, he shall be hanged; and if he touch the boy, the outlaws shall be hanged, all three. Cloudesly ties the child to a stake, turning its face from him, sets an apple on its head, and, begging the people to remain quiet, cleaves the apple in two. The king gives Cloudesly eighteen pence a day as his bowman, and makes him chief rider over the North Country. The queen adds twelve pence, makes him a gentleman of cloth and fee and his two brothers yeomen of her chamber, gives the boy a place in her wine-cellar, and appoints Alice her chief gentlewoman and governess of her nursery. The yeomen express their thanks, go to Rome [to some bishop, in the later copy] to be absolved of their sins, live the rest of their lives with the king, and die good men, all three.

The rescue of Robin Hood by Little John and Much in No 117, sts 61–82, has a general resemblance to the rescue of Cloudesly by Adam and Clim in this ballad, st. 52 ff. The rescue of Will Stutly has also some slight similarity: cf. No 141, sts 26–33, and 70, 79–81, of ‘Adam Bell.’

The shooting of an apple from a boy’s head, sts 151–62, is, as is well known, a trait in several German and Norse traditions, and these particular feats, as well as everything resembling them, have been a subject of eager discussion in connection with the apocryphal history of William Tell.

The Icelandic saga of Dietrich of Bern, compiled, according to the prologue, from Low German tales and ballads, narrates that young Egil, a brother of Weland the Smith, came to Nidung’s court with the fame of being the best bowman in the world. Nidung, to prove his skill, required Egil [on pain of death] to shoot an apple from the head of his son, a child of three years, only one trial being permitted. Egil split the apple in the middle. Though allowed but one chance, Egil had provided himself with three arrows. When asked why, he answered the king that the two others were meant for him, if he had hit the boy with the first. Saga Ðiðriks Konungs af Bern, ed. Unger, c. 75, p. 90 f; Peringskiöld, Wilkina Saga, c. 27, p. 63 f; Raszmann, Die Deutsche Heldensage, II, 247 f; the Swedish rifacimento, Sagan om Didrik af Bern, ed. Hyltén-Cavallius, c. 73, p. 54. The Icelandic saga was composed about 1250.

Saxo, writing about 1200, relates nearly the same incidents of Toko, a man in the service of King Harold Bluetooth († c. 985). Toko, while drinking with comrades, had bragged that he was good enough bowman to hit the smallest apple on top of a stick at the first shot. This boast was carried to the king, who exacted a fulfilment of it on pain of death; but the apple was to be set on the head of Toko’s son. The father exhorted the boy to stand perfectly still, and, to make this easier, turned the child’s face from the direction of the shot; then, laying out three arrows from his quiver, executed the required feat. When the king asked why he had taken three arrows, Toko replied, To wreak the miss of the first with 17the points of the others. Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum, Book x, ed. Holder, p. 329 f.

The White Book of Obwalden, written about 1470, informs us that Tell, a good archer, having refused to bow to Gesler’s hat, was ordered by the landvogt to shoot an apple from the head of one of his children. Unable to resist, Tell laid-by a second arrow, shot the apple from the child’s head, and being asked why he had reserved the other arrow, replied that if the first had missed he would have shot Gesler or one of his men with the second.[10]

This story is introduced into a piece of verse on the origin of the Swiss confederacy, of nearly the same date as the prose document. In this the landvogt says to Tell that if he does not hit with the first shot, it will cost him his life; the distance is one hundred and twenty paces, as in the English ballad, and Tell says simply that he would have shot the landvogt if he had hit his son.[11] (Tell uses a cross-bow, not the long-bow, as the English.)

Henning Wulf, a considerable person in Holstein, who had headed an unsuccessful outbreak against Christian the First of Denmark, was captured and brought before the king. The king, knowing Henning to be an incomparable archer, ordered him to shoot an apple from the head of his only son, a child: if he succeeded, he was to go free. The exploit was happily accomplished. But Henning had put a second arrow into his mouth, and the king asked the object. The second arrow was for the king, had the boy been hit. Henning Wulf was outlawed. The story, which is put at 1472, is the subject of a painting preserved in a church.[12]

The Norwegian king, Haraldr Harðráðr († 1066), who has a grudge against Hemingr, son of Áslákr, undertakes to put him to proof in shooting, swimming, and snow-shoe sliding. They go to a wood, and both execute extraordinary feats with bow and lance; but Hemingr is much superior to the king. The king orders Hemingr to shoot a nut from his brother Björn’s head, on pain of death for missing. Hemingr would rather die than venture such a shot; but his brother offers himself freely, and undertakes to stand still. Then let the king stand by Björn, says Hemingr, and see whether I hit. But the king prefers to stand by Hemingr, and appoints somebody else to the other position. Hemingr crosses himself, calls God to witness that the king is responsible, throws his lance, and strikes the nut from his brother’s head, doing him no harm. Hemings Ðáttr, Flateyjarbók, III, 405 f (1370–80); Müller, Sagabibliothek, III, 356 ff. This story was probably derived from an old song, and is preserved in Norwegian and Färöe ballads: ‘Harald kongin og Hemingen unge,’ Landstad, Norske Folkeviser, No 15, A, B, pp. 177–188; ‘Geyti Áslaksson,’ Hammershaimb, Færöiske Kvæder, No 17, A-C, II, 149–163. In Norwegian A, 5–10, the shot is exacted under pain of imprisonment. Hemingen insists that the king shall take a place near his brother [son], whom he exhorts to stand erect and bold; one half of the nut falls, the other is left on the head; the king asks what was to have been done with a second arrow which Hemingen had secreted, and is answered as in the previous cases.[13] The first and last 18of these incidents are wanting in B (19–22). In the Färöe ballad, A, 53–62, the king tells Geyti (whom he also calls Hemingur) that he must shoot a nut from his brother’s head. Geyti asks the king to go to the wood with him to see the result, invokes God and St Olav, hits the nut without touching his brother. It is not till the next day that the king asks Geyti why he had two arrows with him in the wood.

The same story, pleasingly varied for the occasion, is found in the saga of the Norwegian king Ólafr Tryggvason († 1000). The king hears that Eindriði, a handsome, rich, and amiable young man, is unconverted. Eindriði is a good swimmer, bowman, and dirk-thrower. Ólafr, a proficient in all such exercises, proposes to try masteries with him in the feats which he has repute for, on the terms that if Eindriði is beaten he shall be baptized, but if victor shall hold such faith as he will. The first trial is in swimming, and in this Ólafr shows unequivocal superiority. The next day they shoot at a target, and the advantage, after two essays, is rather with Eindriði. The king compliments Eindriði; but the issue between them is not yet decided. This fine young fellow’s salvation is at stake, and expedients which one might otherwise scruple at are justifiable. Ólafr knows that Eindriði tenderly loves a pretty child, four or five years old, his sister’s son. This boy shall be our target, says the king. A chessman (the king-piece) on his head shall be the mark, to be shot off without hurting the boy. Eindriði must needs submit, but means to have revenge if the child comes to harm. The king orders a cloth to be passed round the boy’s head, each end of which is to be held firmly by a man, so as to prevent any stirring when the whiz of the arrow is heard. Ólafr signs both himself and the point of his arrow with the cross, and shoots; the arrow takes off the chessman, passing between it and the head, grazing the crown and drawing some little blood. The king bids Eindriði take his turn; but Eindriði’s mother and sister beg him with tears to desist, and he, though ready to take the risk, yields to their entreaties, and leaves the victory with Ólafr. On the third day there is a match at a game with dirks. For a time no one can say which does the better; but in the end Ólafr performs feats so marvellous as in Eindriði’s conviction to demonstrate the assistance of a deity: wherefore he consents to be baptized. Saga Ólafs Tryggvasonar, Fornmanna Sögur, II, 259–74, c. 235; Flateyjarbók, I, 456–64, cc. 359–64.

Punker, a warlock of Rorbach (a town not far from Heidelberg), had obtained from the devil, as the regular recompense for his having thrice pierced the crucifix, the power of making three unerring shots daily, and had so been able to pick off in detail all but one of the garrison of a besieged town. To put his skill to proof, a certain nobleman ordered him to shoot a piece of money from his own son’s head. Punker wished to be excused, for he feared that the devil might play him false; but being induced to make the trial, knocked the coin from the boy’s cap, doing him no damage. Before shooting, he had stuck another arrow into his collar, and asked why, replied that if the devil had betrayed him, and he had killed the child, he would have sent the other bolt through the body of the person who had obliged him to undertake the performance. Malleus Maleficarum, Pars II, Quæstio I, c. xvi.[14] The date of the transaction is put at about 1420.

The last three forms of this tradition have the unimportant variations of brother and brother, or uncle and nephew, for father and son, and of nut, chessman, or coin for apple.

The story is German-Scandinavian, and not remarkably extended.[15] The seven versions 19agree in two points: the shot is compulsory; the archer meditates revenge in case he harms the person on whose head the mark is placed.[16] These features are wanting in the English ballad. William of Cloudesly offers of his own free motion to shoot an apple from his son’s head, and this after the king had declared him the best archer he had ever seen, for splitting a hazel-rod at twenty score paces; so that the act was done purely for glory. To be sure, the king threatens him with death if he does not achieve what he has undertaken, as death is also threatened in four of the seven German-Scandinavian stories for refusal to try the shot or for missing; but the threats in sts 154 f of the English ballad are a revival of the vow in sts 119 f. Justice has been balked by the unconditional boon granted the queen; aggravating and exasperating circumstances have come to light since this unadvised grace was conceded, and a hope is presented for a pretext under which the king may still hang the outlaws, all three. The shooting of the apple from the boy’s head, isolated from any particular connection, is perhaps all of the German-Scandinavian story that was known to the English ballad-maker, and all minor resemblances may well be fortuitous.[17]

If the shooting of an apple by somebody from somebody’s head is to be regarded as the kernel of the story, its area may then be considerably extended.

Castrén heard the following story among the Finns in Russian Karelia. Robbers had carried a man off over a lake. The son of the captive, a boy of twelve, followed along the other side of the lake, threatening to shoot them if they did not let his father go. These threats, for a time, only procured worse treatment for the prisoner; but at last the boy was told that his father should be released if he could shoot an arrow across the water and split an apple laid on his father’s head. This the boy did, and his father was liberated. Castrén’s Reiseerinnerungen aus den Jahren 1838–44, ed. Schiefner, p. 89 f.

A Persian poet introduces into a work composed about 1175 this anecdote.[18] A distinguished king was very fond of a beautiful slave, so much so that he was never easy unless he was in some way engaged with him. When the king amused himself with shooting, this slave would tremble with fear, for the king would make his mark of an apple placed on his favorite’s head, split the apple, and in so doing make the slave sick with alarm.

J. Grimm had seen a manuscript of travels in Turkey, in the Cassel library, with a picture of an archer aiming at an apple on a child’s head. Deutsche Mythologie, I, 317, note, ed. 1875.

With regard to the Persian story, Benfey observes that it must be admitted as possible that the shooting of an apple from the head of a beloved person may have been pitched upon in various localities, independently, as the mark of supreme skill in archery, but that this is not likely, and that the history of tradition requires us rather to presume that the conception was original in one instance 20only, and borrowed in the remainder; in which case the borrowing would be by the West from the East, and not the other way. We can come to no decision, however, he adds, until the source of the Persian story, or some older form of it, shall have been discovered. (Göttinger Gelehrte Anzeigen, 1861, p. 680.) The cautiousness of the imperial scholar is worthy of all imitation. The Persian saga, as it is sometimes called, is, in the perhaps mutilated form in which we have it, an inconsistent and inept anecdote; the German-Scandinavian saga is a complete and rational story. In this story it is fundamental that the archer executes a successful shot under circumstances highly agitating to the nerves; he risks the life of a beloved object, and in the majority of versions his own life is at stake besides. That the act must be done under compulsion is the simplest corollary. If the archer is cool enough to volunteer the shot, then the chief difficulty in making it is removed. This is a fault in the English ballad, where the father is unconcerned, and all the feeling is shown by the spectators. Cloudesly had already split a hazel-rod at twenty score paces; what was it for him to hit an apple at six score?[19]

But we are still far from covering the range of stories which have been treated as having some significant relation to that of Egil. Any shot at an apple, any shot at an object on a child’s person (provided the case be not a fact and recent), has been thought worth quoting, as a probable sprout from the same root. For examples: In an Esthonian popular tale, one Sharpeye hits an apple which a man a long way off is holding by his mouth. In a Servian poem, the hero, Milosch, sends an arrow through a ring, and hits a golden apple on the point of a lance. Bellerophon’s sons, Hippolochus and Isandrus, disputing which should be king of the Lycians, it was proposed that the question should be settled by seeing which could shoot through a ring placed on the breast of a child lying on his back. Laodamia, sister of the competitors, offered her son Sarpedon for the trial, and the uncles, to show their appreciation of such handsome behavior, resigned their claims in favor of Sarpedon. The shot, we may understand, did not come off.[20]

With regard to all this series of stories, and others which have been advanced as allied, more will be required to make out a substantial relationship than their having in common a shot at some object in contiguity with a living human body, be the object an apple, or whatever else. The idea of thus enhancing the merit or interest of a shot is not so ingenious that one instance must be held to be original, and all others derivative. The archer Alcon, according to Servius,[21] was wont to shoot through rings placed on men’s heads. Sir John Malcolm (Kaye’s Life, II, 400) was told that at Mocha, when the dates were ripe, a stone, standing up some three inches, would be put on the head of a child, at which two or three of the best marksmen would fire, with ball, at thirty-one yards distance. A case was reported, about fifty years ago, of a man in Pennsylvania shooting a very small apple from the head of another man.[22] A linen-weaver was judicially punished at Spires, some thirty years ago, for shooting a sheet of paper from his son’s hand, and afterwards a potato (“also einen Erdapfel,” Rochholz!) from the boy’s head.[23] The keel-boat men of the Mississippi, in their playfulness, would cut the pipe out of a companion’s hat-band at a long distance. “If they quarreled among themselves, and then made friends, their test that they bore no malice was to shoot some small object from each other’s heads,” such as 21an apple. Such feats have of late been common on the American stage.

Whatever may be thought of the linen-weaver at Spires, it will scarcely be maintained that the Mississippi keel-boat men shot at apples in imitation of William Tell. As to the selection of an apple, it seems enough to say that an apple makes a convenient mark, is familiar to temperate climates, and at hand at almost any part of the year.[24] But the chief point of all to be borne in mind is, that whether the Mississippi boatmen took their cue, directly or indirectly, from William Tell, they do not become mythical personages by virtue of their repeating his shot. None the more does William of Cloudesly. A story long current in Europe, a mythical story if you please, could certainly be taken up by an English ballad-maker without prejudice to the substantial and simply romantic character of his hero.[25]

The late Mr Joseph Hunter unhesitatingly declared Adam Bell “a genuine personage of history,” and considered that he had had “the good fortune to recover from a very authentic source of information some particulars of this hero of our popular minstrelsy which show distinctly the time at which he lived.”

“King Henry the Fourth, by letters enrolled in the Exchequer, in Trinity Term, in the seventh year of his reign [1406], and bearing date the 14th day of April, granted to one Adam Bell an annuity of 4l. 10s. issuing out of the fee-farm of Clipston, in the forest of Sherwood, together with the profits and advantages of the vesture and herbage of the garden called the Halgarth, in which the manor-house of Clipston is situated.

“Now, as Sherwood is noted for its connection with archery, and may be regarded also as the patria of much of the ballad poetry of England, and the name of Adam Bell is a peculiar one, this might be almost of itself sufficient to show that the ballad had a foundation in veritable history. But we further find that this Adam Bell violated his allegiance by adhering to the Scots, the king’s enemies; whereupon this grant was virtually resumed, and the sheriff of Nottinghamshire accounted for the rents which would have been his. In the third year of King Henry the Fifth [1416], the account was rendered by Thomas Hercy, and in the fourth year by Simon Leak. The mention of his adhesion to the Scots leads us to the Scottish border, and will not leave a doubt in the mind of the most sceptical that we have here one of the persons, some of whose deeds (with some poetical license, perhaps) are come down to us in the words of one of our popular ballads.” (New Illustrations of the Life, Studies, and Writings of Shakespeare, I, 245 f, 1845.)

Mr Hunter’s points are, that an Adam Bell had a grant from the proceeds of a farm in the forest of Sherwood, that Adam Bell is a peculiar name, and that his Adam Bell adhered to the king’s enemies. To be sure, Adam Bell’s retreat in the ballad is not Sherwood, in Nottinghamshire, but Englishwood, or Inglewood, in Cumberland (an old hunting-ground of King Arthur’s, according to several romances), a forest sixteen miles in length, 22reaching from Carlisle to Penrith.[26] But it would be captious to insist upon this. Robin Hood has no connection in extant ballads with the Cumberland forest, but Wyntoun’s Scottish Chronicle, c. 1420, makes him to have frequented Inglewood as well as Barnsdale.[27] The historical Adam Bell was granted an annuity, and forfeited it for adhering to the king’s enemies, the Scots; the Adam Bell of the ballad was outlawed for breaking the game-laws, and in consequence came into conflict with the king’s officers, but never adhered to the king’s enemies, first or last, received the king’s pardon, was made yeoman of the queen’s chamber, dwelt with the king, and died a good man. Neither is there anything peculiar in the name Adam Bell. Bell was as well known a name on the borders[28] as Armstrong or Graham. There is record of an Adam Armstrong and an Adam Graham; there is a Yorkshire Adam Bell mentioned in the Parliamentary Writs (II, 508, 8 and 17 Edward II,) a hundred years before Hunter’s annuitant; a contemporary Adam Bell, of Dunbar, is named in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland under the years 1414, 1420 (IV, 198, 325); and the name occurs repeatedly at a later date in the Registers of the Great Seal of Scotland.

The placability of the king in this ballad is repeated in the Gest of Robin Hood, and is also exhibited in the Tale of Gamelyn, where Gamelyn is made justice of all the free forest, as William is here made chief rider over all the North Country. The king, besides, forgives all Gamelyn’s eight young men, and puts them in good office. The king of the outlaws, in the tale, had previously made his peace without any difficulty. Vv 888–94, 687–89.

Translated, after Percy’s Reliques, by Bodmer, II, 78; by Fouqué, Büsching, Erzählungen, u. s. w., des Mittelalters, I, 1; the third Fit, by Knortz, Lieder und Romanzen Altenglands, No 70.

c. 1
Mery it was in grene forest,
Amonge the leues grene,
Where that men walke both east and west,
Wyth bowes and arrowes kene,
To ryse the dere out of theyr denne;
Suche sightes as hath ofte bene sene,
As by th[r]e yemen of the north countrey,
By them it is as I meane.
The one of them hight Adam Bel,
The other Clym of the Clough,
The thyrd was William of Cloudesly,
An archer good ynough.
They were outlawed for venyson,
These thre yemen euerechone;
They swore them brethen vpon a day,
To Englysshe-wood for to gone.
Now lith and lysten, gentylmen,
And that of myrthes loueth to here:
Two of them were single men,
The third had a wedded fere.
Wyllyam was the wedded man,
Muche more then was hys care:
He sayde to hys brethen vpon a day,
To Carelel he would fare,
For to speke with fayre Alse hys wife,
And with hys chyldren thre:
‘By my trouth,’ sayde Adam Bel,
‘Not by the counsell of me.
‘For if ye go to Caerlel, brother,
And from thys wylde wode wende,
If the justice mai you take,
Your lyfe were at an ende.’
‘If that I come not to morowe, brother,
By pryme to you agayne,
Truste not els but that I am take,
Or else that I am slayne.’
He toke hys leaue of hys brethen two,
And to Carlel he is gone;
There he knocked at hys owne wyndowe,
Shortlye and anone.
‘Wher be you, fayre Alyce, my wyfe,
And my chyldren three?
Lyghtly let in thyne husbande,
Wyllyam of Cloudesle.’
‘Alas!’ then sayde fayre Alyce,
And syghed wonderous sore,
‘Thys place hath ben besette for you
Thys halfe yere and more.’
‘Now am I here,’ sayde Cloudesle,
‘I woulde that I in were;
Now feche vs meate and drynke ynoughe,
And let vs make good chere.’
She feched him meat and drynke plenty,
Lyke a true wedded wyfe,
And pleased hym with that she had,
Whome she loued as her lyfe.
There lay an old wyfe in that place,
A lytle besyde the fyre,
Whych Wyllyam had found, of cherytye,
More then seuen yere.
Up she rose, and walked full styll,
Euel mote she spede therefoore!
For she had not set no fote on ground
In seuen yere before.
She went vnto the justice hall,
As fast as she could hye:
‘Thys nyght is come vn to thys town
Wyllyam of Cloudesle.’
Thereof the iustice was full fayne,
And so was the shirife also:
‘Thou shalt not trauaile hether, dame, for nought;
Thy meed thou shalt haue or thou go.’
They gaue to her a ryght good goune,
Of scarlat it was, as I heard say[n]e;
She toke the gyft, and home she wente,
And couched her doune agayne.
They rysed the towne of mery Carlel,
In all the hast that they can,
And came thronging to Wyllyames house,
As fast [as] they might gone.
Theyr they besette that good yeman,
Round about on euery syde;
Wyllyam hearde great noyse of folkes,
That heytherward they hyed.
Alyce opened a shot-wyndow,
And loked all about;
She was ware of the justice and the shrife bothe,
Wyth a full great route.
‘Alas! treason,’ cryed Alyce,
‘Euer wo may thou be!
Go into my chambre, my husband,’ she sayd,
‘Swete Wyllyam of Cloudesle.’
He toke hys sweard and hys bucler,
Hys bow and hy[s] chyldren thre,
And wente into hys strongest chamber,
Where he thought surest to be.
Fayre Alice folowed him as a louer true,
With a pollaxe in her hande:
‘He shalbe deade that here cometh in
Thys dore, whyle I may stand.’
Cloudesle bent a wel good bowe,
That was of trusty tre,
He smot the justise on the brest,
That hys arrowe brest in thre.
‘God’s curse on his hartt,’ saide William,
‘Thys day thy cote dyd on;
If it had ben no better then myne,
It had gone nere thy bone.’
‘Yelde the, Cloudesle,’ sayd the justise,
‘And thy bowe and thy arrowes the fro:’
‘Gods curse on hys hart,’ sayde fair Al[i]ce,
‘That my husband councelleth so.’
‘Set fyre on the house,’ saide the sherife,
‘Syth it wyll no better be,
And brenne we therin William,’ he saide,
‘Hys wyfe and chyldren thre.’
They fyred the house in many a place,
The fyre flew vpon hye;
‘Alas!’ than cryed fayr Alice,
‘I se we shall here dy.’
William openyd hys backe wyndow,
That was in hys chambre on hye,
And wyth shetes let hys wyfe downe,
And hys chyldren thre.
‘Haue here my treasure,’ sayde William,
‘My wyfe and my chyldren thre;
For Christes loue do them no harme,
But wreke you all on me.’
Wyllyam shot so wonderous well,
Tyll hys arrowes were all go,
And the fyre so fast vpon hym fell,
That hys bo[w]stryng brent in two.
The spercles brent and fell hym on,
Good Wyllyam of Cloudesle;
But than was he a wofull man, and sayde,
Thys is a cowardes death to me.
‘Leuer I had,’ sayde Wyllyam,
‘With my sworde in the route to renne,
Then here among myne ennemyes wode
Thus cruelly to bren.’
He toke hys sweard and hys buckler,
And among them all he ran;
Where the people were most in prece,
He smot downe many a man.
There myght no man stand hys stroke,
So fersly on them he ran;
Then they threw wyndowes and dores on him,
And so toke that good yeman.
There they hym bounde both hand and fote,
And in depe dongeon hym cast;
‘Now, Cloudesle,’ sayde the hye justice,
‘Thou shalt be hanged in hast.’
‘One vow shal I make,’ sayde the sherife,
‘A payre of new galowes shall I for the make,
And al the gates of Caerlel shalbe shutte,
There shall no man come in therat.
‘Then shall not helpe Clim of the Cloughe,
Nor yet Adam Bell,
Though they came with a thousand mo,
Nor all the deuels in hell.’
Early in the mornyng the justice vprose,
To the gates fast gan he gon,
And commaunded to be shut full cloce
Lightile euerychone.
Then went he to the market-place,
As fast as he coulde hye;
A payre of new gallous there dyd he vp set,
Besyde the pyllory.
A lytle boy stod them amonge,
And asked what meaned that gallow-tre;
They sayde, To hange a good yeaman,
Called Wyllyam of Cloudesle.
That lytle boye was the towne swyne-heard,
And kept fayre Alyce swyne;
Full oft he had sene Cloudesle in the wodde,
And geuen hym there to dyne.
He went out of a creues in the wall,
And lightly to the woode dyd gone;
There met he with these wyght yonge men,
Shortly and anone.
‘Alas!’ then sayde that lytle boye,
‘Ye tary here all to longe;
Cloudesle is taken and dampned to death,
All readye for to honge.’
‘Alas!’ then sayde good Adam Bell,
‘That euer we see thys daye!
He myght her with vs haue dwelled,
So ofte as we dyd him praye.
‘He myght haue taryed in grene foreste,
Under the shadowes sheene,
And haue kepte both hym and vs in reaste,
Out of trouble and teene.’
Adam bent a ryght good bow,
A great hart sone had he slayne;
‘Take that, chylde,’ he sayde, ‘to thy dynner,
And bryng me myne arrowe agayne.’
‘Now go we hence,’ sayed these wight yong men,
Tary we no lenger here;
We shall hym borowe, by Gods grace,
Though we bye it full dere.’
To Caerlel went these good yemen,
In a mery mornyng of Maye:
Her is a fyt of Cloudesli,
And another is for to saye.
And when they came to mery Caerlell,
In a fayre mornyng-tyde,
They founde the gates shut them vntyll,
Round about on euery syde.
‘Alas!’ than sayd good Adam Bell,
‘That euer we were made men!
These gates be shyt so wonderly well,
That we may not come here in.’
Than spake Clymme of the Cloughe:
With a wyle we wyll vs in brynge;
Let vs say we be messengers,
Streyght comen from oure kynge.
Adam sayd, I haue a lettre wryten wele,
Now let vs wysely werke;
We wyll say we haue the kynges seale,
I holde the porter no clerke.
Than Adam Bell bete on the gate,
With strökes greate and stronge;
The porter herde suche a noyse therate,
And to the gate faste he thronge.
‘Who is there nowe,’ sayd the porter,
‘That maketh all this knockynge?
‘We be two messengers,’ sayd Clymme of the Clo[ughe],
‘Be comen streyght frome oure kynge.’
‘We haue a lettre,’ sayd Adam Bell,
‘To the justyce we must it brynge;
Let vs in, oure message to do,
That we were agayne to our kynge.’
‘Here cometh no man in,’ sayd the porter,
‘By hym that dyed on a tre,
Tyll a false thefe be hanged,
Called Wyllyam of Clowdysle.’
Than spake that good [yeman Clym of the Cloughe,
And swore by Mary fre,
If that we stande long wythout,
Lyke a thefe hanged shalt thou be.]
[Lo here] we haue got the kynges seale;
[What! l]ordane, arte thou wode?
[The p]orter had wende it had been so,
[And l]yghtly dyd of his hode.
‘[Welco]me be my lordes seale,’ sayd he,
‘[For] that shall ye come in:’
[He] opened the gate ryght shortly,
[An] euyll openynge for hym!
‘[N]owe we are in,’ sayd Adam Bell,
‘[T]herof we are full fayne;
[But] Cryst knoweth that herowed hell,
[H]ow we shall come oute agayne.’
‘[Had] we the keys,’ sayd Clym of the Clowgh,
‘Ryght well than sholde we spede;
[Than] myght we come out well ynough,
[Whan] we se tyme and nede.’
[They] called the porter to a councell,
[And] wronge hys necke in two,
[And] kest hym in a depe dongeon,
[And] toke the keys hym fro.
‘[N]ow am I porter,’ sayd Adam Bell;
‘[Se], broder, the keys haue we here;
[The] worste porter to mery Carlell,
[That ye] had this hondreth yere.
‘[Now] wyll we oure bowës bende,
[Into the t]owne wyll we go,
[For to delyuer our dere] broder,
[Where he lyeth in care and wo.’
Then they bent theyr good yew bowes,
And loked theyr stringes were round;]
The market-place of mery Carlyll,
They beset in that stounde.
And as they loked them besyde,
A payre of newe galowes there they se,
And the iustyce, with a quest of swerers,
That had iuged Clowdysle there hanged to be.
And Clowdysle hymselfe lay redy in a carte,
Fast bounde bothe fote and hande,
And a strong rope aboute his necke,
All redy for to be hangde.
The iustyce called to hym a ladde;
Clowdysles clothes sholde he haue,
To take the mesure of that good yoman,
And therafter to make his graue.
‘I haue sene as greate a merueyll,’ sayd Clowd[esle],
‘As bytwene this and pryme,
He that maketh thys graue for me,
Hymselfe may lye therin.’
‘Thou spekest proudely,’ sayd the iustyce;
‘I shall hange the with my hande:’
Full well that herde his bretheren two,
There styll as they dyd stande.
Than Clowdysle cast hys eyen asyde,
And sawe hys bretheren stande,
At a corner of the market-place,
With theyr good bowes bent in theyr hand,
Redy the iustyce for to chase.
‘I se good comforte,’ sayd Clowdysle,
‘Yet hope I well to fare;
If I myght haue my handes at wyll,
[Ryght l]ytell wolde I care.’
[Than b]espake good Adam Bell,
[To Clym]me of the Clowgh so fre;
[Broder], se ye marke the iustyce well;
[Lo yon]der ye may him se.
[And at] the sheryf shote I wyll,
[Stron]gly with an arowe kene;
[A better] shotte in mery Carlyll,
[Thys se]uen yere was not sene.
[They lo]used theyr arowes bothe at ones,
[Of no] man had they drede;
[The one] hyt the iustyce, the other the sheryf,
[That b]othe theyr sydes gan blede.
[All men] voyded, that them stode nye,
[Whan] the iustyce fell to the grounde,
[And the] sheryf fell nyghe hym by;
[Eyther] had his dethës wounde.
[All the c]ytezeyns fast gan fle,
[They du]rste no lenger abyde;
[There ly]ghtly they loused Clowdysle,
[Where he] with ropes lay tyde.
[Wyllyam] sterte to an offycer of the towne,
[Hys axe] out his hande he wronge;
[On eche] syde he smote them downe,
[Hym tho]ught he had taryed to longe.
[Wyllyam] sayd to his bretheren two,
[Thys daye] let vs togyder lyue and deye;
[If euer you] haue nede as I haue nowe,
[The same] shall ye fynde by me.
[They] shyt so well in that tyde,
For theyr strynges were of sylke full sure,
That they kepte the stretes on euery syde;
That batayll dyd longe endure.
They fought togyder as bretheren true,
Lyke hardy men and bolde;
Many a man to the grounde they threwe,
And made many an hertë colde.
But whan theyr arowes were all gone,
Men presyd on them full fast;
They drewe theyr swerdës than anone,
And theyr bowës from them caste.
They wente lyghtly on theyr waye,
With swerdes and buckelers rounde;
By that it was the myddes of the daye,
They had made many a wounde.
There was many a noute-horne in Carlyll blowen,
And the belles backwarde dyd they rynge;
Many a woman sayd alas,
And many theyr handes dyd wrynge.
The mayre of Carlyll forth come was,
And with hym a full grete route;
These thre yomen dredde hym full sore,
For theyr lyuës stode in doubte.
The mayre came armed, a full greate pace,
With a polaxe in his hande;
Many a stronge man with hym was,
There in that stoure to stande.
The mayre smote at Clowdysle with his byll,
His buckeler he brast in two;
Full many a yoman with grete yll,
‘[Al]as, treason!’ they cryed for wo.
‘[Ke]pe we the gates fast,’ they bad,
‘[T]hat these traytours theroute not go.’
But all for nought was that they wrought,
For so fast they downe were layde
Tyll they all thre, that so manfully fought,
Were goten without at a brayde.
‘Haue here your keys,’ sayd Adam Bell,
‘Myne offyce I here forsake;
Yf ye do by my councell,
A newë porter ye make.’
He threwe the keys there at theyr hedes,
And bad them evyll to thryue,
And all that letteth ony good yoman
To come and comforte his wyue.
Thus be these good yomen gone to the wode,
As lyght as lefe on lynde;
They laughe and be mery in theyr mode,
Theyr enemyes were farre behynde.
Whan they came to Inglyswode,
Under theyr trysty-tre,
There they founde bowës full gode,
And arowës greate plentë.
‘So helpe me God,’ sayd Adam Bell,
And Clymme of the Clowgh so fre,
27‘I wolde we were nowe in mery Carlell,
[Be]fore that fayre meynë.’
They set them downe and made good chere,
And eate an[d dr]anke full well:
Here is a fytte [of] these wyght yongemen,
And another I shall you tell.
As they sat in Inglyswode,
Under theyr trysty-tre,
Them thought they herde a woman [wepe],
But her they myght not se.
Sore syghed there fayre Alyce, and sayd,
Alas that euer I se this daye!
For now is my dere husbonde slayne,
Alas and welawaye!
Myght I haue spoken wyth hys dere breth[eren],
With eyther of them twayne,
[To shew to them what him befell]
My herte were out of payne.
Clowdysle walked a lytell besyde,
And loked vnder the grene wodde lynde;
He was ware of his wyfe and his chyldre[n thre],
Full wo in herte and mynde.
‘Welcome, wyfe,’ than sayd Wyllyam,
‘Unto this trysty-tre;
I had wende yesterdaye, by swete Sai[nt John],
Thou sholde me neuer haue se.’
‘Now wele is me,’ she sayd, ‘that [ye be here],
My herte is out of wo:’
‘Dame,’ he sayd, ‘be mery and glad,
And thanke my bretheren two.’
‘Here of to speke,’ sayd Ad[am] Bell,
‘I-wys it [is no bote];
The me[at that we must supp withall,
It runneth yet fast on fote.’
Then went they down into a launde,
These noble archares all thre,
Eche of the]m slewe a harte of grece,
[The best t]hey coude there se.
‘[Haue here the] best, Alyce my wyfe,’
[Sayde Wyllya]m of Clowdysle,
‘[By cause ye so] boldely stode me by,
[Whan I w]as slayne full nye.’
[Than they] wente to theyr souper,
[Wyth suc]he mete as they had,
[And than]ked God of theyr fortune;
[They we]re bothe mery and glad.
[And whan] they had souped well,
[Certayne] withouten leace,
[Clowdysle] sayde, We wyll to oure kynge,
[To get v]s a chartre of peace.
[Alyce shal] be at soiournynge,
[In a nunry] here besyde;
[My tow sonn]es shall with her go,
[And ther the]y shall abyde.
[Myne eldest so]ne shall go with me,
[For hym haue I] no care,
[And he shall breng] you worde agayne
[How that we do fare.
Thus be these wig]ht men to London gone,
[As fast as they ma]ye hye,
[Tyll they came to the kynges] palays,
There they woulde nedës be.
And whan they came to the kyngës courte,
Unto the pallace gate,
Of no man wold they aske leue,
But boldly went in therat.
They preced prestly into the hall,
Of no man had they dreade;
The porter came after and dyd them call,
And with them began to [chyde.]
The vssher sayd, Yemen, what wolde ye haue?
I praye you tell me;
Ye myght thus make offycers shent:
Good syrs, of whens be ye?
‘Syr, we be outlawes of the forest,
Certayne withouten leace,
And hyther we be come to our kynge,
To get vs a charter of peace.’
And whan they came before our kynge,
As it was the lawe of the lande,
They kneled downe without lettynge,
And eche helde vp his hande.
They sayd, Lorde, we beseche you here,
That ye wyll graunte vs grace.
For we haue slayne your fatte falowe dere,
In many a sondry place.
‘What is your names?’ than sayd our kynge,
‘Anone that you tell me:’
They sayd, Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough,
And Wylliam of Clowdesle.
‘Be ye those theues,’ than sayd our kynge,
‘That men haue tolde of to me?
Here to God I make a vowe,
Ye shall be hanged all thre.
‘Ye shall be dead without mercy,
As I am kynge of this lande:’
He commanded his officers euerichone
Fast on them to lay hand.
There they toke these good yemen,
And arested them all thre:
‘So may I thryue,’ sayd Adam Bell,
‘Thys game lyketh not me.
a. 122
‘But, good lorde, we beseche you nowe,
That ye wyll graunte vs grace,
In so moche as we be to you commen;
Or elles that we may fro you passe,
‘With suche weapons as we haue here,
Tyll we be out of your place;
And yf we lyue this hondred yere,
We wyll aske you no grace.’
‘Ye speke proudly,’ sayd the kynge,
‘Ye shall be hanged all thre:’
‘That were great pity,’ sayd the quene,
‘If any grace myght be.
‘My lorde, whan I came fyrst in to this lande,
To be your wedded wyfe,
The fyrst bone that I wolde aske,
Ye wolde graunte me belyfe.
‘And I asked you neuer none tyll nowe,
Therfore, good lorde, graunte it me:’
‘Nowe aske it, madame,’ sayd the kynge,
‘And graunted shall it be.’
‘Than, good lorde, I you beseche,
The yemen graunte you me:’
‘Madame, ye myght haue asked a bone
That sholde haue ben worthe them thre.
‘Ye myght haue asked towres and towne[s],
Parkes and forestes plentie:’
‘None so pleasaunt to mi pay,’ she said,
‘Nor none so lefe to me.’
‘Madame, sith it is your desyre,
Your askyng graunted shalbe;
But I had leuer haue geuen you
Good market-townës thre.’
The quene was a glad woman,
And sayd, Lord, gramarcy;
I dare vndertake for them
That true men shall they be.
But, good lord, speke som mery word,
That comfort they may se:
‘I graunt you grace,’ then said our king,
‘Wasshe, felos, and to meate go ye.’
They had not setten but a whyle,
Certayne without lesynge,
There came messengers out of the north,
With letters to our kyng.
And whan the came before the kynge,
The kneled downe vpon theyr kne,
And sayd, Lord, your offycers grete you wel,
Of Caerlel in the north cuntre.
‘How fare[th] my justice,’ sayd the kyng,
‘And my sherife also?’
‘Syr, they be slayne, without leasynge,
And many an officer mo.’
‘Who hath them slayne?’ sayd the kyng,
‘Anone thou tell me:’
‘Adam Bel, and Clime of the Clough,
And Wyllyam of Cloudesle.’
‘Alas for rewth!’ then sayd our kynge,
‘My hart is wonderous sore;
I had leuer [th]an a thousand pounde
I had knowne of thys before.
‘For I haue y-graunted them grace,
And that forthynketh me;
But had I knowne all thys before,
They had ben hanged all thre.’
The kyng opened the letter anone,
Hym selfe he red it tho,
And founde how these thre outlawes had slaine
Thre hundred men and mo.
Fyrst the justice and the sheryfe,
And the mayre of Caerlel towne;
Of all the constables and catchipolles
Alyue were left not one.
The baylyes and the bedyls both,
And the sergeauntes of the law,
And forty fosters of the fe
These outlawes had y-slaw;
And broken his parks, and slaine his dere;
Ouer all they chose the best;
So perelous outlawes as they were
Walked not by easte nor west.
When the kynge this letter had red,
In hys harte he syghed sore;
‘Take vp the table,’ anone he bad,
‘For I may eate no more.’
The kyng called hys best archars,
To the buttes with hym to go;
‘I wyll se these felowes shote,’ he sayd,
‘That in the north haue wrought this wo.’
The kynges bowmen buske them blyue,
And the quenes archers also,
So dyd these thre wyght yemen,
Wyth them they thought to go.
There twyse or thryse they shote about,
For to assay theyr hande;
There was no shote these thre yemen shot
That any prycke might them stand.
Then spake Wyllyam of Cloudesle;
By God that for me dyed,
I hold hym neuer no good archar
That shuteth at buttes so wyde.
‘Wherat?’ then sayd our kyng,
‘I pray thee tell me:’
‘At suche a but, syr,’ he sayd,
‘As men vse in my countree.’
Wyllyam wente into a fyeld,
And his to brothren with him;
There they set vp to hasell roddes,
Twenty score paces betwene.
‘I hold him an archar,’ said Cloudesle,
‘That yonder wande cleueth in two:’
‘Here is none suche,’ sayd the kyng,
‘Nor none that can so do.’
‘I shall assaye, syr,’ sayd Cloudesle,
‘Or that I farther go:’
Cloudesle, with a bearyng arow,
Claue the wand in to.
‘Thou art the best archer,’ then said the king,
‘Forsothe that euer I se:’
‘And yet for your loue,’ sayd Wylliam,
‘I wyll do more maystry.
‘I haue a sonne is seuen yere olde;
He is to me full deare;
I wyll hym tye to a stake,
All shall se that be here;
‘And lay an apple vpon hys head,
And go syxe score paces hym fro,
And I my selfe, with a brode arow,
Shall cleue the apple in two.’
‘Now hast the,’ then sayd the kyng;
‘By him that dyed on a tre,
But yf thou do not as thou hest sayde,
Hanged shalt thou be.
‘And thou touche his head or gowne,
In syght that men may se,
By all the sayntes that be in heaven,
I shall hange you all thre.’
‘That I haue promised,’ said William,
‘I wyl it neuer forsake;’
And there euen before the kynge,
In the earth he droue a stake;
And bound therto his eldest sonne,
And bad hym stande styll therat,
And turned the childes face fro him,
Because he shuld not sterte.
An apple vpon his head he set,
And then his bowe he bent;
Syxe score paces they were outmet,
And thether Cloudesle went.
There he drew out a fayr brode arrowe;
Hys bowe was great and longe;
He set that arrowe in his bowe,
That was both styffe and stronge.
He prayed the people that was there
That they would styll stande;
‘For he that shooteth for such a wager,
Behoueth a stedfast hand.’
Muche people prayed for Cloudesle,
That hys lyfe saued myght be,
And whan he made hym redy to shote,
There was many a wepynge eye.
Thus Clowdesle clefte the apple in two,
That many a man it se;
‘Ouer goddes forbode,’ sayd the kynge,
‘That thou sholdest shote at me!
‘I gyue the .xviii. pens a daye,
And my bowe shalte thou bere,
And ouer all the north countree
I make the chefe rydere.’
‘And I gyue the .xii. pens a day,’ sayd the que[ne],
‘By God and by my faye;
Come fetche thy payment whan thou wylt,
No man shall say the naye.
‘Wyllyam, I make the gentylman
Of clothynge and of fee,
And thy two brethren yemen of my chambr[e],
For they are so semely to se.
‘Your sone, for he is tendre of age,
Of my wyne-seller shall he be,
And whan he commeth to mannës state,
Better auaunced shall he be.
‘And, Wylliam, brynge me your wyfe,’ sayd th[e quene];
Me longeth sore here to se;
She shall be my chefe gentylwoman,
And gouerne my nursery.’
The yemen thanked them full courteysly,
And sayd, To Rome streyght wyll we wende,
[Of all the synnes that we haue done
To be assoyled of his hand.
So forth]e be gone these good yemen,
[As fast a]s they myght hye,
[And aft]er came and dwelled with the kynge,
[And dye]d good men all thre.
[Thus e]ndeth the lyues of these good yemen,
[God sen]de them eternall blysse,
[And all] that with hande-bowe shoteth,
[That of] heuen they may neuer mysse!

Deficiencies in a, b are supplied from c unless it is otherwise noted.


1201. deed.


871. an oute horne. The emendation is Prof. Skeat’s.

991,2. and sayd begins the second line.

1003. supplied from d, e.


53. singele.

111. be your.

132. In woulde.

162. spende.

171, 1071. whent.

183. fore.

221. shop-wyndow.

224. great full great.

233. Gy.

261. welgood.

303. Alece.

332. all gon.

343,4. and sayde begins the fourth line.

442. there Alyce.

444. geuend.

464. Allreadye.

484. in reaffte [?].

511. Cyerlel.

521. Carelell.

Variations from b.

533. shut: wonderous.

541, 561, 643, 761, 853, 1021, 1071. Then.

543. Lee.

544. come nowe.

553. seales.

563. a wanting.

564. faste wanting.

574. come ryght.

582. me for we.

591. commeth none.

592. Be: vpon.

613. went.

621. he saide.

623. full shortlye.

631. are we.

633. know.

644, 792, 1064, 1081. When.

651. a wanting.

654. hys keys.

662, 673, 763. brother.

664. hundred.

681. They bent theyr bowes. Then, good yew from e, f.

683. in mery.

684. in wanting.

693. And they: squyers.

702. bounde wanting.

712. Cloudesle.

713. good wanting: yeman, and ye always, as, 883, 903, 933, 941.

721. Cloudesli.

732. the hange.

733. that wanting: brtehren, or, breehren.

742, 821, 841, 1001, 1034. brethen.

742. stande wanting.

743. marked.

745. to chaunce.

751. good wanting.

752. will.

761. Then spake.

763. Brother.

771. shyrfe.

772. an wanting.

781. thre arrowes.

784. there sedes.

792. fell downe.

812. out of.

814. he taryed all to.

822. togyder wanting.

824. shall you.

831. shot.

833. sede.

841. The: together.

852. preced to.

863. mas myd.

872. they wanting.

884. For of theyr lyues they stode in great.

902. brust.

903. euyll.

906. That.

911. yt ye.

912. to fast.

914. at wanting.

922,3. Transposed: Yf you do, etc., Myne offce.

924. do we.

931. theyr keys.

942. lyghtly as left.

943. The lough an.

944. fere.

951, 981. Englyshe.

952. Under the: trusty, and 982.

953. There wanting.

954. full great.

961. God me help.

963. nowe wanting.

972. drynke.

973. fet of.

974. And wanting: I wyll.

983. They thaught: woman wepe.

984. mought.

991. the fayre; and sayde begins the next line.

992. I sawe.

1002. Or with.

1003. wanting.

1004. put out.

1022. Under thus trusti.

311024. had se.

1061, 1091. Alce.

1063. by me.

1071. theyr wanting.

1072,3. Transposed: And thanked, etc., Wyth such.

1082. without any.

1091. Alce shalbe at our.

1103. you breng.

1111. these good yemen.

1112. myght hye.

1113. pallace.

Variations from a.

1143. you.

1152. without any.

1153. become.

1161. the kyng.

1163, 1171. The.

1171. beseche the.

1181. be your nams: then, and 1191.

1222. you graunt.

1233. hundreth.

1243. then sayd.

1261. you wanting.

1272. These: ye.

1274. all thre.

1281. town.

1371. hauy graunted.

1531. apele.

Variations from a.

1622. myght se.

1624. sholdest wanting.

1641. .xvii.

1643. when.

1651. the a.

1663. estate.

1672. her sore.

1674. To gouerne.

1681. thanketh.

1682. To some bysshop wyl we wend.

1691. begone: there good.

1704. they wanting.

a bout, a gayne, a monge, a none, a byde, a lyue, ther at, etc., are joined.

d, e, f. The readings of all three are the same unless divergence is noted.

11. f. in the.

13. whereas men hunt east.

21. raise.

22. d. sights haue oft. e. sights haue not oft. f. has oft.

23. three yeomen.

24. as wanting.

32. Another.

42. thre wanting. d, e. euery chone. f. eueryeche one.

43. brethren on a.

44. English wood.

52. And wanting: mirth.

53. e. were wanting.

63. brethren, and generally. e. on a.

71. There to: Alice.

72. f. with wanting.

81. e, f. we go. d. Carlell, and generally. e, f. Carlile, and generally.

83. If that: doe you.

84. life is.

93. Trust you then that. d, f. tane. e. taken.

111. Alice he said.

112. My wife and children three.

113. owne husband. f. thy.

122. e, f. very sore.

124. d, f. halfe a. e. Full halfe a.

131. e. I am.

132. d, f. in I. e. in we.

141. d. fet.

142. d. true and.

143. e. what she.

151. d. in the.

152. little before.

161. rose and forth she goes.

162. e. might.

163. not wanting.

164. e. yeeres. f. not 7 yeere.

171. into.

173. night she said is come to towne.

181. e. Thereat.

182. e. was wanting. f. And wanting.

183. e. dame wanting.

184. ere.

192. d, e. as wanting. d, e, f. saine.

201. raised.

202. that wanting.

203. e. And thronging fast vnto the house.

204. As fast as. e. gan.

211. the good yeoman.

212. Round wanting.

213. d. of the folke. e. of folke. f. of the folkes.

214. thetherward: fast for they.

221. back for shot.

223. e. bothe wanting. e, f. second the wanting.

224. e, f. And with them. e. a great rout. f. a full great.

231. then cryed.

233. e, f. second my wanting. f. sweet husband.

242. e. second hys wanting.

243. the for hys. f. He went.

244. f. the surest.

251. Alice like a louer true.

252. f. Tooke a.

253. d, f. Said he shall die that commeth. e. Said he shall dye.

261. right good.

262. of a.

264. burst.

274. had beene neere the.

282. d. second thy wanting. e. thine arrowes. f. the bow and arrowes.

292. d, e. Sith no better it will be.

293. burne: saith. f. burne there.

294. and his.

301. f. The for they: and often.

302. d, e. vp wanting. f. fledd on.

303. then, and generally. e, f. said faire.

304. e. we here shall. f. here wee shall.

311. a for hys.

312. second on wanting. d. was on.

313. And there: he did let downe.

314. His wife and children.

321. f. Haue you here.

322. d, f. second my wanting.

321,2. e. wanting.

323. f. Gods loue.

332. d, f. agoe. e. go.

333. the wanting. about for vpon.

334. f. burnt.

341. fell vppon.

343,4. and sayde begins the fourth line.

351. e, f. had I.

352. runne.

353. e. amongst. d, f. my.

354. So: burne.

361. buckler then.

362. f. amongst.

363. people thickest were.

371. man abide. e, f. strokes.

372. e. run.

373. f. Then the: att him. e. doore.

374. that yeoman. f. And then the.

381. both wanting.

382. in a.

383. d, e. then said. d, f. hye wanting.

32392. e. gallowes thou shalt haue.

393. d. al wanting.

401. There. f. helpe yett.

403. f. a 100d men.

411. arose.

412. f. can he.

413. d. them to: full wanting. e, f. to shut close.

423. d, e. he set vp. f. There he new a paire of gallowes he sett vpp.

424. f. Hard by the.

432. meant.

441. the wanting. f. The litle.

443. f. seene William.

444. e. gaue.

451. at a creuice of.

452. wood he ran (ron, runn). f. And wanting.

453. e. he met. e, f. wighty yeomen.

461. e, f. said the.

462. e, f. You.

463. e, f. tane. e. doomd.

464. d. Already. e, f. And ready to be hangd.

472. saw.

473. d, e. might haue tarried heere with vs. f. He had better haue tarryed with vs.

474. e. as wanting.

481. haue dwelled.

482. these for the. f. shaddoowes greene.

483. haue wanting: at rest.

484. d, f. of all.

492. he had.

501. e. we go. d. wighty yeomen. e, f. iolly yeomen.

502. longer.

511. f. bold yeomen.

512. f. All in a mor[n]inge of May.

514. f. And wanting.

521. f. to wanting.

522. f. All in a morning.

523. vnto.

533. wonderous. d, f. be shut. e. are shut. f. ffast for well.

534. therein.

544. come. e. the king.

551. wryten wanting.

552. e. Now wanting. f. wiselye marke.

561. d, f. at the. f. gates.

562. f. hard and.

563. d, e. a wanting. f. marueiled who was theratt.

564. faste wanting. e, f. gates.

571. nowe wanting. f. Who be.

572. f. makes.

573. e. said they then. f. quoth Clim.

574. come right.

584. the for our.

591. none in.

592. e. of a.

593. Till that. f. a wanting.

601. d. the for that. e. that good yeman wanting. f. spake good Clim.

604. d, f. thou shalt.

611. got wanting.

613. d, e. porter wend (weend). f. had went wanting.

621. is my: he said.

622. d. ye shall. e, f. you shall.

623. e, f. gates. d, e. full shortly. f. ryght wanting.

631. are we.

632. Whereof: are right.

633. d. knowes. e, f. Christ he knowes assuredly.

634. e. come wanting. f. gett out.

642,3,4. then, When, and nearly always.

651. a wanting.

653. cast.

654. d, f. his keyes.

662. e. we haue.

663. in for to.

664. d. hundred. e, f. That came this hundred.

671. we will.

673. brother.

674. That for Where he.

681. d. Then: their good. e, f. Then: their good yew.

683. in for of.

693. d, f. of squiers. e. squirers.

694. e, f. That iudged William hanged.

701. e, f. hymselfe wanting. f. ready there in.

704. d, e. Already. f. to hange.

712. he should. e. Cloudesle.

713. good wanting.

714. e. thereby make him a. f. And wanting.

721. a wanting.

723. a graue.

732. I will thee hang.

733. heard this.

741. eye. e. William.

742. two (tow) brethren: stande wanting.

743. e. the corner: place wel prepard.

744. d. good wanting: bent wanting. e, f. wanting.

745. d, e. the justice to chase. f. the iustice to slaine.

751. good wanting.

753. e. hands let free.

754. d, e. might I.

761. Then spake.

763. Brother: you.

764. you.

771. And wanting.

782. d, e. they had.

783. f. the shirrfe, the other the iustice.

784. d, f. can.

791. e. stood them.

793. fell wanting.

794. d, e. deaths.

801. f. flye.

802. d, f. longer.

803. e. Then.

811. d, f. start. e. stept.

812. out of.

814. had wanting: all too. f. Hee thought.

821. e. brethren.

822. togyder wanting.

831. shot. e, f. in wanting.

832. full wanting.

834. e. The. d, f. long did.

841. like for as.

852. d, f. pressed to.

853. e. swords out anon.

863. d, f. was mid. f. were mid.

864. had wanting.

871. e. There was wanting. e, f. Carlile was.

872. they wanting. d. backwards.

881, 891, 901. mayor, maior.

883. thre wanting.

884. For of. d, f. they stood in great. e. they were in great.

894. e. Within that stoure.

902. brast. d, f. he wanting.

903. euill.

904. f. ffull woe.

905. f. Keepe well.

906. That.

912. d, e. downe they. f. were downe.

914. gotten out. e. of a.

922. heere I. e. My.

923. d, f. you.

924. doe you.

931. d, f. their keyes at. d. head.

933. any.

941. e, f. be the.

33d. word.

942. lightly.

943. f. wood.

951. d, e. English wood. f. merry greenwood.

952. the trustie.

954. d. full great.

961. God me helpe.

963. nowe wanting.

964. d. manie. e. many. f. meanye.

971. d, f. sate. e. Then sat they.

972. d, e. drunke.

973. fit of: yeomen for yonge men. f. A 2d ffitt of the wightye.

974. And wanting: I will.

981. English wood. d, f. sate.

982. d, e. trustie. f. the greenwoode.

983. woman wepe. e, f. They.

984. e, f. could act.

991. Sore then: there wanting. d, f. and sayd begins the next line.

991,2. e. And sayd Alas wanting.

992. saw.

993. f. nowe wanting.

1001. e. spoke.

1002. Or with.

1003. d, e. To shew to them what him befell. f. To show them, etc.

1011. aside.

1012. f. He looked.

1013. second his wanting. e. He saw his.

1022. Under. d. this trustie. e. a trusty. f. the trustye.

1024. d, f. shouldest had. e. shouldst had.

1034. d, e. brethren.

1044. e. It resteth.

1051. the lawnd.

1052. noble men all.

1054. f. that they cold see.

1062. f. saith.

1063. Because: by me.

1071. they went: theyr wanting.

1073. for their.

1082, 1152. without any leace (lease).

1091. at our.

1092. f. Att a.

1101. My.

1102. I haue.

1111. good yeomen.

1112. d, f. might hye. e. can hye.

1113. pallace.

1114. e, f. Where. d. neede. e, f. needs.

1121. kings. f. But when.

1122. f. & to.

1131. proceeded presently.

1132. they had.

1134. e, f. gan.

1141. e, f. you.

1142. e, f. to me.

1143. You: thus wanting.

1144. from for of.

1152. f. Certes.

1153. the for our.

1161. the for our. d, f. when. e. whan.

1171. d, e. beseech thee. f. beseeche yee sure.

1181. What be. e, f. the for our.

1183. e. They sayd wanting.

1191. d, e. than wanting. f. then. e. the for our.

1192. of wanting.

1193. f. Here I make a vow to God.

1194. You.

1203. f. officer[s] euery one.

1211. e. Therefore.

1223. doo for be: come.

1224. from.

1232. d. your wanting.

1233. d, e. hundreth: f. 100d.

1234. d, e. of you. f. Of you wee will aske noe.

1254. You.

1261. ye.

1264. f. itt shalbe.

1271. f. good my.

1272. These: ye.

1274. them all.

1281. f. You: townes.

1302. e. garmarcie. f. god a mercye.

1304. they shall.

1312. d. they may comfort see. e. they might comfort see. f. some comfort they might see.

1313. e, f. the for our.

1321. e. sittin. f. sitten.

1323. came two.

1333. e. our for your.

1341. fareth.

1351. e. slaine them. f. then said.

1352. Anone that you.

1353. and wanting.

1361. f. ffor wrath.

1363. then. f. rather then.

1364. of wanting.

1371. f. y- wanting.

1372. d. forethinketh.

1381. d, f. king he.

1383. And there: thre wanting.

1392. mayor.

1393. catchpoles.

1394. f. but one.

1401. bayliffes.

1403. forresters.

1404. haue. f. haue the slawe.

1412. e, f. Of all. f. coice the.

1413. d. Such.

1422. hys wanting.

1423. d. table he said. e. table then said he. f. tables then sayd hee.

1424. e, f. I can.

1431. then called.

1433. e, f. said he. f. To see.

1434. e. hath.

1441. d, e. buskt: blithe. f. archers busket: blythe.

1442. f. Soe did the queenes alsoe.

1443. d, e. thre wanting. f. weightye.

1444. f. They thought with them.

1452. thre wanting.

1454. them wanting.

1462. e, f. By him.

1463. d, e. a good. f. him not a good.

1471. e. the for our. f. then wanting.

1472. to me.

1481. into the.

1482. brethren.

1484. f. 400 paces.

1494. For no man can so doo.

1501. f. syr wanting.

1502. further.

151. d, f. our king. e, f. then wanting.

1523. tie him.

1524. e, f. see him.

1541. hast thee. f. then wanting.

1543. f. dost: has.

1554. you hang.

1562. d, e. I neuer will forsake. f. That I will neuer.

1573. him fro.

1583. out wanting. f. meaten.

1592. e. were.

1601. were there.

341604. had neede of a. e, f. steddy.

1621. claue.

1622. myght see. d, f. As.

1623. Now God forbid then said.

1624. d, e. shouldst.

1631. f. gaue: 8 pence.

1634. e. chiefe ranger.

1641. xiii. e, f. Ile.

1651. thee a.

1653. f. bretheren.

1654. are louely to.

1662. e, f. he shall be.

1663. mans estate. e, f. coms, comes.

1664. d. aduanced I will him see. e, f. Better preferred.

1672. d. sore for to. e. I long full sore to see. f. I long her sore.

1674. To.

1682. d. To some bishop will we wend. e, f. To some bishop we will wend.

1684. at his.

1691. e. the good.

1692. they can. d. So fast.

1693. and liued.

1694. good yeomen.

1701. f. liffe.

1703. f. with a.

1704. d, e. they wanting.

Insignificant variations of spelling are not noticed.


August 16, 1586, there was entered to Edward White, in the Stationers’ Registers, ‘A ballad of William Clowdisley neuer printed before:’ Arber, II, 455. This was in all probability the present piece, afterwards printed with ‘Adam Bell’ as a Second Part. The Second Part of Adam Bell was entered to John Wright, September 24, 1608: Arber, III, 390. The ballad is a pure manufacture, with no root in tradition, and it is an absurd extravaganza besides. The copy in the Percy Folio, here collated with the earliest preserved printed copy, has often the better readings, but may have been corrected. a has such monstrosities as y-then, y-so.

a. ‘The Second Part of Adam Bell,’ London, James Roberts, 1605. b. ‘Younge Cloudeslee,’ Percy MS. p. 398; Hales and Furnivall, III, 102.

List northerne laddes to blither things
Then yet were brought to light,
Performed by our countriemen
In many a fray and fight:
Of Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough,
And William of Cloudisly,
Who were in fauour with the king,
For all their misery.
Yong William of the wine-seller,
When yeoman he was made,
Gan follow then his father’s steps:
He loued a bonny maide.
‘God’s crosse,’ quoth William, ‘if I misse,
And may not of her speed,
I’le make a thousand northern hearts
For very wo to bleed.’
Gone he is a wooing now,
Our Ladie well him guide!
To merry Mansfield, where I trow
A time he will abide.
‘Soone dop the dore, faire Cicelie bright,
I come with all the hast:
I come a wooing thee for loue,
Here am I come at last.’
‘I know you not,’ quoth Cicelie tho,
‘From whence that yee bee come;
My loue you may not haue, I trow,
I vow by this faire sonne.
‘For why, my loue is fixt so sure
Vpon another wight;
I swere by sweet Saint Anne, I’le neuer
Abuse him, out of sight.
‘This night I hope to see my loue,
In all his pride and glee;
If there were thousands, none but him
My heart would ioy to see.’
‘God’s curse vpon him,’ yong William said,
‘Before me that hath sped!
A foule ill on the carrion nurse
That first did binde his head!’
Gan William tho for to prepare
A medicine for that chaffe:
‘His life,’ quoth he, ‘full hard may fare;
Hee’s best to keepe alaffe.’
He drew then out his bright brown sword,
Which was so bright and keene;
A stouter man and hardier
Nere handled sword, I weene.
‘Browne tempered, strong, and worthy blade,
Vnto thy maister show,
If now to triall thou bee put,
How thou canst bide a blow.’
Yong William till an oake gan hie,
Which was in compasse round
Well six and fifty inches nie,
And feld it to the ground.
‘So mot he fare,’ quoth William tho,
‘That for her loue hath laid
Which I haue loued, and nere did know
Him suter till that maide.
‘And now, deare father, stout and strong,
William of Cloudesley,
How happie were thy troubled sonne
If here I mot thee see.
‘And thy too brethren, Adam Bell
And Clim of the Clough;
Against a thousand men, and more,
We foure would be enough.
‘Growne it is full foure a clocke,
And night will come beliue;
Come on, thou lurden, Cislei’s loue,
This night must I thee shriue.
‘Prepare thee strong, thou fow[l] black caufe!
What ere thou be, I weene
I’le giue thy coxcomb saick a gird
In Mansfield as neuer was seene.’
William a yong faune had slaine,
In Sherwood, merry forrest;
A fairer faune for man’s meat
In Sherwood was neuer drest.
Hee hied then till a northerne lasse,
Not halfe a mile him fro;
He said, Dop dore, thou good old nurse,
That in to thee I goe.
‘I faint with being in the wood;
Lo heere I haue a kid,
Which I haue slo for thee and I;
Come dresse it then, I bid.
‘Fetch bread and other iolly fare,
Whereof thou hast some store;
A blither gest this hundred yeare
Came neuer here before.’
The good old nant gan hie a pace
To let yong William in;
‘A happie nurse,’ quoth William then,
‘As can be lightly seene.
‘Wend till that house hard by,’ quoth he,
‘That’s made of lime and stone,
Where is a lasse, faire Cisse,’ hee said;
‘I loue her as my owne.
‘If thou can fetch her vnto me,
That we may merry be,
I make a vow, in the forrest,
Of deare thou shalt haue fee.’
‘Rest then, faire sir,’ the woman said;
‘I sweare by good Saint Iohn,
I will bring to you that same maide
Full quickly and anon.’
‘Meane time,’ quoth William, ‘I’le be cooke
And see the faune i-drest;
A stouter cooke did neuer come
Within the faire forrest.’
Thick blith old lasse had wit enow
For to declare his minde;
So fast she hi’d, and nere did stay,
But left William behind.
Where William, like a nimble cooke,
Is dressing of the fare,
And for this damsell doth he looke;
‘I would that she were here!’
‘Good speed, blithe Cisse,’ quoth that old lasse;
‘God dild yee,’ quoth Cisley againe;
‘How done you, nant Ione?’ she said,
‘Tell me it, I am faine.’
The good old Ione said weele she was,
‘And commen in an arrand till you;
For you must to my cottage gone,
Full quick, I tell you true;
‘Where we full merry meane to be,
All with my elder lad:’
When Cissley heard of it, truely,
She was exceeding glad.
‘God’s curse light on me,’ quoth Cissley tho,
‘If with you I doe not hie;
I neuer ioyed more forsooth
Then in your company.’
Happy the good-wife thought her selfe
That of her purpose she had sped,
And home with Cisley she doth come,
So lightly did they tread.
And comming in, here William soone
Had made ready his fare;
The good old wife did wonder much
So soone as she came there.
Cisley to William now is come,
God send her mickle glee!
Yet was she in a maze, God wot,
When she saw it was hee.
‘Had I beene ware, good sir,’ she said,
‘Of that it had beene you,
I would haue staid at home in sooth,
I tell you very true.’
‘Faire Cisley,’ then said William kind,
‘Misdeeme thou not of mee;
I sent not for thee to the end
To do thee iniury.
‘Sit downe, that we may talke a while,
And eate all of the best
And fattest kidde that euer was slaine
In merry Sirwood forrest.’
His louing words wan Cisley then
To keepe with him a while;
But in the meane time Cislei’s loue
Of her was tho beguile.
A stout and sturdie man he was
Of quality and kind,
And knowne through all the north country
To beare a noble minde.
‘But what,’ quoth William, ‘do I care?
If that he meane to weare,
First let him winne; els neuer shall
He haue the maide, I sweare.’
Full softly is her louer come,
And knocked at the dore;
But tho he mist of Cislei’s roome,
Whereat he stampt and swore.
‘A mischief on his heart,’ quoth he,
‘That hath enlured the maide
To be with him in company!’
He car’d not what he sayd.
He was so with anger mooued
He sware a well great oth,
‘Deere should he pay, if I him knew,
Forsooth and by my troth!’
Gone he is to finde her out,
Not knowing where she is;
Still wandring in the weary wood,
His true-loue he doth misse.
William purchast hath the game,
Which he doth meane to hold:
‘Come rescew her, and if you can,
And dare to be so bold!’
At length when he had wandred long
About the forrest wide,
A candle-light a furlong off
Full quickly he espied.
Then to the house he hied him fast,
Where quickly he gan here
The voice of his owne deere true-loue,
A making bonny cheere.
Then gan he say to Cisley tho,
O Cisley, come a way!
I haue beene wandring thee to finde
Since shutting in of day.
‘Who calls faire Cisse?’ quoth William then;
‘What carle dares bee so bold
Once to aduenture to her to speake
Whom I haue now in hold?’
‘List thee, faire sir,’ quoth Cislei’s loue,
‘Let quickly her from you part;
For all your lordly words, I sweare
I’le haue her, or make you smart.’
Yong William to his bright browne sword
Gan quickly then to take:
‘Because thou so dost challenge me,
I’le make thy kingdome quake.
‘Betake thee to thy weapon strong;
Faire time I giue to thee;
And for my loue as well as thine
A combat fight will I.’
‘Neuer let sonne,’ quoth Cislei’s loue,
‘Shine more vpon my head,
If I doe flie, by heauen aboue,
Wert thou a giant bred.’
To bilbo-blade gat William tho,
And buckler stiffe and strong;
A stout battaile then they fought,
Well nie two houres long.
Where many a grieuous wound was giue
To each on either part;
Till both the champions then were droue
Almost quite out of heart.
Pitteous mone faire Cisley made,
That all the forrest rong;
The grieuous shrikes made such a noise,
She had so shrill a tongue.
At last came in the keepers three,
With bowes and arrowes keene,
Where they let flie among these two,
An hundred as I weene.
William, stout and strong in heart,
When he had them espied,
Set on corrage for his part;
Among the thickst he hied.
The chiefe ranger of the woods
At first did William smite;
Where, at on blow, he smot his head
Fro off his shoulders quite.
And being in so furious teene,
About him then he laid;
He slew immediatly the wight
Was sutor to the maide.
Great moane was then made;
The like was neuer heard;
Which made the people all around
To crie, they were so feard.
‘Arme! arme!’ the country cried,
‘For God’s loue quickly hie!’
Neuer was such a slaughter seene
In all the north country.
Will[iam] still, though wounded sore,
Continued in his fight
Till he had slaine them all foure,
That very winter-night.
All the country then was raisd,
The traytor for to take
That for the loue of Cisley faire
Had all this slaughter make.
To the woods hied William tho—
’Twas best of all his play—
Where in a caue with Cisley faire
He liued many a day.
Proclamation then was sent
The country all around,
The lord of Mansfield should he be
That first the traytor found.
Till the court these tydings came,
Where all men did bewaile
The yong and lusty William,
Which so had made them quaile.
Hied vp then William Cloudesley,
And lustie Adam Bell,
And famous Clim of the Clough,
Which three then did excell.
To the king they hied them fast,
Full quickly and anon;
‘Mercy I pray,’ quoth old William,
‘For William my sonne.’
‘No mercy, traitors,’ quoth the king,
‘Hangd shall yee be all foure;
Vnder my nose this plot haue you laid
To bringe to passe before.’
‘In sooth,’ bespake then Adam Bell,
‘Ill signe Your Grace hath seene
Of any such comotion
Since with you we haue beene.
‘If then we can no mercy haue,
But leese both life and goods,
Of your good grace we take our leaue
And hie vs to the woods.’
‘Arme, arme,’ then quoth the king,
‘My merry men euerychone,
Full fast againe these rebbells now
Vnto the woods are gone.
‘A, wo is vs! what shall we doo,
Or which way shall we worke,
To hunt them forth out of the woods,
So traytrouslie there that lurke?’
‘List you,’ quoth a counsellor graue,
A wise man he seemd;
The[n] craued the king his pardon free
Vnto them to haue deemd.
‘God’s forbod!’ quoth the king,
‘I neuer it will do!
For they shall hang, each mother’s sonne;
Faire sir, I tell you true.’
Fifty thousand men were charged
After them for to take;
Some of them, set in sundry townes,
In companies did waite.
To the woods gan some to goe,
In hope to find them out;
And them perforce they thought to take,
If they might find them out.
To the woods still as they came
Dispatched still they were;
Which made full many a trembling heart,
And many a man in feare.
Still the outlawes, Adam Bell
And Clim of the Clough,
Made iolly cheere with venison,
Strong drinke and wine enough.
‘Christ me blesse!’ then said our king,
‘Such men were neuer knowne;
They are the stoutest-hearted men
That manhoode euer showne.
‘Come, my secretary good,
And cause to be declared
A generall pardone to them all,
Which neuer shall be discared.
‘Liuing plenty shall they haue,
Of gold and eke of fee,
If they will, as they did before,
Come liue in court with me.’
Sodenly went forth the newes,
Declared by trumpets sound,
Whereof these three were well aduis’d,
In caue as they were in ground.
‘But list you, sirs,’ quoth William yong,
‘I dare not trust the king;
It is some fetch is in his head,
Whereby to bring vs in.
‘Nay, stay we here: or first let me
A messenger be sent
Vnto the court, where I may know
His Maiestie’s intent.’
This pleased Adam Bell:
‘So may we liue in peace,
We are at his most high command,
And neuer will we cease.
‘But if that still we shall be vrged,
And called by traitrous name,
And threated hanging for euery thing,
His Highnesse is to blame.
‘Neare had His Grace subiects more true,
And sturdier then wee,
Which are at His Highnesse will;
God send him well to bee!’
So to the court is yong William gone,
To parley with the king,
Where all men to the king’s presence
Did striue him for to bring.
When he before the king was come,
He kneeled down full low;
He shewed quickly to the king
What duty they did owe;
In such delightfull order blith,
The king was quickly wonne
To comfort them in their request,
As he before had done.
‘Fetch bread and drinke,’ then said His Grace,
‘And meat all of the best;
And stay all night here at the court,
And soundly take thy rest.’
‘Gramercies to Your Grace,’ said William,
‘For pardon graunted I see:’
‘For signe thereof, here take my seale,
And for more certainty.’
‘God’s curse vpon me,’ sayd William,
‘For my part if I meane
Euer againe to stirre vp strife!
It neuer shall bee seene.’
The nobles all to William came,
He was so stout and trimme,
And all the ladies, for very ioy,
Did come to welcome him.
‘Faire Cisley now I haue to wife,
In field I haue her wonne;’
‘Bring her here, for God’s loue,’ said they all,
‘Full welcome shall she be [soone].’
Forth againe went William backe,
To wood that he did hie,
And to his father there he shewd
The king his pardone free.
‘Health to His Grace,’ quoth Adam Bell,
‘I beg it on my knee!’
The like said Clim of the Clough,
And William of Cloudesley.
To the court they all prepare,
Euen as fast as they can hie,
Where graciously they were receiud,
With mirth and merry glee.
Cisley faire is wend alone
Vpon a gelding faire;
A proprer damsell neuer came
In any courtly ayre.
‘Welcome, Cisley,’ said the queene,
‘A lady I thee make,
To wait vpon my owne person,
In all my chiefest state.’
So quickly was this matter done,
Which was so hardly doubted,
That all contentions after that
From court were quickly rowted.
Fauourable was the king;
So good they did him finde,
The[y] neuer after sought againe
To vex his royall minde.
Long time they liued in court,
So neare vnto the king
That neuer after was attempt
Offred for any thing.
God aboue giue all men grace
In quiet for to liue,
And not rebelliously abroad
Their princes for to grieue.
Let not the hope of pardon mooue
A subiect to attempt
His soueraigne’s anger, or his loue
From him for to exempt.
But that all men may ready be
With all their maine and might
To serue the Lord, and loue the King,
In honor, day and night!

a. 14. In mickle.

61. Some.

134. canst thou.

203. man’s y-meat.

212. he fro.

282. I drest.

352. That her purpose he had of sped.

354. they read.

374. amaze.

461. was yso.

641. ythen.

762. euery chone.

921. more subjects true.

933. Which for Where.

b. 14. In many.

52. will for well.

61. Soone.

63. to thee.

131. sword for strong.

134. thou canst.

184. I must.

191. ffowle.

194. was neuer.

203. man’s meate.

212. him ffroe.

213. dop the.

223. slaine ffor thee & mee.

282. To see: well drest.

311. God speed.

313. doe yee.

321. woman for Ione.

322. in wanting: to you.

352. of her purpose shee had sped.

354. they did tread.

373. a maze.

403. The ffattest.

443. mist Cisleys companye.

452. allured this.

461. soe.

524. in my for now in.

572. That was both stiffe.

574. Weer neere.

611. strong & stout.

661. William.

682. Itt was the best.

732. You shall be hanged.

733. plott yee have.

762. euer-eche one.

783. The craued.

794. I tell you verry true.

861. Liuings.

921. subiects more true.

933. Where.

971. Gramercy.

1004. Welcome shee shall bee soone.

1041. is gone.

1054. cheefe estate.

1064. rooted.

1073. ffought for sought.


a. ‘A Gest of Robyn Hode,’ without printer’s name, date, or place; the eleventh and last piece in a volume in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh. Reprinted by David Laing, 1827, with nine pieces from the press of Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar, Edinburgh, 1508, and one other, by a printer unknown, under the title of The Knightly Tale of Golagrus and Gawane, and other Ancient Poems.

b. ‘A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode,’ etc., London, Wynken de Worde, n. d.: Library of the University of Cambridge.

c. Douce Fragment, No 16: Bodleian Library.

d. Douce Fragment, No 17: Bodleian Library.

e. Douce Fragment, No 16: Bodleian Library.[29]

f. ‘A Mery Geste of Robyn Hoode,’ etc., London, Wyllyam Copland, n. d.: British Museum, C. 21. c.

g. ‘A Merry Iest of Robin Hood,’ etc., London, printed for Edward White, n. d.: Bodleian Library, Z. 3. Art. Seld., and Mr Henry Huth’s library.

The best qualified judges are not agreed as to the typographical origin of a: see Dickson, Introduction of the Art of Printing into Scotland, Aberdeen, 1885, pp 51 ff, 82 ff, 86 f. Mr Laing had become convinced before his death that he had been wrong in assigning 40this piece to the press of Chepman and Myllar. The date of b may be anywhere from 1492 to 1534, the year of W. de Worde’s death. Of c Ritson says, in his corrected preface to the Gest, 1832, I, 2: By the favor of the Reverend Dr Farmer, the editor had in his hands, and gave to Mr Douce, a few leaves of an old 4to black letter impression by the above Wynken de Worde, probably in 1489, and totally unknown to Ames and Herbert. No reason is given for this date.[30] I am not aware that any opinion has been expressed as to the printer or the date of d, e. W. Copland’s edition, f, if his dates are fully ascertained, is not earlier than 1548. Ritson says that g is entered to Edward White in the Stationers’ books, 13 May, 1594. “A pastorall plesant commedie of Robin Hood & Little John, &c,” is entered to White on the 14th of May of that year, Arber, II, 649: this is more likely to have been a play of Robin Hood.

a, b, f, g, are deficient at 71, 3391, and misprinted at 49, 50, repeating, it may be, the faults of a prior impression. a appears, by internal evidence, to be an older text than b.[31] Some obsolete words of the earlier copies have been modernized in f, g,[32], and deficient lines have been supplied. A considerable number of Middle-English forms remain[33] after those successive renovations of reciters and printers, which are presumable in such cases. The Gest may have been compiled at a time when such forms had gone out of use, and these may be relics of the ballads from which this little epic was made up; or the whole poem may have been put together as early as 1400, or before. There are no firm grounds on which to base an opinion.

No notice of Robin Hood has been down to this time recovered earlier than that which was long ago pointed out by Percy as occurring in Piers Plowman, and this, according to Professor Skeat, cannot be older than about 1377.[34] Sloth, in that poem, says in his shrift that he knows “rymes of Robyn Hood and Randolf, erle of Chestre,”[35] though but imperfectly acquainted with his paternoster: B, passus v, 401 f, Skeat, ed. 1886, I, 166. References to Robin Hood, or to his story, are not infrequent in the following century.

41In Wyntoun’s Chronicle of Scotland, put at about 1420, there is this passage, standing quite by itself, under the year 1283:

Lytill Ihon and Robyne Hude
Waythmen ware commendyd gude;
In Yngilwode and Barnysdale
Thai oysyd all this tyme thare trawale.
Laing, II, 263.

Disorderly persons undertook, it seems, to imitate Robin Hood and his men. In the year 1417, says Stowe, one, by his counterfeit name called Fryer Tucke, with many other malefactors, committed many robberies in the counties of Surrey and Sussex, whereupon the king sent out his writs for their apprehension: Annals, p. 352 b, ed. 1631.[36] A petition to Parliament, in the year 1439, represents that one Piers Venables, of Derbyshire, rescued a prisoner, “and after that tyme, the same Piers Venables, havynge no liflode ne sufficeante of goodes, gadered and assembled unto him many misdoers, beynge of his clothinge, ... and, in manere of insurrection, wente into the wodes in that contré, like as it hadde be Robyn-hode and his meyné:” Rotuli Parliamentorum, V, 16.[37]

Bower, writing 1441–47, describes the lower orders of his time as entertaining themselves with ballads both merry and serious, about Robin Hood, Little John, and their mates, and preferring them to all others;[38] and Major, or Mair, who was born not long after 1450, says in his book, printed in 1521, that Robin Hood ballads were in vogue over all Britain.[39]

Sir John Paston, in 1473, writes of a servant whom he had kept to play Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham, and who was gone into Bernysdale: Fenn, Original Letters, etc., II, 134, cited by Ritson.

Gutch cites this allusion to Robin Hood ballads “from Mr Porkington, No 10, f. 152, written in the reign of Edward IV:”

Ther were tynkerris in tarlottus, the met was fulle goode,
The “sowe sat one him benche” (sic), and harppyd Robyn Hoode.

And again, the name simply, from “a song on Woman, from MS. Lambeth, 306, fol. 135, of the fifteenth century”:

He that made this songe full good
Came of the northe and of the sothern blode,
And somewhat kyne to Robyn Hode.
Gutch, Robin Hood, I, 55 f.

These passages show the popularity of Robin Hood ballads for a century or more 42before the time when the Gest was printed, a popularity which was fully established at the beginning of this period, and unquestionably extended back to a much earlier day. Of these ballads, there have come down to us in a comparatively ancient form the following: those from which the Gest (printed, perhaps, before 1500) was composed, being at least four, Robin Hood, the Knight and the Monk, Robin Hood, Little John and the Sheriff, Robin Hood and the King, and Robin Hood’s Death (a fragment); Robin Hood and the Monk, No 118, more properly Robin Hood rescued by Little John, MS. of about 1450, but not for that older than the ballads of the Gest; Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborn, No 119, Percy MS. c. 1650; Robin Hood’s Death, No 120, Percy MS. and late garlands; Robin Hood and the Potter, No 121, MS. of about 1500, later, perhaps, than any other of the group.[40] Besides these there are thirty-two ballads, Nos 122–153. For twenty-two of these we have the texts of broadsides and garlands of the seventeenth century,[41] four of the same being also found in the Percy MS.; eight occur in garlands, etc., of the last century, one of these same in the Percy MS., and another in an eighteenth-century MS.; one is derived from a suspicious nineteenth-century MS., and one from nineteenth-century tradition. About half a dozen of these thirty-two have in them something of the old popular quality; as many more not the least smatch of it. Fully a dozen are variations, sometimes wearisome, sometimes sickening, upon the theme ‘Robin Hood met with his match.’ A considerable part of the Robin Hood poetry looks like char-work done for the petty press, and should be judged as such. The earliest of these ballads, on the other hand, are among the best of all ballads, and perhaps none in English please so many and please so long.

That a considerable number of fine ballads of this cycle have been lost will appear all but certain when we remember that three of the very best are found each in only one manuscript.[42]

Robin Hood is absolutely a creation of the ballad-muse. The earliest mention we have of him is as the subject of ballads. The only two early historians who speak of him as a ballad-hero, pretend to have no information about him except what they derive from ballads, and show that they have none other by the description they give of him; this description being in entire conformity with ballads in our possession, one of which is found in a MS. as old as the older of these two writers.

Robin Hood is a yeoman, outlawed for reasons not given but easily surmised, “courteous and free,” religious in sentiment, and above all reverent of the Virgin, for the love of whom he is respectful to all women. He lives by the king’s deer (though he loves no man in the world so much as his king) and by levies on the superfluity of the higher orders, secular and spiritual, bishops and archbishops, 43abbots, bold barons, and knights,[43] but harms no husbandman or yeoman, and is friendly to poor men generally, imparting to them of what he takes from the rich. Courtesy, good temper, liberality, and manliness are his chief marks; for courtesy and good temper he is a popular Gawain. Yeoman as he is, he has a kind of royal dignity, a princely grace, and a gentleman-like refinement of humor. This is the Robin Hood of the Gest especially; the late ballads debase this primary conception in various ways and degrees.

This is what Robin Hood is, and it is equally important to observe what he is not. He has no sort of political character, in the Gest or any other ballad. This takes the ground from under the feet of those who seek to assign him a place in history. Wyntoun, who gives four lines to Robin Hood, is quite precise. He is likely to have known of the adventure of King Edward and the outlaw, and he puts Robin under Edward I, at the arbitrary date of 1283, a hundred and forty years before his own time. Bower, without any kind of ceremony, avouches our hero to have been one of the proscribed followers of Simon de Montfort, and this assertion of Bower is adopted and maintained by a writer in the London and Westminster Review, 1840, XXXIII, 424.[44] Major, who probably knew some ballad of Richard I and Robin Hood, offers a simple conjecture that Robin flourished about Richard’s time, “circa hæc tempora, ut auguror,” and this is the representation in Matthew Parker’s ‘True Tale,’ which many have repeated, not always with ut auguror; as Scott, with whom no one can quarrel, in the inexpressibly delightful Ivanhoe, and Thierry in his Conquête de l’Angleterre, Book xi, IV, 81 ff, ed. 1830, both of whom depict Robin Hood as the chief of a troop of Saxon bandits, Thierry making him an imitator of Hereward. Hunter, again, The Ballad-Hero, Robin Hood, p. 48, interprets the King Edward of the Gest as Edward II, and makes Robin Hood an adherent of the Earl of Lancaster in the fatal insurrection of 1322. No one of these theories has anything besides ballads for a basis except Hunter’s. Hunter has an account-book in which the name Robin Hood occurs; as to which see further on, under stanzas 414–450 of the Gest. Hereward the Saxon, Fulk Fitz Warine, Eustace the Monk, Wallace, all outlaws of one kind or another, are celebrated in romantic tales or poems, largely fabulous, which resemble in a general way, and sometimes in particulars, the traditional ballads about Robin Hood;[45] but these outlaws are recognized by contemporary history.

The chief comrades of Robin Hood are: Robin Hood and the Monk, Little John, Scathlok (Scarlok, Scarlet), and Much; to these the Gest adds Gilbert of the White Hand and Reynold, 292 f. A friar is not a member of his company in the older ballads. A curtal, or cutted friar, called Friar Tuck in the title, but not in the ballad, has a fight with Robin Hood in No 123, and is perhaps to be regarded as having accepted Robin’s invitation to join his company; this, however, is not said. Friar Tuck is simply named as one of Robin’s troop in two broadsides, No 145, No 147, but plays no part in them. These two broadsides also name Maid Marian, who appears elsewhere only in a late and entirely insignificant ballad, No 150.[46]

44Friar Tuck is a character in each of two Robin Hood plays, both of which we have, unluckily, only in a fragmentary state. One of these plays, dating as far back as 1475, presents scenes from Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborn, followed, without any link, by others from some ballad of a rescue of Robin Hood from the sheriff; to which extracts from still other ballads may have been annexed. In this play the friar has no special mark; he simply makes good use of his bow. The other play, printed by Copland with the Gest, not much before 1550, treats more at length the story of Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar, and then that of Robin Hood and the Potter, again, and naturally, without connection. The conclusion is wanting, and the play may have embraced still other ballads. The Friar in this is a loose and jovial fellow, and gave the hint for Scott’s Clerk of Copmanhurst.[47]

The second of the Robin Hood plays is described in the title as “very proper to be played in May-games.” These games were in the sixteenth century, and, it would seem, before, often a medley of many things. They were not limited to the first day of May, or even to the month of May; they might occur in June as well. They were not uniform, and might include any kind of performance or spectacle which suited the popular taste. “I find,” says Stow, “that in the moneth of May, the citizens of London, of all estates, lightlie in every parish, or sometimes two or three parishes joyning together, had their several Mayinges, and did fetch in Maypoles, with divers warlike shewes, with good archers, morrice-dancers, and other devices for pastime all the day long; and towards the evening they had stage-playes and bonefires in the streetes.”[48] In the Diary of Henry Machyn we read that on the twenty-sixth of May, 1555, there was a goodly May-game at St Martins in the Field, with giant and hobby-horses, morris-dance and other minstrels; and on the third day of June following, a goodly May-game at Westminster, with giants and devils, and three morris-dancers, and many disguised, and the Lord and Lady of the May rode gorgeously, with divers minstrels playing. On the thirtieth of May, 1557, there was a goodly May-game in Fenchurch Street, in which the Nine Worthies rode, and they had speeches, and the morris-dance, and the Sowdan, and the Lord and Lady of the May, and more besides. And again, on the twenty-fourth of June, 1559, there was a May-game, with a giant, the Nine Worthies, with speeches, a goodly pageant with a queen, St George and the Dragon, the morris-dance, and afterwards Robin Hood and Little John, and Maid Marian and Friar Tuck, and they had speeches round about London. (Pp 89, 137, 201.)[49]

In the rural districts the May-game was naturally a much simpler affair. The accounts of the chamberlains and churchwardens of Kingston upon Thames for Mayday, 23 Henry VII–28 Henry VIII, 1507–36, contain charges for the morris, the Lady, Little John, Robin Hood, and Maid Marian; the accounts for 21 Henry VII–1 Henry VIII relate to expenses for the Kyngham, and a king and queen are mentioned, presumably king and queen of May; under 24 Henry VII the “cost of the Kyngham and Robyn Hode are entered together.”[50]

“A simple northern man” is made to say in Albion’s England, 1586:

45At Paske began our Morris, and ere Penticost our May;
Tho Robin Hood, Liell John, Frier Tucke and Marian deftly play,
And Lard and Ladie gang till kirk, with lads and lasses gay.[51]

Tollet’s painted window (which is assigned by Douce to about 1460–70, and, if rightly dated, furnishes the oldest known representation of a May-game with the morris) has, besides a fool, a piper and six dancers, a Maypole, a hobby-horse, a friar, and a lady, and the lady, being crowned, is to be taken as Queen of May.

What concerns us is the part borne by Robin Hood, John, and the Friar in these games, and Robin’s relation to Maid Marian. In Ellis’s edition of Brand’s Antiquities, I, 214, note h, we are told that Robin Hood is styled King of May in The Book of the Universal Kirk of Scotland. This is a mistake, and an important mistake. In April, 1577, the General Assembly requested the king to “discharge [prohibit] playes of Robin Hood, King of May, and sick others, on the Sabboth day.” In April, 1578, the fourth session, the king and council were supplicated to discharge “all kynd of insolent playis, as King of May, Robin Hood, and sick others, in the moneth of May, played either be bairnes at the schools, or others”; and the subject was returned to in the eighth session. We know from various sources that plays, founded on the ballads, were sometimes performed in the course of the games. We know that archers sometimes personated Robin Hood and his men in the May-game.[52] The relation of Robin Hood, John, and the Friar to the May-game morris is obscure. “It plainly appears,” says Ritson, “that Robin Hood, Little John, the Friar, and Maid Marian were fitted out at the same time with the morris-dancers, and consequently, it would seem, united with them in one and the same exhibition,” meaning the morris. But he adds, with entire truth, in a note: “it must be confessed that no other direct authority has been met with for constituting Robin Hood and Little John integral characters of the morris-dance.”[53] And further, with less truth so far as the Friar is concerned: “that Maid Marian and the Friar were almost constantly such is proved beyond the possibility of a doubt.” The Friar is found in Tollet’s window, which Douce speaks of, cautiously, as a representation of an English May-game and morris-dance. The only “direct authority,” so far as I am aware, for the Friar’s being a party in the morris-dance (unconnected with the May-game) is the late authority of Ben Jonson’s Masque of the Metamorphosed Gipsies, 1621, cited by Tollet in his Memoir; where it is said that the absence of a Maid Marian and a friar is a surer mark than the lack of a hobby-horse that a certain company cannot be morris-dancers.[54] The lady is an essential personage in the morris.[55] How and when she came to receive the appellation of Maid Marian in the English 46morris is unknown. The earliest occurrence of the name seems to be in Barclay’s fourth Eclogue,[56] “subjoined to the last edition of The Ship of Foles, but originally printed soon after 1500:” Ritson, I, lxxxvii, ed. 1832. Warton suggested a derivation from the French Marion, and the idea is extremely plausible. Robin and Marion were the subject of innumerable motets and pastourelles of the thirteenth century, and the hero and heroine of a very pretty and lively play, more properly comic opera, composed by Adam de la Halle not far from 1280. We know from a document of 1392 that this play was annually performed at Angers, at Whitsuntide, and we cannot doubt that it was a stock-piece in many places, as from its merits it deserved to be. There are as many proverbs about Robin and Marion as there are about Robin Hood, and the first verse of the play, derived from an earlier song, is still (or was fifty years ago) in the mouths of the peasant girls of Hainault.[57] In the May-game of June, 1559, described by Machyn, after many other things, they had “Robin Hood and Little John,” and “Maid Marian and Friar Tuck,” some dramatic scene, pantomime, or pageant, probably two; but there is nothing of Maid Marian in the two (fragmentary) Robin Hood plays which are preserved, both of which, so far as they go, are based on ballads. Anthony Munday, towards the end of the sixteenth century, made a play, full of his own inventions, in which Robert, Earl of Huntington, being outlawed, takes refuge in Sherwood, with his chaste love Matilda, daughter of Lord Fitzwaters, and changes his name to Robin Hood, hers to Maid Marian.[58] One S. G., a good deal later, wrote a very bad ballad about the Earl of Huntington and his lass, the only ballad in which Maid Marian is more than a name. Neglecting these perversions, Maid Marian is a personage in the May-game and morris who is not infrequently paired with a friar, and sometimes with Robin Hood, under what relation, in either case, we cannot precisely say. Percy had no occasion to speak of her as Robin’s concubine, and Douce none to call her Robin’s paramour.

That ballads about Robin Hood were familiar throughout England and Scotland we know from early testimony. Additional evidence of his celebrity is afforded by the connection of his name with a variety of natural objects and archaic remains over a wide extent of country.

“Cairns on Blackdown in Somersetshire, and barrows near to Whitby in Yorkshire 47and Ludlow in Shropshire, are termed Robin Hood’s pricks or butts; lofty natural eminences in Gloucestershire and Derbyshire are Robin Hood’s hills; a huge rock near Matlock is Robin Hood’s Tor; an ancient boundary stone in Lincolnshire is Robin Hood’s cross; a presumed loggan, or rocking-stone, in Yorkshire is Robin Hood’s penny-stone; a fountain near Nottingham, another between Doncaster and Wakefield, and one in Lancashire are Robin Hood’s wells; a cave in Nottinghamshire is his stable; a rude natural rock in Hope Dale is his chair; a chasm at Chatsworth is his leap; Blackstone Edge, in Lancashire, is his bed; ancient oaks, in various parts of the country, are his trees.”[59] All sorts of traditions are fitted to the localities where they are known. It would be an exception to ordinary rules if we did not find Robin Hood trees and Robin Hood wells and Robin Hood hills. But, says Wright, in his essay on the Robin Hood ballads (p. 208), the connection of Robin Hood’s name with mounds and stones is perhaps one of the strongest proofs of his mythic character, as if Robin Hood were conceived of as a giant. The fact in question is rather a proof that those names were conferred at a time when the real character of Robin Hood was dimly remembered. In the oldest ballads Robin Hood is simply a stout yeoman, one of the best that ever bare bow; in the later ballads he is repeatedly foiled in contests with shepherds and beggars. Is it supposable that those who knew of him even at his best estate, could give him a loggan for a penny-stone? No one has as yet undertaken to prove that the ballads are later than the names.[60] Mounds and stones bear his name for the same idle reason that “so many others have that of King Arthur, King John, and, for want of a better, that of the devil.”[61]

Kuhn, starting with the assumption that the mythical character of Robin Hood is fully established (by traditions posterior to the ballads and contradictory to their tenor), has sought to show that our courteous outlaw is in particular one of the manifestations of Woden. The hobby-horse, which, be it borne in mind, though now and then found in the May-game 48or morris-dance, was never intimately associated, perhaps we may say never at all associated, with Robin Hood, represents, it is maintained, Woden. The fundamental grounds are these. In a Christmas, New Year, or Twelfth Day sport at Paget’s Bromley, Staffordshire, the rider of the hobby-horse held a bow and arrow in his hands, with which he made a snapping noise. In a modern Christmas festivity in Kent, the young people would affix the head of a horse to a pole about four feet in length, and tie a cloth round the head to conceal one of the party, who, by pulling a string attached to the horse’s lower jaw, produced a snapping noise as he moved along. This ceremony, according to the reporter, was called a hoodening, and the figure of the horse a hooden, “a wooden horse.”[62] The word hooden, according to Kuhn, we may unhesitatingly expound as Woden; Hood is a corruption of “Hooden,” and this Hooden again conducts us to Woden.

Glosyng is a ful glorious thing certayn.

The sport referred to is explained in Pegge’s Alphabet of Kenticisms (collected 1735–36), under the name hooding, as a country masquerade at Christmas time, which in Derbyshire they call guising, and in other places mumming; and to the same effect in the Rev. W. D. Parish’s Dictionary of the Kentish Dialect (soon to be published) under hoodening, which word is an obvious corruption, or secondary form, of hooding. The word hooding, applied to the sport, means just what it does in the old English hooding-cloth, a curtain; that is, a covering, and so a disguise by covering. It is true that wooden is pronounced hooden,[63] or ooden, in Kent, and that the hobby-horse had a wooden head, but it is quite inconceivable that the sport should receive its name from a circumstance so subordinate as the material of which the horse was made. Such an interpretation would hardly be thought of had not hooding in its proper sense long been obsolete. That this is the case is plain from two facts: the hooding used to be accompanied with carol-singing, and the Rev. Mr Parish informs us that carol-singing on Christmas Eve is still called hoodening at Monckton, in East Kent. The form Hooden, from which Robin’s name is asserted by Kuhn to be corrupted, is invented for the occasion. I suppose that no one will think that the hobby-horse-rider’s carrying a bow and arrows, in the single instance of the Staffordshire sport, conduces at all to the identifying of Robin Hood with the hobby-horse. Whether the Hobby-Horse represents Woden is not material here. It is enough that the Hobby-Horse cannot be shown to represent Robin Hood.[64]

I cannot admit that even the shadow of a case has been made out by those who would attach a mythical character either to Robin Hood or to the outlaws of Inglewood, Adam Bell, Clim of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly.[65]

49Ballads of other nations, relating to classes of men living in revolt against authority and society, may be expected to show some kind of likeness to the English outlaw-ballads, and such resemblances will be pointed out upon occasion. Spanish broadside ballads dating from the end of the sixteenth century commemorate the valientes and guapos of cities, robbers and murderers of the most flaunting and flagitious description: Duran, Romancero, Nos 1331–36, 1339–43, II, 367 ff.[66] These display towards corregidores, alcaides, customhouse officers, and all the ministers of government an hostility corresponding to that of Robin Hood against the sheriff; they empty the jails and deliver culprits from the gallows; reminding us very faintly of the Robin Hood broadsides, as of the rescues in Nos 140, 141, the Progress to Nottingham, No 139, in which Robin Hood, at the age of fifteen, kills fifteen foresters, or of Young Gamwell, in No 128, who begins his career by killing his father’s steward.[67] But Robin Hood and his men, in the most degraded of the broadsides, are tame innocents and law-abiding citizens beside the guapos. The Klephts, whose songs are preserved in considerable numbers, mostly from the last century and the present, have the respectability of being engaged, at least in part, in a war against the Turks, and the romance of wild mountaineers. They, like Robin Hood, had a marked animosity against monks, and they put beys to ransom as he would an abbot or a sheriff. There are Magyar robber-ballads in great number;[68] some of these celebrate Shobri (a man of this century), who spares the poor, relieves beggars, pillages priests (but never burns or kills), and fears God: Erdélyi’s collection, I, 194–98, Nos 237–39; Arany-Gyulai, II, 56, No 49; Kertbeny, Ausgewählte Ungarische Volkslieder, pp 246–251, Nos 136–38; Aigner, pp 198–201. Russian robber-songs are given by Sakharof, under the title Udaluiya, Skazaniya, 1841, I, iii, 224–32; Ralston, Songs of the Russian People, pp 44–50. There are a few Sicilian robber-ballads in Pitré, Canti pop. Siciliani, Nos 913–16, II, 125–37.

The Gest is a popular epic, composed from several ballads by a poet of a thoroughly congenial spirit. No one of the ballads from which it was made up is extant in a separate shape, and some portions of the story may have been of the compiler’s own invention. The decoying of the sheriff into the wood, stanzas 181–204, is of the same derivation as the last part of Robin Hood and the Potter, No 121, Little John and Robin Hood exchanging parts; the conclusion, 451–56, is of the same source as Robin Hood’s Death, No 120. Though the tale, as to all important considerations, is eminently original, absolutely so as to the conception of Robin Hood, some traits and incidents, as might be expected, 50are taken from what we may call the general stock of mediæval fiction.

The story is a three-ply web of the adventures of Robin Hood with a knight, with the sheriff of Nottingham, and with the king (the concluding stanzas, 451–56, being a mere epilogue), and may be decomposed accordingly. I. How Robin Hood relieved a knight, who had fallen into poverty, by lending him money on the security of Our Lady, the first fit, 1–81; how the knight recovered his lands, which had been pledged to Saint Mary Abbey, and set forth to repay the loan, the second fit, 82–143; how Robin Hood, having taken twice the sum lent from a monk of this abbey, declared that Our Lady had discharged the debt, and would receive nothing more from the knight, the fourth fit, 205–280. II. How Little John insidiously took service with Robin Hood’s standing enemy, the sheriff of Nottingham, and put the sheriff into Robin Hood’s hands, the third fit, 144–204; how the sheriff, who had sworn an oath to help and not to harm Robin Hood and his men, treacherously set upon the outlaws at a shooting-match, and they were fain to take refuge in the knight’s castle; how, missing of Robin Hood, the sheriff made prisoner of the knight; and how Robin Hood slew the sheriff and rescued the knight, the fifth and sixth fit, 281–353. III. How the king, coming in person to apprehend Robin Hood and the knight, disguised himself as an abbot, was stopped by Robin Hood, feasted on his own deer, and entertained with an exhibition of archery, in the course of which he was recognized by Robin Hood, who asked his grace and received a promise thereof, on condition that he and his men should enter into the king’s service; and how the king, for a jest, disguised himself and his company in the green of the outlaws, and going back to Nottingham caused a general flight of the people, which he stopped by making himself known; how he pardoned the knight; and how Robin Hood, after fifteen months in the king’s court, heart-sick and deserted by all his men but John and Scathlock, obtained a week’s leave of the king to go on a pilgrimage to Saint Mary Magdalen of Barnsdale, and would never come back in two-and-twenty years, the seventh and eighth fit, 354–450. A particular analysis may be spared, seeing that many of the details will come out incidentally in what follows.

Barnsdale, Robin Hood’s haunt in the Gest, 3, 21, 82, 134, 213, 262, 440, 442, is a woodland region in the West Riding of Yorkshire, a little to the south of Pontefract and somewhat further to the north of Doncaster. The river Went is its northern boundary. “The traveller enters upon it [from the south] a little beyond a well-known place called Robin Hood’s Well [some ten miles north of Doncaster, near Skelbrook], and he leaves it when he has descended to Wentbridge.” (For Wentbridge, see No 121, st. 6; the Gest, 1351.) A little to the west is Wakefield, and beyond Wakefield, between that town and Halifax, was the priory of Kyrkesly or Kirklees. The Sayles, 18, was a very small tenancy of the manor of Pontefract. The great North Road, formerly so called, and here, 18, denominated Watling Street (as Roman roads often are), crosses Barnsdale between Doncaster and Ferrybridge.[69] Saint Mary Abbey, “here besyde,” 54, was at York, and must have been a good twenty miles from Barnsdale. The knight, 1264, is said to be “at home in Verysdale.” Wyresdale (now Over and Nether Wyersdale) was an extensive tract of wild country, part of the old forest of Lancashire, a few miles to the southeast of Lancaster. The knight’s son had slain a knight and a squire of Lancaster, a, Lancashire, b, f, g, 53. It is very likely, therefore, that the knight’s castle, in the original ballad, was in Lancashire. However this may be, it is put in the Gest, 309 f, on the way between Nottingham and Robin Hood’s 51retreat, which must be assumed to be Barnsdale. From it, again, Barnsdale is easily accessible to the knight’s wife, 334 f.[70] Wherever it lay or lies, the distance from Nottingham or from Barnsdale, as also the distance from Nottingham to Barnsdale (actually some fifty miles), is made nothing of in the Gest.[71] The sheriff goes a-hunting; John, who is left behind, does not start from Nottingham till more than an hour after noon, takes the sheriff’s silver to Barnsdale,[72] runs five miles in the forest, and finds the sheriff still at his sport: 155 f, 168, 176–82. We must not be nice. Robin Hood has made a vow to go from London to Barnsdale barefoot. The distance thither and back would not be much short of three hundred and fifty miles. King Edward allows him a seven-night, and no longer, 442 f. The compiler of the Gest did not concern himself to adjust these matters. There was evidently at one time a Barnsdale cycle and a Sherwood cycle of Robin Hood ballads. The sheriff of Nottingham would belong to the Sherwood series (to which Robin Hood and the Monk appertains). He is now a capital character in all the old Robin Hood ballads. If he was adopted from the Sherwood into the Barnsdale set, this was done without a rearrangement of the topography.

5–7. Robin Hood will not dine until he has some guest that can pay handsomely for his entertainment, 18, 19, 206, 209; dinner, accordingly, is sometimes delayed a long time, 25, 30, 143, 220; to Little John’s impatience, 5, 16, 206, 211. This habit of Robin’s seems to be a humorous imitation of King Arthur, who in numerous romances will not dine till some adventure presents itself; a custom which, at least on one occasion, proves vexatious to his court. Cf. I, 257 f.[73]

8–10. Robin’s general piety and his special devotion to the Virgin are again to be remarked in No 118. There is a tale of a knight who had a castle near a public road, and robbed everybody that went by, but said his Ave every day, and never allowed anything to interfere with his so doing, in Legenda Aurea, c. 51, Grässe, p. 221; Hagen, Gesammtabenteuer, III, 563, No 86; Morlini Novellæ, Paris, 1855, p. 269, No 17, etc.

13–15. Robin’s practice corresponds closely with Gamelyn’s:

Whil Gamelyn was outlawed hadde he no cors;
There was no man that for him ferde the wors
But abbotes and priours, monk and chanoun;
On hem left he no-thing, whan he mighte hem nom.
vv 779–82, ed. Skeat.

Fulk Fitz Warine, nor any of his, during the time of his outlawry would ever do hurt to any one except the king and his knights: Wright, p. 77 f.

45. “Distraint of knighthood,” or the practice of requiring military tenants who held 20 l. per annum to receive knighthood, or pay a composition, began under Henry III, as early as 1224, and was continued by Edward I. This was regarded as a very serious oppression under James I and Charles I, and was abolished in 1642. Stubbs, Constitutional History, II, 281 f; Hallam, Constitutional History, ed. 1854, I, 338, note x, II, 9, 99.

62–66. The knight has no security to offer for a loan “but God that dyed on a tree,” and such security, or that of the saints, is peremptorily rejected by Robin; but when the knight says that he can offer no other, unless 52it be Our Lady, the Virgin is instantly accepted as entirely satisfactory. In a well-known miracle of Mary, found in most of the larger collections, a Christian, who resorts to a Jew to borrow money, tenders Jesus as security, and the Jew, who regards Jesus as a just man and a prophet, though not divine, is willing to lend on the terms proposed. The Christian, not being able, as he says, to produce Jesus Christ in person, takes the Jew to a church, and, standing before an image of the Virgin and Child, causes him to take the hand of the Child, saying, Lord Jesus Christ, whose image I have given as pledge for this money, and whom I have offered this Jew as my surety, I beg and entreat that, if I shall by any chance be prevented from returning the money to this man upon the day fixed, but shall give it to thee, thou wilt return it to him in such manner and form as may please thee. In the sequel this miraculous interposition becomes necessary, and the money is punctually restored, the act of grace being implicitly or distinctly attributed to Mary rather than her Son; distinctly in an English form of the legend, where the Christian, especially devoted to the Virgin, offers Saint Mary for his borrow: Horstmann, Die altenglischen Marienlegenden des MS. Vernon, in Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen, LVI, 232, No 6.[74]

107. The abbot had retained the chief justice “by robe and fee,” to counsel and aid him in the spoliation of the knight, 93. Taking and giving of robes and fees for such purposes is defined as conspiracy in a statute of Edward I, 1305–06; and by another statute, 20 Edward III, c. vi, 1346, justices are required to swear that they will take robes and fees from no man but the king: et que vos ne prendrez fee, tant come vos serez justicz, ne robes, de nul homme, graunt ne petit, sinoun du roi meismes. Statutes of the Realm, I, 145, 305: cited by J. Lewelyn Curtis, in Notes and Queries, S. I, VI, 479 f. All the English judges, including the chief justice, were convicted of bribery and were removed, under Edward I, 1289.

121. The knight would have given something for the use of the four hundred pound had the abbot been civil, though under no obligation to pay interest. In 270 the knight proffers Robin twenty mark (3⅓ per cent) for his courtesy, which seemingly small sum was to be accompanied with the valuable gift of a hundred bows and a hundred sheaf of peacock-feathered, silver-nocked arrows. But though the abbot had not lent for usury, still less had he lent for charity. The knight’s lands were to be forfeited if the loan should not be punctually returned, 86 f, 94, 106; and of this the knight was entirely aware, 85. “As for mortgaging or pawning,” says Bacon, Of Usury, “either men will not take pawns without use, or, if they do, they will look precisely for the forfeiture. I remember a cruel moneyed man in the country that would say, The devil take this usury; it keeps us from forfeitures of mortgages and bonds.” But troubles, legal or other, might ensue upon this hard-dealing unless the knight would give a quittance, 117 f.

135–37. A ram was the prize for an ordinary wrestling-match; but this is an occasion which brings together all the best yeomen of the West Country, and the victor is to have a bull, a horse saddled and bridled, a pair of gloves, a ring, and a pipe of wine. In Gamelyn “there was set up a ram and a ring,” v. 172.

181–204. The sheriff is decoyed into the wood by Robin Hood in No 121, 56–69, No 53122, A, 18–25, B, 20–27, as here by Little John. Fulk Fitz Warine gets his enemy, King John, into his power by a like stratagem. Fulk, disguised as a collier, is asked by King John if he has seen a stag or doe pass. He has seen a horned beast; it had long horns. He offers to take the king to the place where he saw it, and begs the king to wait while he goes into the thicket to drive the beast that way. Fulk’s men are in the forest: he tells them that he has brought the king with only three knights; they rush out and seize the king. Fulk says he will have John’s life, but the king promises to restore Fulk’s heritage and all that had been taken from him and his men, and to be his friend forever after. A pledge of faith is exacted and given, and very happy is the king so to escape. But the king keeps the forced oath no better than the sheriff. Wright, p. 145 ff. There is a passage which has the same source, though differing in details, in Eustace the Monk, Michel, pp. 36–39, vv 995–1070. The story is incomparably better here than elsewhere.

213–33. The black monks are Benedictines. There are two according to 213 f, 218, 2254, but the high cellarer only (who in 91–93 is exultant over the knight’s forfeiture) is of consequence, and the other is made no account of. Seven score of wight young men, 2293, is the right number for a band of outlaws; so Gamelyn, v. 628. The sheriff has his seven score in Guy of Gisborn, 13.

243–47. “What is in your coffers?” So Eustace the monk to the merchant, v. 938, p. 34, Michel: “Di-moi combien tu as d’argent.” The merchant tells the exact truth, and Eustace, having verified the answer by counting, returns all the money, saying, If you had lied in the least, you would not have carried off a penny. When Eustace asks the same question of the abbot, v. 1765, p. 64, the abbot answers, after the fashion of our cellarer, Four silver marks. Eustace finds thirty marks, and returns to the abbot the four which he had confessed.

213–272. Nothing was ever more felicitously told, even in the best dit or fabliau, than the “process” of Our Lady’s repaying the money which had been lent on her security. Robin’s slyly significant welcome to the monk upon learning that he is of Saint Mary Abbey, his professed anxiety that Our Lady is wroth with him because she has not sent him his pay, John’s comfortable suggestion that perhaps the monk has brought it, Robin’s incidental explanation of the little business in which the Virgin was a party, and request to see the silver in case the monk has come upon her affair, are beautiful touches of humor, and so delicate that it is all but brutal to point them out. The story, however, is an old one, and was known, perhaps, wherever monks were known. A complete parallel is afforded by Pauli’s Schimpf und Ernst, No 59 (c. 1515). A nobleman took a burgess’s son prisoner in war, carried him home to his castle, and shut him up in a tower. After lying there a considerable time, the prisoner asked and obtained an interview with his captor, and said: Dear lord, I am doing no good here to you or myself, since my friends will not send my ransom. If you would let me go home, I would come back in eight weeks and bring you the money. Whom will you give for surety? asked the nobleman. I have no one to offer, replied the prisoner, but the Lord God, and will swear you an oath by him to keep my word. The nobleman was satisfied, made his captive swear the oath, and let him go. The hero sold all that he owned, and raised the money, but was three weeks longer in so doing than the time agreed upon. The nobleman, one day, when he was riding out with a couple of servants, fell in with an abbot or friar who had two fine horses and a man. See here, my good fellows, said the young lord; that monk is travelling with two horses, as fine as any knight, when he ought to be riding on an ass. Look out now, we will play him a turn. So saying, he rode up to the monk, seized the bridle of his horse, and asked, Sir, who are you? Who is your lord? The monk answered, I am a servant of God, and he is my lord. You come in good time, said the nobleman. I had a prisoner, and set him free upon his leaving your lord with me as a surety. But I can get nothing from this 54lord of yours; he is above my power; so I will lay hands on his servant; and accordingly made the monk go with him afoot to the castle, where he took from him all that he had. Shortly after, his prisoner appeared, fell at his feet, and wished to pay the ransom, begging that he would not be angry, for the money could not be got sooner. But the nobleman said, Stand up, my good man. Keep your money, and go whither you will, for your surety has paid your ransom. Ed. Oesterley, p. 49. The gist of the story is in Jacques de Vitry, Sermones Vulgares, fol. 62, MS. 17,509, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Scala Celi (1480), 159 b, “De Restitucione,” and elsewhere: see Oesterly’s note, p. 480. A very amusing variety is the fabliau Du povre Mercier, Barbazan et Méon, III, 17; Montaiglon et Raynaud, II, 114; Legrand, III, 93, ed. 1829.[75]

2933. Reynolde. Possibly Little John borrows this Reynolde’s name in 149, but there is no apparent reason why he should. In the following very strange, and to me utterly unintelligible, piece in Ravenscroft’s Deuteromelia, which may have been meant to have only enough sense to sing, Renold, a miller’s son, mickle of might (was he rechristened Much?), becomes one of Robin Hood’s men. (Deuteromelia, p. 4: London, for Tho. Adams, 1609.)

By Lands-dale hey ho,
By mery Lands-dale hey ho,
There dwelt a jolly miller,
And a very good old man was he, hey ho.
He had, he had and a sonne a,
Men called him Renold,
And mickle of his might
Was he, was he, hey ho.
And from his father a wode a,
His fortune for to seeke,
From mery Lands-dale
Wode he, wode he, hey ho.
His father would him seeke a,
And found him fast a sleepe;
Among the leaves greene
Was he, was he, hey ho.
He tooke, he tooke him up a,
All by the lilly-white hand,
And set him on his feet,
And bad him stand, hey ho.
He gave to him a benbow,
Made all of a trusty tree,
And arrowës in his hand,
And bad him let them flee.
And shoote was that that a did a,
Some say he shot a mile,
But halfe a mile and more
Was it, was it, hey ho.
And at the halfe miles end,
There stood an armed man;
The childe he shot him through,
And through and through, hey ho.[76]
His beard was all on a white a,
As white as whale is bone,
His eyes they were as cleare
As christall stone, hey ho.
And there of him they made
Good yeoman, Robin Rood,
Scarlet, and Little John,
And Little John, hey ho.

302–05. The Klepht Giphtakis, wounded in knee and hand, exclaims: Where are you, my brother, my friend? Come back and take me off, or take off my head, lest the Turk should do so, and carry it to that dog of an Ali Pacha. (1790. Fauriel, I, 20; Zambelios, p. 621, No 32; Passow, p. 52, No 61.)

357–59. The king traverses the whole length of Lancashire and proceeds to Plumpton Park, missing many of his deer. Camden, Britannia, II, 175, ed. 1772, places Plumpton Park on the bank of the Petterel, in Cumberland, 55east of Inglewood. (Hunter, p. 30, citing no authority, says it was part of the forest of Knaresborough, in Yorkshire.) Since this survey makes the king wroth with Robin Hood, we must give a corresponding extent to Robin’s operations. And we remember that Wyntoun says that he exercised his profession in Inglewood and Barnsdale.

371 ff. The story of the seventh fit has a general similitude to the extensive class of tales, mostly jocular, represented by ‘The King and the Miller;’ as to which, see further on.

403–09. The sport of “pluck-buffet” (4243) is a feature in the romance of Richard Cœur de Lion, 762–98, Weber, II, 33 f. Richard is betrayed to the king of Almayne by a minstrel to whom he had given a cold reception, and is put in prison. The king’s son, held the strongest man of the land, visits the prisoner, and proposes to him an exchange of this sort. The prince gives Richard a clout which makes fire spring from his eyes, and goes off laughing, ordering Richard to be well fed, so that he may have no excuse for returning a feeble blow when he takes his turn. The next day, when the prince comes for his payment, Richard, who has waxed his hand by way of preparation, delivers a blow which breaks the young champion’s cheek-bone and fells him dead. There is another instance in ‘The Turke and Gowin,’ Percy MS., Hales and Furnivall, I, 91 ff.

414–450. Robin Hood is pardoned by King Edward on condition of his leaving the greenwood with all his company, and taking service at court. In the course of a twelvemonth,[77] keeping up his old profusion, Robin has spent not only all his own money, but all his men’s, in treating knights and squires, and at the end of the year all his band have deserted him save John and Scathlock. About this time, chancing to see young men shooting, the recollection of his life in the woods comes over him so powerfully that he feels that he shall die if he stays longer with the king. He therefore affects to have made a vow to go to Barnsdale “barefoot and woolward.” Upon this plea he obtains from the king leave of absence for a week, and, once more in the forest, never reports for duty in two and twenty years.

Hunter, who could have identified Pigrogromitus and Quinapalus, if he had given his mind to it, sees in this passage, and in what precedes it of King Edward’s trip to Nottingham, a plausible semblance of historical reality.[78] Edward II, as may be shown from Rymer’s Fœdera, made a progress in the counties of York, Lancaster, and Nottingham, in the latter part of the year 1323. He was in Yorkshire in August and September, in Lancashire in October, at Nottingham November 9–23, spending altogether five or six weeks in that neighborhood, and leaving it a little before Christmas. “Now it will scarcely be believed, but it is, nevertheless, the plain and simple truth, that in documents preserved in the Exchequer, containing accounts of expenses in the king’s household, we find the name of Robyn Hode, not once, but several times occurring, receiving, with about eight and twenty others, the pay of 3d. a day, as one of the ‘vadlets, porteurs de la chambre’ of the king;” these entries running from March 24, 1324, to November 22 of the same year. There are entries of payments to vadlets during the year preceding, but unluckily the accountant has put down the sums in gross, without specifying the names of persons who received regular wages. This, as Hunter remarks, does not quite prove that Robyn Hode had not been among these persons before Christmas, 1323, but, on the other hand, account-book evidence is lacking to show that he had been. Hunter’s interpretation of the data is that Robyn Hode entered the king’s service at Nottingham a little before Christmas, 1323. If this was so, his career as porter was not only brief, but pitiably checkered. His pay is docked for five days’ absence in May, again for eight days in August, then for fifteen days in October. “He was growing weary of his new mode of life.” Seven days, once more, are deducted in November, and 56under the 22d of that month we find this entry: Robyn Hode, jadys un des porteurs, poar cas qil ne poait pluis travailler de donn par comandement, v. s. After this his name no longer appears.

A simple way of reading the Exchequer documents is that one Robert Hood, some time (and, for aught we know, a long time) porter in the king’s household, after repeatedly losing time, was finally discharged, with a present of five shillings, because he could not do his work. To detect “a remarkable coincidence between the ballad and the record” requires not only a theoretical prepossession, but an uncommon insensibility to the ludicrous.[79] But taking things with entire seriousness, there is no correspondence between the ballad and the record other than this: that Robin Hood, who is in the king’s service, leaves it; in the one instance deserting, and in the other being displaced. Hunter himself does not, as in the case of Adam Bell, insist that the name Robin Hood is “peculiar.” He cites, p. 10, a Robert Hood, citizen of London, who supplied the king’s household with beer, 28 Edward I, and a Robert Hood of Wakefield, twice mentioned, 9, 10 Edward II.[80] Another Robert Hood at Throckelawe, Northumbria, is thrice mentioned in the Exchequer Rolls, Edward I, 19, 20, 30: Rot. Orig. in Cur. Scac. Abbrev., I, 69, 73, 124. A Robert Hood is manucaptor for a burgess returned from Lostwithiel, Cornwall, 7 Edward II, Parliamentary Writs, II, 1019, and another, of Howden, York, 10 Edward III, is noted in the Calendar of Patent Rolls, p. 125, No 31, cited by Ritson. In all these we have six Robin Hoods between 30 Edward I and 10 Edward III, a period of less than forty years.

433, 435–50 are translated by A. Grün, p. 166.

a. 1
Lythe and listin, gentilmen,
That be of frebore blode;
I shall you tel of a gode yeman,
His name was Robyn Hode.
Robyn was a prude outlaw,
[Whyles he walked on grounde;
So curteyse an outlawe] as he was one
Was never non founde.
Robyn stode in Bernesdale,
And lenyd hym to a tre;
And bi hym stode Litell Johnn,
A gode yeman was he.
And alsoo dyd gode Scarlok,
And Much, the miller’s son;
There was none ynch of his bodi
But it was worth a grome.
Than bespake Lytell Johnn
All vntoo Robyn Hode:
Maister, and ye wolde dyne betyme
It wolde doo you moche gode.
Than bespake hym gode Robyn:
To dyne haue I noo lust,
Till that I haue som bolde baron,
Or som vnkouth gest.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
That may pay for the best,
Or som knyght or [som] squyer,
That dwelleth here bi west.
A gode maner than had Robyn;
In londe where that he were,
Euery day or he wold dyne
Thre messis wolde he here.
The one in the worship of the Fader,
And another of the Holy Gost,
The thirde of Our derë Lady,
That he loued allther moste.
Robyn loued Oure derë Lady;
For dout of dydly synne,
Wolde he neuer do compani harme
That any woman was in.
‘Maistar,’ than sayde Lytil Johnn,
‘And we our borde shal sprede,
Tell vs wheder that we shal go,
And what life that we shall lede.
‘Where we shall take, where we shall leue,
Where we shall abide behynde;
Where we shall robbe, where we shal reue,
Where we shal bete and bynde.’
‘Therof no force,’ than sayde Robyn;
‘We shall do well inowe;
But loke ye do no husbonde harme,
That tilleth with his ploughe.
‘No more ye shall no gode yeman
That walketh by grenë-wode shawe;
Ne no knyght ne no squyer
That wol be a gode felawe.
‘These bisshoppes and these archebishoppes,
Ye shall them bete and bynde;
The hyë sherif of Notyingham,
Hym holde ye in your mynde.’
‘This worde shalbe holde,’ sayde Lytell Johnn,
‘And this lesson we shall lere;
It is fer dayes; God sende vs a gest,
That we were at oure dynere!’
‘Take thy gode bowe in thy honde,’ sayde Rob[yn];
‘Late Much wende with the;
And so shal Willyam Scarlo[k],
And no man abyde with me.
‘And walke vp to the Saylis,
And so to Watlinge Stret[e],
And wayte after some vnkuth gest,
Vp chaunce ye may them mete.
‘Be he erle, or ani baron,
Abbot, or ani knyght,
Bringhe hym to lodge to me;
His dyner shall be dight.’
They wente vp to the Saylis,
These yeman all thre;
They loked est, they loke[d] weest;
They myght no man see.
But as they loked in to Bernysdale,
Bi a dernë strete,
Than came a knyght ridinghe;
Full sone they gan hym mete.
All dreri was his semblaunce,
And lytell was his pryde;
His one fote in the styrop stode,
That othere wauyd beside.
His hode hanged in his iyn two;
He rode in symple aray;
A soriar man than he was one
Rode neuer in somer day.
Litell Johnn was full curteyes,
And sette hym on his kne:
‘Welcom be ye, gentyll knyght,
Welcom ar ye to me.
‘Welcom be thou to grenë wode,
Hendë knyght and fre;
My maister hath abiden you fastinge,
Syr, al these ourës thre.’
‘Who is thy maister?’ sayde the knyght;
Johnn sayde, Robyn Hode;
‘He is [a] gode yoman,’ sayde the knyght,
‘Of hym I haue herde moche gode.
‘I graunte,’ he sayde, ‘with you to wende,
My bretherne, all in fere;
My purpos was to haue dyned to day
At Blith or Dancastere.’
Furth than went this gentyl knight,
With a carefull chere;
The teris oute of his iyen ran,
And fell downe by his lere.
They brought hym to the lodgë-dore;
Whan Robyn hym gan see,
Full curtesly dyd of his hode
And sette hym on his knee.
‘Welcome, sir knight,’ than sayde Robyn,
‘Welcome art thou to me;
I haue abyden you fastinge, sir,
All these ouris thre.’
Than answered the gentyll knight,
With wordës fayre and fre;
God the saue, goode Robyn,
And all thy fayre meynë.
They wasshed togeder and wyped bothe,
And sette to theyr dynere;
Brede and wyne they had right ynoughe,
And noumbles of the dere.
Swannes and fessauntes they had full gode,
And foules of the ryuere;
There fayled none so litell a birde
That euer was bred on bryre.
‘Do gladly, sir knight,’ sayde Robyn;
‘Gramarcy, sir,’ sayde he;
‘Suche a dinere had I nat
Of all these wekys thre.
‘If I come ageyne, Robyn,
Here by thys contrë,
As gode a dyner I shall the make
As that thou haest made to me.’
‘Gramarcy, knyght,’ sayde Robyn;
‘My dyner whan that I it haue,
I was neuer so gredy, bi dere worthy God,
My dyner for to craue.
‘But pay or ye wende,’ sayde Robyn;
‘Me thynketh it is gode ryght;
It was neuer the maner, by dere worthi God,
A yoman to pay for a knyhht.’
‘I haue nought in my coffers,’ saide the knyght,
‘That I may prefer for shame:’
‘Litell Johnn, go loke,’ sayde Robyn,
‘Ne let nat for no blame.
‘Tel me truth,’ than saide Robyn,
‘So God haue parte of the:’
‘I haue no more but ten shelynges,’ sayde the knyght,
‘So God haue parte of me.’
If thou hast no more,’ sayde Robyn,
‘I woll nat one peny;
And yf thou haue nede of any more,
More shall I lend the.
‘Go nowe furth, Littell Johnn,
The truth tell thou me;
If there be no more but ten shelinges,
No peny that I se.’
Lyttell Johnn sprede downe hys mantell
Full fayre vpon the grounde,
And there he fonde in the knyghtës cofer
But euen halfe [a] pounde.
Littell Johnn let it lye full styll,
And went to hys maysteer [full] lowe;
‘What tidyngës, Johnn?’ sayde Robyn;
‘Sir, the knyght is true inowe.’
‘Fyll of the best wine,’ sayde Robyn,
‘The knyght shall begynne;
Moche wonder thinketh me
Thy clot[h]ynge is so thin[n]e.
‘Tell me [one] worde,’ sayde Robyn,
‘And counsel shal it be;
I trowe thou warte made a knyght of force,
Or ellys of yemanry.
‘Or ellys thou hast bene a sori husbande,
And lyued in stroke and stryfe;
An okerer, or ellis a lechoure,’ sayde Robyn,
‘Wyth wronge hast led thy lyfe.’
‘I am none of those,’ sayde the knyght,
‘By God that madë me;
An hundred wynter here before
Myn auncetres knyghtes haue be.
‘But oft it hath befal, Robyn,
A man hath be disgrate;
But God that sitteth in heuen aboue
May amende his state.
‘Withyn this two yere, Robyne,’ he sayde,
‘My neghbours well it knowe,
Foure hundred pounde of gode money
Ful well than myght I spende.
‘Nowe haue I no gode,’ saide the knyght,
‘God hath shaped such an ende,
But my chyldren and my wyfe,
Tyll God yt may amende.’
‘In what maner,’ than sayde Robyn,
‘Hast thou lorne thy rychesse? ’
‘For my greatë foly,’ he sayde,
‘And for my kynd[ë]nesse.
‘I hade a sone, forsoth, Robyn,
That shulde hau[e] ben myn ayre,
Whanne he was twenty wynter olde,
In felde wolde iust full fayre.
‘He slewe a knyght of Lancaster,
And a squyer bolde;
For to saue hym in his ryght
My godes both sette and solde.
‘My londes both sette to wedde, Robyn,
Vntyll a certayn day,
To a ryche abbot here besyde
Of Seynt Mari Abbey.’
‘What is the som?’ sayde Robyn;
‘Trouth than tell thou me;’
‘Sir,’ he sayde, ‘foure hundred pounde;
The abbot told it to me.’
‘Nowe and thou lese thy lond,’ sayde Robyn,
‘What woll fall of the?’
‘Hastely I wol me buske,’ sayd the knyght,
‘Ouer the saltë see,
‘And se w[h]ere Criste was quyke and dede,
On the mount of Caluerë;
Fare wel, frende, and haue gode day;
It may no better be.’
Teris fell out of hys iyen two;
He wolde haue gone hys way:
‘Farewel, frende, and haue gode day;
I ne haue no more to pay.’
‘Where be thy frendës?’ sayde Robyn:
‘Syr, neuer one wol me knowe;
While I was ryche ynowe at home
Great boste than wolde they blowe.
‘And nowe they renne away fro me,
As bestis on a rowe;
They take no more hede of me
Thanne they had me neuer sawe.’
For ruthe thanne wept Litell Johnn,
Scarlok and Muche in fere;
‘Fyl of the best wyne,’ sayde Robyn,
‘For here is a symple chere.
‘Hast thou any frende,’ sayde Robyn,
‘Thy borowe that woldë be? ’
‘I haue none,’ than sayde the knyght,
‘But God that dyed on tree.’
‘Do away thy iapis,’ than sayde Robyn,
‘Thereof wol I right none;
Wenest thou I wolde haue God to borowe,
Peter, Poule, or Johnn?
‘Nay, by hym that me made,
And shope both sonne and mone,
Fynde me a better borowe,’ sayde Robyn,
‘Or money getest thou none.’
‘I haue none other,’ sayde the knyght,
‘The sothe for to say,
But yf yt be Our derë Lady;
She fayled me neuer or thys day.’
‘By dere worthy God,’ sayde Robyn,
‘To seche all Englonde thorowe,
Yet fonde I neuer to my pay
A moche better borowe.
‘Come nowe furth, Litell Johnn,
And go to my tresourë,
And bringe me foure hundered pound,
And loke well tolde it be.’
Furth than went Litell Johnn,
And Scarlok went before;
He tolde oute foure hundred pounde
By eight and twenty score.
‘Is thys well tolde?’ sayde [litell] Much;
Johnn sayde, ‘What gre[ue]th the?
It is almus to helpe a gentyll knyght,
That is fal in pouertë.
‘Master,’ than sayde Lityll John,
‘His clothinge is full thynne;
Ye must gyue the knight a lyueray,
To lappe his body therin.
‘For ye haue scarlet and grene, mayster,
And man[y] a riche aray;
Ther is no marchaunt in mery Englond
So ryche, I dare well say.’
‘Take hym thre yerdes of euery colour,
And loke well mete that it be;’
Lytell Johnn toke none other mesure
But his bowë-tree.
And at euery handfull that he met
He lepëd footës three;
‘What deuyllës drapar,’ sayid litell Muche,
‘Thynkest thou for to be?’
Scarlok stode full stil and loughe,
And sayd, By God Almyght,
Johnn may gyue hym gode mesure,
For it costeth hym but lyght.
‘Mayster,’ than said Litell Johnn
To gentill Robyn Hode,
‘Ye must giue the knig[h]t a hors,
To lede home this gode.’
‘Take hym a gray coursar,’ sayde Robyn,
‘And a saydle newe;
He is Oure Ladye’s messangere;
God graunt that he be true.’
‘And a gode palfray,’ sayde lytell Much,
‘To mayntene hym in his right;’
‘And a peyre of botës,’ sayde Scarlock,
‘For he is a gentyll knight.’
‘What shalt thou gyue hym, Litell John?’ said Robyn;
‘Sir, a peyre of gilt sporis clene,
To pray for all this company;
God bringe hym oute of tene.’
‘Whan shal mi day be,’ said the knight,
‘Sir, and your wyll be?’
‘This day twelue moneth,’ saide Robyn,
‘Vnder this grenë-wode tre.
‘It were greate shamë,’ sayde Robyn,
‘A knight alone to ryde,
Withoutë squyre, yoman, or page,
To walkë by his syde.
‘I shall the lende Litell John, my man,
For he shalbe thy knaue;
In a yema[n]’s stede he may the stande,
If thou greate nedë haue.’
Now is the knight gone on his way;
This game hym thought full gode;
Whanne he loked on Bernesdale
He blessyd Robyn Hode.
And whanne he thought on Bernysdale,
On Scarlok, Much, and Johnn,
He blyssyd them for the best company
That euer he in come.
Then spake that gentyll knyght,
To Lytel Johan gan he saye,
To-morrowe I must to Yorke toune,
To Saynt Mary abbay.
And to the abbot of that place
Foure hondred pounde I must pay;
And but I be there vpon this nyght
My londe is lost for ay.
The abbot sayd to his couent,
There he stode on grounde,
This day twelfe moneth came there a knyght
And borowed foure hondred pounde.
[He borowed foure hondred pounde,]
Upon all his londë fre;
But he come this ylkë day
Dysheryte shall he be.
‘It is full erely,’ sayd the pryoure,
‘The day is not yet ferre gone;
I had leuer to pay an hondred pounde,
And lay downe anone.
‘The knyght is ferre beyonde the see,
In Englonde is his ryght,
And suffreth honger and colde,
And many a sory nyght.
‘It were grete pytë,’ said the pryoure,
‘So to haue his londe;
And ye be so lyght of your consyence,
Ye do to hym moch wronge.’
‘Thou arte euer in my berde,’ sayd the abbot,
‘By God and Saynt Rycharde;’
61With that cam in a fat-heded monke,
The heygh selerer.
‘He is dede or hanged,’ sayd the monke,
‘By God that bought me dere,
And we shall haue to spende in this place
Foure hondred pounde by yere.’
The abbot and the hy selerer
Stertë forthe full bolde,
The [hye] iustyce of Englonde
The abbot there dyde holde.
The hyë iustyce and many mo
Had take in to they[r] honde
Holy all the knyghtës det,
To put that knyght to wronge.
They demed the knyght wonder sore,
The abbot and his meynë:
‘But he come this ylkë day
Dysheryte shall he be.’
‘He wyll not come yet,’ sayd the iustyce,
‘I dare well vndertake;’
But in sorowe tymë for them all
The knyght came to the gate.
Than bespake that gentyll knyght
Untyll his meynë:
Now put on your symple wedes
That ye brought fro the see.
[They put on their symple wedes,]
They came to the gates anone;
The porter was redy hymselfe,
And welcomed them euerychone.
‘Welcome, syr knyght,’ sayd the porter;
‘My lorde to mete is he,
And so is many a gentyll man,
For the loue of the.’
The porter swore a full grete othe,
‘By God that madë me,
Here be the best coresed hors
That euer yet sawe I me.
‘Lede them in to the stable,’ he sayd,
‘That eased myght they be;’
‘They shall not come therin,’ sayd the knyght,
‘By God that dyed on a tre.’
Lordës were to mete isette
In that abbotes hall;
The knyght went forth and kneled downe,
And salued them grete and small.
‘Do gladly, syr abbot,’ sayd the knyght,
‘I am come to holde my day:’
The fyrst word the abbot spake,
‘Hast thou brought my pay?’
‘Not one peny,’ sayd the knyght,
‘By God that maked me;’
‘Thou art a shrewed dettour,’ sayd the abbot;
‘Syr iustyce, drynke to me.
‘What doost thou here,’ sayd the abbot,
‘But thou haddest brought thy pay?’
‘For God,’ than sayd the knyght,
‘To pray of a lenger daye.’
‘Thy daye is broke,’ sayd the iustyce,
‘Londe getest thou none:’
‘Now, good syr iustyce, be my frende,
And fende me of my fone!’
‘I am holde with the abbot,’ sayd the iustyce,
‘Both with cloth and fee:’
‘Now, good syr sheryf, be my frende!’
‘Nay, for God,’ sayd he.
‘Now, good syr abbot, be my frende,
For thy curteysë,
And holde my londës in thy honde
Tyll I haue made the gree!
‘And I wyll be thy true seruaunte,
And trewely seruë the,
Tyl ye haue foure hondred pounde
Of money good and free.’
The abbot sware a full grete othe,
‘By God that dyed on a tree,
Get the londe where thou may,
For thou getest none of me.’
‘By dere worthy God,’ then sayd the knyght,
‘That all this worldë wrought,
But I haue my londe agayne,
Full dere it shall be bought.
‘God, that was of a mayden borne,
Leue vs well to spede!
62For it is good to assay a frende
Or that a man haue nede.’
The abbot lothely on hym gan loke,
And vylaynesly hym gan call;
‘Out,’ he sayd, ‘thou falsë knyght,
Spede the out of my hall!’
‘Thou lyest,’ then sayd the gentyll knyght,
‘Abbot, in thy hal;
False knyght was I neuer,
By God that made vs all.’
Vp then stode that gentyll knyght,
To the abbot sayd he,
To suffre a knyght to knele so longe,
Thou canst no curteysye.
In ioustës and in tournement
Full ferre than haue I be,
And put my selfe as ferre in prees
As ony that euer I se.
‘What wyll ye gyue more,’ sayd the iustice,
‘And the knyght shall make a releyse?
And elles dare I safly swere
Ye holde neuer your londe in pees.’
‘An hondred pounde,’ sayd the abbot;
The justice sayd, Gyue hym two;
‘Nay, be God,’ sayd the knyght,
‘Yit gete ye it not so.
‘Though ye wolde gyue a thousand more,
Yet were ye neuer the nere;
Shall there neuer be myn heyre
Abbot, iustice, ne frere.’
He stert hym to a borde anone,
Tyll a table rounde,
And there he shoke oute of a bagge
Euen four hundred pound.
‘Haue here thi golde, sir abbot,’ saide the knight,
‘Which that thou lentest me;
Had thou ben curtes at my comynge,
Rewarded shuldest thou haue be.’
The abbot sat styll, and ete no more,
For all his ryall fare;
He cast his hede on his shulder,
And fast began to stare.
‘Take me my golde agayne,’ saide the abbot,
‘Sir iustice, that I toke the:’
‘Not a peni,’ said the iustice,
‘Bi Go[d, that dy]ed on tree.’
‘Sir [abbot, and ye me]n of lawe,
Now haue I holde my daye;
Now shall I haue my londe agayne,
For ought that you can saye.’
The knyght stert out of the dore,
Awaye was all his care,
And on he put his good clothynge,
The other he lefte there.
He wente hym forth full mery syngynge,
As men haue tolde in tale;
His lady met hym at the gate,
At home in Verysdale.
‘Welcome, my lorde,’ sayd his lady;
‘Syr, lost is all your good?’
‘Be mery, dame,’ sayd the knyght,
‘And pray for Robyn Hode,
‘That euer his soulë be in blysse:
He holpe me out of tene;
Ne had be his kyndënesse,
Beggers had we bene.
‘The abbot and I accorded ben,
He is serued of his pay;
The god yoman lent it me,
As I cam by the way.’
This knight than dwelled fayre at home,
The sothe for to saye,
Tyll he had gete four hundred pound,
Al redy for to pay.
He purueyed him an hundred bowes,
The stryngës well ydyght,
An hundred shefe of arowës gode,
The hedys burneshed full bryght;
And euery arowe an ellë longe,
With pecok wel idyght,
Inocked all with whyte siluer;
It was a semely syght.
He purueyed hym an [hondreth men],
Well harness[ed in that stede],
And hym selfe in that same sete,
And clothed in whyte and rede.
He bare a launsgay in his honde,
And a man ledde his male,
And reden with a lyght songe
Vnto Bernysdale.
But as he went at a brydge ther was a wrastelyng,
And there taryed was he,
And there was all the best yemen
Of all the west countree.
A full fayre game there was vp set,
A whyte bulle vp i-pyght,
A grete courser, with sadle and brydil,
With golde burnyssht full bryght.
A payre of gloues, a rede golde rynge,
A pype of wyne, in fay;
What man that bereth hym best i-wys
The pryce shall bere away.
There was a yoman in that place,
And best worthy was he,
And for he was ferre and frembde bested,
Slayne he shulde haue be.
The knight had ruthe of this yoman,
In placë where he stode;
He sayde that yoman shulde haue no harme,
For loue of Robyn Hode.
The knyght presed in to the place,
An hundreth folowed hym [free],
With bowës bent and arowës sharpe,
For to shende that companye.
They shulderd all and made hym rome,
To wete what he wolde say;
He toke the yeman bi the hande,
And gaue hym al the play.
He gaue hym fyue marke for his wyne,
There it lay on the molde.
And bad it shulde be set a broche,
Drynkë who so wolde.
Thus longe taried this gentyll knyght,
Tyll that play was done;
So longe abode Robyn fastinge,
Thre hourës after the none.
Lyth and lystyn, gentilmen,
All that nowe be here;
Of Litell Johnn, that was the knightës man,
Goode myrth ye shall here.
It was vpon a mery day
That yonge men wolde go shete;
Lytell Johnn fet his bowe anone,
And sayde he wolde them mete.
Thre tymes Litell Johnn shet aboute,
And alwey he slet the wande;
The proudë sherif of Notingham
By the markës can stande.
The sherif swore a full greate othe:
‘By hym that dyede on a tre,
This man is the best arschére
That euer yet sawe I [me.]
‘Say me nowe, wight yonge man,
What is nowe thy name?
In what countre were thou borne,
And where is thy wonynge wane?’
‘In Holdernes, sir, I was borne,
I-wys al of my dame;
Men cal me Reynolde Grenëlef
Whan I am at home.’
‘Sey me, Reyno[l]de Grenëlefe,
Wolde thou dwell with me?
And euery yere I woll the gyue
Twenty marke to thy fee.’
‘I haue a maister,’ sayde Litell Johnn,
‘A curteys knight is he;
May ye leuë gete of hym,
The better may it be.’
The sherif gate Litell John
Twelue monethës of the knight;
Therfore he gaue him right anone
A gode hors and a wight.
Nowe is Litell John the sherifës man,
God lende vs well to spede!
But alwey thought Lytell John
To quyte hym wele his mede.
‘Nowe so God me helpë,’ sayde Litell John,
‘And by my true leutye,
I shall be the worst seruaunt to hym
That euer yet had he.’
It fell vpon a Wednesday
The sherif on huntynge was gone,
And Litel Iohn lay in his bed,
And was foriete at home.
Therfore he was fastinge
Til it was past the none;
‘Gode sir stuarde, I pray to the,
Gyue me my dynere,’ saide Litell John.
‘It is longe for Grenëlefe
Fastinge thus for to be;
Therfor I pray the, sir stuarde,
Mi dyner gif me.’
‘Shalt thou neuer ete ne drynke,’ saide the stuarde,
‘Tyll my lorde be come to towne:’
‘I make myn auowe to God,’ saide Litell John,
‘I had leuer to crake thy crowne.’
The boteler was full vncurteys,
There he stode on flore;
He start to the botery
And shet fast the dore.
Lytell Johnn gaue the boteler suche a tap
His backe went nere in two;
Though he liued an hundred ier,
The wors shuld he go.
He sporned the dore with his fote;
It went open wel and fyne;
And there he made large lyueray,
Bothe of ale and of wyne.
‘Sith ye wol nat dyne,’ sayde Litell John,
‘I shall gyue you to drinke;
And though ye lyue an hundred wynter,
On Lytel Johnn ye shall thinke.’
Litell John ete, and Litel John drank,
The whilë that he wolde;
The sherife had in his kechyn a coke,
A stoute man and a bolde.
‘I make myn auowe to God,’ saide the coke,
‘Thou arte a shrewde hynde
In ani hous for to dwel,
For to askë thus to dyne.’
And there he lent Litell John
God[ë] strokis thre;
‘I make myn auowe to God,’ sayde Lytell John,
‘These strokis lyked well me.
‘Thou arte a bolde man and hardy,
And so thinketh me;
And or I pas fro this place
Assayed better shalt thou be.’
Lytell Johnn drew a ful gode sworde,
The coke toke another in hande;
They thought no thynge for to fle,
But stifly for to stande.
There they faught sore togedere
Two mylë way and well more;
Myght neyther other harme done,
The mountnaunce of an owre.
‘I make myn auowe to God,’ sayde Litell Johnn,
‘And by my true lewtë,
Thou art one of the best sworde-men
That euer yit sawe I [me.]
‘Cowdest thou shote as well in a bowe,
To grenë wode thou shuldest with me,
And two times in the yere thy clothinge
Chaunged shuldë be;
‘And euery yere of Robyn Hode
Twenty merke to thy fe:’
‘Put vp thy swerde,’ saide the coke,
‘And felowës woll we be.’
Thanne he fet to Lytell Johnn
The nowmbles of a do,
Gode brede, and full gode wyne;
They ete and drank theretoo.
And when they had dronkyn well,
Theyre trouthës togeder they plight
That they wo[l]de be with Robyn
That ylkë samë nyght.
They dyd them to the tresoure-hows,
As fast as they myght gone;
65The lokkës, that were of full gode stele,
They brake them euerichone.
They toke away the siluer vessell,
And all that thei mig[h]t get;
Pecis, masars, ne sponis,
Wolde thei not forget.
Also [they] toke the godë pens,
Thre hundred pounde and more,
And did them st[r]eyte to Robyn Hode,
Under the grenë wode hore.
‘God the saue, my derë mayster,
And Criste the saue and se!’
And thanne sayde Robyn to Litell Johnn,
Welcome myght thou be.
‘Also be that fayre yeman
Thou bryngest there with the;
What tydyngës fro Noty[n]gham?
Lytill Johnn, tell thou me.’
‘Well the gretith the proudë sheryf,
And sende[th] the here by me
His coke and his siluer vessell,
And thre hundred pounde and thre.’
‘I make myne avowe to God,’ sayde Robyn,
‘And to the Trenytë,
It was neuer by his gode wyll
This gode is come to me.’
Lytyll Johnn there hym bethought
On a shrewde wyle;
Fyue myle in the forest he ran,
Hym happed all his wyll.
Than he met the proudë sheref,
Huntynge with houndes and horne;
Lytell Johnn coude of curtesye,
And knelyd hym beforne.
‘God the saue, my derë mayster,
And Criste the saue and se!’
‘Reynolde Grenëlefe,’ sayde the shryef,
‘Where hast thou nowe be?’
‘I haue be in this forest;
A fayre syght can I se;
It was one of the fayrest syghtes
That euer yet sawe I me.
‘Yonder I sawe a ryght fayre harte,
His coloure is of grene;
Seuen score of dere vpon a herde
Be with hym all bydene.
‘Their tyndës are so sharpe, maister,
Of sexty, and well mo,
That I durst not shote for drede,
Lest they wolde me slo.’
‘I make myn auowe to God,’ sayde the shyref,
‘That syght wolde I fayne se:’
‘Buske you thyderwarde, mi derë mayster,
Anone, and wende with me.’
The sherif rode, and Litell Johnn
Of fote he was full smerte,
And whane they came before Robyn,
‘Lo, sir, here is the mayster-herte.’
Still stode the proudë sherief,
A sory man was he;
‘Wo the worthe, Raynolde Grenëlefe,
Thou hast betrayed nowe me.’
‘I make myn auowe to God,’ sayde Litell Johnn,
‘Mayster, ye be to blame;
I was mysserued of my dynere
Whan I was with you at home.’
Sone he was to souper sette,
And serued well with siluer white,
And whan the sherif sawe his vessell,
For sorowe he myght nat ete.
‘Make glad chere,’ sayde Robyn Hode,
‘Sherif, for charitë,
And for the loue of Litill Johnn
Thy lyfe I graunt to the.’
Whan they had souped well,
The day was al gone;
Robyn commaunde[d] Litell Johnn
To drawe of his hosen and his shone;
His kirtell, and his cote of pie,
That was fured well and fine,
And to[ke] hym a grene mantel,
To lap his body therin.
Robyn commaundyd his wight yonge men,
Vnder the grenë-wode tree,
66They shulde lye in that same sute,
That the sherif myght them see.
All nyght lay the proudë sherif
In his breche and in his [s]chert;
No wonder it was, in grenë wode,
Though his sydës gan to smerte.
‘Make glade chere,’ sayde Robyn Hode,
‘Sheref, for charitë;
For this is our ordre i-wys,
Vnder the grenë-wode tree.’
‘This is harder order,’ sayde the sherief,
‘Than any ankir or frere;
For all the golde in mery Englonde
I wolde nat longe dwell her.’
‘All this twelue monthes,’ sayde Robin,
‘Thou shalt dwell with me;
I shall the techë, proudë sherif,
An outlawë for to be.’
‘Or I be here another nyght,’ sayde the sherif,
‘Robyn, nowe pray I the,
Smyte of mijn hede rather to-morowe,
And I forgyue it the.
‘Lat me go,’ than sayde the sherif,
‘For sayntë charitë,
And I woll be the best[ë] frende
That euer yet had ye.’
‘Thou shalt swere me an othe,’ sayde Robyn,
‘On my bright bronde;
Shalt thou neuer awayte me scathe,
By water ne by lande.
‘And if thou fynde any of my men,
By nyght or [by] day,
Vpon thyn othë thou shalt swere
To helpe them tha[t] thou may.’
Nowe hathe the sherif sworne his othe,
And home he began to gone;
He was as full of grenë wode
As euer was hepe of stone.
The sherif dwelled in Notingham;
He was fayne he was agone;
And Robyn and his mery men
Went to wode anone.
‘Go we to dyner,’ sayde Littell Johnn;
Robyn Hode sayde, Nay;
For I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
For she sent me nat my pay.
‘Haue no doute, maister,’ sayde Litell Johnn;
‘Yet is nat the sonne at rest;
For I dare say, and sauely swere,
The knight is true and truste.’
‘Take thy bowe in thy hande,’ sayde Robyn,
‘Late Much wende with the,
And so shal Wyllyam Scarlok,
And no man abyde with me.
‘And walke vp vnder the Sayles,
And to Watlynge-strete,
And wayte after some vnketh gest;
Vp-chaunce ye may them mete.
‘Whether he be messengere,
Or a man that myrthës can,
Of my good he shall haue some,
Yf he be a porë man.’
Forth then stert Lytel Johan,
Half in tray and tene,
And gyrde hym with a full good swerde,
Under a mantel of grene.
They went vp to the Sayles,
These yemen all thre;
They loked est, they loked west,
They myght no man se.
But as [t]he[y] loked in Bernysdale,
By the hyë waye,
Than were they ware of two blacke monkes,
Eche on a good palferay.
Then bespake Lytell Johan,
To Much he gan say,
I dare lay my lyfe to wedde,
That [these] monkes haue brought our pay.
‘Make glad chere,’ sayd Lytell Johan,
‘And frese your bowes of ewe,
And loke your hertës be seker and sad,
Your stryngës trusty and trewe.
‘The monke hath two and fifty [men,]
And seuen somers full stronge;
There rydeth no bysshop in this londe
So ryally, I vnderstond.
‘Brethern,’ sayd Lytell Johan,
‘Here are no more but we thre;
But we bryngë them to dyner,
Our mayster dare we not se.
‘Bende your bowes,’ sayd Lytell Johan,
‘Make all yon prese to stonde;
The formost monke, his lyfe and his deth
Is closed in my honde.
‘Abyde, chorle monke,’ sayd Lytell Johan,
‘No ferther that thou gone;
Yf thou doost, by dere worthy God,
Thy deth is in my honde.
‘And euyll thryfte on thy hede,’ sayd Lytell Johan,
‘Ryght vnder thy hattës bonde;
For thou hast made our mayster wroth,
He is fastynge so longe.’
‘Who is your mayster?’ sayd the monke;
Lytell Johan sayd, Robyn Hode;
‘He is a stronge thefe,’ sayd the monke,
‘Of hym herd I neuer good.’
‘Thou lyest,’ than sayd Lytell Johan,
‘And that shall rewë the;
He is a yeman of the forest,
To dyne he hath bodë the.’
Much was redy with a bolte,
Redly and anone,
He set the monke to-fore the brest,
To the grounde that he can gone.
Of two and fyfty wyght yonge yemen
There abode not one,
Saf a lytell page and a grome,
To lede the somers with Lytel Johan.
They brought the monke to the lodgë-dore,
Whether he were loth or lefe,
For to speke with Robyn Hode,
Maugre in theyr tethe.
Robyn dyde adowne his hode,
The monke whan that he se;
The monke was not so curtëyse,
His hode then let he be.
‘He is a chorle, mayster, by dere worthy God,’
Than sayd Lytell Johan:
‘Thereof no force,’ sayd Robyn,
‘For curteysy can he none.
‘How many men,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Had this monke, Johan?’
‘Fyfty and two whan that we met,
But many of them be gone.’
‘Let blowe a horne,’ sayd Robyn,
‘That felaushyp may vs knowe;’
Seuen score of wyght yemen
Came pryckynge on a rowe.
And euerych of them a good mantell
Of scarlet and of raye;
All they came to good Robyn,
To wyte what he wolde say.
They made the monke to wasshe and wype,
And syt at his denere,
Robyn Hode and Lytell Johan
They serued him both in-fere.
‘Do gladly, monke,’ sayd Robyn.
‘Gramercy, syr,’ sayd he.
‘Where is your abbay, whan ye are at home,
And who is your avowë?’
‘Saynt Mary abbay,’ sayd the monke,
‘Though I be symple here.’
‘In what offyce?’ sayd Robyn:
‘Syr, the hyë selerer.’
‘Ye be the more welcome,’ sayd Robyn,
‘So euer mote I the;
Fyll of the best wyne,’ sayd Robyn,
‘This monke shall drynke to me.
‘But I haue grete meruayle,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Of all this longë day;
I drede Our Lady be wroth with me,
She sent me not my pay.’
‘Haue no doute, mayster,’ sayd Lytell Johan,
‘Ye haue no nede, I saye;
This monke it hath brought, I dare well swere,
For he is of her abbay.’
‘And she was a borowe,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Betwene a knyght and me,
Of a lytell money that I hym lent,
Under the grëne-wode tree.
‘And yf thou hast that syluer ibrought,
I pray the let me se;
And I shall helpë the eftsones,
Yf thou haue nede to me.’
The monke swore a full grete othe,
With a sory chere,
‘Of the borowehode thou spekest to me,
Herde I neuer ere.’
‘I make myn avowe to God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Monke, thou art to blame;
For God is holde a ryghtwys man,
And so is his dame.
‘Thou toldest with thyn ownë tonge,
Thou may not say nay,
How thou arte her seruaunt,
And seruest her euery day.
‘And thou art made her messengere,
My money for to pay;
Therfore I cun the morë thanke
Thou arte come at thy day.
‘What is in your cofers?’ sayd Robyn,
‘Trewe than tell thou me:’
‘Syr,’ he sayd, ‘twenty marke,
Al so mote I the.’
‘Yf there be no more,’ sayd Robyn,
‘I wyll not one peny;
Yf thou hast myster of ony more,
Syr, more I shall lende to the.
‘And yf I fyndë [more,’ sayd] Robyn,
‘I-wys thou shalte it for gone;
For of thy spendynge-syluer, monke,
Thereof wyll I ryght none.
‘Go nowe forthe, Lytell Johan,
And the trouth tell thou me;
If there be no more but twenty marke,
No peny that I se.’
Lytell Johan spred his mantell downe,
As he had done before,
And he tolde out of the monkës male
Eyght [hondred] pounde and more.
Lytell Johan let it lye full styll,
And went to his mayster in hast;
‘Syr,’ he sayd, ‘the monke is trewe ynowe,
Our Lady hath doubled your cast.’
‘I make myn avowe to God,’ sayd Robyn—
‘Monke, what tolde I the?—
Our Lady is the trewest woman
That euer yet founde I me.
‘By dere worthy God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘To seche all Englond thorowe,
Yet founde I neuer to my pay
A moche better borowe.
‘Fyll of the best wyne, and do hym drynke,’ sayd Robyn,
‘And grete well thy lady hende,
And yf she haue nede to Robyn Hode,
A frende she shall hym fynde.
‘And yf she nedeth ony more syluer,
Come thou agayne to me.
And, by this token she hath me sent,
She shall haue such thre.’
The monke was goynge to London ward,
There to holde grete mote,
The knyght that rode so hye on hors,
To brynge hym vnder fote.
‘Whether be ye away?’ sayd Robyn:
‘Syr, to maners in this londe,
Too reken with our reues,
That haue done moch wronge.’
‘Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And harken to my tale;
A better yemen I knowe none,
To seke a monkës male.’
‘How moch is in yonder other corser?’ sayd Robyn,
‘The soth must we see:’
69‘By Our Lady,’ than sayd the monke,
‘That were no curteysye,
‘To bydde a man to dyner,
And syth hym bete and bynde.’
‘It is our oldë maner,’ sayd Robyn,
‘To leue but lytell behynde.’
The monke toke the hors with spore,
No lenger wolde he abyde:
‘Askë to drynkë,’ than sayd Robyn,
‘Or that ye forther ryde.’
‘Nay, for God,’ than sayd the monke,
‘Me reweth I cam so nere;
For better chepe I myght haue dyned
In Blythe or in Dankestere.’
‘Grete well your abbot,’ sayd Robyn,
‘And your pryour, I you pray,
And byd hym send me such a monke
To dyner euery day.’
Now lete we that monke be styll,
And speke we of that knyght:
Yet he came to holde his day,
Whyle that it was lyght.
He dyde him streyt to Bernysdale,
Under the grenë-wode tre,
And he founde there Robyn Hode,
And all his mery meynë.
The knyght lyght doune of his good palfray;
Robyn whan he gan see,
So curteysly he dyde adoune his hode,
And set hym on his knee.
‘God the sauë, Robyn Hode,
And all this company:’
‘Welcome be thou, gentyll knyght,
And ryght welcome to me.’
Than bespake hym Robyn Hode,
To that knyght so fre:
What nedë dryueth the to grenë wode?
I praye the, syr knyght, tell me.
‘And welcome be thou, ge[n]tyll knyght,
Why hast thou be so longe?’
‘For the abbot and the hyë iustyce
Wolde haue had my londe.’
‘Hast thou thy londe [a]gayne?’ sayd Robyn;
‘Treuth than tell thou me:’
‘Ye, for God,’ sayd the knyght,
‘And that thanke I God and the.
‘But take not a grefe,’ sayd the knyght, ‘that I haue be so longe;
I came by a wrastelynge,
And there I holpe a porë yeman,
With wronge was put behynde.’
‘Nay, for God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Syr knyght, that thanke I the;
What man that helpeth a good yeman,
His frende than wyll I be.’
‘Haue here foure hondred pounde,’ than sayd the knyght,
‘The whiche ye lent to me;
And here is also twenty marke
For your curteysy.’
‘Nay, for God,’ than sayd Robyn,
‘Thou broke it well for ay;
For Our Lady, by her [hyë] selerer,
Hath sent to me my pay.
‘And yf I toke it i-twyse,
A shame it were to me;
But trewely, gentyll knyght,
Welcom arte thou to me.’
Whan Robyn had tolde his tale,
He leugh and had good chere:
‘By my trouthe,’ then sayd the knyght,
‘Your money is redy here.’
‘Broke it well,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Thou gentyll knyght so fre;
And welcome be thou, ge[n]tyll knyght,
Under my trystell-tre.
‘But what shall these bowës do?’ sayd Robyn,
‘And these arowës ifedred fre?’
‘By God,’ than sayd the knyght,
‘A porë present to the.’
‘Come now forth, Lytell Johan,
And go to my treasurë,
And brynge me there foure hondred pounde;
The monke ouer-tolde it me.
‘Haue here foure hondred pounde,
Thou gentyll knyght and trewe,
And bye hors and harnes good,
And gylte thy spores all newe.
‘And yf thou fayle ony spendynge,
Com to Robyn Hode,
And by my trouth thou shalt none fayle,
The whyles I haue any good.
‘And broke well thy foure hondred pound,
Whiche I lent to the,
And make thy selfe no more so bare,
By the counsell of me.’
Thus than holpe hym good Robyn,
The knyght all of his care:
God, that syt in heuen hye,
Graunte vs well to fare!
Now hath the knyght his leue i-take,
And wente hym on his way;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
Dwelled styll full many a day.
Lyth and lysten, gentil men,
And herken what I shall say,
How the proud[ë] sheryfe of Notyngham
Dyde crye a full fayre play;
That all the best archers of the north
Sholde come vpon a day,
And [he] that shoteth allther best
The game shall bere a way.
He that shoteth allther best,
Furthest fayre and lowe,
At a payre of fynly buttes,
Under the grenë-wode shawe,
A ryght good arowe he shall haue,
The shaft of syluer whyte,
The hede and the feders of ryche rede golde,
In Englond is none lyke.
This than herde good Robyn,
Under his trystell-tre:
‘Make you redy, ye wyght yonge men;
That shotynge wyll I se.
‘Buske you, my mery yonge men,
Ye shall go with me;
And I wyll wete the shryuës fayth,
Trewe and yf he be.’
Whan they had theyr bowes i-bent,
Theyr takles fedred fre,
Seuen score of wyght yonge men
Stode by Robyns kne.
Whan they cam to Notyngham,
The buttes were fayre and longe;
Many was the bolde archere
That shoted with bowës stronge.
‘There shall but syx shote with me;
The other shal kepe my he[ue]de,
And standë with good bowës bent,
That I be not desceyued.’
The fourth outlawe his bowe gan bende,
And that was Robyn Hode,
And that behelde the proud[ë] sheryfe,
All by the but [as] he stode.
Thryës Robyn shot about,
And alway he slist the wand,
And so dyde good Gylberte
Wyth the whytë hande.
Lytell Johan and good Scatheloke
Were archers good and fre;
Lytell Much and good Reynolde,
The worste wolde they not be.
Whan they had shot aboute,
These archours fayre and good,
Euermore was the best,
For soth, Robyn Hode.
Hym was delyuered the good arowe,
For best worthy was he;
He toke the yeft so curteysly,
To grenë wode wolde he.
They cryed out on Robyn Hode,
And grete hornës gan they blowe:
‘Wo worth the, treason!’ sayd Robyn,
‘Full euyl thou art to knowe.
‘And wo be thou! thou proudë sheryf,
Thus gladdynge thy gest;
71Other wyse thou behotë me
In yonder wylde forest.
‘But had I the in grenë wode,
Under my trystell-tre,
Thou sholdest leue me a better wedde
Than thy trewe lewtë.’
Full many a bowë there was bent,
And arowës let they glyde;
Many a kyrtell there was rent,
And hurt many a syde.
The outlawes shot was so stronge
That no man myght them dryue,
And the proud[ë] sheryfës men,
They fled away full blyue.
Robyn sawe the busshement to-broke,
In grenë wode he wolde haue be;
Many an arowe there was shot
Amonge that company.
Lytell Johan was hurte full sore,
With an arowe in his kne,
That he myght neyther go nor ryde;
It was full grete pytë.
‘Mayster,’ then sayd Lytell Johan,
‘If euer thou loue[d]st me,
And for that ylkë lordës loue
That dyed vpon a tre,
‘And for the medes of my seruyce,
That I haue serued the,
Lete neuer the proudë sheryf
Alyue now fyndë me.
‘But take out thy brownë swerde,
And smyte all of my hede,
And gyue me woundës depe and wyde;
No lyfe on me be lefte.’
‘I wolde not that,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Johan, that thou were slawe,
For all the golde in mery Englonde,
Though it lay now on a rawe.’
‘God forbede,’ sayd Lytell Much,
‘That dyed on a tre,
That thou sholdest, Lytell Johan,
Parte our company.’
Up he toke hym on his backe,
And bare hym well a myle;
Many a tyme he layd hym downe,
And shot another whyle.
Then was there a fayre castell,
A lytell within the wode;
Double-dyched it was about,
And walled, by the rode.
And there dwelled that gentyll knyght,
Syr Rychard at the Lee,
That Robyn had lent his good,
Under the grenë-wode tree.
In he toke good Robyn,
And all his company:
‘Welcome be thou, Robyn Hode,
Welcome arte thou to me;
‘And moche [I] thanke the of thy confort,
And of thy curteysye,
And of thy gretë kyndënesse,
Under the grenë-wode tre.
‘I loue no man in all this worlde
So much as I do the;
For all the proud[ë] sheryf of Notyngham,
Ryght here shalt thou be.
‘Shyt the gates, and drawe the brydge,
And let no man come in,
And arme you well, and make you redy,
And to the walles ye wynne.
‘For one thynge, Robyn, I the behote;
I swere by Saynt Quyntyne,
These forty dayes thou wonnest with me,
To soupe, ete, and dyne.’
Bordes were layde, and clothes were spredde,
Redely and anone;
Robyn Hode and his mery men
To metë can they gone.
Lythe and lysten, gentylmen,
And herkyn to your songe;
Howe the proudë shyref of Notyngham,
And men of armys stronge,
Full fast cam to the hyë shyref,
The contrë vp to route,
And they besette the knyghtës castell,
The wallës all aboute.
The proudë shyref loude gan crye,
And sayde, Thou traytour knight,
Thou kepest here the kynges enemys,
Agaynst the lawe and right.
‘Syr, I wyll auowe that I haue done,
The dedys that here be dyght,
Vpon all the landës that I haue,
As I am a trewë knyght.
‘Wende furth, sirs, on your way,
And do no more to me
Tyll ye wyt oure kyngës wille,
What he wyll say to the.’
The shyref thus had his answere,
Without any lesynge;
[Fu]rth he yede to London towne,
All for to tel our kinge.
Ther he telde him of that knight,
And eke of Robyn Hode,
And also of the bolde archars,
That were soo noble and gode.
‘He wyll auowe that he hath done,
To mayntene the outlawes stronge;
He wyll be lorde, and set you at nought,
In all the northe londe.’
‘I wil be at Notyngham,’ saide our kynge,
‘Within this fourteenyght,
And take I wyll Robyn Hode,
And so I wyll that knight.
‘Go nowe home, shyref,’ sayde our kynge,
‘And do as I byd the;
And ordeyn gode archers ynowe,
Of all the wydë contrë.’
The shyref had his leue i-take,
And went hym on his way,
And Robyn Hode to grenë wode,
Vpon a certen day.
And Lytel John was hole of the arowe
That shot was in his kne,
And dyd hym streyght to Robyn Hode,
Vnder the grenë-wode tree.
Robyn Hode walked in the forest,
Vnder the leuys grene;
The proudë shyref of Notyngham
Thereof he had grete tene.
The shyref there fayled of Robyn Hode,
He myght not haue his pray;
Than he awayted this gentyll knyght,
Bothe by nyght and day.
Euer he wayted the gentyll knyght,
Syr Richarde at the Lee,
As he went on haukynge by the ryuer-syde,
And lete [his] haukës flee.
Toke he there this gentyll knight,
With men of armys stronge,
And led hym to Notyngham warde,
Bounde bothe fote and hande.
The sheref sware a full grete othe,
Bi hym that dyed on rode,
He had leuer than an hundred pound
That he had Robyn Hode.
This harde the knyghtës wyfe,
A fayr lady and a free;
She set hir on a gode palfrey,
To grenë wode anone rode she.
Whanne she cam in the forest,
Vnder the grenë-wode tree,
Fonde she there Robyn Hode,
And al his fayre menë.
‘God the sauë, godë Robyn,
And all thy company;
For Our derë Ladyes sake,
A bonë graunte thou me.
‘Late neuer my wedded lorde
Shamefully slayne be;
He is fast bowne to Notingham warde,
For the loue of the.’
Anone than saide goode Robyn
To that lady so fre,
What man hath your lorde [i-]take?
.    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .
‘For soth as I the say;
He is nat yet thre mylës
Passed on his way.’
Vp than sterte gode Robyn,
As man that had ben wode:
‘Buske you, my mery men,
For hym that dyed on rode.
‘And he that this sorowe forsaketh,
By hym that dyed on tre,
Shall he neuer in grenë wode
No lenger dwel with me.’
Sone there were gode bowës bent,
Mo than seuen score;
Hedge ne dyche spared they none
That was them before.
‘I make myn auowe to God,’ sayde Robyn,
‘The sherif wolde I fayne see;
And if I may hym take,
I-quyte shall it be.’
And whan they came to Notingham,
They walked in the strete;
And with the proudë sherif i-wys
Sonë can they mete.
‘Abyde, thou proudë sherif,’ he sayde,
‘Abyde, and speke with me;
Of some tidinges of oure kinge
I wolde fayne here of the.
‘This seuen yere, by dere worthy God,
Ne yede I this fast on fote;
I make myn auowe to God, thou proudë sherif,
It is nat for thy gode.’
Robyn bent a full goode bowe,
An arrowe he drowe at wyll;
He hit so the proudë sherife
Vpon the grounde he lay full still.
And or he myght vp aryse,
On his fete to stonde,
He smote of the sherifs hede
With his bright[ë] bronde.
‘Lye thou there, thou proudë sherife,
Euyll mote thou cheue!
There myght no man to the truste
The whyles thou were a lyue.’
His men drewe out theyr bryght swerdes,
That were so sharpe and kene,
And layde on the sheryues men,
And dryued them downe bydene.
Robyn stert to that knyght,
And cut a two his bonde,
And toke hym in his hand a bowe,
And bad hym by hym stonde.
‘Leue thy hors the behynde,
And lerne for to renne;
Thou shalt with me to grenë wode,
Through myrë, mosse, and fenne.
‘Thou shalt with me to grenë wode,
Without ony leasynge,
Tyll that I haue gete vs grace
Of Edwarde, our comly kynge.’
The kynge came to Notynghame,
With knyghtës in grete araye,
For to take that gentyll knyght
And Robyn Hode, and yf he may.
He asked men of that countrë
After Robyn Hode,
And after that gentyll knyght,
That was so bolde and stout.
Whan they had tolde hym the case
Our kynge vnderstode ther tale,
And seased in his honde
The knyghtës londës all.
All the passe of Lancasshyre
He went both ferre and nere,
Tyll he came to Plomton Parke;
He faylyd many of his dere.
There our kynge was wont to se
Herdës many one,
He coud vnneth fynde one dere,
That bare ony good horne.
The kynge was wonder wroth withall,
And swore by the Trynytë,
74‘I wolde I had Robyn Hode,
With eyen I myght hym se.
‘And he that wolde smyte of the knyghtës hede,
And brynge it to me,
He shall haue the knyghtës londes,
Syr Rycharde at the Le.
‘I gyue it hym with my charter,
And sele it [with] my honde,
To haue and holde for euer more,
In all mery Englonde.’
Than bespake a fayre olde knyght,
That was treue in his fay:
A, my leegë lorde the kynge,
One worde I shall you say.
There is no man in this countrë
May haue the knyghtës londes,
Whyle Robyn Hode may ryde or gone,
And bere a bowe in his hondes,
That he ne shall lese his hede,
That is the best ball in his hode:
Giue it no man, my lorde the kynge,
That ye wyll any good.
Half a yere dwelled our comly kynge
In Notyngham, and well more;
Coude he not here of Robyn Hode,
In what countrë that he were.
But alway went good Robyn
By halke and eke by hyll,
And alway slewe the kyngës dere,
And welt them at his wyll.
Than bespake a proude fostere,
That stode by our kyngës kne:
Yf ye wyll se good Robyn,
Ye must do after me.
Take fyue of the best knyghtës
That be in your lede,
And walke downe by yon abbay,
And gete you monkës wede.
And I wyll be your ledës-man,
And lede you the way,
And or ye come to Notyngham,
Myn hede then dare I lay,
That ye shall mete with good Robyn,
On lyue yf that he be;
Or ye come to Notyngham,
With eyen ye shall hym se.
Full hast[ë]ly our kynge was dyght,
So were his knyghtës fyue,
Euerych of them in monkës wede,
And hasted them thyder blyve.
Our kynge was grete aboue his cole,
A brode hat on his crowne,
Ryght as he were abbot-lyke,
They rode up in-to the towne.
Styf botës our kynge had on,
Forsoth as I you say;
He rode syngynge to grenë wode,
The couent was clothed in graye.
His male-hors and his gretë somers
Folowed our kynge behynde,
Tyll they came to grenë wode,
A myle vnder the lynde.
There they met with good Robyn,
Stondynge on the waye,
And so dyde many a bolde archere,
For soth as I you say.
Robyn toke the kyngës hors,
Hastëly in that stede,
And sayd, Syr abbot, by your leue,
A whyle ye must abyde.
‘We be yemen of this foreste,
Vnder the grenë-wode tre;
We lyue by our kyngës dere,
[Other shyft haue not wee.]
‘And ye haue chyrches and rentës both,
And gold full grete plentë;
Gyue vs some of your spendynge,
For saynt[ë] charytë.’
Than bespake our cumly kynge,
Anone than sayd he;
I brought no more to grenë wode
But forty pounde with me.
I haue layne at Notyngham
This fourtynyght with our kynge,
75And spent I haue full moche good,
On many a grete lordynge.
And I haue but forty pounde,
No more than haue I me;
But yf I had an hondred pounde,
I wolde vouch it safe on the.
Robyn toke the forty pounde,
And departed it in two partye;
Halfendell he gaue his mery men,
And bad them mery to be.
Full curteysly Robyn gan say;
Syr, haue this for your spendyng;
We shall mete another day;
‘Gramercy,’ than sayd our kynge.
‘But well the greteth Edwarde, our kynge,
And sent to the his seale,
And byddeth the com to Notyngham,
Both to mete and mele.’
He toke out the brodë targe,
And sone he lete hym se;
Robyn coud his courteysy,
And set hym on his kne.
‘I loue no man in all the worlde
So well as I do my kynge;
Welcome is my lordës seale;
And, monke, for thy tydynge,
‘Syr abbot, for thy tydynges,
To day thou shalt dyne with me,
For the loue of my kynge,
Under my trystell-tre.’
Forth he lad our comly kynge,
Full fayre by the honde;
Many a dere there was slayne,
And full fast dyghtande.
Robyn toke a full grete horne,
And loude he gan blowe;
Seuen score of wyght yonge men
Came redy on a rowe.
All they kneled on theyr kne,
Full fayre before Robyn:
The kynge sayd hym selfe vntyll,
And swore by Saynt Austyn,
‘Here is a wonder semely syght;
Me thynketh, by Goddës pyne,
His men are more at his byddynge
Then my men be at myn.’
Full hast[ë]ly was theyr dyner idyght,
And therto gan they gone;
They serued our kynge with al theyr myght,
Both Robyn and Lytell Johan.
Anone before our kynge was set
The fattë venyson,
The good whyte brede, the good rede wyne,
And therto the fyne ale and browne.
‘Make good chere,’ said Robyn,
‘Abbot, for charytë;
And for this ylkë tydynge,
Blyssed mote thou be.
‘Now shalte thou se what lyfe we lede,
Or thou hens wende;
Than thou may enfourme our kynge,
Whan ye togyder lende.’
Up they stertë all in hast,
Theyr bowës were smartly bent;
Our kynge was neuer so sore agast,
He wende to haue be shente.
Two yerdës there were vp set,
Thereto gan they gange;
By fyfty pase, our kynge sayd,
The merkës were to longe.
On euery syde a rose-garlonde,
They shot vnder the lyne:
‘Who so fayleth of the rose-garlonde,’ sayd Robyn,
‘His takyll he shall tyne,
‘And yelde it to his mayster,
Be it neuer so fyne;
For no man wyll I spare,
So drynke I ale or wyne:
‘And bere a buffet on his hede,
I-wys ryght all bare:’
And all that fell in Robyns lote,
He smote them wonder sare.
Twyse Robyn shot aboute,
And euer he cleued the wande,
76And so dyde good Gylberte
With the Whytë Hande.
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
For nothynge wolde they spare;
When they fayled of the garlonde,
Robyn smote them full sore.
At the last shot that Robyn shot,
For all his frendës fare,
Yet he fayled of the garlonde
Thre fyngers and mare.
Than bespake good Gylberte,
And thus he gan say;
‘Mayster,’ he sayd, ‘your takyll is lost,
Stande forth and take your pay.’
‘If it be so,’ sayd Robyn,
‘That may no better be,
Syr abbot, I delyuer the myn arowe,
I pray the, syr, serue thou me.’
‘It falleth not for myn ordre,’ sayd our kynge,
‘Robyn, by thy leue,
For to smyte no good yeman,
For doute I sholde hym greue.’
‘Smyte on boldely,’ sayd Robyn,
‘I giue the largë leue:’
Anone our kynge, with that worde,
He folde vp his sleue,
And sych a buffet he gaue Robyn,
To grounde he yede full nere:
‘I make myn avowe to God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Thou arte a stalworthe frere.
‘There is pith in thyn arme,’ sayd Robyn,
‘I trowe thou canst well shete:’
Thus our kynge and Robyn Hode
Togeder gan they mete.
Robyn behelde our comly kynge
Wystly in the face,
So dyde Syr Rycharde at the Le,
And kneled downe in that place.
And so dyde all the wylde outlawes,
Whan they se them knele:
‘My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Now I knowe you well.
‘Mercy then, Robyn,’ sayd our kynge,
‘Vnder your trystyll-tre,
Of thy goodnesse and thy grace,
For my men and me!’
‘Yes, for God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘And also God me saue,
I askë mercy, my lorde the kynge,
And for my men I craue.’
‘Yes, for God,’ than sayd our kynge,
‘And therto sent I me.
With that thou leue the grenë wode,
And all thy company;
‘And come home, syr, to my courte,
And there dwell with me.’
‘I make myn avowe to God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘And ryght so shall it be.
‘I wyll come to your courte,
Your seruyse for to se,
And brynge with me of my men
Seuen score and thre.
‘But me lykë well your seruyse,
I [wyll] come agayne full soone,
And shote at the donnë dere,
As I am wonte to done.’
‘Haste thou ony grenë cloth,’ sayd our kynge,
‘That thou wylte sell nowe to me?’
‘Ye, for God,’ sayd Robyn,
‘Thyrty yerdës and thre.’
‘Robyn,’ sayd our kynge,
‘Now pray I the,
Sell me some of that cloth,
To me and my meynë.’
‘Yes, for God,’ then sayd Robyn,
‘Or elles I were a fole;
Another day ye wyll me clothe,
I trowe, ayenst the Yole.’
The kynge kest of his colë then,
A grene garment he dyde on,
And euery knyght also, i-wys,
Another had full sone.
Whan they were clothed in Lyncolne grene,
They keste away theyr graye;
‘Now we shall to Notyngham,’
All thus our kynge gan say.
They bente theyr bowes, and forth they went,
Shotynge all in-fere,
Towarde the towne of Notyngham,
Outlawes as they were.
Our kynge and Robyn rode togyder,
For soth as I you say,
And they shote plucke-buffet,
As they went by the way.
And many a buffet our kynge wan
Of Robyn Hode that day,
And nothynge spared good Robyn
Our kynge in his pay.
‘So God me helpë,’ sayd our kynge,
‘Thy game is nought to lere;
I sholde not get a shote of the,
Though I shote all this yere.’
All the people of Notyngham
They stode and behelde;
They sawe nothynge but mantels of grene
That couered all the felde.
Than euery man to other gan say,
‘I drede our kynge be slone;
Comë Robyn Hode to the towne, i-wys
On lyue he lefte neuer one.’
Full hast[ë]ly they began to fle,
Both yemen and knaues,
And olde wyues that myght euyll goo,
They hypped on theyr staues.
The kynge l[o]ughe full fast,
And commaunded theym agayue;
When they se our comly kynge,
I-wys they were full fayne.
They ete and dranke, and made them glad,
And sange with notës hye;
Than bespake our comly kynge
To Syr Rycharde at the Lee.
He gaue hym there his londe agayne,
A good man he bad hym be;
Robyn thanked our comly kynge,
And set hym on his kne.
Had Robyn dwelled in the kyngës courte
But twelue monethes and thre,
That [he had] spent an hondred pounde,
And all his mennes fe.
In euery place where Robyn came
Euer more he layde downe,
Both for knyghtës and for squyres,
To gete hym grete renowne.
By than the yere was all agone
He had no man but twayne,
Lytell Johan and good Scathelocke,
With hym all for to gone.
Robyn sawe yonge men shote
Full fayre vpon a day;
‘Alas!’ than sayd good Robyn,
‘My welthe is went away.
‘Somtyme I was an archere good,
A styffe and eke a stronge;
I was compted the best archere
That was in mery Englonde.
‘Alas!’ then sayd good Robyn,
‘Alas and well a woo!
Yf I dwele lenger with the kynge,
Sorowe wyll me sloo.’
Forth than went Robyn Hode
Tyll he came to our kynge:
‘My lorde the kynge of Englonde,
Graunte me myn askynge.
‘I made a chapell in Bernysdale,
That semely is to se,
It is of Mary Magdaleyne,
And thereto wolde I be.
‘I myght neuer in this seuen nyght
No tyme to slepe ne wynke,
Nother all these seuen dayes
Nother ete ne drynke.
‘Me longeth sore to Bernysdale,
I may not be therfro;
Barefote and wolwarde I haue hyght
Thyder for to go.’
‘Yf it be so,’ than sayd our kynge,
‘It may no better be,
Seuen nyght I gyue the leue,
No lengre, to dwell fro me.’
‘Gramercy, lorde,’ then sayd Robyn,
And set hym on his kne;
He toke his leuë full courteysly,
To grenë wode then went he.
Whan he came to grenë wode,
In a mery mornynge,
There he herde the notës small
Of byrdës mery syngynge.
‘It is ferre gone,’ sayd Robyn,
‘That I was last here;
Me lyste a lytell for to shote
At the donnë dere.’
Robyn slewe a full grete harte;
His horne than gan he blow,
That all the outlawes of that forest
That horne coud they knowe,
And gadred them togyder,
In a lytell throwe.
Seuen score of wyght yonge men
Came redy on a rowe,
And fayre dyde of theyr hodes,
And set them on theyr kne:
‘Welcome,’ they sayd, ‘our [derë] mayster,
Under this grenë-wode tre.’
Robyn dwelled in grenë wode
Twenty yere and two;
For all drede of Edwarde our kynge,
Agayne wolde he not goo.
Yet he was begyled, i-wys,
Through a wycked woman,
The pryoresse of Kyrkësly,
That nye was of hys kynne:
For the loue of a knyght,
Syr Roger of Donkesly,
That was her ownë speciall;
Full euyll motë they the!
They toke togyder theyr counsell
Robyn Hode for to sle,
And how they myght best do that dede,
His banis for to be.
Than bespake good Robyn,
In place where as he stode,
‘To morow I muste to Kyrke[s]ly,
Craftely to be leten blode.’
Syr Roger of Donkestere,
By the pryoresse he lay,
And there they betrayed good Robyn Hode,
Through theyr falsë playe.
Cryst haue mercy on his soule,
That dyed on the rode!
For he was a good outlawe,
And dyde pore men moch god.


Here begynneth a gest of Robyn Hode.

1–12. Printed without division of stanzas or verses.

22,3. Deficiency supplied from b.

41. gooe.

42. milsers.

43. yuch.

64. vnkoutg.

71. lacking in all.

84. .iij. messis.

93. The .iij.

94. all ther.

134. tillet.

154. mynge.

183. vnknuth.

323. ynought.

331. felsauntes.

371. wened.

383. Late for Litell, which all the others have.

392. of for haue.

393. but .xx.: see 424.

411. nowne.

413. .xx. felinges.

462. in strocte.

463. And.

473. And.

474. haue bene.

502,3. The verses are transposed.

502. God had.

542. Vutyll.

663. to may.

684. Bo .xxviij.

704. To helpe: cf. 1944.

773. betes.

782. clere.

793. .xij.

821. ou.

823. bernedtale.

833. for he.

834–1183. wanting; supplied from b.

1191. a .M.

1204. Euen .cccc.

1212. thon.

1234. Bi god ... on tree. The tops of d and of th, and a part of dy, remain.

1241. Sir ... n of lawe.

1242. Only the top of N remains.

1242–1273. wanting, being torn away; supplied from b.

1282. Ha.

1303. .cccc. li.

1311,3. an .C.

1313. aros we.

1321. an ille.

1323. Worked all.

1331,2. He purneyed hym an. Only a part of n in the last word remains. Well harness. 79Only a part of n and the tops of ess remaining.

1333–1363. wanting; supplied from b.

1382. Bnd.

1431. louge.

1432. doue.

1504. tho thy.

1603. Thougt: an C.

1604. he be go.

1613. And therfore.

1622. gyne.

1632. he wol be.

1642. read hyne?

1653. anowe.

1684. mountnauuce.

1753. wasars.

1792. sende the. Perhaps sent the, as in 3842 (b).

1801. abowe.

1813. v myle.

1822. Hnntynge.

1833. Rrynolde.

1853. vij. score.

1871. shyrel.

1991. this xij.

2013. thy best.

2023. scade.

2061. Johū.

2064. pray.

2084–3141. wanting; supplied from b.

3153. These xl.: with men.

3213. welle.

3301. fayles.

3313. ryner.

3333. an C. li.

3393. myeles.

3493. to thy.

From 3494 wanting; supplied from b.

b. Title-page: Here begynneth a lytell geste of Robyn hode. At the head of the poem: Here begynneth a lytell geste of Robyn hode and his meyne, And of the proude Sheryfe of Notyngham.

24. y-founde.

33. Iohan: and always.

41. Scathelock.

43. no.

51. be spake hym.

53. yf ye.

61. hym wanting.

62. I haue.

63. that wanting.

64. vnketh.

71. wanting.

73. knygot or some squyere.

84. Thre.

92. The other.

93. was of.

94. all other moste.

113. that wanting: gone.

114. that wanting.

131. than wanting.

134. tylleth.

144. wolde.

154. ye wanting.

161. beholde: Ihoan.

162. shall we.

171. Robyn.

173. Scathelocke.

183. vnketh.

20. vnto.

202. yemen.

211. to wanting.

213. came there.

221. then was all his semblaunte.

231. hangynge ouer.

234. somers.

241. full wanting.

244. you.

261. is your.

263. is a.

272. all thre.

281. went that.

291. vnto.

292. gan hym.

302. thou arte.

303. abyde.

322. set tyll.

323. right wanting.

333. neuer so.

354. that wanting.

362. whan I haue.

383. Lytell Iohan: Robyn hode.

391. than wanting.

392. god haue.

393, 413. but .x. s.

401. thou haue.

404. len.

414. Not one.

424. halfe a.

432. full lowe.

433. tydynge.

434. inough.

444. clothynge: thynne.

451. one worde.

453. thou were.

462. in stroke.

464. hast thou.

471. of them.

473. An .C. wynter.

474. haue be.

491. within two or thre.

493. hondreth.

502,3. The verses are transposed.

502. hath shapen.

511. than wanting.

531. of Lancastshyre.

534. both.

541. beth.

562. What shall.

574. may not.

583. frendes.

592. knowe me.

604. had wanting.

612. Scathelocke and Much also.

621. frendes.

622. borowes that wyll.

624. on a.

631. waye: than wanting.

633. I wyll.

643. me wanting.

674. loke that it well tolde.

682, 741, 773, 832. Scathelocke.

684. By eyghtene.

691. lytell Much.

692. greueth.

704. To helpe.

712. many a.

722. it well mete it be.

731. And of.

732. lept ouer.

733. deuylkyns.

734. for wanting.

743. hym the better.

744. Bygod it cost him.

751. than wanting.

752. All vnto Robyn.

753. an hors.

754. al this.

764. God leue.

782. clere.

803. Without.

811. lene.

821. went on.

822. he thought.

831. bethought.

871. wanting.

883. hondrde.

892. he is ryght.

981. wanting.

1132. gan loke.

1184. grete ye.

1192. were thou.

1214. Rewarde.

1234. By god that dyed on a tree.

1241. Syr abbot, and ye men of lawe.

1282. of my.

1283. not be.

1303. got foure hondreth.

1312. dyght.

1323. I nocked.

purueyed hym an hondreth men
Well harneysed in that stede.

1351. Qy? But at Wentbrydge ther was.

1362. bulle I vp pyght.

1372. in good fay.

1373. that wanting.

1383. frend bestad.

1384. I-slayne.

1392. where that.

1402. hondred: fere for free.

1452. shote.

1461. shot.

1462. sleste.

1464. gan.

1474. euer wanting: I me.

1484. wan.

1491. sir wanting: bore.

1502. Wolte.

1513. gete leue.

1532. Ge gyue.

1551. befell.

1563. to wanting.

1564. me to dyne.

1572. so longe to be.

1573. sir wanting.

1574. gyue thou.

1593. the wanting.

1601. a rap.

1602. yede nygh on two.

1603. an .c. wynter.

1604. wors he sholde go.

1612. went vp.

801613. there: made a.

1614. and wyne.

1631. second John wanting.

1632. whyle he.

1643. an householde to.

1653. to God wanting.

1654. lyketh: me wanting.

1661. and an.

1671. ful wanting.

1682. well wanting.

1694. I me.

1704. I-chaunged.

1734. same day.

1743. of full wanting.

1753. and spones.

1754. they none.

1761. they toke.

1763. dyde hym.

1764. wode tre.

1781. And also.

1792. sende the: cf. 3842.

1811. hym there.

1812. whyle.

1814. at his.

1822. hounde.

1823. coud his.

1843. syght.

1851. I se.

1853. an herde.

1861. His tynde.

1883. afore.

1884. sir wanting.

1894. now be trayed.

1912. well wanting.

1913. se his.

1921. Make good.

1924. lyfe is graunted.

1932. a gone.

1933. commaunded.

1941. cote a pye.

1942. well fyne.

1943. toke.

1953. They shall lay: sote.

1961. laye that.

1964. sydes do smerte.

1991. All these.

2001. Or I here a nother nyght sayd.

2002. I praye.

2003. to-morne.

2013. the best.

2014. That yet had the.

2023. Thou shalt neuer a wayte me scathe.

2032. or by.

2041. haue: I-swore.

2052. that he was gone.

2053. had his.

2064. pay.

2074. trusty.

2083. Scathelock.

2093. after such.

Or yf he be a pore man
Of my good he shall haue some.

2144. these wanting.

2152. frese our: leese your? dress your?

2161. .lii.: men wanting.

2182. you for yon.

2241. .lii.

2314. serued them.

2403. ryghtwysman.

2404. his name.

2421. art nade.

2434. Also.

2451. more sayd wanting.

2474. hondred wanting.

2671. gayne.

2721. I toke it I twyse: the second I is probably a misprint.

2791. thy .cccc. li.

2802. all of this.

2833. all ther best.

2841. all theyre best.

2922. they slist.

2932. acchers.

2991. beut.

3053. dede, second d inverted.

3144. walle.

3153. These twelue: with me.

3161. were wanting.

3164. gan they.

3172. vnto.

3193. enemye.

3194. Agayne the lawes.

3202. dedes thou.

3212. doth.

3223. yode.

3231. tolde.

3234. That noble were.

3241. He wolde: had.

3243. He wolde.

3251. woll: sayd the.

3261. nowe wanting: thou proud sheryf: sayde our kynge wanting.

3262. the bydde.

3294. Therfore.

3301. fayled.

3304. and by.

3311. a wayted that.

3314. let his.

3323. hym home.

3324. honde and fote.

3332. on a tre.

3341. harde wanting: This the lady, the.

3342. and fre.

3351. to the.

3352. tre tre.

3361. God the good: saue wanting.

3363. lady loue.

3371. Late thou neuer.

3372. Shamly I slayne be.

3373. fast I-bounde.

3382. lady fre.

3383. I take.

3384, 3391. wanting.

3394. on your.

3402. As a: be.

3403. yonge men.

3404. on a.

3412. on a.

3413. wode be.

3411. Nor.

3421. i bent.

3423. spare.

3432. The knyght.

3434. I-quyt than.

3444. gan.

3462. so fast.

3464. At is.

3471. full wanting.

3472. at his.

3492. thou thryue.

3493. to the.

3512. his hoode.

3562. vnder-stonde.

3632. hane.

3683. walked; qy? walketh: by your.

3714. blyth.

3774. repeats verse 2: Other shyft haue not we, Copland and Ed. White’s copies.

3814. I vouch it halfe on the. f and g: I would geue it to thee.

3851. brode tarpe. Copland and Ed. White’s copies: seale for tarpe.

4002. A wys.

4014. the good whyte.

4024. sore.

4092. shote.

4094. than they met. f, they gan: g, gan they mete.

4121,2. Copland and Ed. White: sayd Robyn to our king, Vnder this.

4172. Copland and Ed. White: I wyll come.

4213. had so I wys: so Copland and Ed. White.

4231. Theyr bowes bente: cf. f, g.

4332. .xii.

4333. he had in Copland and Ed. White.

4362. ferre: fayre in c, Copland and Ed. White.

4373. was commytted. Copland and Ed. White: was commended for.

4401. bernysdade.

4412. Qy? No tymë slepe.

4431. he so.

4493. our dere in e.

4542. places.

81Explycit. kynge Edwarde and Robyn hode and Lytell Johan Enprented at London in fletestrete at the sygne of the sone By Wynken de Worde.

a bode, a gast, a gone, a nother, a vowe, be fore, be gan, be spake, for gone, i brought, launs gay, out lawes, to gyder, vnder take, etc., etc., are printed abode, etc., etc.; I wys, i-wys; & and.

It will be understood that not all probable cases of ë have been indicated.


264. myche.

284. ere for lere.

292. hym gan, as in a.

293. he wanting.

303. a byde.

304. oures.

321. wesshe.

322. sat tyll.

323. ryght inough, as in a.

333. non so lytell, as in a.

342. Garmercy.

344. all this.

354. that wanting, as in b.

362. it wanting.

372. Me thynke.

383. Lytell Johan, as in b.

391. then sayd, as in a.

392. haue parte of the.

393, 413. .x. s..

401. haue, as in b.

404. len, as in b.

414. Not one, as in b.

424. halfe a.

432. full lowe, as in b.

433. tydynge, as in b.

443. Myche, thyket.

451. one worde, as in b.

453. were, as in b.

461. haste be.

462. stroke.

463. And, as in a.

464. hast led, as in a.

471. nene of tho.

473. An .c. wynter.

474. haue be.

483. that syt.

491. this two yere, as in a.

492. well knowe.

502,3. order as in a, b.

502. hath shapen, as in b.

511. than wanting, as in b.

512. thou lose.

531. lancasesshyre.

534. bothe, as in a, b.

541. bothe, as in a.

562. shall fall, as in b.

571. wher.

574. noo better, as in a.

581. eyen has fallen into the next line (eyen way).

583. frende, as in a.

584. I ne haue noo nother.

591. the frendes.


2802. all of this, as in b.

2814. full styll.

2822. [her] keneth.

2833. all thee beste.

2841. all there beste.

2863. ye wanting.

2874, 2881,2,3. cut off.

2891,2. transposed.

2903. I bent.

2911. can bende.

2914. as he.

2921. shet.

2922. they clyft.

2931. Scathelocke.

2932. good in fere.

2954. then wolde.

2962. can they.

2963. the wanting.

297. cut off, except ylde forest in line 4.

3022. on his.

3023. go ne.

3032. louest.

3051. all out.

3053. woundes depe.

3061–3. cut off.

3064. now wanting: only the lower part of the words of this line remains.

3072. vpon.

3103. Robyn hode lente.

3121. myche thanket he of the.

3123. the grete.

3144. walle, as in b.

315. nearly all cut away.

3172. herkeneth to.

3193. enmye, as in b.

3194. lawes, as in b.

3202. [t]hou here, as in b.

3233,4, 3241,2. wanting.

3243. He wolde, as in b.

3261. Goo home thou proude sheryf, as in b.

3262. the bydde, as in b.

3294. Therfore, as in b.

3311. wayted thys gentyll.

3314. his haukes.

3323,4, 3331,2. wanting.

3342. and a, as in a.

3343. a wanting.

3363. ladye loue, as in b.

3373. bounde, as in b.

3382. so wanting.

3383. I take.

3384, 3391. wanting, as in a, b.

3394. has only [y]our way.

3402. be wode.

3403. mery yonge men, as in b.

3404. on rode, as in a.

3412. only [th]at dyed on preserved.

342. wanting.

3434. then shall, as in b.

3444. can they, as in a.

3462. so faste, as in b.

3464. It is not, as in a.

3471. full godd, as in a.

3472. at wyll, as in a.

3492. thryue, as in b.

3493. to the struste.

3502. bothe sharp.


4362. Full fayre.

4364. is gone.

4373. cōmitted.

4412. to slepe.

4413. Nor of all.

4414. Noutter ete nor.

4421. longeth so sore to be in.

4423,4, 4431,2. wanting.

4464. donde.

4472. can he.

4473. outlawes in.

4493. our dere.


Title: A mery geste of Robyn Hoode and of hys lyfe, wyth a newe playe for to be played in Maye games, very plesaunte and full of pastyme. At the head of the poem: Here begynneth a lyttell geste of Robyn hoode and his mery men, and of the proude Shyryfe of Notyngham.

Insignificant variations of spelling are not noted.

12. freborne.

24. yfounde.

32. lened vpon a.

33. stode wanting.

41. Scathelocke: and always.

42. mylners.

8243. was no.

53. if ye.

61. hym wanting.

64. vnketh.

71. wanting.

73. or some squyer.

92. The other.

93. was of.

94. of all other.

113. that wanting: shall gone.

114. that wanting.

131. than wanting.

133. husbandeman.

134. with the.

144. That would.

154. ye wanting.

162. shall we.

163. farre.

181. Nowe walke ye vp vnto the Sayle.

183. vnketh.

184. By chaunce some may ye.

191. cearle misprinted for earle.

193. hym then to.

201. went anone vnto.

211. loked in B.

212. deme (for derne) strate.

213. there wanting.

221. drousli (droufli?) than: semblaunt.

231. hanged ouer: eyes.

234. on sommers.

241. full wanting.

244. are you.

253. you wanting.

261. is your.

263. is a.

264. haue I harde.

271. graunt the: wynde.

272. brethren all three.

281. went that.

283. eyes.

291. vnto.

292. gan hym.

294. downe on.

302. thou art.

303. you wanting.

323. right wanting.

333. fayleth neuer so.

334. was spred.

354. that wanting.

361. I thank the, knyght, then said.

362. when I haue.

363. By god I was neuer so gredy.

373. dere wanting.

383. Lytell John: Robyn hoode.

391. than wanting.

401. thou haue.

403. I shall lende.

414. Not any penny.

424. halfe a.

432. full lowe.

434. inowe wanting.

451. me one.

453. thou were.

461. Or yls els: haste by.

462. stroke.

464. thou wanting.

471. of them.

473, 493, 553, etc. hundreth.

482. hat be.

491. two or three yerers.

492. wanting.

502,3. transposed.

502. hath shopen.

504. god it amende.

511. than wanting.

512. lost thy.

523. wenters.

531. Lancastshyre.

562. What shall.

581. eyes.

583. frendes.

584. ne wanting.

592. knowe mee.

593. Whyles.

594. boste that.

604. had wanting: neuer me.

612. Much also.

621. frendes.

622. borowes: wyll.

623. than wanting.

624. on a.

631. than wanting.

633. I haue.

641. made me.

643. me wanting.

653. yf wanting.

674. it well tolde.

684. eyghten score.

691. lyttell Much.

692. greueth.

704. To wrappe.

712. muche ryche.

722. that well mete it.

731. And of.

732. lept ouer.

733. What the deuils.

734. for wanting.

741. lought.

743. hym the better.

744. By god it cost.

751. than wanting.

752. All unto R.

753. that knight an.

754. al this.

764. God lende that it.

781. shal.

782. clene.

784. out wanting.

794. Under the.

813. may stande.

822. he thought.

834. came.

841. spake the.

863. xij monethes.

871. wanting.

872. his lande and fee.

874, 954. Disherited.

892. is his.

894. sore.

913. came.

924. poundes.

933. The highe.

942. taken.

961. not wanting.

963. teme to.

981. wanting.

1003. corese.

1013. The shal.

1024. saluted.

1033. that the.

1034. me my.

1042. hath made.

1054. To desyre you of.

1064. defend me from.

1111. then wanting.

1122. Sende.

1123. a assaye.

1131. on then gan.

1132. wanting.

1154. canst not.

1184. Ye get ye it.

1192. were thou.

1203. of wanting.

1213. Haddest thou.

1214. I would haue rewarded thee.

1222. royall chere.

1224. fast gan.

1234. on a.

1243. I shall.

1283. not be.

1292. is wanting.

1294. came.

1303. got.

1312. stringes were well dyght.

1323. And nocked ye were with.

1333. sute.

1343. And rode.

1351. But wanting: by a bridg was.

1362. vp ypyght.

1364. burnisshed.

1372. in good fay.

1373. that wanting.

1383. fayre and frend.

1392. where ye he.

1401. the wanting.

1402. him in fere.

1411. sholdreth and: come for rome.

1422. laye than.

1424. And drynke.

1434. the wanting.

1452. shute.

1462. alway cleft.

1464. gan.

1472. a wanting.

1474. That euer I dyd see.

1481. me thou.

1483. thou wast.

1484. wining.

1491. sir wanting.

1502. Wylt.

1513. gete leue.

1523. gaue to him anone.

1532. He geue vs.

1541. me wanting.

831544. he had yete.

1563. to wanting.

1564. me meate.

1571. to long.

1572. Fasting so long to.

1573. sir wanting.

1574. geue thou.

1584. had lere.

1601. rappe.

1602. backe yede nygh into.

1603. lyueth an hundreth wynter.

1604. worse he should go.

1612. went vp.

1613. And there: a wanting.

1614. of wanting.

1623. liue this.

1624. shall ye.

1631. and also dronke.

1632. that he.

1642. hyne, perhaps rightly.

1643. an householde to.

1644. For wanting.

1653. to God wanting.

1654. do lyke wel me.

1661. a hardy.

1671. ful wanting.

1673. for wanting.

1682. wel wanting.

1694. I me.

1704. Chaunged it should.

1734. same day at nyght.

1741. The hyed.

1751. the wanting.

1753. masers and.

1754. they non.

1761. they toke.

1762. and three.

1763. And hyed.

1764. wode tree.

1774. Welcome thou art to me.

1781. And so is that good.

1782. That thou hast brought wyth the.

1792. And he hath send the.

1793. His cope.

1801. advow.

1811. there wanting.

1814. at his.

1823. coulde his.

1841. haue nowe.

1851. I se.

1853. of wanting: a.

1861. tyndes be.

1873. Buske the.

1883. afore.

1884. sir wanting.

1893. worthe the.

1894. now betrayed.

1912. well wanting.

1921. good chere.

1924. lyfe is graunted.

1933. commaunded.

1941. cote a pye.

1943. toke.

1951. wight yemen.

1953. shall: in that sorte.

1961. that proude.

1964. sydes do smarte.

1971. chere wanting.

1984. dwel longe.

1991. these.

2001. Or I here another nyght lye.

2013. the best.

2023. Thou shalt neuer wayte me skathe.

2024. nor by.

2032. by day.

2041. swore.

2042. he wanting.

2044. was any man.

2052. that he was gone.

2062. Hode wanting.

2064. pay.

2091. walke wanting: into the.

2093. And loke for some straunge.

2094. By chaunce you.

2102. a wanting.

2103,4. as in b.

2111. sterte.

2112. fraye.

2121. went than vnto.

2131. as he.

2142. can.

2144. these monkes.

2152. And bende we.

2153. harte.

2161. but lii men.

2182. Make you yonder preste.

2201. An euell.

2202. vnder the.

2211. What hyght your.

2222. shall sore rewe.

2231. a bowe.

2232. Redy.

2234. gan.

2241. twoo and fifty wyght yemen.

2242. abode but.

2262. whan he did se.

2291. an.

2311. The made.

2314. serued them.

2342. mote I thryue or the.

2362. Ye nede not so to saye.

2363. hath brought it.

2371. And wanting.

2381. broughte.

2383. the eft agayne.

2384. of me.

2403. right wise.

2412. mayest.

2421. made wanting.

2423. I do the thanke.

2434. So mote I thryue or the.

2442. not out one.

2443. hast nede.

2444. shall I: to wanting.

2451. fyne more sayd.

2454. Thereof I wyll haue.

2471. John layd.

2473. he wanting.

2474. hundreth poundes.

2484. cost.

2492. that tolde.

2493. the trust.

2521. And she haue nede of ony.

2561. And what is on the other courser.

2562. sothe we must.

2563. than wanting.

2594. second in wanting.

2631. light fro his.

2632. can.

2633. Right curteysly.

2651. good Robin.

2664. They would.

2671. agayne.

2673. than sayd.

2674. that wanting.

2681. no grefe: printed in two lines.

2683. dyd helpe.

2691. Now, by my treuthe than sayd.

2692. For that, knight, thanke.

2701. poundes.

2703. there.

2703,4. printed in one line.

2711. than wanting.

2713. her high.

2721. And I should take: twyse.

2724. thou art.

2731. And whan.

2732. laughed and made.

2744. Under this trusty.

2752. fethered.

2753. gentyl knyght.

2762. My wyll done that it be.

2773. bye the a hors.

2774. the for thy (as me, be for my, by).

2792. I dyd lende.

2802. of all his.

2803. sytteth.

2833. they that shote al of the best.

842834. The best.

2841. al of the best.

2843. of goodly.

2853. fethers.

2862. his trusty.

2863, 2883. wyght yemen.

2871. mery yemen.

2873. I shall knowe.

2882. Their arowes fethere free.

2893. archers.

2894. shote.

2911. can.

2922. he clefte.

2924. the lylly white.

2941. Whan that.

2943. than was.

2944. good Robin.

2951. To him.

2953. gyft full.

2954. than would.

2962. gan the.

2972. Thus chering.

2973. Another promyse thou made to me.

2974. Within the wylde.

2981. And I had ye in the gr[e]ne forest.

2982. trusty tree.

2983. me leue.

3004. away belyue.

3014. Amonge the.

3021. John he was hort.

3022. in the.

3032. loues.

3044. nowe to.

3052. smite thou of.

3053. woundes so wyde and longe.

3054. That I after eate no breade.

3061. that wanting.

3062. slayne.

3064. Though I had it all by me.

3071. forbyd that: Much then.

3074. Depart.

3084. another a whyle.

3121. I do the thankes for thy comfort.

3122,3. And for.

3131. all the.

3141. Shutte.

3144. wall.

3151. the hote.

3153. Thou shalt these xij dayes abide.

3162. Redye.

3164. gan.

3172. vnto the.

3173. Howe the proude shirife began.

3191. can.

3193. kepest there.

3194. lawes.

3204. am true.

3212. do ye no more vnto.

3223. he went.

3234. That noble were and.

3241. He wolde: had.

3243. He wold.

3251. the kynge.

3261. Go home, thou proude sheryfe.

3262. the bydde.

3294. Therfore.

3301. Ther he.

3303. that gentyl.

3304. and by.

3311. awayted that.

3314. his hauke.

3321. misprinted To be.

3323. him home to.

3324. Ybounde.

3332. on a tree.

3334. robin hode had he.

3341. Then the lady the.

3342. a wanting.

3351. to the.

3353. There she found.

3361. Robyn Hode.

3363. ladyes loue.

3371. Let thou.

3372. to be.

3373. bound.

3382. so wanting.

3383. ytake.

3384. The proude shirife than sayd she.

339. Only this: He is not yet passed thre myles, You may them ouertake.

3402. a man: ben.

3403. mery yemen.

3404. on a tree.

3412. on a tree.

3413,4. And by him that al thinges maketh No lenger shall dwell with me.

3421. ybent.

3432. The knight would.

3433. And yf ye he may him take.

3434. Yquyte than shall he bee.

3444. gan the.

3462. so fast.

3464. That is.

3471. full wanting.

3472. at his.

3492. may thou thryue.

3493. to the.

3494. thou wast.

3511. start.

3512. cut into.

3544. and wanting.

3551. them for men.

3562. vnderstode.

3571. the compasse.

3572. He wend.

3582. a one.

3583. fynde any.

3594. eyes.

3603. He should.

3612. it with.

3643. to no.

3662. By halte.

3664. And vsed.

3682. That we be.

3684. walked: by your.

3692. on the.

3694. I saye.

3704. eyes.

3711. hastely.

3713. They were all in.

3714. thyther blythe.

3752. Standinge by.

3761. toke wanting.

3764. you.

3774. Other shyft haue not we.

3782. And good.

3803. full wanting.

3813. a.

3814. I would geve it to the.

3822. And deuyde it than did he.

3823. Half he gaue to.

3842. He hath sent.

3843. to wanting.

3844. and to.

3851. brode seale.

3852. lete me.

3874. trusty tre.

3881. he had.

3884. fast was.

3892. he can it.

3893. wyght yemen.

3894. Came runnyng.

3912. pene.

3921. hastely: dyght.

3922. can.

3944. Blessed may.

3952. that thou.

3953. maiest.

3954. together by lente.

3964. ben.

3971. werd.

3972. can the.

3973. fifty space.

3982. The.

4001,2. A good buffet on his head bare, For that shalbe his fyne.

4003. And those: fell to.

4014. the lilly white hande.

4042. And than he.

4054. syr wanting.

4061. the kyng.

4072. largely.

4074. folded.

4081. geue.

4084. a tall.

4092. can wel.

4094. Togeder they gan.

4101. Stedfastly in.

4112. they sawe.

4114. wele.

4121. than sayd Robin.

4122. this trusty.

4124. for me.

4131. And yet sayd good Robin.

4132. As good god do me.

4133. aske the.

4134. I it.

4141. than wanting.

4142. Thy peticion I graunt the.

4143. So yt thou wylt leue.

4151. syr wanting.

4152. There to.

854171. But and I lyke not.

4172. I wyll.

4174. I was.

4182. now sell.

4193. To sel to me.

4201. for good.

4203. And other.

4211. his cote.

4213. had so ywys.

4214. They clothed them full soone.

4223. shal we.

4224. All this our kyng can.

4231. The bent their bowes.

4242. and as.

4243. And all they shot.

4254. kyng whan he did paye.

4261. the kyng.

4281. to the other can.

4291. hastely.

4302. them to come.

4303. sawe.

4314. of the.

4323. Robin hode.

4331. Robin hode: dwelleth.

4333. That he had.

4342. lay.

4343. and squyers.

4351. all gone.

4364. wend.

4373. commended for.

4382. Alas what shall I do.

4394. my.

4404. And there would I faene be.

4411. might no time this seuen nightes.

4413. Neyther all this.

4414. eate nor.

4423. wolward haue I.

4433. nyghtes.

4463. I haue a lyttell lust.

4472. can.

4483. wyght yemen.

4484. Came runnyng.

4494. Under the.

4501. dwelleth.

4502. yeres.

4503. Than for all.

4522. Donkester.

4523. wanting.

4524. For euyll mot thou the.

Thus endeth the lyfe of Robyn hode.


Title and heading as in f.

12. free borne.

14. yfound.

22. Whilst: on the.

32. leaned vpon a.

33. stode wanting.

41. Scathlock, and always.

42. milners.

43. was no.

51. bespake him.

53. if you.

61. hym wanting: Robin hood.

62. I haue.

63. that wanting.

64. vnketh.

71. wanting.

73. or some squire.

92. The other.

93. was of.

94. of all other.

101. he loued.

113. what way we: gone.

114. that wanting.

131. than wanting.

133. you: husbandman.

134. with the.

141. you.

144. That would.

151. These wanting.

154. ye wanting.

161. be wanting.

162. shall we.

172. goe with.

181. Now walke ye vp vnto the shore.

184. By chance some may ye meet.

193. him then.

201. went anon vnto.

211. looked in.

212. a deme.

213. came there.

221. All drouflye, perhaps (wrongly) drouslye: semblant.

223. on the.

224. The other.

231. ouer his eyes.

234. on summers.

241. full wanting.

244. you.

253. you wanting.

261. is your.

263. is a.

264. haue I.

272. bretheren all three.

281. went that.

283. eyes.

291. vnto the.

292. gan him.

293. he did.

294. downe on.

302. thou art.

303. you wanting.

323. right wanting.

333. neuer so.

334. was spread.

354. that wanting.

361. I thanke thee knight then said.

362. when I haue.

363. By God I was neuer so greedy.

371. ere you.

372. Me thinke is.

373. dere wanting.

383. Little John: Robin hood.

391. than wanting.

401. thou haue.

404. I shall.

414. Not any peny.

424. halfe a.

432. full lowe.

434. inowe wanting.

451. one word.

453. thou wert: a wanting.

461. hast be.

462. stroke.

464. With whores hast thou.

471. of these.

473. An hundreth winters.

474. haue be.

481. of it.

482. disgrast.

491. Within 2 or 3 yeares: said he.

492. wanting.

493, 553, 673, etc. hundreth.

502,3. transposed.

502. hath shapen.

504. God it amend.

511. than wanting.

512. lost.

523. winters.

531. Lancashire.

541. landes be.

562. What shall.

581. eyes.

583. friends.

584. ne wanting.

592. a one: knowe me.

593. Whiles.

604. had wanting.

611. misprinted ruthe they went.

612. Much also.

621. friends.

622. borrowes: will.

623. than wanting.

624. on a.

631. thy iest: than wanting.

632. I will.

633. will God.

641. made me.

642. doth misprinted for both.

643. me wanting.

653. yf wanting.

654. faileth.

674. it well tolde.

683. tolde forth.

684. eighteene score.

691. little much.

692. grieued.

694. fallen.

704. To wrap.

712. much rich.

722. that well ymet it.

731. And of.

732. leped ouer.

734. for wanting.

741. full wanting: laught.

743. the better measure.

744. By God it cost.

751. than wanting.

752. All vnto R.

753. an.

754. all his good.

761. God lend that it be.

782. clene.

784. bring them.

793. months.

794. Vnder the.

813. the wanting.

86822. he thought.

834. came.

841. spake the.

853. vpon wanting.

863. months: there wanting.

871. wanting.

872. land and fee.

874, 954. Disherited.

883. a.

884. lay it.

892. is his.

894. sore.

904. You doe him.

924. pounds.

931. and high.

932. Stert.

933. The high.

942. taken.

953. comes.

961. not wanting.

963. to them.

981. wanting.

1003. best corse.

1004. I wanting.

1011. them to.

1013. come there.

1024. saluted.

1034. me my.

1042. hath made.

1054. To desire of.

1064. defend me against.

1092. wanting.

1103. thy lande.

1111. then wanting.

1122. Send.

1131. on them.

1132. wanting.

1134. Step thee: of the.

1161. tournaments.

1162. farre that.

1172. a wanting.

1173. Or else: safely say.

1184. Ye get not my land so.

1191. thousand pound more.

1192. were thou.

1212. that wanting.

1213. Hadst.

1214. I would haue rewarded thee.

1222. royall cheere.

1224. gan.

1232. to thee.

1234. on a.

1241. and you.

1242. held.

1283. had not.

1292. is wanting.

1294. came on the.

1303. got.

1323. And nocked they were with.

1333. suite.

1343. And rode.

1351. As he went vp a bridge was.

1361,2. wanting.

1363. with a.

1372. in good.

1373. that wanting.

1383. friend bested.

1384. Yslaine.

1392. where that.

1393. the yeoman.

1394. the loue.

1402. him in feare.

1411. all wanting.

1421. markes.

1424. And drinke.

1432. that the.

1434. the wanting.

1462. alway claue.

1464. gan.

1474. euer I did see.

1481. me thou.

1483. wast thou.

1484. wonning.

1491. sir wanting.

1492. al wanting.

1502. Wilt.

1513. ye get leave.

1523. to him anon.

1532. He giue vs.

1541. me wanting.

1544. he had yet.

1551. befell.

1554. forgot.

1562. the wanting.

1563. to wanting.

1564. me meat.

1572. Fasting so long to.

1573. sir wanting.

1574. giue thou.

1581. Shalt neither eat nor drinke.

1591. was vncourteous.

1592. on the.

1601. a rappe.

1602. backe yede nigh.

1603. liueth: winters.

1604. he still shall goe.

1612. ope.

1613. there: a large.

1614. and wine.

1621. you.

1623. you liue this.

1624. shall ye.

1631. eat and also drunke.

1633. in the.

1641. my.

1642. hine: perhaps rightly.

1643. an housholde for.

1653. to God wanting.

1654. doe like well.

1661. and a.

1671. ful wanting.

1672. toke wanting.

1673. for wanting.

1682. well wanting.

1694. euer I saw yet.

1704. changed it should.

1714. we will.

1733. ylke day at.

1741. They hied.

1742. they could.

1743. full wanting.

1744. euery one.

1751. the wanting.

1753. masers and.

1754. they none.

1761. Also they.

1762. and three.

1763. And hied them to.

1764. wood tree.

1773. And thou.

1774. Welcome thou art to me.

1781. And so is that good yeoman.

1782. That thou hast brought with.

1792. He hath sent thee here.

1793. His cup.

1802. And by.

1811. there wanting.

1813. he ran wanting.

1814. at his.

1822. hound.

1823. could his.

1831. saue thee.

1832. you saue.

1834. haue you.

1841. haue now be in the.

1851. I see.

1853. of wanting.

1861. tindes be.

1871. my.

1873. Buske thee.

1882. A foote.

1883. afore.

1884. sir wanting.

1893. worth thee.

1894. nowe wanting.

1901. Litell wanting.

1912. well wanting.

1921. Make good.

1922. of for for.

1924. life is graunted.

1931. had all.

1933. commanded.

1934. hose and shoone.

1941. coate a pie.

1943. tooke.

1951. wight yeomen.

1953. That they shall lie in that sorte.

1961. lay that.

1964. sides doe smart.

1971. chere wanting.

1984. dwell long.

1991. All this.

2001. Or I heere an other night lie.

2002. I pray.

2003. my: to morne.

2004. wanting.

2013. the best.

2023. Thou shalt: wait: scath.

2024. nor by.

2032. or else by.

2042. home againe to.

2043. as wanting.

2044. was any man.

2052. that he was gon.

2062. But Robin said.

2064. pay.

2073. dare sweare.

2091. walke wanting: into the.

872093. And looke for some strange.

2094. By chance you.

2102. a wanting.

2103,4. as in b, excepting goods for good.

2112. in a fray.

2121. went then vnto.

2131. as they.

2133. They were ware.

2144. These monkes.

2152. And bend we.

2153. looke our.

2161. hath but fifty and two man.

2164. royall.

2171. Bretheren.

2182. Make you yonder priest.

2201. An.

2211. What hight your.

2222. sore rue.

2231. a bowe.

2232. Ready.

2234. ground he gan.

2241. two and fiftie wight yeomen.

2242. abode but.

2253. Hode wanting.

2261. downe.

2262. when he did.

2264. let it.

2291. blowe we.

2314. serued him.

2323. you.

2342. So mote I thriue of thee.

2362. You neede not so to say.

2363. hath brought it.

2371. And wanting.

2381. hast the mony brought.

2383. eft againe.

2384. need of.

2401. my.

2412. not denay.

2421. made wanting.

2423. I doe thee thanke.

2432. Truth.

2434. So mought I thriue and thee.

2442. not take one.

2443. hast need of.

2444. shall I: to wanting.

2451. finde more said.

2453. spending-money.

2454. Thereof I will haue.

2464. penny let me.

2471. John laid.

2472. he wanting.

2474. Eight hundreth.

2483. true now.

2484. cost.

2492. Monke that.

2511. and to.

2513. need of.

2521. haue need of any.

2561. And what is in ye other coffer.

2562. we must.

2563. than wanting.

2582. he wanting.

2594. or D.

2631. light from his.

2632. can.

2633. Right for So: down.

2651. bespake good Robin: Hode wanting.

2663. For wanting.

2664. They would.

2673. then said.

2674. And that.

2681. take no griefe.

2683. did I helpe.

2684. they put.

2691. Now by my truth then.

2692. For that knight thanke.

2701. than wanting.

2703. there is: also wanting.

2711. then said.

2713. her hie.

2721. And I should take it twice.

2722. for me.

2731. And when.

2732. He laughed and made.

2744. this trusty.

2751. do he said.

2752. fethered.

2753. the gentle.

2762. My will doone that it be.

2763. Go and fetch me foure: pounds.

2773. buye thee.

2783. shalt not.

2784. Whilste I.

2791. well for.

2792. I did send.

2802. of all his.

2803. sitteth.

2811. take.

2812. wend.

2833. And they that shoote all of the best.

2834. The best.

2841. all of the best.

2843. of goodly.

2851. he should.

2853. and feathers.

2854. the like.

2862. his trusty.

2863. ye ready you wight yeomen.

2871. merry yeomen.

2873. I shall know.

2882. Their takles.

2883. of wanting: wight yeomen.

2893. were: archers.

2894. shot.

2911. The first.

2914. the buttes where.

2922. he claue.

2924. lilly-white.

2934. they would.

2943. then was.

2951. To him.

2953. guift full.

2954. then would.

2962. A great horn gan he.

2971. be to thee.

2972. Thus cheering.

2973. An other promise thou madest to me.

2974. Within the greene.

2981. But and I had thee there againe.

2982. the trusty.

2983. giue me.

2993. was torne.

3004. away beliue.

3011. broke.

3014. the for that.

3021. he was.

3022. on the knee.

3032. you loued.

3052. thou off.

3053. wounds so wide and long.

3054. That I after eat no bread.

3061. that wanting.

3062. wert slaine.

3064. Though I had it all by me.

3071. forbid that: Much then.

3074. Depart.

3083. he set.

3102. of the.

3113. be thou wanting.

3121. I do thee thanke for.

3122,3. And for.

3131. all the.

3144. the wall.

3151. thee hite.

3152. And sweare.

3153. Thou shalt these twelue daies abide with me.

3162. Ready and.

3164. gan.

3172. hearken vnto the.

3173. sheriffe began.

3193. there: enemies.

3194. all law.

3201. what I.

3204. a wanting.

3212. doe ye.

3213. you wit your.

3223. he went.

3234. noble were and.

3241. He would: had.

3243. He would.

3251. said the.

3254. will I.

883261. Goe home thou proude: sayde our kynge wanting.

3262. I you bid.

3294. Therefore had.

3301. there he.

3303. that gentle.

3311. Euer awaited that.

3312. of the.

3314. his hauke.

3321. To betray this gentle knight.

3323. him home.

3324. Ybound.

3332. on a tree.

3333. had rather then a.

3334. That Robin hood had hee.

3341. Then the lady the.

3342. a wanting.

3351. to the.

3353. There found she.

3354. merry menye.

3363. loue for sake.

3371. Let thou.

3373. bound.

3382. so wanting.

3383. thy lord ytake.

3384. The proud sheriffe then said she.

he is not yet passed three miles,
you may them ouertake:
Vp then start good Robin
as a man that has been wake:
Buske ye, my merry yeomen,
for him that dyed on a tree.

3412. on a tree.

3413. And by him that all things maketh.

3414. shall dwell.

3421. ybent.

3422. More.

3423. they spared none.

3432. The knight.

3433. if ye may him ouertake.

3434. then shall he.

3444. gan.

3452. so fast.

3454. thy boote.

3471. full wanting.

3472. at his.

3491. the for thou.

3492. may thou.

3493. to thee.

3503. it on.

3504. driue.

3512. cut in.

3532. leasind.

3544. hode if.

3551. them for men.

3562. vnderstood.

3564. all the knights land.

3571. The compasse of.

3572. wend.

3582. many a one.

3583. finde any.

3594. eyes.

3602. vnto.

3603. He should.

3604. of for at.

3612. it with.

3623. O my.

3642. his best.

3643. to no.

3662. halt.

3663. he slew.

3664. And vsed.

3682. now be.

3683. by your.

3684. a monks.

3691. lodesman.

3692. on the.

3694. come at.

3704. eyes.

3711. hastily.

3713. They were all: monks weeds.

3714. thither blithe.

3724. to wanting.

3741. sommer.

3743. Vntill.

3752. by the.

3763. sayd wanting.

3764. you.

3774. Other shift haue not wee.

3782. good for gold.

3803. full wanting.

3811. I wanting.

3813. an.

3814. I would giue it to thee.

3822. And deuided it then did he.

3823. Halfe he gaue to.

3824. to wanting.

3832. Syr wanting.

3842. He hath sent.

3851. broad seale.

3863. be my.

3871. tyding.

3874. the trusty.

3881. he had.

3884. full was fast.

3892. gan it.

3893. wight yeomen.

3894. running for redy.

3921. hastily: dight.

3922. can.

3934. the good ale browne.

3944. may thou.

3951. I for we.

3952. Or that.

3953. maist.

3954. be lend.

3964. beene.

3972. can.

4001,2. A good buffet on his head beare for this shall be his fine.

4003. And those: fell in.

4012. claue.

4014. lilly white.

4032. Fore: freends faire.

4033. of wanting.

4042. then for thus.

4054. syr wanting.

4061. said ye.

4062. be for by, as often.

4072. largely.

4074. folded.

4084. a tall frier.

4092. can.

4094. gan they meet.

4102. Stedfast in.

4111. the said!

4112. sawe.

4121. said Robin to.

4122. this trusty.

4124. and for mee.

4131. And yet said good R.

4132. As good God do me.

4133. aske thee.

4134. I it.

4141. than wanting.

4142. Thy petition I graunt thee.

4143. So that thou wilt leaue.

4151. syr wanting.

4152. There to dwell.

4171. But and I like not.

4172. I will.

4174. I was.

4182. nowe wanting.

4193. To sell.

4211. his cote.

4213. had so ywis.

4214. They clothed them full.

4222. the gray.

4223. Now shall we.

4224. All this: can.

4231. They bent their.

4243. And all they.

4254. king when he did pay.

4261. said the.

4264. I shot.

4281. togither can.

4284. leaueth not one.

4291. hastely.

4302. to come againe.

4303. saw our.

4314. of the.

4323. Robin hood.

4331. Robin hood dwelled.

4333. That he had.

4343. and squires.

4344. a great.

4351. gone.

4354. hym wanting.

4362. faire.

4364. wend.

4373. was commended for the.

4382. Alas what shall I doe.

4404. there would I faine be.

4411. might no time this: nights.

4412. one for ne.

4413. all this.

4414. nor for ne.

4423. haue I.

894433. nights.

4463. I haue a little lust for.

4472. can.

4483. wight yeomen.

4484. running for redy.

4494. Vnder the.

4502. yeeres.

4503. Then for dred.

4522. Dankastre.

4523. wanting.

4524. For euill: they thee.

4553. good wanting.

Thus endeth the life of Robin hood.


‘Guye of Gisborne,’ Percy MS., p. 262; Hales and Furnivall, II, 227.

First printed in the Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, 1765, I, 74, and, with less deviation from the original, in the fourth edition, 1794, I, 81. Reprinted from the Reliques in Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, I, 114.

Robin Hood has had a dream that he has been beaten and bound by two yeomen, who have taken away his bow. He vows that he will have vengeance, and sets out in search of them with Little John. Robin and John shoot as they go, till they come to the greenwood and see a yeoman leaning against a tree, clad in a horse-hide, with head, tail, and mane. John proposes to go to the yeoman to ask his intentions. Robin considers this to be forward of John, and speaks so roughly to him that John parts company, and returns to Barnsdale. Things are in a bad way there: the sheriff of Nottingham has attacked Robin’s band; two have been slain; Scarlett is flying, and the sheriff in pursuit with seven score men. John sends an arrow at the pursuers, which kills one of them; but his bow breaks, and John is made prisoner and tied to a tree.

Robin learns from the man in horse-hide that he is seeking Robin Hood, but has lost his way. Robin offers to be his guide, and as they go through the wood proposes a shooting-match. Both shoot well, but Robin so much the better that the other breaks out into expressions of admiration, and asks his name. Tell me thine first, says Robin. “I am Guy of Gisborne;” “and I Robin Hood, whom thou long hast sought.” They fight fiercely for two hours; Robin stumbles and is hit, but invokes the Virgin’s aid, leaps up and kills Guy. He nicks Guy’s face so that it cannot be recognized, throws his own green gown over the body, puts on the horse-hide, and blows Guy’s horn. The sheriff hears in the sound tidings that Guy has slain Robin, and thinks it is Guy that he sees coming in the horse-hide. The supposed Guy is offered anything that he will ask, but will take no reward but the boon of serving the knave as he has the master. Robin hies to Little John, looses him, and gives him Sir Guy’s bow. The sheriff takes to flight, but cannot outrun John’s arrow, which cleaves his heart.

The beginning, and perhaps the development, of the story might have been more lucid but for verses lost at the very start. Robin Hood dreams of two yeomen that beat and bind him, and goes to seek them, “in greenwood where they be.” Sir Guy being one, the other person pointed at must of course be the sheriff of Nottingham (who seems to be beyond his beat in Yorkshire,[81] but outlaws can raise no questions of jurisdiction), in league with Sir Guy (a Yorkshireman, who has done 90many a curst turn) for the capture or slaying of Robin. The dream simply foreshadows danger from two quarters. But Robin Hood is nowhere informed, as we are, that the sheriff is out against him with seven score men, has attacked his camp, and taken John prisoner. He knows nothing of this so far on as stanza 453, where, after killing Guy, he says he will go to Barnsdale to see how his men are faring. Why then does he make his arrangements in stanzas 42–452, before he returns to Barnsdale, to pass himself off for Sir Guy? Plainly this device is adopted with the knowledge that John is a prisoner, and as a means of delivering him; which all that follows shows. Our embarrassment is the greater because we cannot point out any place in the story at which the necessary information could have been conveyed; there is no cranny where it could have been thrust in. It will not be enough, therefore, to suppose that verses have dropped out; there must also have been a considerable derangement of the story.

The abrupt transition from the introductory verses, 1, 21,2, is found in Adam Bell, and the like occurs in other ballads.

A fragment of a dramatic piece founded on the ballad of Guy of Gisborne has been preserved in manuscript of the date of 1475, or earlier.[82] In this, a knight, not named, engages to take Robin Hood for the sheriff, and is promised gold and fee if he does. The knight accosts Robin, and proposes that they shoot together. They shoot, cast the stone, cast the axle-tree, perhaps wrestle (for the knight has a fall), then fight to the utterance. Robin has the mastery, cuts off the knight’s head, and dons his clothes, putting the head into his hood. He hears from a man who comes along that Robin Hood and his men have been taken by the sheriff, and says, Let us go kill the sheriff. Then follows, out of the order of time, as is necessary in so brief a piece, the capture of Friar Tuck and the others by the sheriff. The variations from the Percy MS. story may be arbitrary, or may be those of another version of the ballad. The friar is called Tuck, as in the other play: see Robin Hood and the Potter.

‘Syr sheryffë, for thy sakë,
Robyn Hode wull Y takë.’
‘I wyll the gyffë golde and fee,
This behestë þou holdë me.’
‘Robyn Hode, ffayre and fre,
Vndre this lyndë shotë we.’
‘With the shote Y wyll,
Alle thy lustës to full fyll.’
‘Have at the prykë!’
‘And Y cleuë the stykë.’
‘Late vs castë the stone.’
‘I grauntë well, be Seynt John.’
‘Late vs castë the exaltre.’
‘Have a foote be-forë the!
Syr knyght, ye haue a falle.’
‘And I the, Robyn, qwytë shall.’
‘Owte on the! I blowë myn horne.’
‘Hit warë better be vnborne.’
‘Lat vs fyght at ottrauncë.’
‘He that fleth, God gyfe hym myschauncë!
91Now I hauë the maystry herë,
Off I smytë this sory swyrë.
This knyghtys clothis wolle I werë,
And in my hode his hede woll berë.
Welle mete, felowë myn:
What herst þou of gode Robyn?’
‘Robyn Hode and his menye
With the sheryff takyn be.’
‘Sette on footë with gode wyll,
And the sheryffë wull we kyll.’
‘Beholde wele Ffrere Tukë,
Howe he dothe his bowë plukë.
Ȝeld yow, syrs, to the sheryff[ë],
Or elles shall your bowës clyffë.’
‘Nowe we be bownden alle in samë;
Frere [T]uke, þis is no gamë.’
‘Co[m]e þou forth, þou fals outlawë:
Þou shall b[e] hangyde and ydrawë.’
‘Now, allas! what shall we doo!
We [m]ostë to the prysone goo.’
‘Opy[n] the yatis faste anon,
An[d] [d]oo theis thevys ynnë gon.’[83]

Ritson pointed out that Guy of Gisborne is named with “other worthies, it is conjectured of a similar stamp,” in a satirical piece of William Dunbar, ‘Of Sir Thomas Norray.’

Was never vyld Robeine wnder bewch,
Nor ȝet Roger of Clekkinsklewch,
So bauld a bairne as he;
Gy of Gysburne, na Allan Bell,
Nor Simones sonnes of Quhynfell,
At schot war nevir so slie.[84]
Ed. John Small, Part II, p. 193.

Gisburne is in the West Riding of Yorkshire, on the borders of Lancashire, seven miles from Clitheroe.

He that had neither beene a kithe nor kin
Might haue seene a full fayre sight, 361,2,

anticipates Byron:—

By heaven, it is a splendid sight to see,
For one who hath no friend, no brother, there.
Childe Harold, I, 401,2.

Translated, after Percy’s Reliques, by Bodmer, II, 128; La Motte Fouqué, in Büsching’s Erzählungen, p. 241; Doenniges, p. 174; Anastasius Grün, p. 103; Cesare Cantù, Documenti, etc., p. 799 (the first thirty-seven stanzas).

When shawes beene sheene, and shradds full fayre,
And leeues both large and longe,
Itt is merrry, walking in the fayre fforrest,
To heare the small birds songe.
The woodweele sang, and wold not cease,
Amongst the leaues a lyne:
And it is by two wight yeomen,
By deare God, that I meane.
  *       *       *       *       *
‘Me thought they did mee beate and binde,
And tooke my bow mee froe;
If I bee Robin a-liue in this lande,
I’le be wrocken on both them towe.’
‘Sweauens are swift, master,’ quoth Iohn,
‘As the wind that blowes ore a hill;
Ffor if itt be neuer soe lowde this night,
To-morrow it may be still.’
‘Buske yee, bowne yee, my merry men all,
Ffor Iohn shall goe with mee;
For I’le goe seeke yond wight yeomen
In greenwood where the bee.’
Thé cast on their gowne of greene,
A shooting gone are they,
Vntill they came to the merry greenwood,
Where they had gladdest bee;
There were the ware of [a] wight yeoman,
His body leaned to a tree.
A sword and a dagger he wore by his side,
Had beene many a mans bane,
And he was cladd in his capull-hyde,
Topp, and tayle, and mayne.
‘Stand you still, master,’ quoth Litle Iohn,
‘Vnder this trusty tree,
And I will goe to yond wight yeoman,
To know his meaning trulye.’
‘A, Iohn, by me thou setts noe store,
And that’s a ffarley thinge;
How offt send I my men beffore,
And tarry my-selfe behinde?
‘It is noe cunning a knaue to ken,
And a man but heare him speake;
And itt were not for bursting of my bowe,
Iohn, I wold thy head breake.’
But often words they breeden bale,
That parted Robin and Iohn;
Iohn is gone to Barn[e]sdale,
The gates he knowes eche one.
And when hee came to Barnesdale,
Great heauinesse there hee hadd;
He ffound two of his fellowes
Were slaine both in a slade,
And Scarlett a ffoote flyinge was,
Ouer stockes and stone,
For the sheriffe with seuen score men
Fast after him is gone.
‘Yett one shoote I’le shoote,’ sayes Litle Iohn,
‘With Crist his might and mayne;
I’le make yond fellow that flyes soe fast
To be both glad and ffaine.’
Iohn bent vp a good veiwe bow,
And ffetteled him to shoote;
The bow was made of a tender boughe,
And fell downe to his foote.
‘Woe worth thee, wicked wood,’ sayd Litle Iohn,
That ere thou grew on a tree!
Ffor this day thou art my bale,
My boote when thou shold bee!’
This shoote it was but looselye shott,
The arrowe flew in vaine,
And it mett one of the sheriffes men;
Good William a Trent was slaine.
It had beene better for William a Trent
To hange vpon a gallowe
Then for to lye in the greenwoode,
There slaine with an arrowe.
And it is sayd, when men be mett,
Six can doe more then three:
And they haue tane Litle Iohn,
And bound him ffast to a tree.
‘Thou shalt be drawen by dale and downe,’ quoth the sheriffe,
‘And hanged hye on a hill:’
‘But thou may ffayle,’ quoth Litle Iohn,
‘If itt be Christs owne will.’
Let vs leaue talking of Litle Iohn,
For hee is bound fast to a tree,
And talke of Guy and Robin Hood,
In the green woode where they bee.
How these two yeomen together they mett,
Vnder the leaues of lyne,
To see what marchandise they made
Euen at that same time.
‘Good morrow, good fellow,’ quoth Sir Guy;
‘Good morrow, good ffellow,’ quoth hee;
‘Methinkes by this bow thou beares in thy hand,
A good archer thou seems to bee.’
‘I am wilfull of my way,’ quoth Sir Guye,
‘And of my morning tyde:’
‘I’le lead thee through the wood,’ quoth Robin,
‘Good ffellow, I’le be thy guide.’
‘I seeke an outlaw,’ quoth Sir Guye,
‘Men call him Robin Hood;
I had rather meet with him vpon a day
Then forty pound of golde.’
‘If you tow mett, itt wold be seene whether were better
Afore yee did part awaye;
Let vs some other pastime find,
Good ffellow, I thee pray.
‘Let vs some other masteryes make,
And wee will walke in the woods euen;
93Wee may chance mee[t] with Robin Hoode
Att some vnsett steven.’
They cutt them downe the summer shroggs
Which grew both vnder a bryar,
And sett them three score rood in twinn,
To shoote the prickes full neare.
‘Leade on, good ffellow,’ sayd Sir Guye,
‘Lead on, I doe bidd thee:’
‘Nay, by my faith,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘The leader thou shalt bee.’
The first good shoot that Robin ledd
Did not shoote an inch the pricke ffroe;
Guy was an archer good enoughe,
But he cold neere shoote soe.
The second shoote Sir Guy shott,
He shott within the garlande;
But Robin Hoode shott it better then hee,
For he cloue the good pricke-wande.
‘Gods blessing on thy heart!’ sayes Guye,
‘Goode ffellow, thy shooting is goode;
For an thy hart be as good as thy hands,
Thou were better then Robin Hood.
‘Tell me thy name, good ffellow,’ quoth Guy,
‘Vnder the leaues of lyne:’
‘Nay, by my faith,’ quoth good Robin,
‘Till thou haue told me thine.’
‘I dwell by dale and downe,’ quoth Guye,
‘And I haue done many a curst turne;
And he that calles me by my right name
Calles me Guye of good Gysborne.’
‘My dwelling is in the wood,’ sayes Robin;
‘By thee I set right nought;
My name is Robin Hood of Barnesdale,
A ffellow thou has long sought.’
He that had neither beene a kithe nor kin
Might haue seene a full fayre sight,
To see how together these yeomen went,
With blades both browne and bright.
To haue seene how these yeomen together foug[ht],
Two howers of a summers day;
Itt was neither Guy nor Robin Hood
That ffettled them to flye away.
Robin was reacheles on a roote,
And stumbled at that tyde,
And Guy was quicke and nimble with-all,
And hitt him ore the left side.
‘Ah, deere Lady!’ sayd Robin Hoode,
‘Thou art both mother and may!
I thinke it was neuer mans destinye
To dye before his day.’
Robin thought on Our Lady deere,
And soone leapt vp againe,
And thus he came with an awkwarde stroke;
Good Sir Guy hee has slayne.
He tooke Sir Guys head by the hayre,
And sticked itt on his bowes end:
‘Thou hast beene traytor all thy liffe,
Which thing must haue an ende.’
Robin pulled forth an Irish kniffe,
And nicked Sir Guy in the fface,
That hee was neuer on a woman borne
Cold tell who Sir Guye was.
Saies, Lye there, lye there, good Sir Guye,
And with me be not wrothe;
If thou haue had the worse stroakes at my hand,
Thou shalt haue the better cloathe.
Robin did off his gowne of greene,
Sir Guye hee did it throwe;
And hee put on that capull-hyde,
That cladd him topp to toe.
‘The bowe, the arrowes, and litle horne,
And with me now I’le beare;
Ffor now I will goe to Barn[e]sdale,
To see how my men doe ffare.’
Robin sett Guyes horne to his mouth,
A lowd blast in it he did blow;
That beheard the sheriffe of Nottingham,
As he leaned vnder a lowe.
‘Hearken! hearken!’ sayd the sheriffe,
‘I heard noe tydings but good;
For yonder I heare Sir Guyes horne blowe,
For he hath slaine Robin Hoode.
‘For yonder I heare Sir Guyes horne blow,
Itt blowes soe well in tyde,
94For yonder comes that wighty yeoman,
Cladd in his capull-hyde.
‘Come hither, thou good Sir Guy,
Aske of mee what thou wilt haue:’
‘I’le none of thy gold,’ sayes Robin Hood,
‘Nor I’le none of itt haue.
‘But now I haue slaine the master,’ he sayd,
‘Let me goe strike the knaue;
This is all the reward I aske,
Nor noe other will I haue.’
‘Thou art a madman,’ said the shiriffe,
‘Thou sholdest haue had a knights ffee;
Seeing thy asking [hath] beene soe badd,
Well granted it shall be.’
But Litle Iohn heard his master speake,
Well he knew that was his steuen;
‘Now shall I be loset,’ quoth Litle Iohn,
‘With Christs might in heauen.’
But Robin hee hyed him towards Litle Iohn,
Hee thought hee wold loose him beliue;
The sheriffe and all his companye
Fast after him did driue.
‘Stand abacke! stand abacke!’ sayd Robin;
‘Why draw you mee soe neere?
Itt was neuer the vse in our countrye
One’s shrift another shold heere.’
But Robin pulled forth an Irysh kniffe,
And losed Iohn hand and ffoote,
And gaue him Sir Guyes bow in his hand,
And bade it be his boote.
But Iohn tooke Guyes bow in his hand—
His arrowes were rawstye by the roote—;
The sherriffe saw Litle Iohn draw a bow
And ffettle him to shoote.
Towards his house in Nottingam
He ffled full fast away,
And soe did all his companye,
Not one behind did stay.
But he cold neither soe fast goe,
Nor away soe fast runn,
But Litle Iohn, with an arrow broade,
Did cleaue his heart in twinn.

11. When shales beeene.

14. birds singe.

21. woodweete.

23. by 2.

111. ball.

123. 2 of.

133. with 7.

151. veiwe. The word is partly pared away.

154. footee.

181. a william.

192. 6 can ... 3.

214. in they green.

221. these 2.

234. archer: an e has been added at the end. Furnivall.

254. 40li

274. a stroke before the v of steven. Furnivall.

283. 3 score.

311. 2d

323. for on.

372. 2 howers.

441. did on.

551. kniffee.


a. MS. of about 1450: Cambridge University Library, Ff. 5. 48, fol. 128 b. b. One leaf of a MS. of the same age, containing stanzas 693–72, 772–802: Bagford Ballads, vol. i, art. 6, British Museum.

a is printed from the manuscript in Jamieson’s Popular Ballads, II, 54, 1806; Hartshorne’s Ancient Metrical Tales, p. 179, 1829; Ritson’s Robin Hood, ed. 1832, II, 221, 95collated by Sir Frederic Madden. Here printed from a fresh transcript, carefully revised by Rev. Professor Skeat.

On a bright Whitsuntide morning, Robin Hood, not having “seen his Savior” for more than a fortnight, resolves to go to mass at Nottingham. Much advises that he take twelve yeomen with him for safety, but Robin will have only Little John. They improve the time, while on their way to church, by shooting for a wager. Robin scornfully offers John three to one; but John nevertheless wins five shillings of his master, at which Robin loses his temper, and strikes John. John will be his man no more, and returns to the wood. Robin, sorry for this consequence of his bad humor, goes on to Nottingham alone. A monk at Saint Mary’s church recognizes Robin, and gives information to the sheriff, who comes with a large force to arrest the king’s felon. Robin kills or wounds many of the posse, but his sword breaks upon the sheriff’s head. In some way which we do not learn, owing to verses lost,[85] Robin’s men hear that their master has been taken. They are all out of their wits but Little John. Mild Mary, he tells his comrades, will never forsake one who has been so long devoted to her, and he, with her help, will see to the monk. The next day John and Much waylay the monk, who is carrying letters to the king conveying the tidings of Robin’s capture; they kill him, take the letters, and carry them to the king themselves. The king gives them twenty pounds for their news, and makes them yeomen of the crown; he sends his privy seal to the sheriff by John, commanding that Robin Hood shall be brought to him unhurt. The sheriff, upon receiving the seal, makes John good cheer, and goes to bed heavy with wine. John and Much, while the sheriff is sleeping, make their way to the jail. John rouses the porter, runs him through,[86] and takes his keys, unbinds Robin Hood, and puts a good sword in his hand; they leap from the wall where it is lowest. The sheriff finds the jailer dead in the morning, and searches the town for his captive; but Robin is in merry Sherwood. Farewell now, says John; I have done thee a good turn for an ill. Nay, says Robin, I make thee master of my men and me. So shall it never be, answers John; I care only to be a comrade. The king hears that Robin has escaped, and that the sheriff is afraid to show himself. Little John has beguiled us both, says the king. I made them yeomen of the crown, and gave them pay with my own hand! Little John loves Robin Hood better than he does us. Say no more. John has beguiled us all.

Too much could not be said in praise of this ballad, but nothing need be said. It is very perfection in its kind; and yet we have others equally good, and beyond doubt should have had more, if they had been written down early, as this was, and had not been left to the chances of tradition. Even writing would not have saved all, but writing has saved this (in large part), and in excellent form.

The landscape background of the first two stanzas has been often praised, and its beauty will never pall. It may be called landscape or prelude, for both eyes and ears are addressed, and several others of these woodland ballads have a like symphony or setting: Adam Bell, Robin Hood and the Potter, Guy of Gisborne, even the much later ballad of The Noble Fisherman. It is to be observed that the story of the outlaw Fulk Fitz Warine, which has other traits in common with Robin Hood ballads, begins somewhat after the same fashion.[87]

96Robin Hood’s devotion to the Virgin, st. 34, is a feature which reappears in Robin Hood and the Potter, Guy of Gisborne, Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar, and above all in The Gest. His profound piety, as evinced in stanzas 6, 7, and again in 8, 9 of The Gest, is commemorated by Bower in a passage in the Scotichronicon, of about the same date as the manuscript of the present ballad (1450), which we have every reason to assume to be derived from a lost ballad.[88] Robin Hood had mass regularly sung at Barnsdale, nor would he suffer the office to be interrupted for the most pressing occasion. (We know from The Gest, st. 440, that he had a pretty chapel there, dedicated to Mary Magdalen.) One day, while so engaged, he was informed that the sheriff and his men, old foes of his, had tracked him to the very retired part of the forest where the service was going on, and was urged to fly with his best speed. This, for reverence of the sacrament, which he was then most devoutly adoring, he utterly refused to do, and then, while the rest were fearing for their lives, trusting in him whom he worshipped, fell upon his enemies, with a few of his followers who had rallied to him, and easily put them to rout. Enriched with their spoil and ransom, he was led to hold the ministers of the church (but apparently not “bishops and archbishops,” Gest, st. 15) and masses in greater veneration than ever, mindful of the common saw, God hears the man who often hears the mass.[89]

There is a general resemblance between the rescue of Robin Hood in stanzas 61–81 and that of William of Cloudesly in Adam Bell, 56–94, and the precaution suggested by Much in the eighth stanza corresponds to the warning given by Adam in the eighth stanza of the other ballad. There is a verbal agreement in stanzas 71 of the first and 66 of the second.[90] Such agreements or repetitions are numerous in the Robin Hood ballads, and in other traditional ballads, where similar situations occur.

Robin Hood’s rescue of Little John, in Guy of Gisborne, after quarrelling with him on a fanciful provocation, is a partial offset for Little John’s heart-stirring generosity in this ballad. We have already had several cases of ballads in which the principal actors exchange parts.

That portion of ‘Robin Hood’s Death’ in which Robin Hood gets angry with Scarlet, and shoots with Little John on his way to be let blood, may have been transferred, at least in part, from Robin Hood and the Monk.

It is hardly worth the while to ask whether the monk in this ballad is the same who is pillaged in The Gest. So rational a suggestion as that more than one monk must have fallen into Robin’s hands, in the course of his long and lucrative career, may not be conclusive, but we may rest certain that there were many Robin Hood ballads besides the few old ones which have come down to us; and if so, there would be many variations upon so agreeable a topic as the depleting of overstocked friars.

Translated, after Jamieson, by Grundtvig, Engelske og skotske Folkeviser, p. 148, No 24; by Anastasius Grün, p. 89.

In somer, when þe shawes be sheyne,
And leves be large and long,
Hit is full mery in feyre foreste
To here þe foulys song:
To se þe dere draw to þe dale,
And leve þe hilles hee,
And shadow hem in þe levës grene,
Vnder the grene-wode tre.
Hit befel on Whitsontide,
Erly in a May mornyng,
The son vp feyre can shyne,
And the briddis mery can syng.
‘This is a mery mornyng,’ seid Litull John,
‘Be hym þat dyed on tre;
A more mery man þen I am one
Lyves not in Cristiantë.
‘Pluk vp þi hert, my dere mayster,’
Litull John can sey,
‘And thynk hit is a full fayre tyme
In a mornyng of May.’
‘Ȝe, on thyng greves me,’ seid Robyn,
‘And does my hert mych woo;
Þat I may not no solem day
To mas nor matyns goo.
‘Hit is a fourtnet and more,’ seid he,
‘Syn I my sauyour see;
To day wil I to Notyngham,’ seid Robyn,
‘With þe myght of mylde Marye.’
Than spake Moche, þe mylner sun,
Euer more wel hym betyde!
‘Take twelue of þi wyght ȝemen,
Well weppynd, be þi side.
Such on wolde þi selfe slon,
Þat twelue dar not abyde.’
‘Of all my mery men,’ seid Robyn,
‘Be my feith I wil non haue,
But Litull John shall beyre my bow,
Til þat me list to drawe.’
‘Þou shall beyre þin own,’ seid Litull Jon,
‘Maister, and I wyl beyre myne,
And we well shete a peny,’ seid Litull Jon,
‘Vnder þe grene-wode lyne.’
‘I wil not shete a peny,’ seyd Robyn Hode,
‘In feith, Litull John, with the,
But euer for on as þou shetis,’ seide Robyn,
‘In feith I holde þe thre.’
Thus shet þei forth, þese ȝemen too,
Bothe at buske and brome,
Til Litull John wan of his maister
Fiue shillings to hose and shone.
A ferly strife fel þem betwene,
As they went bi the wey;
Litull John seid he had won fiue shillings,
And Robyn Hode seid schortly nay.
With þat Robyn Hode lyed Litul Jon,
And smote hym with his hande;
Litul Jon waxed wroth þerwith,
And pulled out his bright bronde.
‘Were þou not my maister,’ seid Litull John,
‘Þou shuldis by hit ful sore;
Get þe a man wher þou w[ilt],
For þou getis me no more.’
Þen Robyn goes to Notyngham,
Hym selfe mornyng allone,
And Litull John to mery Scherwode,
The pathes he knew ilkone.
Whan Robyn came to Notyngham,
Sertenly withouten layn,
He prayed to God and myld Mary
To bryng hym out saue agayn.
He gos in to Seynt Mary chirch,
And kneled down before the rode;
Alle þat euer were þe church within
Beheld wel Robyn Hode.
Beside hym stod a gret-hedid munke,
I pray to God woo he be!
Fful sone he knew gode Robyn,
As sone as he hym se.
Out at þe durre he ran,
Fful sone and anon;
Alle þe ȝatis of Notyngham
He made to be sparred euerychon.
‘Rise vp,’ he seid, ‘þou prowde schereff,
Buske þe and make þe bowne;
98I haue spyed þe kynggis felon,
Ffor sothe he is in þis town.
‘I haue spyed þe false felon,
As he stondis at his masse;
Hit is long of þe,’ seide þe munke,
‘And euer he fro vs passe.
‘Þis traytur name is Robyn Hode,
Vnder þe grene-wode lynde;
He robbyt me onys of a hundred pound,
Hit shalle neuer out of my mynde.’
Vp þen rose þis prowde shereff,
And radly made hym ȝare;
Many was þe moder son
To þe kyrk with hym can fare.
In at þe durres þei throly thrast,
With staves ful gode wone;
‘Alas, alas!’ seid Robyn Hode,
‘Now mysse I Litull John.’
But Robyn toke out a too-hond sworde,
Þat hangit down be his kne;
Þer as þe schereff and his men stode thyckust,
Thedurwarde wolde he.
Thryes thorowout þem he ran þen,
For soþe as I yow sey,
And woundyt mony a moder son,
And twelue he slew þat day.
His sworde vpon þe schireff hed
Sertanly he brake in too;
‘Þe smyth þat þe made,’ seid Robyn,
‘I pray to God wyrke hym woo!
‘Ffor now am I weppynlesse,’ seid Robyn,
‘Alasse! agayn my wylle;
But if I may fle þese traytors fro,
I wot þei wil me kyll.’
Robyn in to the churchë ran,
Throout hem euerilkon,
  *       *       *       *       *
Sum fel in swonyng as þei were dede,
And lay stil as any stone;
Non of theym were in her mynde
But only Litull Jon.
‘Let be your rule,’ seid Litull Jon,
‘Ffor his luf þat dyed on tre,
Ȝe þat shulde be duȝty men;
Het is gret shame to se.
‘Oure maister has bene hard bystode
And ȝet scapyd away;
Pluk vp your hertis, and leve þis mone,
And harkyn what I shal say.
‘He has seruyd Oure Lady many a day,
And ȝet wil, securly;
Þerfor I trust in hir specialy
No wyckud deth shal he dye.
‘Þerfor be glad,’ seid Litul John,
‘And let þis mournyng be;
And I shal be þe munkis gyde,
With þe myght of mylde Mary.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
‘We will go but we too;
And I mete hym,’ seid Litul John,
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
‘Loke þat ȝe kepe wel owre tristil-tre,
Vnder þe levys smale,
And spare non of this venyson,
Þat gose in thys vale.’
Fforþe þen went these ȝemen too,
Litul John and Moche on fere,
And lokid on Moch emys hows,
Þe hye way lay full nere.
Litul John stode at a wyndow in þe mornyng,
And lokid forþ at a stage;
He was war wher þe munke came ridyng,
And with hym a litul page.
‘Be my feith,’ seid Litul John to Moch,
‘I can þe tel tithyngus gode;
I se wher þe munke cumys rydyng,
I know hym be his wyde hode.’
They went in to the way, þese ȝemen boþe,
As curtes men and hende;
Þei spyrred tithyngus at þe munke,
As they hade bene his frende.
‘Ffro whens come ȝe?’ seid Litull Jon,
‘Tel vs tithyngus, I yow pray,
99Off a false owtlay, [callid Robyn Hode,]
Was takyn ȝisterday.
‘He robbyt me and my felowes boþe
Of twenti marke in serten;
If þat false owtlay be takyn,
Ffor soþe we wolde be fayn.’
‘So did he me,’ seid þe munke,
‘Of a hundred pound and more;
I layde furst hande hym apon,
Ȝe may thonke me þerfore.’
‘I pray God thanke you,’ seid Litull John,
‘And we wil when we may;
We wil go with you, with your leve,
And bryng yow on your way.
‘Ffor Robyn Hode hase many a wilde felow,
I tell you in certen;
If þei wist ȝe rode þis way,
In feith ȝe shulde be slayn.’
As þei went talking be þe way,
The munke and Litull John,
John toke þe munkis horse be þe hede,
Fful sone and anon.
Johne toke þe munkis horse be þe hed,
Ffor soþe as I yow say;
So did Much þe litull page,
Ffor he shulde not scape away.
Be þe golett of þe hode
John pulled þe munke down;
John was nothyng of hym agast,
He lete hym falle on his crown.
Litull John was so[re] agrevyd,
And drew owt his swerde in hye;
This munke saw he shulde be ded,
Lowd mercy can he crye.
‘He was my maister,’ seid Litull John,
‘Þat þou hase browȝt in bale;
Shalle þou neuer cum at our kyng,
Ffor to telle hym tale.’
John smote of þe munkis hed,
No longer wolde he dwell;
So did Moch þe litull page,
Ffor ferd lest he wolde tell.
Þer þei beryed hem boþe,
In nouþer mosse nor lyng,
And Litull John and Much infere
Bare þe letturs to oure kyng.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
He knelid down vpon his kne:
‘God ȝow saue, my lege lorde,
Ihesus yow saue and se!
‘God yow saue, my lege kyng!’
To speke John was full bolde;
He gaf hym þe letturs in his hond,
The kyng did hit vnfold.
Þe kyng red þe letturs anon,
And seid, So mot I the,
Þer was neuer ȝoman in mery Inglond
I longut so sore to se.
‘Wher is þe munke þat þese shuld haue brouȝt?’
Oure kyng can say:
‘Be my trouth,’ seid Litull John,
‘He dyed after þe way.’
Þe kyng gaf Moch and Litul Jon
Twenti pound in sertan,
And made þeim ȝemen of þe crown,
And bade þeim go agayn.
He gaf John þe seel in hand,
The sheref for to bere,
To bryng Robyn hym to,
And no man do hym dere.
John toke his leve at oure kyng,
Þe sothe as I yow say;
Þe next way to Notyngham
To take, he ȝede þe way.
Whan John came to Notyngham
The ȝatis were sparred ychon;
John callid vp þe porter,
He answerid sone anon.
‘What is þe cause,’ seid Litul Jon,
‘Þou sparris þe ȝates so fast?’
‘Because of Robyn Hode,’ seid [þe] porter,
‘In depe prison is cast.
‘John and Moch and Wyll Scathlok,
Ffor sothe as I yow say,
100Þei slew oure men vpon our wallis,
And sawten vs euery day.’
Litull John spyrred after þe schereff,
And sone he hym fonde;
He oppyned þe kyngus priue seell,
And gaf hym in his honde.
Whan þe scheref saw þe kyngus seell,
He did of his hode anon:
‘Wher is þe munke þat bare þe letturs?’
He seid to Litull John.
‘He is so fayn of hym,’ seid Litul John,
‘Ffor soþe as I yow say,
He has made hym abot of Westmynster,
A lorde of þat abbay.’
The scheref made John gode chere,
And gaf hym wyne of the best;
At nyȝt þei went to her bedde,
And euery man to his rest.
When þe scheref was on slepe,
Dronken of wyne and ale,
Litul John and Moch for soþe
Toke þe way vnto þe jale.
Litul John callid vp þe jayler,
And bade hym rise anon;
He seyd Robyn Hode had brokyn prison,
And out of hit was gon.
The porter rose anon sertan,
As sone as he herd John calle;
Litul John was redy with a swerd,
And bare hym to þe walle.
‘Now wil I be porter,’ seid Litul John,
‘And take þe keyes in honde:’
He toke þe way to Robyn Hode,
And sone he hym vnbonde.
He gaf hym a gode swerd in his hond,
His hed [ther]with for to kepe,
And ther as þe walle was lowyst
Anon down can þei lepe.
Be þat þe cok began to crow,
The day began to spryng;
The scheref fond þe jaylier ded,
The comyn bell made he ryng.
He made a crye thoroout al þe tow[n],
Wheder he be ȝoman or knave,
Þat cowþe bryng hym Robyn Hode,
His warison he shuld haue.
‘Ffor I dar neuer,’ said þe scheref,
‘Cum before oure kyng;
Ffor if I do, I wot serten
Ffor soþe he wil me heng.’
The scheref made to seke Notyngham,
Bothe be strete and stye,
And Robyn was in mery Scherwode,
As liȝt as lef on lynde.
Then bespake gode Litull John,
To Robyn Hode can he say,
I haue done þe a gode turne for an euyll,
Quyte þe whan þou may.
‘I haue done þe a gode turne,’ seid Litull John,
‘Ffor sothe as I yow say;
I haue brouȝt þe vnder grene-wode lyne;
Ffare wel, and haue gode day.’
‘Nay, be my trouth,’ seid Robyn Hode,
‘So shall hit neuer be;
I make þe maister,’ seid Robyn Hode,
‘Off alle my men and me.’
‘Nay, be my trouth,’ seid Litull John,
‘So shalle hit neuer be;
But lat me be a felow,’ seid Litull John,
‘No noder kepe I be.’
Thus John gate Robyn Hod out of prison,
Sertan withoutyn layn;
Whan his men saw hym hol and sounde,
Ffor sothe they were full fayne.
They filled in wyne, and made hem glad,
Vnder þe levys smale,
And ȝete pastes of venyson,
Þat gode was with ale.
Than worde came to oure kyng
How Robyn Hode was gon,
And how þe scheref of Notyngham
Durst neuer loke hym vpon.
Then bespake oure cumly kyng,
In an angur hye:
101Litull John hase begyled þe schereff,
In faith so hase he me.
Litul John has begyled vs bothe,
And þat full wel I se;
Or ellis þe schereff of Notyngham
Hye hongut shulde he be.
‘I made hem ȝemen of þe crowne,
And gaf hem fee with my hond;
I gaf hem grith,’ seid oure kyng,
‘Thorowout all mery Inglond.
‘I gaf theym grith,’ þen seid oure kyng;
‘I say, so mot I the,
Ffor sothe soch a ȝeman as he is on
In all Inglond ar not thre.
‘He is trew to his maister,’ seid our kyng;
‘I sey, be swete Seynt John,
He louys better Robyn Hode
Then he dose vs ychon.
‘Robyn Hode is euer bond to hym,
Bothe in strete and stalle;
Speke no more of this mater,’ seid oure kyng,
‘But John has begyled vs alle.’
Thus endys the talkyng of the munke
And Robyn Hode i-wysse;
God, þat is euer a crowned kyng,
Bryng vs all to his blisse!


A curl over final n, as in Robyn, John, on, sawten, etc.; a crossed h, as in John, mych, etc.; crossed ll, as in full, litull, well, etc.; a hooked g, as in mornyng, kyng, etc., have been treated as not significant. As to Robyn, cf. 73, 111,3, 134, 141, etc., where there is simple n; as to John, 101,3, 143, 314, etc., where we have Jon; as to Litull, 141,3, 391, 683, 691, 703, 711, where we have Litul. And is printed for &; be twene, be fore, be side, be held, be spake, þer with, thorow out, with outen, etc., are joined.

31. tide no longer legible.

71. seid h ..., illegible after h.

83,6. xij.

101. þi nown.

124, 133. v s’.

141. lyed before Robyn struck through.

233. of a C li.

271. thorow at: but cf. 302.

274. xij.

301. Robyns men to the churche ran: Madden. There are no men with Robin. “This line is almost illegible. It certainly begins with Robyn, and the second word is not men. I read it, Robyn into the churche ran.” Skeat.

302. A gap here between two pages, and there are commonly six stanzas to a page. At least six are required for the capture of Robin Hood and the conveying of the tidings to his men.

432. Of xx.

441. me me in my copy, probably by inadvertence.

442. Of a C li.

531. hym.

561. Þe kyng.

582. xx li.

774. b has Quit me, which is perhaps better.

782. perhaps saie; nearly illegible.

902. I wysse.


693. þe prison.

704. throw to.

711. be jayler.

712. toke.

722. hed ther with.

723. wallis were.

724. down ther they.

772. [t]hen for can (?).

774. Quit me.

782. the saye.

783. þe grene.

791,3. Hode wanting.



A. ‘Robin Hoode his Death,’ Percy MS., p. 21; Hales and Furnivall, I, 53.

B. ‘Robin Hood’s Death and Burial.’ a. The English Archer, Paisley, John Neilson, 1786: Bodleian Library, Douce, F. F. 71 (6), p. 81. b. The English Archer, York, printed by N. Nickson, in Feasegate, n. d.: Bodleian Library, Douce, F. F. 71 (4), p. 70.

B is given in Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, II, 183, “from a collation of two different copies” of a York garland, “containing numerous variations, a few of which are retained in the margin.”

A. Robin Hood is ailing, and is convinced that the only course for him is to go to Kirklees priory for blooding. Will Scarlet cannot counsel this, unless his master take fifty bowmen with him; for a yeoman lives there with whom there is sure to be a quarrel. Robin bids Scarlet stay at home, if he is afraid. Scarlet, seeing that his master is wroth, will say no more.[91] Robin Hood will have no one go with him but Little John, who shall carry his bow. John proposes that they shall shoot for a penny along the way, and Robin assents.

The opening of the ballad resembles that of Robin Hood and the Monk. There Robin’s soul is ill at ease, as here his body, and he resolves to go to Nottingham for mass; Much, the Miller’s son, advises a guard of twelve yeomen; Robin will take none with him except John, to bear his bow;[92] and John suggests that they shall shoot for a penny as they go.

A very interesting passage of the story here followed, of which we can barely guess the contents, owing to nine stanzas having been torn away. Robin Hood and John keep up their shooting all the way, until they come to a black water, crossed by a plank. On the plank an old woman is kneeling, and banning Robin Hood. Robin Hood asks why, but the answer is lost, and it is not probable that we shall ever know: out of her proper malignancy, surely, or because she is a hired witch, for Robin is the friend of lowly folk. But if this old woman is banning, others, no doubt women, are weeping, for somehow they have learned that he is to be let blood that day at the priory, and foresee that ill will come of it. Robin is disturbed by neither banning nor weeping; the prioress is his cousin, and would not harm him for the world. So they shoot on until they come to Kirklees.

Robin makes the prioress a present of twenty pound, with a promise of more when she wants, and she falls to work with her bleeding-irons. The thick blood comes, and then the thin, and Robin knows that there has been treason. John asks, What cheer? Robin answers, Little good. Nine stanzas are again wanting, and again in a place where we are not helped by the other version. John 103must call from the outside of the building, judging by what follows. An altercation seems to pass between Robin and some one; we should suppose between Robin and Red Roger. Robin slips out of a shot-window, and as he does so is thrust through the side by Red Roger. Robin swoops off Red Roger’s head, and leaves him for dogs to eat. Then Red Roger must be below, and John is certainly below. He would have seen to Red Roger had they both been within. But John must be under a window on a different side of the building from that whence Robin issues, for otherwise, again, he would have seen to Red Roger. We are driven to suppose that the words in st. 19 pass between Robin above and Roger below.

Though Robin is near his last breath, he has, he says, life enough to take his housel. He must get it in a very irregular way, but he trusts it will “bestand” him.[93] John asks his master’s leave to set fire to Kirklees, but Robin will not incur God’s blame by harming any woman [“widow”] at his latter end. Let John make his grave of gravel and greet, set his sword at his head, his arrows at his feet, and lay his bow by his side.[94]

B, though found only in late garlands, is in the fine old strain. Robin Hood says to Little John that he can no longer shoot matches, his arrows will not flee; he must go to a cousin to be let blood. He goes, alone, to Kirkley nunnery, and is received with a show of cordiality. His cousin bloods him, locks him up in the room, and lets him bleed all the livelong day, and until the next day at noon. Robin bethinks himself of escaping through a casement, but is not strong enough. He sets his horn to his mouth and blows thrice, but so wearily that Little John, hearing, thinks his master must be nigh to death. John comes to Kirkley, breaks the locks, and makes his way to Robin’s presence. He begs the boon of setting fire to Kirkley, but Robin has never hurt woman in all his life, and will not at his end. He asks for his bow to shoot his last shot, and where the arrow lights there his grave shall be.[95] His grave is to be of gravel and green, long enough and broad enough, a sod under his head, another at his feet, and his bow by his side, that men may say, Here lies bold Robin Hood.

The account of Robin Hood’s death which is given in The Gest, agrees as to the main items with what we find in A. The prioress of Kirkesly, his near kinswoman, betrayed him when he went to the nunnery to be let blood, and this she did upon counsel with Sir Roger of Donkester, with whom she was intimate. The Life of Robin Hood in the Sloane MS, which is mostly made up from The Gest, naturally repeats this story.

Grafton, in his Chronicle, 1569, citing “an olde and auncient pamphlet,” says: For the sayd Robert Hood, beyng afterwardes troubled with sicknesse, came to a certain nonry in Yorkshire, called Bircklies, where, desiryng to be let blood, he was betrayed and bled to death: edition of 1809, p. 221. So the Harleian MS, No 1233, article 199, of the middle of the seventeenth century, and not worth citing, but cited by Ritson. According to Stanihurst, in Holinshed’s Ireland (p. 28 of ed. of 1808), after Robin Hood had been betrayed at a nunnery in Scotland called Bricklies, Little John was fain to flee the realm, and went to Ireland, where he executed an extraordinary shot, by which he thought his safety compromised, and so removed to Scotland, and died there.

Martin Parker’s True Tale of Robin Hood, which professes to be collected from chronicles, ascribes Robin Hood’s death to a faithless 104friar, who pretended “in love to let him blood,” when he had a fever, and allowed him to bleed to death. Robin Hood and the Valiant Knight, a late and thoroughly worthless broadside ballad, says simply, He sent for a monk to let him blood, who took his life away.

A Russian popular song has an interesting likeness to the conclusion of Robin Hood’s Death. The last survivor of a band of brigands, feeling death to be nigh, exclaims:

Bury me, brothers, between three roads,
The Kief, and the Moscow, and the Murom famed in story.
At my feet fasten my horse,
At my head set a life-bestowing cross,
In my right hand place my keen sabre.
Whoever passes by will stop;
Before my life-bestowing cross will he utter a prayer,
At the sight of my black steed will he be startled,
At the sight of my keen sword will he be terrified.
‘Surely this is a brigand who is buried here,
A son of the brigand, the bold Stenka Razín.’
Sakharof, Skazaniya Russkago Naroda, I, iii, 226.[96]

Dimos, twenty years a Klepht, tells his comrades to make his tomb wide and high enough for him to fight in it, standing up, and to leave a window, so that the swallows may tell him that spring has come and the nightingales that it is May: Fauriel, I, 56; Zambelios, p. 607, 13; Passow, p. 85. This is a song of the beginning of the present century.

B is translated in Le Magasin Pittoresque, 1838, p. 126 f; by Loève-Veimars, p. 223; by Cantù, Documenti alla Storia Universale, V, III, p. 801; Anastasius Grün, p. 200; Knortz, L. u. R. Alt-Englands, No 20.


Percy MS., p. 21; Hales and Furnivall, I, 53.

‘I will neuer eate nor drinke,’ Robin Hood said,
‘Nor meate will doo me noe good,
Till I haue beene att merry Churchlees,
My vaines for to let blood.’
‘That I reade not,’ said Will Scarllett,
‘Master, by the assente of me,
Without halfe a hundred of your best bowmen
You take to goe with yee.
‘For there a good yeoman doth abide
Will be sure to quarrell with thee,
And if thou haue need of vs, master,
In faith we will not flee.’
‘And thou be feard, thou William Scarlett,
Att home I read thee bee:’
‘And you be wrothe, my deare master,
You shall neuer heare more of mee.’
  *       *       *       *       *
‘For there shall noe man with me goe,
Nor man with mee ryde,
And Litle Iohn shall be my man,
And beare my benbow by my side.’
‘You’st beare your bowe, master, your selfe,
And shoote for a peny with mee:’
‘To that I doe assent,’ Robin Hood sayd,
‘And soe, Iohn, lett it bee.’
They two bolde children shotten together,
All day theire selfe in ranke,
Vntill they came to blacke water,
And over it laid a planke.
Vpon it there kneeled an old woman,
Was banning Robin Hoode;
‘Why dost thou bann Robin Hoode?’ said Robin,
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
  *       *       *       *       *
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
‘To giue to Robin Hoode;
Wee weepen for his deare body,
That this day must be lett bloode.’
‘The dame prior is my aunts daughter,
And nie vnto my kinne;
I know shee wold me noe harme this day,
For all the world to winne.’
Forth then shotten these children two,
And they did neuer lin,
Vntill they came to merry Churchlees,
To merry Churchlee[s] with-in.
And when they came to merry Churchlees,
They knoced vpon a pin;
Vpp then rose dame prioresse,
And lett good Robin in.
Then Robin gaue to dame prioresse
Twenty pound in gold,
And bad her spend while that wold last,
And shee shold haue more when shee wold.
And downe then came dame prioresse,
Downe she came in that ilke,
With a pair off blood-irons in her hands,
Were wrapped all in silke.
‘Sett a chaffing-dish to the fyer,’ said dame prioresse,
‘And stripp thou vp thy sleeue:’
I hold him but an vnwise man
That will noe warning leeve.
Shee laid the blood-irons to Robin Hoods vaine,
Alacke, the more pitye!
And pearct the vaine, and let out the bloode,
That full red was to see.
And first it bled, the thicke, thicke bloode,
And afterwards the thinne,
And well then wist good Robin Hoode
Treason there was within.
‘What cheere my master?’ said Litle Iohn;
‘In faith, Iohn, litle goode;’
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
  *       *       *       *       *
‘I haue upon a gowne of greene,
Is cut short by my knee,
And in my hand a bright browne brand
That will well bite of thee.’
But forth then of a shot-windowe
Good Robin Hood he could glide;
Red Roger, with a grounden glaue,
Thrust him through the milke-white side.
But Robin was light and nimble of foote,
And thought to abate his pride,
Ffor betwixt his head and his shoulders
He made a wound full wide.
Says, Ly there, ly there, Red Roger,
The doggs they must thee eate;
‘For I may haue my houzle,’ he said,
‘For I may both goe and speake.
‘Now giue me mood,’ Robin said to Litle Iohn,
‘Giue me mood with thy hand;
I trust to God in heauen soe hye
My houzle will me bestand.’
‘Now giue me leaue, giue me leaue, master,’ he said,
‘For Christs loue giue leaue to me,
To set a fier within this hall,
And to burne vp all Churchlee.’
‘That I reade not,’ said Robin Hoode then,
‘Litle Iohn, for it may not be;
If I shold doe any widow hurt, at my latter end,
God,’ he said, ‘wold blame me;
‘But take me vpon thy backe, Litle Iohn,
And beare me to yonder streete,
And there make me a full fayre graue,
Of grauell and of greete.
‘And sett my bright sword at my head,
Mine arrowes at my feete,
And lay my vew-bow by my side,
My met-yard wi . . . .


a. The English Archer, Paisley, printed by John Neilson for George Caldwell, Bookseller, near the Cross, 1786, p. 81, No 24. b. The English Archer, York, printed by N. Nickson, in Feasegate, n. d., p. 70.

When Robin Hood and Little John
Down a down a down a down
Went oer yon bank of broom,
Said Robin Hood bold to Little John,
We have shot for many a pound.
Hey, etc.
But I am not able to shoot one shot more,
My broad arrows will not flee;
But I have a cousin lives down below,
Please God, she will bleed me.
Now Robin he is to fair Kirkly gone,
As fast as he can win;
But before he came there, as we do hear,
He was taken very ill.
And when he came to fair Kirkly-hall,
He knockd all at the ring,
But none was so ready as his cousin herself
For to let bold Robin in.
‘Will you please to sit down, cousin Robin,’ she said,
‘And drink some beer with me?’
‘No, I will neither eat nor drink,
Till I am blooded by thee.’
‘Well, I have a room, cousin Robin,’ she said,
‘Which you did never see,
And if you please to walk therein,
You blooded by me shall be.’
She took him by the lily-white hand,
And led him to a private room,
And there she blooded bold Robin Hood,
While one drop of blood would run down.
She blooded him in a vein of the arm,
And locked him up in the room;
Then did he bleed all the live-long day,
Until the next day at noon.
He then bethought him of a casement there,
Thinking for to get down;
But was so weak he could not leap,
He could not get him down.
He then bethought him of his bugle-horn,
Which hung low down to his knee;
He set his horn unto his mouth,
And blew out weak blasts three.
Then Little John, when hearing him,
As he sat under a tree,
‘I fear my master is now near dead,
He blows so wearily.’
Then Little John to fair Kirkly is gone,
As fast as he can dree;
But when he came to Kirkly-hall,
He broke locks two or three:
Until he came bold Robin to see,
Then he fell on his knee;
‘A boon, a boon,’ cries Little John,
‘Master, I beg of thee.’
‘What is that boon,’ said Robin Hood,
‘Little John, [thou] begs of me?’
‘It is to burn fair Kirkly-hall,
And all their nunnery.’
‘Now nay, now nay,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘That boon I’ll not grant thee;
I never hurt woman in all my life,
Nor men in woman’s company.
‘I never hurt fair maid in all my time,
Nor at mine end shall it be;
But give me my bent bow in my hand,
And a broad arrow I’ll let flee;
And where this arrow is taken up,
There shall my grave digged be.
‘Lay me a green sod under my head,
And another at my feet;
And lay my bent bow by my side,
Which was my music sweet;
And make my grave of gravel and green,
Which is most right and meet.
‘Let me have length and breadth enough,
With a green sod under my head;
That they may say, when I am dead
Here lies bold Robin Hood.’
These words they readily granted him,
Which did bold Robin please:
And there they buried bold Robin Hood,
Within the fair Kirkleys.


13. church Lees: cf. 113.

23. halfe 100d.

31. there is.

62. nor shoote.

71, 111. 2.

83, 182, 274. half a page gone.

121. church lees.

132. 20ty

201. shop for shot.

203. grounding.

244. church lee.

B. a.

Robin Hood’s death and burial: shewing how he was taken ill, and how he went to his cousin at Kirkly-hall, in Yorkshire, who let him blood, which was the cause of his death. Tune of Robin Hood’s last farewel, etc.

22. fly.

153. burnt for hurt.

194. Kirkly.

The ballad, as Ritson says, “is made to conclude with some foolish lines (adopted from the London copy” of R. H. and the Valiant Knight) in order to introduce the epitaph.

Thus he that never feard bow nor spear
Was murderd by letting blood;
And so, loving friends, the story it ends
Of valiant Robin Hood.
There’s nothing remains but his epitaph now,
Which, reader, here you have,
To this very day which read you may,
As it is upon his grave.
Hey down a derry derry down

The epitaph, however, does not follow.


Title as in a, omitting in Yorkshire and Tune of, etc. Printed in stanzas of two long lines. The burden is wanting.

12. over.

13. bold wanting.

22. broad wanting: flee.

31. he wanting.

32. coud wen.

41. when that.

42. knocked at.

54. I blood letted be.

64. You blood shall letted be.

72. let him into.

74. Whilst: down wanting.

81. in the vein.

82. in a.

83. There.

91. casement door.

92. to be gone.

94. Nor he: him wanting.

104. strong blasts.

112. under the.

113. now wanting.

122. he could.

131. see wanting.

141. quoth for said.

142. thou begs.

15. wanting.

161. neer.

162. at my.

164. my broad arrows.

171,2. To go with 163,4.
With verdant sods most neatly put,
Sweet as the green wood tree.

191. promisd him.

194. Near to: Kirkleys.

201. that feard neither.

203. it wanting.

204. valiant bold.

211. There is.

214. it was upon the.

After 19.
Kirkleys was beautiful of old,
Like Winifrid’s of Wales,
By whose fair well strange cures are told
In legendary tales.
Upon his grave was laid a stone,
Declaring that he dy’d,
And tho so many years ago,
Time can’t his actions hide.

At the end is the epitaph, wanting in a.

Robin Hood’s Epitaph, set on his tomb by the Prioress of Kirkley Monastry, in Yorkshire.

Robert Earl of Huntington
Lies under this little stone.
No archer was like him so good,
His wildness nam’d him Robin Hood.
Full thirteen years and something more
These no[r]thern parts he vexed sore:
Such out-laws as he and his men
May England never know again.


Library of the University of Cambridge, MS. E e. 4. 35, fol. 14 b, of about 1500.

Printed from the manuscript in Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, I, 81; here from a transcript of the original, carefully revised by Rev. Professor Skeat.

Robin Hood sees a potter driving over the lea; the potter has been in the habit of passing that way, and never has paid toll. Little John has had a brush with the potter, and offers to lay forty shillings that no man can make him leave a pledge. Robin accepts the wager, stops the potter, and demands a “pledge”; the potter refuses to leave pledge or pay toll, takes a staff from his cart, knocks Robin’s buckler out of his hand, and, ere Robin can recover it, fells him with a blow in the neck. Robin owns that he has lost. The potter says it is no courtesy to stop a poor yeoman thus; Robin agrees heartily, and proposes fellowship, also to change clothes with the potter and sell his ware at Nottingham. The potter is willing; John warns his master to beware of the sheriff. Robin takes his stand near the sheriff’s gate, and offers his pots so cheap that soon there are but five left; these he sends as a gift to the sheriff’s wife, who in return asks him to dinner. While they are at their meal, two of the sheriff’s men talk of a shooting-match for forty shillings: this the potter says he will see, and after a good dinner goes with the rest to the butts. All the archers come half a bow’s length short of the mark; Robin, at his wish, gets a bow from the sheriff, and his first shot misses the mark by less than a foot, his second cleaves the central pin in three. The sheriff applauds; Robin says there is a bow in his cart which he had of Robin Hood. The sheriff wishes he could see Robin Hood, and the potter offers to gratify this wish on the morrow. They go back to the sheriff’s for the night, and early the next day set forth; the sheriff riding, the potter in his cart. When they come to the wood, the potter blows his horn, for so they shall know if Robin be near; the horn brings all Robin’s men. The sheriff would now give a hundred pound not to have had his wish; had he known his man at Nottingham, it would have been a thousand year ere the potter had come to the forest. I know that well, says Robin, and therefore shall you leave your horse with us, and your other gear. Were it not for your wife you would not come off so lightly. The sheriff goes home afoot, but with a white palfrey, which Robin presents to his wife. Have you brought Robin home? asks the dame. Devil speed him, answers her spouse, he has taken everything from me; all but this fair palfrey, which he has sent to thee. The merry dame laughs, and swears that the pots have been well paid for. Robin asks the potter how much his pots were worth, gives him ten pounds instead of the two nobles for which they could have been sold, and a welcome to the wood whenever he shall come that way.

The Play of Robin Hood, an imperfect copy of which is printed at the end of Copland’s and of White’s edition of The Gest, is founded on the ballads of Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar and of Robin Hood and the Potter. The portion which is based on the ballad of Robin and the Potter is given in an appendix.

Robin Hood and the Butcher, No 122, repeats many of the incidents of the present ballad. The sheriff is enticed into the forest (by Little John instead of Robin Hood) in 109The Gest, 181 ff. This part of the story, in Robin Hood and the Butcher, is much more like that of The Gest than it is in Robin Hood and the Potter. We shall have only too many variations of the adventure in which Robin Hood unexpectedly meets his match in a hand-to-hand fight, now with a pinder, then with a tanner, tinker, shepherd, beggar, etc. His adversaries, after proving their mettle, are sometimes invited and induced to join his company: not so here. In some broadside ballads of this description, with an extravagance common enough in imitations, Robin Hood is very badly mauled, and made all but contemptible.[97] In Robin Hood and the Potter, Little John is willing to wager on the result of a trial, from his own experience. Will Scadlock is equally confident in Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar, perhaps for the same reason, although this is not said. In Robin Hood and the Shepherd, Little John takes his turn after his master, and so with three of Robin’s men in Robin Hood and the Beggar, No 133.

Hereward the Saxon introduces himself into the Norman court as a potter, to obtain information of an attack which William the Conqueror was thought to intend on his stronghold at Ely: De Gestis Herwardi Saxonis, 24, in Michel, Chroniques Anglo-Normandes, II, 69, attributed to the twelfth century. Wallace, in like manner, to scout in the English camp: Blind Harry’s poem, ed. Moir, Book Six, v. 435 ff, p. 123 ff. This is also one of the many artifices by which Eustace the Monk deceives his enemy, the Count of Boulogne: Roman d’Eustache le Moine, ed. Michel, p. 39, v. 1071 ff, a poem of the thirteenth century. See, for Hereward and Eustace, T. Wright’s Essays on Subjects connected with the Literature, etc., of England in the Middle Ages, II, 108 ff, 135.

Disguise is the wonted and simplest expedient of an outlaw mixing among his foes, “wherein the pregnant enemy does much.” Fulk Fitz Warine takes the disguise of an old monk, a merchant, a charcoal-burner; Hereward, that of a potter, a fisherman; Eustace the Monk, of a potter, shepherd, pilgrim, charcoal-burner, woman, leper, carpenter, minstrel, etc.; Wallace, of a potter, pilgrim, woman (twice), etc., in Blind Harry’s poem, of a beggar in ballads; Robin Hood, of a potter, butcher, beggar, shepherd, an old woman, a fisherman (?), Guy of Gisborne.

Translated by Anastasius Grün, p. 76.

In schomer, when the leves spryng,
The bloschoms on euery bowe,
So merey doyt the berdys syng
Yn wodys merey now.
Herkens, god yemen,
Comley, corteys, and god,
On of the best þat yeuer bare bowe,
Hes name was Roben Hode.
Roben Hood was the yeman’s name,
That was boyt corteys and ffre;
Ffor the loffe of owre ladey,
All wemen werschepyd he.
Bot as the god yeman stod on a day,
Among hes mery maney,
He was ware of a prowd potter,
Cam dryfyng owyr the ley.
‘Yonder comet a prod potter,’ seyde Roben,
‘That long hayt hantyd þis wey;
He was neuer so corteys a man
On peney of pawage to pay.’
‘Y met hem bot at Went-breg,’ seyde Lytyll John,
‘And therefore yeffell mot he the!
Seche thre strokes he me gafe,
Yet by my seydys cleffe þey.
‘Y ley forty shillings,’ seyde Lytyll John,
‘To pay het thes same day,
Ther ys nat a man among hus all
A wed schall make hem ley.’
‘Here ys forty shillings,’ seyde Roben,
‘More, and thow dar say,
Þat y schall make þat prowde potter,
A wed to me schall he ley.’
There thes money they leyde,
They toke het a yeman to kepe;
Roben beffore the potter he breyde,
A[nd] bad hem stond stell.
Handys apon hes hors he leyde,
And bad the potter stonde foll stell;
The potter schorteley to hem seyde,
Ffelow, what ys they well?
‘All thes thre yer, and more, potter,’ he seyde,
‘Thow hast hantyd thes wey,
Yet were tow neuer so cortys a man
On peney of pauage to pay.’
‘What ys they name,’ seyde þe potter,
‘Ffor pauage thow aske of me?’
‘Roben Hod ys mey name,
A wed schall thow leffe me.’
‘Wed well y non leffe,’ seyde þe potter,
‘Nor pavag well y non pay;
Awey they honde ffro mey hors!
Y well the tene eyls, be mey ffay.’
The potter to hes cart he went,
He was not to seke;
A god to-hande staffe þerowt he hent,
Beffore Roben he leppyd.
Roben howt with a swerd bent,
A bokeler en hes honde;
The potter to Roben he went,
And seyde, Ffelow, let mey hors go.
Togeder then went thes to yemen,
Het was a god seyt to se;
Thereof low Robyn hes men,
There they stod onder a tre.
Leytell John to hes ffelowhe[s] seyde,
‘Yend potter well steffeley stonde:’
The potter, with a acward stroke,
Smot the bokeler owt of hes honde.
A[nd] ar Roben meyt get het agen
Hes bokeler at hes ffette,
The potter yn the neke hem toke,
To the gronde sone he yede.
That saw Roben hes men,
As thay stod onder a bow;
‘Let vs helpe owre master,’ seyde Lytell John,
‘Yonder potter,’ seyde he, ‘els well hem slo.’
Thes yemen went with a breyde,
To ther mast[er] they cam.
Leytell John to hes mast[er] seyde,
Ho haet the wager won?
‘Schall y haffe yowre forty shillings,’ seyde Lytl John,
‘Or ye, master, schall haffe myne?’
‘Yeff they were a hundred,’ seyde Roben,
‘Y ffeythe, they ben all theyne.’
‘Het ys fol leytell cortesey,’ seyde þe potter,
‘As y haffe harde weyse men saye,
Yeffe a pore yeman com drywyng on the wey,
To let hem of hes gorney.’
‘Be mey trowet, thow seys soyt,’ seyde Roben,
‘Thow seys god yeme[n]rey;
And thow dreyffe fforthe yeuery day,
Thow schalt neuer be let ffor me.
‘Y well prey the, god potter,
A ffelischepe well thow haffe?
Geffe me they clothyng, and þow schalt hafe myne;
Y well go to Notynggam.’
‘Y gra[n]t thereto,’ seyde the potter,
‘Thow schalt ffeynde me a ffelow gode;
Bot thow can sell mey pottys well,
Com ayen as thow yode.’
‘Nay, be mey trowt,’ seyde Roben,
‘And then y bescro mey hede,
Yeffe y bryng eny pottys ayen,
And eney weyffe well hem chepe.’
Than spake Leytell John,
And all hes ffelowhes heynd,
111‘Master, be well ware of the screffe of Notynggam,
Ffor he ys leytell howr ffrende.’
‘Heyt war howte!’ seyde Roben,
‘Ffelowhes, let me a lone;
Thorow the helpe of Howr Ladey,
To Notynggam well y gon.’
Robyn went to Notynggam,
Thes pottys ffor to sell;
The potter abode with Robens men,
There he ffered not eylle.
Tho Roben droffe on hes wey,
So merey ower the londe:
Her es more, and affter ys to saye,
The best ys beheynde.
When Roben cam to Notynggam,
The soyt yef y scholde saye,
He set op hes hors anon,
And gaffe hem hotys and haye.
Yn the medys of the towne,
There he schowed hes ware;
‘Pottys! pottys!’ he gan crey foll sone,
‘Haffe hansell ffor the mare!’
Ffoll effen agenest the screffeys gate
Schowed he hes chaffare;
Weyffes and wedowes abowt hem drow,
And chepyd ffast of hes ware.
Yet, ‘Pottys, gret chepe!’ creyed Robyn,
‘Y loffe yeffell thes to stonde;’
And all that say hem sell
Seyde he had be no potter long.
The pottys that were werthe pens ffeyffe,
He solde tham ffor pens thre;
Preveley seyde man and weyffe,
‘Ywnder potter schall neuer the.’
Thos Roben solde ffoll ffast,
Tell he had pottys bot ffeyffe;
Op he hem toke of hes care,
And sende hem to the screffeys weyffe.
Thereof sche was ffoll ffayne,
‘Gereamarsey, ser,’ than seyde sche;
‘When ye com to thes contre ayen,
Y schall bey of the[y] pottys, so mot y the.’
‘Ye schall haffe of the best,’ seyde Roben,
And sware be the Treneytë;
Ffoll corteysley [sc]he gan hem call,
‘Com deyne with the screfe and me.’
‘God amarsey,’ seyde Roben,
‘Yowre bedyng schall be doyn;’
A mayden yn the pottys gan bere,
Roben and þe screffe weyffe ffolowed anon.
Whan Roben yn to the hall cam,
The screffë sone he met;
The potter cowed of corteysey,
And sone the screffe he gret.
‘Lo, ser, what thes potter hayt geffe yow and me;
Ffeyffe pottys smalle and grete!’
‘He ys ffoll wellcom,’ seyd the screffe;
‘Let os was, and go to mete.’
As they sat at her methe,
With a nobell chere,
To of the screffes men gan speke
Off a gret wager;
Off a schotyng, was god and ffeyne,
Was made the thother daye,
Off forty shillings, the soyt to saye,
Who scholde thes wager wen.
Styll than sat thes prowde potter,
Thos than thowt he;
As y am a trow cerstyn man,
Thes schotyng well y se.
Whan they had ffared of the best,
With bred and ale and weyne,
To the bottys the made them prest,
With bowes and boltys ffoll ffeyne.
The screffes men schot ffoll ffast,
As archares þat weren godde;
There cam non ner ney the marke
Bey halffe a god archares bowe.
Stell then stod the prowde potter,
Thos than seyde he;
And y had a bow, be the rode,
On schot scholde yow se.
‘Thow schall haffe a bow,’ seyde the screffe,
‘The best þat thow well cheys of thre;
Thou semyst a stalward and a stronge,
Asay schall thow be.’
The screffe commandyd a yeman þat stod hem bey
Affter bowhes to weynde;
The best bow þat the yeman browthe
Roben set on a stryng.
‘Now schall y wet and thow be god,
And polle het op to they nere;’
‘So god me helpe,’ seyde the prowde potter,
‘Þys ys bot rygȝt weke gere.’
To a quequer Roben went,
A god bolt owthe he toke;
So ney on to the marke he went,
He ffayled not a fothe.
All they schot abowthe agen,
The screffes men and he;
Off the marke he welde not ffayle,
He cleffed the preke on thre.
The screffes men thowt gret schame
The potter the mastry wan;
The screffë lowe and made god game,
And seyde, Potter, thow art a man.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
Thow art worthey to bere a bowe
Yn what plas that þow goe.
‘Yn mey cart y haffe a bowe,
Ffor soyt,’ he seyde, ‘and that a godde;
Yn mey cart ys the bow
That gaffe me Robyn Hode.’
‘Knowest thow Robyn Hode?’ seyde the screffe,
‘Potter, y prey the tell thow me;’
‘A hundred torne y haffe schot with hem,
Vnder hes tortyll-tre.’
‘Y had leuer nar a hundred ponde,’ seyde þe screffe,
‘And sware be the Trenitë,
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
Þat the ffals outelawe stod be me.’
‘And ye well do afftyr mey red,’ seyde þe potter,
‘And boldeley go with me,
And to morow, or we het bred,
Roben Hode well we se.’
‘Y wel queyt the,’ kod the screffe,
‘Y swere be God of meythe;’
Schetyng thay left, and hom þey went,
Her soper was reddy deythe.
Vpon the morow, when het was day,
He boskyd hem fforthe to reyde;
The potter hes cart fforthe gan ray,
And wolde not leffe beheynde.
He toke leffe of the screffys wyffe,
And thankyd her of all thyng:
‘Dam, ffor mey loffe and ye well þys were,
Y geffe yow here a golde ryng.’
‘Gramarsey,’ seyde the weyffe,
‘Ser, god eylde het the;’
The screffes hart was neuer so leythe,
The ffeyre fforeyst to se.
And when he cam yn to the fforeyst,
Yonder the leffes grene,
Berdys there sange on bowhes prest,
Het was gret goy to se.
‘Here het ys merey to be,’ seyde Roben,
‘Ffor a man that had hawt to spende;
Be mey horne I schall awet
Yeff Roben Hode be here.’
Roben set hes horne to hes mowthe,
And blow a blast þat was ffoll god;
Þat herde hes men þat þere stode,
Ffer downe yn the wodde.
‘I her mey master blow,’ seyde Leytell John,
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
They ran as thay were wode.
Whan thay to thar master cam,
Leytell John wold not spare;
‘Master, how haffe yow ffare yn Notynggam?
How haffe yow solde yowre ware?’
‘Ye, be mey trowthe, Leyty[ll] John,
Loke thow take no care;
113Y haffe browt the screffe of Notynggam,
Ffor all howre chaffare.’
‘He ys ffoll wellcom,’ seyde Lytyll John,
‘Thes tydyng ys ffoll godde;
The screffe had leuer nar a hundred ponde
He had [neuer sene Roben Hode.]
‘[Had I] west þat befforen,
At Notynggam when we were,
Thow scholde not com yn ffeyre fforest
Of all thes thowsande eyre.’
‘That wot y well,’ seyde Roben,
‘Y thanke God that ye be here;
Thereffore schall ye leffe yowre hors with hos,
And all yowre hother gere.’
‘That ffend I Godys fforbod,’ kod the screffe,
‘So to lese mey godde;
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .
‘Hether ye cam on hors ffoll hey,
And hom schall ye go on ffote;
And gret well they weyffe at home,
The woman ys ffoll godde.
‘Y schall her sende a wheyt palffrey,
Het ambellet be mey ffey,
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .
‘Y schall her sende a wheyt palffrey,
Het hambellet as the weynde;
Nere ffor the loffe of yowre weyffe,
Off more sorow scholde yow seyng.’
Thes parted Robyn Hode and the screffe;
To Notynggam he toke the waye;
Hes weyffe ffeyre welcomed hem hom,
And to hem gan sche saye:
Seyr, how haffe yow ffared yn grene fforeyst?
Haffe ye browt Roben hom?
‘Dam, the deyell spede hem, bothe bodey and bon;
Y haffe hade a ffoll gret skorne.
‘Of all the god that y haffe lade to grene wod,
He hayt take het ffro me;
All bot thes ffeyre palffrey,
That he hayt sende to the.’
With þat sche toke op a lowde lawhyng,
And swhare be hem þat deyed on tre,
‘Now haffe yow payed ffor all þe pottys
That Roben gaffe to me.
‘Now ye be com hom to Notynggam,
Ye schall haffe god ynowe;’
Now speke we of Roben Hode,
And of the pottyr ondyr the grene bowhe.
‘Potter, what was they pottys worthe
To Notynggam þat y ledde with me?’
‘They wer worthe to nobellys,’ seyde he,
‘So mot y treyffe or the;
So cowde y [haffe] had ffor tham,
And y had there be.’
‘Thow schalt hafe ten ponde,’ seyde Roben,
‘Of money ffeyre and ffre;
And yeuer whan thow comest to grene wod,
Wellcom, potter, to me.’
Thes partyd Robyn, the screffe, and the potter,
Ondernethe the grene-wod tre;
God haffe mersey on Roben Hodys solle,
And saffe all god yemanrey!

22. cortessey.

34. werschep ye.

44. the lefe.

51, 61. syde.

63. Seche iij.

64. þey cleffe by my seydys.

71, 81, 211, 433. xl s’.

73. hys all.

74. hem leffe.

111. thes iij.

114. I peney.

142. And teke at the beginning of the line struck through.

161. thes ij.

171. ffelow he seyde.

173. a caward.

192. onder or ender.

194. hels: sclo.

201. went yemen.

202. To thes.

213, 563, 571. a c.

25. st. 29 is wrongly put here.

254. yede.

272. ffelow hes.

28. The order of the lines is 3, 2, 1, 4.

303. Heres.

351. pens v.

352. pens iij. d.

362. bot v.

372. Gere amarsey seyde sche than, with a character after sche which is probably an abbreviation for ser, as in 622.

114414. to to.

421. methe.

423. ij of.

433. xl s.

453. the pottys.

454. bolt yt.

482. of iij.

483. senyst.

484. A say.

502. And [thow]? The ll in polle is crossed; potte may have been intended by the writer.

524. on iij.

541,2. No blank here, and none at 573, 662,3, 723,4, 743,4.

553,4. Yn mey cart ys the bow þat Robyn gaffe me.

563. A c.

571, 693. a c.

592. & swere: meythey.

594. scoper.

643. he schall.

681. I leyty.

694, 701. He had west þat be fforen.

741,2. Ought perhaps to be dropped. The writer, having got the second verse wrong, may have begun the stanza again.

803. After this line is repeated, Ye schall haffe god ynowhe.

804. bowhes.

813. worthe ij.

816. be there.

82. hafe x li.

Expleycyt Robynhode.

A bowt, a non, be heynde, etc. are joined. And for & throughout. Some terminal curls rendered with e were, perhaps, mere tricks of writing; as marks over final m, n, in cam, on, yemen, etc., crossed double l in all, etc., a curled n in Roben, have been assumed to be.


As printed by Copland, at the end of his edition of the Gest, with a few corrections from White’s edition, 1634: Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, II, 199. I have not thought it necessary to collate Ritson’s reprint with Copland. The collations with White here are made with the undated copy in the Bodleian Library, Z. 3. Art. Seld.

Lysten, to [me], my mery men all,
v. 121
And harke what I shall say;
Of an adventure I shall you tell,
That befell this other daye.
With a proude potter I met,
And a rose-garlande on his head,
The floures of it shone marvaylous freshe;
This seven yere and more he hath used this waye,
Yet was he never so curteyse a potter
As one peny passage to paye.
Is there any of my mery men all
That dare be so bolde
To make the potter paie passage,
Either silver or golde?
Not I master, for twenty pound redy tolde.
For there is not among us al one
That dare medle with that potter, man for man.
I felt his handes not long agone,
But I had lever have ben here by the;
Therfore I knowe what he is.
Mete him when ye wil, or mete him whan ye shal,
He is as propre a man as ever you medle[d] withal.
I will lai with the, Litel John, twenti pound so read,
If I wyth that potter mete,
I wil make him pay passage, maugre his head.
I consente therto, so eate I bread;
If he pay passage, maugre his head,
Twenti pound shall ye have of me for your mede.
Out alas, that ever I sawe this daye!
For I am clene out of my waye
From Notyngham towne;
If I hye me not the faster,
Or I come there the market wel be done.
Let me se, are the pottes hole and sounde?
Yea, meister, but they will not breake the ground.
I wil them breke, for the cuckold thi maisters sake;
And if they will breake the grounde,
Thou shalt have thre pence for a pound.
Out alas! what have ye done?
If my maister come, he will breke your crown.
Why, thou horeson, art thou here yet?
Thou shouldest have bene at market.
I met with Robin Hode, a good yeman;
He hath broken my pottes,
And called you kuckolde by your name.
Thou mayst be a gentylman, so God me save,
But thou semest a noughty knave.
Thou callest me cuckolde by my name,
And I swere by God and Saynt John,
Wyfe had I never none:
This cannot I denye.
But if thou be a good felowe,
I wil sel mi horse, mi harneis, pottes and paniers to,
Thou shalt have the one halfe, and I will have the other.
If thou be not so content,
Thou shalt have stripes, if thou were my brother.
Harke, potter, what I shall say:
This seven yere and more thou hast used this way,
Yet were thou never so curteous to me
As one penny passage to paye.
Why should I pay passage to thee?
For I am Robyn Hode, chiefe gouernoure
Under the grene-woode tree.
This seven yere have I used this way up and downe,
Yet payed I passage to no man,
Nor now I wyl not beginne, to do the worst thou can.
Passage shalt thou pai here under the grene-wode tre,
Or els thou shalt leve a wedde with me.
If thou be a good felowe, as men do the call,
Laye awaye thy bowe,
And take thy sword and buckeler in thy hande,
And se what shall befall.
Lyttle John, where art thou?
Here, mayster, I make God avowe.
I tolde you, mayster, so God me save,
That you shoulde fynde the potter a knave.
Holde your buckeler faste in your hande,
And I wyll styfly by you stande,
Ready for to fyghte;
Be the knave never so stoute,
I shall rappe him on the snoute,
And put hym to flyghte.
The rest is wanting.

121. to [me], wanting in White.

142. medled, W.

153. maryet.

154. the, C.; thy, W.

186. to do: to wanting in W.

188. wedded, C.; wed, W.

196. your, C.; you, W.


A. ‘Robin Hood and the Butcher,’ Percy MS., p. 7; Hales and Furnivall, I, 19.

B. ‘Robin Hood and the Butcher.’ a. Wood, 401, 19 b. b. Garland of 1663, No 6. c. Garland of 1670, No 5. d. Pepys, II, 102, No 89.

Other copies, of the second class, are in the Roxburghe collection, III, 259, and the Douce collection, III, 114. B a was printed, with changes, by Ritson, Robin Hood, 1795, II, 23; a copy resembling the Douce by Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 106.

The story is a variation of Robin Hood and the Potter. According to A, the sheriff 116of Nottingham has resolved to have Robin’s head. A butcher is driving through the forest, and his dog flies at Robin, for which Robin kills the dog. The butcher undertakes to let a little of the yeoman’s blood for this, and there is a bout between staff and sword, in which we know that the butcher must bear himself well, though just here the first of three considerable gaps occurs. Robin buys the butcher’s stock, changes clothes with him, and goes to Nottingham to market his flesh. There he takes up his lodging at the sheriff’s, having perhaps conciliated the sheriff’s wife with the present of a fine joint. He sells at so low a rate that his stock is all gone before any one else has sold a bit. The butchers ask him to drink, and Robin makes an appointment with them at the sheriff’s. A second gap deprives us of the knowledge of what passes here, but we infer that, as in B, Robin is so reckless of his money that the sheriff thinks he can make a good bargain in horned beasts with him. Robin is ready; we see that he has come with a well-formed plan. The next day the sheriff goes to view the livestock, and is taken into the depth of the forest; it turns out that the wild deer are the butcher’s horned beasts. Robin’s men come in at the sound of his horn; the sheriff is lightened of all his money, and is told that his head is spared only for his wife’s sake. All this the sheriff tells his wife, on his return, and she replies that he has been served rightly for not tarrying at home, as she had begged him to do. The sheriff says he has learned wisdom, and will meddle no more with Robin Hood.

B a omits the brush between Robin and the butcher, mostly wanting, indeed, in A also, but only because of the damage which the manuscript has suffered.

The passage in which the sheriff is inveigled into Robin’s haunts has, as already mentioned, close affinity with the Gest, 181 ff.

The first three stanzas of A would not be missed, and apparently belong to some other ballad.[98]

B a is signed T. R., as is also Robin Hood and the Beggar in two editions, and these we may suppose to be the initials of the person who wrote the story over with middle rhyme in the third line of the stanza, a peculiarity which distinguishes a group of ballads which were sung to the tune of Robin Hood and the Stranger: see Robin Hood and Little John, No 125, and also No 128.


Percy MS., p. 7; Hales and Furnivall, I, 19.
But Robin he walkes in the g[reene] fforrest,
As merry as bird on boughe,
But he that feitches good Robins head,
Hee’le find him game enoughe.
But Robine he walkes in the greene fforrest,
Vnder his trusty-tree;
Sayes, Hearken, hearken, my merrymen all,
What tydings is come to me.
The sheriffe he hath made a cry,
Hee’le have my head i-wis;
But ere a tweluemonth come to an end
I may chance to light on his.
Robin he marcht in the greene forrest,
Vnder the greenwood scray,
And there he was ware of a proud bucher,
Came driuing flesh by the way.
The bucher he had a cut-taild dogg,
And at Robins face he flew;
But Robin he was a good sword,
The bucher’s dogg he slew.
‘Why slayes thou my dogg?’ sayes the bucher,
‘For he did none ill to thee;
117By all the saints that are in heaven
Thou shalt haue buffetts three.’
He tooke his staffe then in his hand,
And he turnd him round about:
‘Thou hast a litle wild blood in thy head,
Good fellow, thou’st haue it letten out.’
‘He that does that deed,’ sayes Robin,
‘I’le count him for a man;
But that while will I draw my sword,
And fend it if I can.’
But Robin he stroke att the bloudy bucher,
In place were he did stand,
  *       *       *       *       *
‘I [am] a younge bucher,’ sayes Robin,
‘You fine dames am I come amonge;
But euer I beseech you, good Mrs Sheriffe,
You must see me take noe wronge.’
‘Thou art verry welcome,’ said Master Sherriff’s wiffe,
‘Thy inne heere up [to] take;
If any good ffellow come in thy companie,
Hee’st be welcome for thy sake.’
Robin called ffor ale, soe did he for wine,
And for it he did pay:
‘I must to my markett goe,’ says Robin,
‘For I hold time itt of the day.’
But Robin is to the markett gone,
Soe quickly and beliue,
He sold more flesh for one peny
Then othe[r] buchers did for fiue.
The drew about the younge bucher,
Like sheepe into a fold;
Yea neuer a bucher had sold a bitt
Till Robin he had all sold.
When Robin Hood had his markett made,
His flesh was sold and gone;
Yea he had receiued but a litle mony,
But thirty pence and one.
Seaven buchers, the garded Robin Hood,
Ffull many time and oft;
Sayes, We must drinke with you, brother bucher,
It’s custome of our crafte.
‘If that be the custome of your crafte,
As heere you tell to me,
Att four of the clocke in the afternoone
At the sheriffs hall I wilbe.’
  *       *       *       *       *
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
‘If thou doe like it well;
Yea heere is more by three hundred pound
Then thou hast beasts to sell.’
Robyn sayd naught, the more he thought:
‘Mony neere comes out of time;
If once I catch thee in the greene fforest,
That mony it shall be mine.’
But on the next day seuen butchers
Came to guard the sheriffe that day;
But Robin he was the whigh[t]est man,
He led them all the way.
He led them into the greene fforest,
Vnder the trusty tree;
Yea, there were harts, and ther were hynds,
And staggs with heads full high.
Yea, there were harts and there were hynds,
And many a goodly ffawne;
‘Now praised be God,’ says bold Robin,
‘All these they be my owne.
‘These are my horned beasts,’ says Robin,
‘Master Sherriffe, which must make the stake;’
‘But euer alacke, now,’ said the sheriffe,
That tydings comes to late!’
Robin sett a shrill horne to his mouth,
And a loud blast he did blow,
And then halfe a hundred bold archers
Came rakeing on a row.
But when the came befor bold Robin,
Even there the stood all bare:
‘You are welcome, master, from Nottingham:
How haue you sold your ware?’
  *       *       *       *       *
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
It proues bold Robin Hood.
‘Yea, he hath robbed me of all my gold
And siluer that euer I had;
But that I had a verry good wife at home,
I shold haue lost my head.
‘But I had a verry good wife at home,
Which made him gentle cheere,
And therfor, for my wifes sake,
I shold haue better favor heere.
‘But such favor as he shewed me
I might haue of the devills dam,
That will rob a man of all he hath,
And send him naked home.’
‘That is very well done,’ then says his wiffe,
‘Itt is well done, I say;
You might haue tarryed att Nottingham,
Soe fayre as I did you pray.’
‘I haue learned wisdome,’ sayes the sherriffe,
‘And, wife, I haue learned of thee;
But if Robin walke easte, or he walke west,
He shall neuer be sought for me.’


a. Wood, 401, leaf 19 b. b. Garland of 1663, No 6. c. Garland of 1670, No 5. d. Pepys, II, 102, No 89.

Come, all you brave gallants, and listen a while,
With hey down, down, an a down
That are in the bowers within;
For of Robin Hood, that archer good,
A song I intend for to sing.
Upon a time it chancëd so
Bold Robin in forrest did spy
A jolly butcher, with a bonny fine mare,
With his flesh to the market did hye.
‘Good morrow, good fellow,’ said jolly Robin,
‘What food hast? tell unto me;
And thy trade to me tell, and where thou dost dwell,
For I like well thy company.’
The butcher he answered jolly Robin:
No matter where I dwell;
For a butcher I am, and to Notingham
I am going, my flesh to sell.
‘What is [the] price of thy flesh?’ said jolly Robin,
‘Come, tell it soon unto me;
And the price of thy mare, be she never so dear,
For a butcher fain would I be.’
‘The price of my flesh,’ the butcher repli’d,
‘I soon will tell unto thee;
With my bonny mare, and they are not dear,
Four mark thou must give unto me.’
‘Four mark I will give thee,’ saith jolly Robin,
‘Four mark it shall be thy fee;
Thy mony come count, and let me mount,
For a butcher I fain would be.’
Now Robin he is to Notingham gone,
His butcher’s trade for to begin;
With good intent, to the sheriff he went,
And there he took up his inn.
When other butchers they opened their meat,
Bold Robin he then begun;
But how for to sell he knew not well,
For a butcher he was but young.
When other butchers no meat could sell,
Robin got both gold and fee;
For he sold more meat for one peny
Than others could do for three.
But when he sold his meat so fast,
No butcher by him could thrive;
For he sold more meat for one peny
Than others could do for five.
Which made the butchers of Notingham
To study as they did stand,
Saying, surely he was some prodigal,
That had sold his father’s land.
The butchers they stepped to jolly Robin,
Acquainted with him for to be;
‘Come, brother,’ one said, ‘we be all of one trade,
Come, will you go dine with me?’
‘Accurst of his heart,’ said jolly Robin,
‘That a butcher doth deny;
I will go with you, my brethren true,
And as fast as I can hie.’
But when to the sheriff’s house they came,
To dinner they hied apace,
And Robin he the man must be
Before them all to say grace.
‘Pray God bless us all,’ said jolly Robin,
‘And our meat within this place;
A cup of sack so good will nourish our blood,
And so I do end my grace.
‘Come fill us more wine,’ said jolly Robin,
‘Let us merry be while we do stay;
For wine and good cheer, be it never so dear,
I vow I the reckning will pay.
‘Come, brother[s], be merry,’ said jolly Robin,
‘Let us drink, and never give ore;
For the shot I will pay, ere I go my way,
If it cost me five pounds and more.’
‘This is a mad blade,’ the butchers then said;
Saies the sheriff, He is some prodigal,
That some land has sold, for silver and gold,
And now he doth mean to spend all.
‘Hast thou any horn-beasts,’ the sheriff repli’d,
‘Good fellow, to sell unto me?’
‘Yes, that I have, good Master Sheriff,
I have hundreds two or three.
‘And a hundred aker of good free land,
If you please it to see;
And I’le make you as good assurance of it
As ever my father made me.’
The sheriff he saddled a good palfrey,
With three hundred pound in gold,
And away he went with bold Robin Hood,
His horned beasts to behold.
Away then the sheriff and Robin did ride,
To the forrest of merry Sherwood;
Then the sheriff did say, God bless us this day
From a man they call Robin Hood!
But when that a little further they came,
Bold Robin he chancëd to spy
A hundred head of good red deer,
Come tripping the sheriff full nigh.
‘How like you my hornd beasts, good Master Sheriff?
They be fat and fair for to see;’
‘I tell thee, good fellow, I would I were gone,
For I like not thy company.’
Then Robin he set his horn to his mouth,
And blew but blasts three;
Then quickly anon there came Little John,
And all his company.
‘What is your will?’ then said Little John,
‘Good master come tell it to me;’
‘I have brought hither the sheriff of Notingham,
This day to dine with thee.’
‘He is welcome to me,’ then said Little John,
‘I hope he will honestly pay;
I know he has gold, if it be but well told,
Will serve us to drink a whole day.’
Then Robin took his mantle from his back,
And laid it upon the ground,
And out of the sheriffeś portmantle
He told three hundred pound.
Then Robin he brought him thorow the wood,
And set him on his dapple gray:
‘O have me commended to your wife at home;’
So Robin went laughing away.


12. bughe.

13. d in head has a tag to it: Furnivall.

64. 3. After 92, 174, 254, half a page gone.

134. 5.

154. 30ty

173. 4.

183. 300li

193. cacth: in thy.

201. 7.

243. 100d

283. pro for for.

B. a.

Robin Hood and the Butcher. To the Tune of Robin Hood and the Begger.

At the end, T. R.

Colophon. London. Printed for F. Grove on Snow Hill. F. Grove printed 1620–55: Chappell.

120124. hath sold.


Robin Hood and the Butcher; shewing how he robbed the sheriff of Nottingham. To the Tune of Robin Hood and the Begger.

42. I do.

51. What is price.

104, 114. Then.

121. when misprinted for made.

124. had sold.

181. brother.

183. go on.

193. hath sold.

211. And an.

214. to me.

251. Sheriff wanting.

274. with me.

293. sheriffs.


Title as in b.

2, 8, and after 8, burden: a hey.

51. is ye.

104, 114. Then.

124. had sold.

172. do wanting.

181. brother.

183. go on.

184. costs.

193. hath sold.

212. it please.

213. you wanting.

214. did me.

243. red wanting.

272. pray tell.

293. sheriffs.


Robin Hood and the Butcher. To the Tune of Robin Hood and the Beggar.

Colophon. Printed for I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger. 1670–86 (?).

Burden. From 21 on, With a hey (not With hey). Also after the fourth line, With a hey, &c.

11. ye.

12. this bower.

14. for wanting.

22. in the.

51. What’s the.

53. be it.

73. The.

83. a good.

91. butchers did open.

104. Then.

124. hath sold.

133. of a.

142. will deny.

153. Robin Hood.

164. do wanting.

172. be merry.

181. brothers.

184. pound or.

201. thou wanting: hornd: sheriff then said.

211. A hundred acres.

222. And with.

223. And wanting.

262. blew out.

271. will master said.

272. I pray you come.

273. hither wanting.

281. then wanting.

283. were it but.

294. five for three, wrongly, see 222.

301. he wanting: through.


A. ‘Robine Hood and Ffryer Tucke,’ Percy MS., p. 10; Hales and Furnivall, I, 26.

B. ‘The Famous Battel between Robin Hood and the Curtal Fryer.’ a. Garland of 1663, No 11. b.[99] Pepys, I, 78, No 37. c. Garland of 1670. d. Wood, 401, leaf 15 b. e. Pepys, II, 99, No 86. f. Douce, II, 184.

B also in the Roxburghe collection, III, 16.

B d was printed in Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, II, 58, corrected by b and compared with e; and in Evans’s Old Ballads, 1777–1784, I, 136, probably from the Aldermary garland.

The opening verses of A are of the same description as those with which Nos 117, 118, 119, and others begin. 1 has been corrupted, and 2 also, one would think, as there is no apparent reason for maids weeping and young men wringing hands in the merry month of May. In the first stanza,

But how many merry monthes be in the yeere?
There are 13 in May;
The midsummer moone is the merryest of all,
Next to the merry month of May.

month in the first and the fourth line might be changed to moon, to justify thirteen in the second, and to accord with moon in the third. For in May, in the second line, we may read, I say, or many say. The first stanza of No 140, B, runs:

There are twelve months in all the year,
As I hear many say;
But the merriest month in all the year
Is the merry month of May.

121Nearly, or quite, one half of A has been torn from the manuscript, but there is no reason to suppose that the story differed much from that of B.

Upon Little John’s killing a hart at five hundred foot, Robin Hood exclaims that he would ride a hundred mile to find John’s match. Scadlock, with a laugh, says that there is a friar at Fountains Abbey who will beat both John and Robin, or indeed Robin and all his yeomen. Robin Hood takes an oath never to eat or drink till he has seen that friar. (Cf. No 30, I, 275, 279.) Robin goes to Fountains Abbey, and ensconces his men in a fern-brake. He finds the friar walking by the water, well armed, and begs [orders, B] the friar to carry him over.[100] The friar takes Robin on his back, and says no word till he is over; then draws his sword and bids Robin carry him back, or he shall rue it. Robin takes the friar on his back, and says no word till he is over; then bids the friar carry him over once more. The friar, without a word, takes Robin on his back, and when he comes to the middle of the stream throws him in. When both have swum to the shore, Robin lets an arrow fly, which the friar puts by with his buckler. The friar cares not for his arrows, though Robin shoots till his arrows are all gone. They take to swords, and fight with them for six good hours, when Robin begs the boon of blowing three blasts on his horn. The friar gives him leave to blow his eyes out: fifty bowmen come raking over the lea. The friar in turn asks a boon, to whistle thrice in his fist. Robin cares not how much he whistles: fifty good bandogs come raking in a row. Here there is a divergence. According to A, the friar will match every man with a dog, and himself with Robin. God forbid, says Robin; better be matched with three of the dogs than with thee. Stay thy tikes, and let us be friends. In B, two dogs go at Robin and tear his mantle from his back; all the arrows shot at them the dogs catch in their mouths. Little John calls to the friar to call off his dogs, and enforces his words by laying half a score of them dead on the plain with his bow. The friar cries, Hold; he will make terms. Robin Hood offers the friar clothes and fee to forsake Fountains Abbey for the green-wood. We must infer, as in the parallel case of the Pinder of Wakefield, that the offer is accepted.[101] But the Curtal Friar, like the Pinder again, plays no part in Robin Hood story out of his own ballad.

Robin Hood and the Friar, in both versions, is in a genuinely popular strain, and was made to sing, not to print. Verbal agreements show that A and B have an earlier ballad as their common source; but of this, one or the other has retained but little. I cannot think that B 33, 34 are of the original matter. It is a derogation from Robin Hood’s prowess that he should have his mantle torn from his back, and we may ask why the dogs do not catch Little John’s arrows as well as others.

Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, was a Cistercian monastery, dating from the twelfth century. (It is loosely called a nunnery in A 4.) The friar is called “cutted” in A and “curtal” in B, and these words have been held to mean short-frocked, and therefore to make the friar a Franciscan. Staveley, The Romish Horseleech, speaking of the Franciscans, says at p. 214, Experience shews that in some countrys, where friers used to wear short habits, the order was presently contemned and derided, and men called them curtaild friers. Cited by Douce, Illustrations of Shakspere, I, 61. So, according to Douce, we may probably understand the curtal friar to be a curtailed friar, and in like manner of the curtal dogs. “Cutted” in A can signify nothing but short-frocked. In the title of that version, though not in the text, the friar is called Tuck, which means that he is “ytukked bye,” like Chaucer’s 122Friar John, but not that he wears a short frock. The friar in the play (see below) has a “long cote,” v. 46. But I apprehend that B has the older word in curtal, and that curtal is simply curtilarius, and applied to both friar and dogs because they had the care and keeping of the curtile, or vegetable garden, of the monastery.[102]

The title of A in the MS. is Robin Hood and Friar Tuck; from which it follows that the copyist, or some predecessor, considered the stalwart friar of Fountains Abbey to be one with the jocular friar of the May-games and the morris dance. But Friar Tuck, the wanton and the merry, like Maid Marian, owes his association with Robin Hood primarily to these popular sports, and not in the least to popular ballads. In the truly popular ballads Friar Tuck is never heard of, and in only two even of the broadsides, Robin Hood and Queen Katherine and Robin Hood’s Golden Prize, is he so much as named; in both no more than named, and in both in conjunction with Maid Marian.

‘The Play of Robin Hood,’ the first half of which is based on the present ballad, calls the friar Friar Tuck, and represents him accordingly. See the Appendix. He is also called Tuck in the play founded on Guy of Gisborne.

In Munday’s Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntington, Friar Tuck is by implication identified with the friar who fell into the well, Dodsley’s Old Plays, ed. Hazlitt, VIII, 185; and Mr Chappell is consequently led to say, at p. 390 of his ‘Popular Music,’ that the ballad of the Friar in the Well was in all probability a tale of “Robin Hood’s fat friar.” Cavilling at this phrase of Shakspere’s only so far as to observe that the friar of the traditional Robin Hood ballad is as little fat as wanton, I need but say that the truth of the case had been already accurately expressed by Mr Chappell at p. 274 of his invaluable work: “the story is a very old one, and one of the many against monks and friars in which not only England, but all Europe, delighted.”

The boon to blow three blasts on his horn, B 25, is also asked by Robin of the Shepherd, No 134, st. 15. The reply made by the Shepherd, st. 16, is, If thou shouldst blow till tomorrow morn, I scorn one foot to flee. In R. H. Rescuing Three Squires, B 25, when Robin, disguised as a beggar, intimates to the sheriff that he may blow his horn, the answer is nearly the same as here: Blow till both thy eyes fall out. In No 127, st. 34 f, Robin asks a boon of the Tinker, without specifying what the boon is; the Tinker refuses; Robin blows his horn while the Tinker is not looking. In No 135, st. 16 f, Robin asks the three keepers to let him blow one blast on his horn, and they refuse. This boon of [three] blasts on a horn is not an important matter in these Robin Hood ballads, but it may be noticed as a feature of other popular ballads in which an actor is reduced to extremity: as in the Swedish ballad Stolts Signild, Arwidsson, II, 128, No 97, and the corresponding Signild og hendes Broder, Danske Viser, IV, 31, No 170, in both of which the answer to the request is, Blow as much as you will. So in a Russian bylina, when Solomon is to be hanged, he obtains permission three several times to blow his horn, and is told to blow as much as he will, and upon the third blast his army comes to the rescue: Rybnikof, II, No 52, Jagié, in Archiv für slavische Philologie, I, 104 ff; Miss Hapgood’s Epic Songs of Russia, p. 287 f; also F. Vogt, Salman und Morolf, p. 104, sts 494 ff.[103] Three cries take the place of three blasts, upon occasion: as in the case of the unhappy maid in the German forms of No 4, I, 32 ff, where also the maid is sometimes told to cry as much as she wants, and in Gesta Romanorum, Oesterley, cap. 108, p. 440.

B is translated by Anastasius Grün, p. 124.



Percy MS., p. 10; Hales and Furnivall, I, 26.

But how many merry monthes be in the yeere?
There are thirteen, I say;
The midsummer moone is the merryest of all,
Next to the merry month of May.
In May, when mayds beene fast weepand,
Young men their hands done wringe,
  *       *       *       *       *
‘I’le .    . pe .    .    .    .    .
Over may noe man for villanie:’
‘I’le never eate nor drinke,’ Robin Hood sa[id],
‘Till I that cutted friar see.’
He builded his men in a brake of fearne,
A litle from that nunery;
Sayes, If you heare my litle horne blow,
Then looke you come to me.
When Robin came to Fontaines Abey,
Wheras that fryer lay,
He was ware of the fryer where he stood,
And to him thus can he say.
A payre of blacke breeches the yeoman had on,
His coppe all shone of steele,
A fayre sword and a broad buckeler
Beseemed him very weell.
‘I am a wet weary man,’ said Robin Hood,
‘Good fellow, as thou may see;
Wilt beare [me] over this wild water,
Ffor sweete Saint Charity?’
The fryer bethought him of a good deed;
He had done none of long before;
He hent up Robin Hood on his backe,
And over he did him beare.
But when he came over that wild water,
A longe sword there he drew:
‘Beare me backe againe, bold outlawe,
Or of this thou shalt have enoughe.’
Then Robin Hood hent the fryar on his back,
And neither sayd good nor ill;
Till he came ore that wild water,
The yeoman he walked still.
Then Robin Hood wett his fayre greene hoze,
A span aboue his knee;
S[ay]s, Beare me ore againe, thou cutted f[ryer]
  *       *       *       *       *
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    . good bowmen
[C]ame raking all on a rowe.
‘I beshrew thy head,’ said the cutted ffriar,
‘Thou thinkes I shall be shente;
I thought thou had but a man or two,
And thou hast [a] whole conuent.
‘I lett thee haue a blast on thy horne,
Now giue me leaue to whistle another;
I cold not bidd thee noe better play
And thou wert my owne borne brother.’
‘Now fute on, fute on, thou cutted fryar,
I pray God thou neere be still;
It is not the futing in a fryers fist
That can doe me any ill.’
The fryar sett his neave to his mouth,
A loud blast he did blow;
Then halfe a hundred good bandoggs
Came raking all on a rowe.
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .
‘Euery dogg to a man,’ said the cutted fryar,
‘And I my selfe to Robin Hood.’
‘Over God’s forbott,’ said Robin Hood,
That euer that soe shold bee;
I had rather be mached with three of the tikes
Ere I wold be matched on thee.
‘But stay thy tikes, thou fryar,’ he said,
‘And freindshipp I’le haue with thee;
But stay thy tikes, thou fryar,’ he said,
‘And saue good yeomanry.’
The fryar he sett his neave to his mouth,
A lowd blast he did blow;
124The doggs the coucht downe euery one,
They couched downe on a rowe.
‘What is thy will, thou yeoman?’ he said,
‘Haue done and tell it me;’
‘If that thou will goe to merry greenwood,
  *       *       *       *       *


a. Garland of 1663, No 11. b. Pepys, I, 78, No 37. c. Garland of 1670, No 10. d. Wood, 401, leaf 15 b. e. Pepys, II, 99, No 86. f. Douce, II, 184.

In summer time, when leaves grow green,
And flowers are fresh and gay,
Robin Hood and his merry men
Were disposed to play.
Then some would leap, and some would run,
And some would use artillery:
‘Which of you can a good bow draw,
A good archer to be?
‘Which of you can kill a buck?
Or who can kill a do?
Or who can kill a hart of greece,
Five hundred foot him fro?’
Will Scadlock he killd a buck,
And Midge he killd a do,
And Little John killd a hart of greece,
Five hundred foot him fro.
‘God’s blessing on thy heart,’ said Robin Hood,
‘That hath [shot] such a shot for me;
I would ride my horse an hundred miles,
To finde one could match with thee.’
That causd Will Scadlock to laugh,
He laughed full heartily:
‘There lives a curtal frier in Fountains Abby
Will beat both him and thee.
‘That curtal frier in Fountains Abby
Well can a strong bow draw;
He will beat you and your yeomen,
Set them all on a row.’
Robin Hood took a solemn oath,
It was by Mary free,
That he would neither eat nor drink
Till the frier he did see.
Robin Hood put on his harness good,
And on his head a cap of steel,
Broad sword and buckler by his side,
And they became him weel.
He took his bow into his hand,
It was made of a trusty tree,
With a sheaf of arrows at his belt,
To the Fountains Dale went he.
And comming unto Fountain[s] Dale,
No further would he ride;
There was he aware of a curtal frier,
Walking by the water-side.
The fryer had on a harniss good,
And on his head a cap of steel,
Broad sword and buckler by his side,
And they became him weel.
Robin Hood lighted off his horse,
And tied him to a thorn:
‘Carry me over the water, thou curtal frier,
Or else thy life’s forlorn.’
The frier took Robin Hood on his back,
Deep water he did bestride,
And spake neither good word nor bad,
Till he came at the other side.
Lightly leapt Robin Hood off the friers back;
The frier said to him again,
Carry me over this water, fine fellow,
Or it shall breed thy pain.
Robin Hood took the frier on ’s back,
Deep water he did bestride,
And spake neither good word nor bad,
Till he came at the other side.
Lightly leapt the fryer off Robin Hoods back;
Robin Hood said to him again,
Carry me over this water, thou curtal frier,
Or it shall breed thy pain.
The frier took Robin Hood on’s back again,
And stept up to the knee;
Till he came at the middle stream,
Neither good nor bad spake he.
And coming to the middle stream,
There he threw Robin in:
‘And chuse thee, chuse thee, fine fellow,
Whether thou wilt sink or swim.’
Robin Hood swam to a bush of broom,
The frier to a wicker wand;
Bold Robin Hood is gone to shore,
And took his bow in hand.
One of his best arrows under his belt
To the frier he let flye;
The curtal frier, with his steel buckler,
He put that arrow by.
‘Shoot on, shoot on, thou fine fellow,
Shoot on as thou hast begun;
If thou shoot here a summers day,
Thy mark I will not shun.’
Robin Hood shot passing well,
Till his arrows all were gone;
They took their swords and steel bucklers,
And fought with might and maine;
From ten oth’ clock that day,
Till four ith’ afternoon;
Then Robin Hood came to his knees,
Of the frier to beg a boon.
‘A boon, a boon, thou curtal frier,
I beg it on my knee;
Give me leave to set my horn to my mouth,
And to blow blasts three.’
‘That will I do,’ said the curtal frier,
‘Of thy blasts I have no doubt;
I hope thou’lt blow so passing well
Till both thy eyes fall out.’
Robin Hood set his horn to his mouth,
He blew but blasts three;
Half a hundred yeomen, with bows bent,
Came raking over the lee.
‘Whose men are these,’ said the frier,
‘That come so hastily?’
‘These men are mine,’ said Robin Hood;
‘Frier, what is that to thee?’
‘A boon, a boon,’ said the curtal frier,
‘The like I gave to thee;
Give me leave to set my fist to my mouth,
And to whute whutes three.’
‘That will I do,’ said Robin Hood,
‘Or else I were to blame;
Three whutes in a friers fist
Would make me glad and fain.’
The frier he set his fist to his mouth,
And whuted whutes three;
Half a hundred good ban-dogs
Came running the frier unto.
‘Here’s for every man of thine a dog,
And I my self for thee:’
‘Nay, by my faith,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘Frier, that may not be.’
Two dogs at once to Robin Hood did go,
The one behind, the other before;
Robin Hoods mantle of Lincoln green
Off from his back they tore.
And whether his men shot east or west,
Or they shot north or south,
The curtal dogs, so taught they were,
They kept their arrows in their mouth.
‘Take up thy dogs,’ said Little John,
‘Frier, at my bidding be;’
‘Whose man art thou,’ said the curtal frier,
‘Comes here to prate with me?’
‘I am Little John, Robin Hoods man,
Frier, I will not lie;
If thou take not up thy dogs soon,
I’le take up them and thee.’
Little John had a bow in his hand,
He shot with might and main;
Soon half a score of the friers dogs
Lay dead upon the plain.
‘Hold thy hand, good fellow,’ said the curtal frier,
‘Thy master and I will agree;
And we will have new orders taken,
With all the haste that may be.’
‘If thou wilt forsake fair Fountains Dale,
And Fountains Abby free,
Every Sunday throughout the year,
A noble shall be thy fee.
‘And every holy day throughout the year,
Changed shall thy garment be,
If thou wilt go to fair Nottingham,
And there remain with me.’
This curtal frier had kept Fountains Dale
Seven long years or more;
There was neither knight, lord, nor earl
Could make him yield before.


Half a page is gone after 22, 113, 213.

11. moones?

12. 13 in May.

14. month may pass, though moone is expected.

21,2. might perhaps be intelligible with the other half of the stanza.

104, 203. They.

111. eze.

134. counent? comment? F.

151. Now fate.

163. 100d

173,4. bis {

181. Ever.

183. 3.

B. a.

The famous battel between Robin Hood and the Curtal Fryer, near Fountain Dale.

To a new northern tune.

41, 61. Sadlock: Scadlock elsewhere.

151. stept. Cf. 171: leapt in b, e.

194. sing.

243. his wanting, and in all but b, e.

244. the wanting, and in all but b, e.

274. ranking: in d, e, f, ranging.

321. of thine wanting: found only in b.

344. catcht: kept in b, d.

353. thon.


Title as in a, omitting near Fountain Dale.

Printed at London for H. Gosson. (1607–41.)

24. for to.

34, 44, 53, 273, 313. hundreth.

53. a for an.

54. with wanting.

73. and all.

74. all a on a.

81. Hood he.

92, 122. And wanting.

104. Fountaine.

111. into.

112. he would.

113. he was: of the.

121. a wanting.

144, 164. th’ other.

151. leapt for stept.

161. on his.

181. Hood wanting.

182. in for up.

202. wigger.

204. in his.

221. Scot: a misprint.

232. gane.

234. They for And.

241. of clock of that.

242. four of th’.

243. to his.

244. of the.

254. But to.

261. I will.

274. raking.

282. comes.

294, 303, 312. whues, unobjectionable: in all the rest whutes.

311. he set.

313. of good band-dogs.

321. man of thine.

328. said for quoth.

344. kept the.

384. that wanting.

401. through the.

412. and more.


Title as in a, except Dales.

52. hath wanting.

63, 71. Fountain.

84. he the frier did.

151. stept.

201. swom.

231. shot so.

283. men wanting.

313. band-dogs.

344. catcht.

354. to me.

402. garments.


Title as in b.

Printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, W. Gilbertson. (1640–80?)

53. a.

54. with wanting.

74. all in.

111. Fountains.

112. farther.

151. stept.

161. on his.

202. wigger.

231. shot so.

234. They for And.

243. his wanting.

244. the wanting.

274. ranging.

283. men wanting.

311. he wanting.

321. of thine wanting.

332. and the other.

344. They kept.

393. through the.

402. garments.


Title as in b.

Printed for W. Thackeray, J. Millet, and A. Milbourn. (1680–97?)

24. for wanting.

34, 44. hundreth.

52. That shot such a shoot.

53. a for an.

54. with wanting.

63. Fountain.

7, 8. wanting.

102. made wanting.

111. Fountain’s.

112. farther.

113. he was.

121. on wanting.

151. leapt for stept.

153. thou fine.

161. on his.

163. speak.

173. over the.

202. wigger.

203. to the.

222. on wanting.

231. shot so.

232. were all gane.

234. They for And.

243. to his.

244. Of the.

261. I will.

272. blew out.

274. ranging.

313. bay dogs.

321. Here is.

343. The cutrtles.

344. caught the.

381. Hold thy hand, hold thy hand, said.

391,2, 411. Fountain.

401. through the.

402. garments.

412. and for or.


Title as in b.

London, printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, and J. Wright. (1655–80.)

22. some wanting.

52. shot such a shoot.

53. a.

54. with wanting.

111. Fountains.

127112. farther.

113. ware.

151. step’d.

153. thou fine.

161. on his.

202. wigger.

203. to the.

213, 343. curtle.

222. on wanting.

231. shot so.

232. Till all his arrows were.

234. They for And.

243. his wanting.

244. the wanting.

274. ranging.

283. men wanting.

303. fryer.

311. he wanting.

313. bay-dogs.

321. Here is: of thine wanting.

332. and the other.

344. caught the.

392, 411. Fountain.

393, 401. through the.

402. garments.

412. and more.




Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, II, 192, as printed by William Copland, at the end of his edition of the Gest.


As printed by Edward White, at the end of his edition of the Gest: Bodleian Library, Z. 3. Art. Seld.

Now stand ye forth, my mery men all,
And harke what I shall say;
Of an adventure I shal you tell,
The which befell this other day.
As I went by the hygh way,
With a stout frere I met,
And a quarter-staffe in his hande.
Lyghtely to me he lept,
And styll he bade me stande.
There were strypes two or three,
But I cannot tell who had the worse,
But well I wote the horeson lept within me,
And fro me he toke my purse.
Is there any of my mery men all
That to that frere wyll go,
And bryng hym to me forth withall,
Whether he wyll or no?
Yes, mayster, I make God avowe,
To that frere wyll I go,
And bring him to you,
Whether he wyl or no.
Deus hic! deus hic! God be here!
Is not this a holy worde for a frere?
God save all this company!
But am not I a jolly fryer?
For I can shote both farre and nere,
And handle the sworde and buckler,
And this quarter-staffe also.
If I mete with a gentylman or yeman,
I am not afrayde to loke hym upon,
Nor boldly with him to carpe;
If he speake any wordes to me,
He shall have strypes two or thre,
That shal make his body smarte.
But, maisters, to shew you the matter
Wherfore and why I am come hither,
In fayth I wyll not spare.
I am come to seke a good yeman,
In Bernisdale men sai is his habitacion,
His name is Robyn Hode.
And if that he be better man than I,
His servaunt wyll I be, and serve him truely;
But if that I be better man than he,
By my truth my knave shall he be,
And leade these dogges all three.
Yelde the, fryer, in thy long cote.
I beshrew thy hart, knave, thou hurtest my throt[e].
I trowe, fryer, thou beginnest to dote;
Who made the so malapert and so bolde
To come into this forest here,
Amonge my falowe dere?
Go louse the, ragged knave.
If thou make mani wordes, I will geve the on the eare,
Though I be but a poore fryer.
To seke Robyn Hode I am com here,
And to him my hart to breke.
Thou lousy frer, what wouldest thou with hym?
He never loved fryer, nor none of freiers kyn.
Avaunt, ye ragged knave!
Or ye shall have on the skynne.
Of all the men in the morning thou art the worst,
To mete with the I have no lust;
For he that meteth a frere or a fox in the morning,
To spede ill that day he standeth in jeoperdy.
Therfore I had lever mete with the devil of hell,
(Fryer, I tell the as I thinke,)
Then mete with a fryer or a fox
In a mornyng, or I drynk.
Avaunt, thou ragged knave! this is but a mock;
If thou make mani words thou shal have a knock.
Harke, frere, what I say here:
Over this water thou shalt me bere,
The brydge is borne away.
To say naye I wyll not;
To let the of thine oth it were great pitie and sin;
But up on a fryers backe, and have even in!
Nay, have over.
Now am I, frere, within, and thou, Robin, without,
To lay the here I have no great doubt.
Now art thou, Robyn, without, and I, frere, within,
Lye ther, knave; chose whether thou wilte sinke or swym.
Why, thou lowsy frere, what hast thou done?
Mary, set a knave over the shone.
Therfore thou shalt abye.
Why, wylt thou fyght a plucke?
And God send me good lucke.
Than have a stroke for fryer Tucke.
Holde thy hande, frere, and here me speke.
Say on, ragged knave,
Me semeth ye begyn to swete.
In this forest I have a hounde,
I wyl not give him for an hundreth pound.
Geve me leve my horne to blowe,
That my hounde may knowe.
Blowe on, ragged knave, without any doubte,
Untyll bothe thyne eyes starte out.
Here be a sorte of ragged knaves come in,
Clothed all in Kendale grene,
And to the they take their way nowe.
Peradventure they do so.
I gave the leve to blowe at thy wyll,
Now give me leve to whistell my fyll.
Whystell, frere, evyl mote thou fare!
Untyll bothe thyne eyes stare.
Now Cut and Bause!
Breng forth the clubbes and staves,
And downe with those ragged knaves!
How sayest thou, frere, wylt thou be my man,
To do me the best servyse thou can?
Thou shalt have both golde and fee.

After ten lines of ribaldry, which have no pertinency to the traditional Robin Hood and Friar, the play abruptly passes to the adventure of Robin Hood and the Potter.


Ritson has been followed, without collation with Copland.

35. maister.

64. spede ell.

70. you, you for thou, thou.

82. donee.

104. starte.


13. he wanting.

15. to the.

23. word of.

31. Not.

35. maister.

41. if he.

43. be a.

59. ye wanting.

61. in a.

65. had rather: of hell wanting.

70. yu: yu shalt.

81. choose either sinke.

97. Here is.

103. might thou.

104. stare.



A. a. Wood, 402, leaf 43. b. Garland of 1663, No 4. c. Garland of 1670, No 3. d. Pepys, II, 100, No 87 a. e. Wood, 401, leaf 61 b.

B. Percy MS., p. 15; Hales and Furnivall, I, 32.

Printed in Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, II, 16, from one of Wood’s copies, “compared with two other copies in the British Museum, one in black letter:” Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 99.

There is another copy in the Roxburghe collection, III, 24, and there are two in the Bagford.

‘A ballett of Wakefylde and a grene’ is entered to Master John Wallye and Mistress Toye, 19 July, 1557–9 July, 1558: Stationers’ Registers, Arber, I, 76.

The ballad is one of four, besides the Gest, that were known to the author of the Life of Robin Hood in Sloane MS., 715, which dates from the end of the seventeenth century. It is thoroughly lyrical, and therein “like the old age,” and was pretty well sung to pieces before it ever was printed. A snatch of it is sung, as Ritson has observed, in each of the Robin Hood plays, The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntington, by Anthony Munday, and The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntington, by A. Munday and Henry Chettle, both printed in 1601.

At Michaelmas cometh my covenant out,
My master gives me my fee;
Then, Robin, I’ll wear thy Kendall green,
And wend to the greenwood with thee.
O there dwelleth a jolly pinder
At Wakefield all on a green.[104]

Silence sings the line ‘And Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John,’ 32, in the Second Part of King Henry Fourth, V, 3, and Falstaff addresses Bardolph as Scarlet and John in the first scene of The Merry Wives of Windsor. In Beaumont and Fletcher’s Philaster, V, 4, Dyce, I, 295, we have: “Let not ... your Robinhoods, Scarlets, and Johns tie your affections in darkness to your shops.” Scarlet and John, comrades of Robin Hood from the beginning, are prominent in many ballads.

Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John have left the highway and made a path over the corn,[105] apparently in defiance of the Pinder of Wakefield, who has the fame of being able to exact a penalty of trespassers, whatever their rank. The Pinder bids them turn again; they, being three to one, scorn to comply. The Pinder fights with them till their swords are broken. Robin cries Hold! and asks the Pinder to join his company in the greenwood. This the Pinder is ready to do at Michaelmas, when his engagement to his present master will be terminated. Robin asks for meat and drink, and the Pinder offers him bread, beef, and ale.

The adventure of the ballad is naturally introduced into the play of George a Greene, the Pinner of Wakefield, printed in 1599, reprinted in Dodsley’s Old Plays (the third volume of the edition of 1825), and by Dyce among the works of Robert Greene. George a Greene fights with Scarlet, and beats him; then with Much (not John), and beats him; then with Robin Hood. Robin protests he is the stoutest champion that ever he laid hands on, and says:

130George, wilt thou forsake Wakefield
And go with me?
Two liveries will I give thee every year,
And forty crowns shall be thy fee.

George welcomes Robin to his house, offering him wafer-cakes, beef, mutton, and veal. (Dyce, II, 196 f.)

The scene in the play is found in the prose history of George a Green, London, 1706, of which a copy is known, no doubt substantially the same, of the date 1632. The Pinner here fells ‘Slathbatch,’ Little John, and the Friar, before his bout with Robin. See Thoms, A Collection of Early Prose Romances, II, 44–47, and the prefaces, p. viii ff, p. xviii f, for more about the popularity of the Pinner’s story.

Wakefield is in the West Riding of the county of York.

Richard Brathwayte, in a poetical epistle “to all true-bred northerne sparks of the generous society of the Cottoneers,” Strappado for the Divell, 1615 (cited by Ritson, Robin Hood, ed. 1795, I, xxvii-ix), speaks of

The Pindar’s valour, and how firme he stood
In th’ townes defence gainst th’ rebel Robin Hood;
How stoutly he behav’d himselfe, and would,
In spite of Robin, bring his horse to th’ fold:

from which we might infer that according to one account the Pinder had impounded Robin’s horse. But as Robin Hood, in this passage, is confounded with the rebel Earl of Kendal, or some one of his adherents, it is safe to suppose that Brathwayte has been twice inaccurate.[106]

The ballad is so imperfect that one might be in doubt whether the Pinder fights with Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John all together or successively. But to suppose the Pinder capable of dealing with all three at once would be monstrous, and we see from the History and from Greene’s play that the Pinder must take them one after the other, and Robin the last of the three.

There are seven other ballads, besides The Pinder of Wakefield, in which Robin Hood, after trying his strength with a stout fellow, and coming off somewhat or very much the worse, induces his antagonist to enlist in his company. Several of these are very late, and most of them imitations, we may say, of the Pinder, or one of the other. These ballads are: Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar; Robin Hood and Little John; Robin Hood and the Tanner; Robin Hood and the Tinker, 28 ff; Robin Hood Revived; Robin Hood and the Ranger; Robin Hood and the Scotchman. We might add Robin Hood and Maid Marian. The episode of Little John and the Cook, in the Gest, 165–171, is after the same pattern. There is another set in which a contest of a like description does not result in an accession to the outlaw-band. These are Robin Hood and the Potter; Robin Hood and the Butcher; Robin Hood and the Beggar, I; Robin Hood and the Beggar, II (Robin Hood first beaten, then three of his men severely handled); Robin Hood and the Shepherd (Robin Hood overmastered, Little John on the point of being beaten, etc.); The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood (John outmatched first, then his master); Robin Hood’s Delight (combat between Robin Hood, Little John, and Scadlock and three Keepers); Robin Hood and the Pedlars (again three to three).

There are, as might be expected, frequent verbal agreements in these ballads, and many of them are collected by Fricke, Die Robin-Hood-Balladen, pp 91–95.

The fights in these ballads last from an hour, Gest, st. 168, to a long summer’s day, in this ballad, st. 6. In Robin Hood and Maid Marian, st. 11, the time is at least an hour, or more; in Robin Hood and the Tanner, 131st. 20, two hours and more; in Robin Hood and the Ranger, st. 12, three hours; in Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar, B 24, and Robin Hood and the Shepherd, st. 11, from ten o’clock till four; in Robin Hood’s Delight, st. 11, from eight o’clock till two, and past.


a. Wood, 402, leaf 43. b. Garland of 1663, No 4. c. Garland of 1670, No 3. d. Pepys, II, 100, No 87 a. e. Wood, 401, leaf 61 b.

In Wakefield there lives a jolly pinder,
In Wakefield, all on a green; (bis)
‘There is neither knight nor squire,’ said the pinder,
‘Nor baron that is so bold, (bis)
Dare make a trespasse to the town of Wakefield,
But his pledge goes to the pinfold.’ (bis)
All this beheard three witty young men,
’Twas Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John;
With that they spyed the jolly pinder,
As he sate under a thorn.
‘Now turn again, turn again,’ said the pinder,
‘For a wrong way have you gone;
For you have forsaken the king his highway,
And made a path over the corn.’
‘O that were great shame,’ said jolly Robin,
‘We being three, and thou but one:’
The pinder leapt back then thirty good foot,
’Twas thirty good foot and one.
He leaned his back fast unto a thorn,
And his foot unto a stone,
And there he fought a long summer’s day,
A summer’s day so long,
Till that their swords, on their broad bucklers,
Were broken fast unto their hands.
  *       *       *       *       *
‘Hold thy hand, hold thy hand,’ said Robin Hood,
‘And my merry men euery one;
For this is one of the best pinders
That ever I try’d with sword.
‘And wilt thou forsake thy pinder his craft,
And live in [the] green wood with me?
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
‘At Michaelmas next my covnant comes out,
When every man gathers his fee;
I’le take my blew blade all in my hand,
And plod to the green wood with thee.’
‘Hast thou either meat or drink,’ said Robin Hood,
‘For my merry men and me?
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
‘I have both bread and beef,’ said the pinder,
‘And good ale of the best;’
‘And that is meat good enough,’ said Robin Hood,
‘For such unbidden guest.
‘O wilt thou forsake the pinder his craft,
And go to the green wood with me?
Thou shalt have a livery twice in the year,
The one green, the other brown [shall be].’
‘If Michaelmas day were once come and gone
And my master had paid me my fee,
Then would I set as little by him
As my master doth set by me.’


Percy MS., p. 15; Hales and Furnivall, I, 32.

  *       *       *       *       *
‘But hold y . . hold y . . .’ says Robin,
‘My merrymen, I bid yee,
For this [is] one of the best pindars
That euer I saw with mine eye.
‘But hast thou any meat, thou iolly pindar,
For my merrymen and me?’
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
‘But I haue bread and cheese,’ sayes the pindar,
‘And ale all on the best:’
‘That’s cheere good enoughe,’ said Robin,
‘For any such vnbidden guest.
‘But wilt be my man?’ said good Robin,
‘And come and dwell with me?
And twise in a yeere thy clothing [shall] be changed
If my man thou wilt bee,
The tone shall be of light Lincolne greene,
The tother of Picklory.’
‘Att Michallmas comes a well good time,
When men haue gotten in their ffee;
I’le sett as litle by my master
As he now setts by me,
I’le take my benbowe in my hande,
And come into the grenwoode to thee.’


The second and fourth lines were repeated in singing.


The Iolly Pinder of Wakefield.

Printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. G[i]lber[t]son. (F. Coles, 1646–1674; T. Vere, 1648–1680; W. Gilbertson, 1640–1663. Chappell.)

11. their.

31. witty, which all have, is a corruption of wight.

101. laid.

134. by my.

b, c.

Robin Hood and the jolly Pinder of Wakefield, shewing how he fought with Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John a long summer’s day. To a Northern tune.


11. there dwels.

24. it goes.

41. saith.

51. a for great: saith.

112. all.

113. that’s.

121. thy for the.


43. king’s high.

62. fast unto.

64. And a.

65. that wanting.

91. covenants.

101. thou wanting.


The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield with Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John.

Printed by and for Alex. Milbourn, in Green-Arbor Court, in the Little Old-Baily. (A. Milbourn, 1670–1697. Chappell.)

33. espy’d.

34. sat.

42. you have.

43. the kings.

51. a for great.

62. foot against.

63. they for he.

66. broke.

81. pinders craft.

82. in the.

131. was come.

134. set wanting.


The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield: with Robin Hood, Scarlet and John.

No printer’s name.

33. espyed.

34. sat.

42. you have.

43. kings.

61. foot against.

66. broke.

81. pinders craft.

131. was come.

134. set wanting.

Pepys Penny Merriments Garland: according to Hales and Furnivall.

64. And a.

65. that wanting.

101. thou wanting.

121. thy pinder.

Gutch, Robin Hood, II, 144 f, says that the Roxburghe copy has in 31 wight yeomen.

He prints 72–4:
And my merry men stand aside;
For this is one of the best pinders
That with sword ever I tryed.
Thou shalt have a livery twice in the year,
Th’one greene, tither brown shall be.

These parts of stanzas 7, 8 he gives as from a black-letter copy, which he does not describe.


11,2 make half a stanza in the MS., and 13,4 are joined with 21,2. 45,6 and 51,2 make a stanza. It is not supposed that 4 and 5 were originally stanzas of six lines, but rather that, one half of each of two stanzas having been forgotten, the other has attached itself to a complete stanza which chanced to have the same rhyme. Stanzas of six lines, formed in this way, are common in traditional ballads.

34. guests.

43. 2s
. in.



a. A Collection of Old Ballads, 1723, I, 75. b. Aldermary Garland, by R. Marshall, n. d., No 22.

Ritson, Robin Hood, 1795, II, 138; Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 204. There is a bad copy in a Robin Hood’s Garland of 1749.

“This ballad,” says Ritson, “is named in a schedule of such things under an agreement between W. Thackeray and others in 1689, Col. Pepys, vol. 5.” It occurs in a list of ballads printed for and sold by William Thackeray at the Angel in Duck-Lane (see The Ballad Society’s reprint of the Roxburghe Ballads, W. Chappell, I, xxiv, from a copy in the Bagford collection), but by some caprice of fortune has not, so far as is known, come down in the broadside form, neither is it found in the older garlands.

Robin Hood and Little John belongs to a set of ballads which have middle rhyme in the third line of the stanza, and are directed to be sung to one and the same tune. These are: R. H. and the Bishop, R. H. and the Beggar, R. H. and the Tanner, to the tune of R. H. and the Stranger; R. H. and the Butcher, R. H.’s Chase, Little John and the Four Beggars, to the tune of R. H. and the Beggar; R. H. and Little John, R. H. and the Ranger, to the tune of Arthur a Bland (that is, R. H. and the Tanner). There is no ballad with the title Robin Hood and the Stranger. Ritson thought it proper to give this title to a ballad which uniformly bears the title of Robin Hood Newly Revived, No 128, because Robin’s antagonist is repeatedly called “the stranger” in it. But Robin’s antagonist is equally often called “the stranger” in the present ballad (eleven times in each), and Robin Hood and Little John has the middle rhyme in the third line, which Robin Hood Newly Revived has not (excepting in seven stanzas at the end, which are a portion of a different ballad, Robin Hood and the Scotchman). Robin Hood and Little John (and Robin Hood Newly Revived as well) would naturally be referred to as Robin Hood and the Stranger, for the same reason that Robin Hood and the Tanner is referred to as Arthur a Bland. The fact that the middle rhyme in the third line is found in Robin Hood and Little John, but is lacking in Robin Hood Newly Revived, gives a slightly superior probability to the supposition that the former, or rather some older version of it (for the one we have is in a rank seventeenth-century style), had the secondary title of Robin Hood and the Stranger.[107]

Like Robin Hood’s Progress to Nottingham, 134this ballad affects, in the right apocryphal way, to know an adventure of Robin’s early life. Though but twenty years old, Robin has a company of threescore and nine bowmen. With all these he shakes hands one morning, and goes through the forest alone, prudently enjoining on the band to come to his help if he should blow his horn. He meets a stranger on a narrow bridge, and neither will give way. Robin threatens the stranger with an arrow, which, as he requires to be reminded, is cowardly enough, seeing that the other man has nothing but a staff. Recalled to ordinary manliness, Robin Hood, laying down his bow, provides himself with an oaken stick, and proposes a battle on the bridge, which he shall be held to win who knocks the other into the water in the end. In the end the stranger tumbles Robin into the brook, and is owned to have won the day. The band are now summoned by the horn, and when they hear what the stranger has done are about to seize and duck him, but are ordered to forbear. Robin Hood proposes to his antagonist that he shall join his men, and John Little, as he declares his name to be, accedes. John Little is seven foot tall.[108] Will Stutely says his name must be changed, and they rebaptize the “infant” as Little John.

‘A pastorall plesant commedie of Robin Hood and Little John, etc.,’ is entered to Edward White in the Stationers’ Registers, May 14, 1594, and ‘Robin Hood and Litle John’ to Master Oulton, April 22, 1640. (Arber, II, 649, IV, 507.)

Translated by Anastasius Grün, p. 65.

When Robin Hood was about twenty years old,
With a hey down down and a down
He happend to meet Little John,
A jolly brisk blade, right fit for the trade,
For he was a lusty young man.
Tho he was calld Little, his limbs they were large,
And his stature was seven foot high;
Where-ever he came, they quak’d at his name,
For soon he would make them to fly.
How they came acquainted, I’ll tell you in brief,
If you will but listen a while;
For this very jest, amongst all the rest,
I think it may cause you to smile.
Bold Robin Hood said to his jolly bowmen,
Pray tarry you here in this grove;
And see that you all observe well my call,
While thorough the forest I rove.
We have had no sport for these fourteen long days,
Therefore now abroad will I go;
Now should I be beat, and cannot retreat,
My horn I will presently blow.
Then did he shake hands with his merry men all,
And bid them at present good b’w’ye;
Then, as near a brook his journey he took,
A stranger he chancd to espy.
They happend to meet on a long narrow bridge,
And neither of them would give way;
Quoth bold Robin Hood, and sturdily stood,
I’ll show you right Nottingham play.
With that from his quiver an arrow he drew,
A broad arrow with a goose-wing:
The stranger reply’d, I’ll liquor thy hide,
If thou offerst to touch the string.
Quoth bold Robin Hood, Thou dost prate like an ass,
For were I to bend but my bow,
I could send a dart quite thro thy proud heart,
Before thou couldst strike me one blow.
‘Thou talkst like a coward,’ the stranger reply’d;
‘Well armd with a long bow you stand,
135To shoot at my breast, while I, I protest,
Have nought but a staff in my hand.’
‘The name of a coward,’ quoth Robin, ‘I scorn,
Wherefore my long bow I’ll lay by;
And now, for thy sake, a staff will I take,
The truth of thy manhood to try.’
Then Robin Hood stept to a thicket of trees,
And chose him a staff of ground-oak;
Now this being done, away he did run
To the stranger, and merrily spoke:
Lo! see my staff, it is lusty and tough,
Now here on the bridge we will play;
Whoever falls in, the other shall win
The battel, and so we’ll away.
‘With all my whole heart,’ the stranger reply’d;
‘I scorn in the least to give out;’
This said, they fell to ‘t without more dispute,
And their staffs they did flourish about.
And first Robin he gave the stranger a bang,
So hard that it made his bones ring:
The stranger he said, This must be repaid,
I’ll give you as good as you bring.
So long as I’m able to handle my staff,
To die in your debt, friend, I scorn:
Then to it each goes, and followd their blows,
As if they had been threshing of corn.
The stranger gave Robin a crack on the crown,
Which caused the blood to appear;
Then Robin, enrag’d, more fiercely engag’d,
And followd his blows more severe.
So thick and so fast did he lay it on him,
With a passionate fury and ire,
At every stroke, he made him to smoke,
As if he had been all on fire.
O then into fury the stranger he grew,
And gave him a damnable look,
And with it a blow that laid him full low,
And tumbld him into the brook.
‘I prithee, good fellow, O where art thou now?’
The stranger, in laughter, he cry’d;
Quoth bold Robin Hood, Good faith, in the flood,
And floating along with the tide.
I needs must acknowledge thou art a brave soul;
With thee I’ll no longer contend;
For needs must I say, thou hast got the day,
Our battel shall be at an end.
Then unto the bank he did presently wade,
And pulld himself out by a thorn;
Which done, at the last, he blowd a loud blast
Straitway on his fine bugle-horn.
The eccho of which through the vallies did fly,
At which his stout bowmen appeard,
All cloathed in green, most gay to be seen;
So up to their master they steerd.
‘O what’s the matter?’ quoth William Stutely;
‘Good master, you are wet to the skin:’
‘No matter,’ quoth he; ‘the lad which you see,
In fighting, hath tumbld me in.’
‘He shall not go scot-free,’ the others reply’d;
So strait they were seizing him there,
To duck him likewise; but Robin Hood cries,
He is a stout fellow, forbear.
There’s no one shall wrong thee, friend, be not afraid;
These bowmen upon me do wait;
There’s threescore and nine; if thou wilt be mine,
Thou shalt have my livery strait.
And other accoutrements fit for a man;
Speak up, jolly blade, never fear;
I’ll teach you also the use of the bow,
To shoot at the fat fallow-deer.
‘O here is my hand,’ the stranger reply’d,
‘I’ll serve you with all my whole heart;
My name is John Little, a man of good mettle;
Nere doubt me, for I’ll play my part.’
His name shall be alterd,’ quoth William Stutely,
‘And I will his godfather be;
Prepare then a feast, and none of the least,
For we will be merry,’ quoth he.
They presently fetchd in a brace of fat does,
With humming strong liquor likewise;
They lovd what was good; so, in the greenwood,
This pretty sweet babe they baptize.
He was, I must tell you, but seven foot high,
And, may be, an ell in the waste;
A pretty sweet lad; much feasting they had;
Bold Robin the christning grac’d.
With all his bowmen, which stood in a ring,
And were of the Notti[n]gham breed;
Brave Stutely comes then, with seven yeomen,
And did in this manner proceed.
‘This infant was called John Little,’ quoth he,
‘Which name shall be changed anon;
The words we’ll transpose, so where-ever he goes,
His name shall be calld Little John.’
They all with a shout made the elements ring,
So soon as the office was ore;
To feasting they went, with true merriment,
And tippld strong liquor gillore.
Then Robin he took the pretty sweet babe,
And cloathd him from top to the toe
In garments of green, most gay to be seen,
And gave him a curious long bow.
‘Thou shalt be an archer as well as the best,
And range in the greenwood with us;
Where we’ll not want gold nor silver, behold,
While bishops have ought in their purse.
‘We live here like squires, or lords of renown,
Without ere a foot of free land;
We feast on good cheer, with wine, ale, and beer,
And evry thing at our command.’
Then musick and dancing did finish the day;
At length, when the sun waxed low,
Then all the whole train the grove did refrain,
And unto their caves they did go.
And so ever after, as long as he livd,
Altho he was proper and tall,
Yet nevertheless, the truth to express,
Still Little John they did him call.


Title. Robin Hood and Little John. Being an account of their first meeting, their fierce encounter, and conquest. To which is added, their friendly agreement, and how he came to be calld Little John.

To the tune of Arthur a Bland.


Title as in a.

22. statue.

32. you would.

33. among.

34. it wanting.

43. his for my, wrongly.

51. for wanting.

53. be wanting.

84. offer.

92. where I do bend.

112. Therefore.

113. I will.

131. it wanting.

132. on this.

151. And first: he wanting.

152. he for it.

161. a for my.

163. both goes, and follow.

181. he did.

191. in a fury.

193. which for that.

201. O wanting.

223. blew.

231. did ring.

234. their matter.

243. that for which.

271. fitting also.

301. him for in.

304. baptiz’d.

311. feet.

313. He was a sweet.

323. came.

344. liquors.

352. the wanting.

391. they for he.

392. he be.



a. Wood, 401, leaf 9 b.

b. Garland of 1663, No 10.

c. Garland of 1670, No 9.

d. Pepys, II, 111, No 98.

Printed in Old Ballads, 1723, I, 83.

a was printed by Ritson, Robin Hood, 1795, II, 30. Evans has an indifferent copy, probably edited, in his Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 112.

Arthur a Bland, a Nottingham tanner, goes of a summer’s morning into Sherwood forest to see the red deer. Robin Hood pretends to be a keeper and to see cause for staying the Tanner. The Tanner says it will take more than one such to make him stand. They have a two hours’ fight with staves, when Robin cries Hold! The Tanner henceforth shall be free of the forest, and if he will come and live there with Robin Hood shall have both gold and fee. Arthur a Bland gives his hand never to part from Robin, and asks for Little John, whom he declares to be his kinsman. Robin Hood blows his horn. Little John comes at the call, and, learning what has been going on, would like to try a bout with the Tanner, but after a little explanation throws himself upon his kinsman’s neck. The three take hands for a dance round the oak-tree.

The sturdy Arthur a Bland is well hit off, and, bating the sixteenth and thirty-fifth stanzas, the ballad has a good popular ring. There is corruption at 83, 123, and perhaps 133.

Little John offers to fight with the Tinker in No 127, and again with the Stranger in No 128, as here with the Tanner, and is forbidden, as here, by his master. In R. H. and the Shepherd, No 135, he undertakes the Shepherd after Robin has owned himself conquered, and the fight is stopped after John has received some sturdy blows. In the Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood, No 132, John begins and Robin follows, and each in turn cries, Pedlar, pray hold your hand. In R. H. and the Potter, No 121, John is ready to bet on the Potter, because he has already had strokes from him which he has reason to remember.

As the Tanner is John’s cousin, so, in Robin Hood Revived, No 128, the Stranger turns out to be Robin Hood’s nephew, Young Gamwell, thenceforward called Scathlock; and in No 132 the Bold Pedlar proves to be Gamble Gold, Robin’s cousin.

Translated by Anastasius Grün, p. 117.

In Nottingham there lives a jolly tanner,
With a hey down down a down down
His name is Arthur a Bland;
There is nere a squire in Nottinghamshire
Dare bid bold Arthur stand.
With a long pike-staff upon his shoulder,
So well he can clear his way;
By two and by three he makes them to flee,
For he hath no list to stay.
And as he went forth, in a summer’s morning,
Into the forrest of merry Sherwood,
To view the red deer, that range here and there,
There met he with bold Robin Hood.
As soon as bold Robin Hood did him espy,
He thought some sport he would make;
Therefore out of hand he bid him to stand,
And thus to him he spake:
Why, what art thou, thou bold fellow,
That ranges so boldly here?
In sooth, to be brief, thou lookst like a thief,
That comes to steal our king’s deer.
For I am a keeper in this forrest;
The king puts me in trust
To look to his deer, that range here and there,
Therefore stay thee I must.
‘If thou beest a keeper in this forrest,
And hast such a great command,
Yet thou must have more partakers in store,
Before thou make me to stand.’
‘Nay, I have no more partakers in store,
Or any that I do need;
But I have a staff of another oke graff,
I know it will do the deed.’
‘For thy sword and thy bow I care not a straw,
Nor all thine arrows to boot;
If I get a knop upon thy bare scop,
Thou canst as well shite as shoote.’
‘Speak cleanly, good fellow,’ said jolly Robin,
‘And give better terms to me;
Else I’le thee correct for thy neglect,
And make thee more mannerly.’
‘Marry gep with a wenion!’ quoth Arthur a Bland,
‘Art thou such a goodly man?
I care not a fig for thy looking so big;
Mend thou thyself where thou can.’
Then Robin Hood he unbuckled his belt,
He laid down his bow so long;
He took up a staff of another oke graff,
That was both stiff and strong.
‘I’le yield to thy weapon,’ said jolly Robin,
‘Since thou wilt not yield to mine;
For I have a staff of another oke graff,
Not half a foot longer then thine.
‘But let me measure,’ said jolly Robin,
‘Before we begin our fray;
For I’le not have mine to be longer then thine,
For that will be called foul play.’
‘I pass not for length,’ bold Arthur reply’d,
‘My staff is of oke so free;
Eight foot and a half, it will knock down a calf,
And I hope it will knock down thee.’
Then Robin Hood could no longer forbear;
He gave him such a knock,
Quickly and soon the blood came down,
Before it was ten a clock.
Then Arthur he soon recovered himself,
And gave him such a knock on the crown,
That on every hair of bold Robin Hoods head,
The blood came trickling down.
Then Robin Hood raged like a wild bore,
As soon as he saw his own blood;
Then Bland was in hast, he laid on so fast,
As though he had been staking of wood.
And about, and about, and about they went,
Like two wild bores in a chase;
Striving to aim each other to maim,
Leg, arm, or any other place.
And knock for knock they lustily dealt,
Which held for two hours and more;
That all the wood rang at every bang,
They ply’d their work so sore.
‘Hold thy hand, hold thy hand,’ said Robin Hood,
‘And let our quarrel fall;
For here we may thresh our bones into mesh,
And get no coyn at all.
‘And in the forrest of merry Sherwood
Hereafter thou shalt be free:’
‘God-a-mercy for naught, my freedom I bought,
I may thank my good staff, and not thee.’
‘What tradesman art thou?’ said jolly Robin,
‘Good fellow, I prethee me show:
And also me tell in what place thou dost dwel,
For both these fain would I know.’
‘I am a tanner,’ bold Arthur reply’d,
‘In Nottingham long have I wrought;
And if thou’lt come there, I vow and do swear
I will tan thy hide for naught.’
‘God a mercy, good fellow,’ said jolly Robin,
‘Since thou art so kind to me;
And if thou wilt tan my hide for naught,
I will do as much for thee.
‘But if thou’lt forsake thy tanners trade,
And live in green wood with me,
My name’s Robin Hood, I swear by the rood
I will give thee both gold and fee.’
‘If thou be Robin Hood,’ bold Arthur reply’d,
‘As I think well thou art,
Then here’s my hand, my name’s Arthur a Bland,
We two will never depart.
‘But tell me, O tell me, where is Little John?
Of him fain would I hear;
For we are alide by the mothers side,
And he is my kinsman near.’
Then Robin Hood blew on the beaugle horn,
He blew full lowd and shrill,
But quickly anon appeard Little John,
Come tripping down a green hill.
‘O what is the matter?’ then said Little John,
‘Master, I pray you tell;
Why do you stand with your staff in your hand?
I fear all is not well.’
‘O man, I do stand, and he makes me to stand,
The tanner that stands thee beside;
He is a bonny blade, and master of his trade,
For soundly he hath tand my hide.’
‘He is to be commended,’ then said Little John,
‘If such a feat he can do;
If he be so stout, we will have a bout,
And he shall tan my hide too.’
‘Hold thy hand, hold thy hand,’ said Robin Hood,
‘For as I do understand,
He’s a yeoman good, and of thine own blood,
For his name is Arthur a Bland.’
Then Little John threw his staff away,
As far as he could it fling,
And ran out of hand to Arthur a Bland,
And about his neck did cling.
With loving respect, there was no neglect,
They were neither nice nor coy,
Each other did face, with a lovely grace,
And both did weep for joy.
Then Robin Hood took them both by the hand,
And danc’d round about the oke tree;
‘For three merry men, and three merry men,
And three merry men we be.
‘And ever hereafter, as long as I live,
We three will be all one;
The wood shall ring, and the old wife sing,
Of Robin Hood, Arthur, and John.’


Robin Hood and the Tanner, or, Robin Hood met with his match: A merry and pleasant song relating the gallant and fierce combate fought between Arthur Bland, a Tanner of Nottingham, and Robin Hood, the greatest and most noblest archer of England. The tune is, Robin and the Stranger.

Printed for W. Gilbertson. (1640–63: Chappell.)

32. merry Forrest of.

72. hath.

73. But.

93. the bare.

111. qd..

133. straff.

144. Wanting in my copy, probably by accidental omission: supplied from b.

173. That from every side: Old Ballads, 1713, to restore the middle rhyme.

212. let your Quiver: cf. b, c, d.

213. thrash: to: cf. b.

224. good wanting.

263. the wood: cf. d.

352. noice.

361. took him by: cf. d.

374. Kobin.


Title as in a.By the same printer as a. Burden sometimes With hey, etc.

11. lives there.

12, 111, 273. Arthur Bland.

32. merry Forrest of.

62. he puts.

72. hath.

73. Yet.

74. Before that.

83, 123, 133. graft.

93. thy bare.

111. quoth.

131. I yield.

134. than.

143. to wanting.

144. For that will be called foul play.

172. He gave.

173. Hoods wanting.

212. let our quarrel.

213. thresh: into.

140224. my good.

232. pray thee.

243. thou come.

252. kinde and free.

263. the wood.

281. where’s.

292. both for full.

301. then wanting.

333. thy.

344. he did.

361. took him by.

362. round wanting.

371. so long.


Title as in a. Burden after 21, With hey, etc.

12, 111, 273. Arthur Bland.

24. not.

32. merry Forrest of.

43. them to.

72. hath.

73. Yet you.

74. Before that.

83, 123, 133. graft.

93. thy bare.

111. qd..

131. I yield.

143. to wanting.

144. For that will be called foul play.

163. blood ran.

172. He gave.

173. hair on Robins.

174. blood ran.

184. been cleaving wood.

201. deal.

204. so fast.

212. let our quarrel.

213. thresh: into.

224. my good.

243. thou come.

252. kind and free.

261. thou wilt.

263. the wood.

283. mother.

291. he blew.

292. both for full.

293. and anon.

303. your wanting.

312. me for thee.

331. Hood wanting.

333. thy blood.

344. he did.

354. they both.

361. took him by.

362. round wanting.

371. And we: so long as we.


Title as in a, except: the greatest archer in London. Printed for J. Wright, J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger. (1670–1682?) Burden sometimes, With hey, etc.

14. to stand.

31. on a.

32. forrest of merry.

41. Robin he did him.

44. he did spake.

54. the kings.

61. If thou beest a, caught from 71.

72. hast.

73. Then thou.

74. makst.

82. Nor any: do not.

92. thy.

93. thou get a knock upon thy.

111. gip: wernion qd.

114. if thou.

122. And threw it upon the ground.

123. Says, I have a.

124. That is both strong and sound.

131. But let me measure, said.

143. I’le have mine no longer.

144. For that will be counted foul play.

161. Hood wanting.

171. he wanting.

173. from every hair of.

181. raved for raged.

183. he was.

184. stacking.

194. other wanting.

202. for wanting.

212. let our quarrel.

213. thrash our bones to.

223. I’ve.

224. my good.

243. thou come.

261. thou wilt.

262. in the.

263. name is: rood.

291. on his.

292. both for full.

294. tripping over the hill.

302. you me.

303. the staff.

313. and a.

323. about.

333. thy.

352. They was.

371. we live.

372. all as (printed sa).


a. Wood, 401, leaf 17 b.

b. Pepys, II, 107, No 94.

c. Douce, III, 118 b.

In the Roxburghe collection, III, 22. Not in the Garland of 1663 or that of 1670.

a is printed in Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, II, 38; in Gutch’s Robin Hood, II, 264, “compared with” the Roxburghe copy. The ballad was printed by Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 118.

The fewest words will best befit this contemptible imitation of imitations. Robin Hood meets a Tinker, and they exchange scurrilities. The Tinker has a warrant from the king to arrest Robin, but will not show it when asked. Robin Hood suggests that it will be best to go to Nottingham, and there the two 141take one inn and drink together till the Tinker falls asleep; when Robin makes off, and leaves the Tinker to pay the shot. The host informs the Tinker that it was Robin Hood that he was drinking with, and recommends him to seek his man in the parks. The Tinker finds Robin, and they fall to it, crab-tree staff against sword. Robin yields, and begs a boon; the Tinker will grant none. A blast of the horn brings Little John and Scadlock. Little John would fain see whether the Tinker can do for him what he has done for his master, but Robin proclaims a peace, and offers the Tinker terms which induce him to join the outlaws.

It is not necessary to suppose the warrant to arrest Robin a souvenir of ‘Guy of Gisborne’; though that noble ballad is in a 17th century MS., it does not appear to have been known to the writers of broadsides.

In summer time, when leaves grow green,
Down a down a down
And birds sing on every tree,
Hey down a down a down
Robin Hood went to Nottingham,
Down a down a down
As fast as hee could dree.
Hey down a down a down
And as hee came to Nottingham
A Tinker he did meet,
And seeing him a lusty blade,
He did him kindly greet.
‘Where dost thou live?’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘I pray thee now mee tell;
Sad news I hear there is abroad,
I fear all is not well.’
‘What is that news?’ the Tinker said;
‘Tell mee without delay;
I am a tinker by my trade,
And do live at Banbura.’
‘As for the news,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘It is but as I hear;
Two tinkers they were set ith’ stocks,
For drinking ale and bear.’
‘If that be all,’ the Tinker said,
‘As I may say to you,
Your news it is not worth a fart,
Since that they all bee true.
‘For drinking of good ale and bear,
You wil not lose your part:’
‘No, by my faith,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘I love it with all my heart.
‘What news abroad?’ quoth Robin Hood;
‘Tell mee what thou dost hear;
Being thou goest from town to town,
Some news thou need not fear.’
‘All the news,’ the Tinker said,
‘I hear, it is for good;
It is to seek a bold outlaw,
Which they call Robin Hood.
‘I have a warrant from the king,
To take him where I can;
If you can tell me where hee is,
I will make you a man.
‘The king will give a hundred pound
That hee could but him see;
And if wee can but now him get,
It will serve you and mee.’
‘Let me see that warrant,’ said Robin Hood;
‘I’le see if it bee right;
And I will do the best I can
For to take him this night.’
‘That will I not,’ the Tinker said;
‘None with it I will trust;
And where hee is if you’l not tell,
Take him by force I must.’
But Robin Hood perceiving well
How then the game would go,
‘If you will go to Nottingham,
Wee shall find him I know.’
The Tinker had a crab-tree staff,
Which was both good and strong;
Robin hee had a good strong blade,
So they went both along.
And when they came to Nottingham,
There they both tooke one inn;
And they calld for ale and wine,
To drink it was no sin.
But ale and wine they drank so fast
That the Tinker hee forgot
What thing he was about to do;
It fell so to his lot
That while the Tinker fell asleep,
Hee made then haste away,
And left the Tinker in the lurch,
For the great shot to pay.
But when the Tinker wakened,
And saw that he was gone,
He calld then even for his host,
And thus hee made his moan.
‘I had a warrant from the king,
Which might have done me good,
That is to take a bold outlaw,
Some call him Robin Hood.
‘But now my warrant and mony’s gone,
Nothing I have to pay;
And he that promisd to be my friend,
He is gone and fled away.’
‘That friend you tell on,’ said the host,
‘They call him Robin Hood;
And when that first hee met with you,
He ment you little good.’
‘Had I known it had been hee,
When that I had him here,
Th’ one of us should have tri’d our strength
Which should have paid full dear.
‘In the mean time I must away;
No longer here I’le bide;
But I will go and seek him out,
What ever do me betide.
‘But one thing I would gladly know,
What here I have to pay;’
‘Ten shillings just,’ then said the host;
‘I’le pay without delay.
‘Or elce take here my working-bag,
And my good hammer too;
And if that I light but on the knave,
I will then soon pay you.’
‘The onely way,’ then said the host,
‘And not to stand in fear,
Is to seek him among the parks,
Killing of the kings deer.’
The Tinker hee then went with speed,
And made then no delay,
Till he had found then Robin Hood,
That they might have a fray.
At last hee spy’d him in a park,
Hunting then of the deer;
‘What knave is that,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘That doth come mee so near?’
‘No knave, no knave,’ the Tinker said,
‘And that you soon shall know;
Whether of us hath done most wrong,
My crab-tree staff shall show.’
Then Robin drew his gallant blade,
Made then of trusty steel;
But the Tinker laid on him so fast
That he made Robin reel.
Then Robins anger did arise;
He fought full manfully,
Vntil hee had made the Tinker
Almost then fit to fly.
With that they had a bout again,
They ply’d their weapons fast;
The Tinker threshed his bones so sore
He made him yeeld at last.
‘A boon, a boon,’ Robin hee cryes,
‘If thou wilt grant it mee;’
‘Before I do it,’ the Tinker said,
‘I’le hang thee on this tree.’
But the Tinker looking him about,
Robin his horn did blow;
Then came unto him Little John,
And William Scadlock too.
‘What is the matter,’ quoth Little John,
‘You sit in th’ highway side?’
‘Here is a Tinker that stands by,
That hath paid well my hide.’
‘That Tinker,’ then said Little John,
‘Fain that blade I would see,
And I would try what I could do,
If hee’l do as much for mee.’
But Robin hee then wishd them both
They should the quarrel cease,
‘That henceforth wee may bee as one,
And ever live in peace.
‘And for the jovial Tinker’s part,
A hundred pound I’le give,
In th’ year to maintain him on,
As long as he doth live.
‘In manhood hee is a mettle man,
And a mettle man by trade;
I never thought that any man
Should have made me so fraid.
‘And if hee will bee one of us,
Wee will take all one fare,
And whatsoever wee do get,
He shall have his full share.’
So the Tinker was content
With them to go along,
And with them a part to take,
And so I end my song.


A new song, to drive away cold winter,
Between Robin Hood and the Jovial Tinker;
How Robin by a wile
The Tinker he did cheat,
But at the length, as you shall hear,
The Tinker did him beat;
Whereby the same they then did so agree
They after livd in love and unity.

To the tune of In Summer Time.

London, Printed for F. Grove, dwelling on Snowhill. (1620–55.)

13. Nottingam.

82. here.

101. warrand.


Title as in a: except that he is wanting in the fourth line, and so in the last line but one.

Printed for I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger. (1670–86?)

31. qd.

44. Banburay.

63. it wanting.

111. king would: an.

143. you would.

162. they took up their.

221. speak for tell.

241. was for will.

244. me wanting.

253. Ten shillings just I have to pay.

263. if I: on that.

283. then found.

313. Tinker he laid on so fast.

322. right for full.

331. laid about.

334. That he.

354. Will.

392. pounds: I for Ile.

401. mettled.

404. afraid.

411. with us.


Robin Hood and the Jolly Tinker: Shewing how they fiercely encountered, and after the victorious conquest lovingly agreed. Tune of In Summer Time.

London, Printed by J. Hodges, at the Looking Glass, on London Bridge. Not in black letter.

31. doth.

41. the news.

44. Bullbury.

53. they are.

63. it wanting.

84. needs.

111. would give an.

114. thee for you.

151. A crab-tree staff the Tinker had.

162. they took up at their inn.

182. Robin made haste away.

191. did awake.

193. even wanting.

203. to seek.

211. the for my.

214. He wanting.

221. speak for tell.

231. I but.

233. might for strength.

241. I will.

244. should betide.

251. But wanting.

253. just I have to pay.

261. bags.

263. that wanting.

273. amongst.

291. in the.

312. Made of a.

313. he laid: him wanting.

323. that he.

324. Then almost.

331. they laid about.

333. full for so.

334. That he.

342. grant to.

354. also for too.

363. There.

372. would I.

373. And would.

382. They would.

393. In a.

401. mettle.

404. afraid.



‘Robin Hood Newly Reviv’d.’ a. Wood, 401, leaf 27 b. b. Roxburghe, III, 18, in the Ballad Society’s reprint, II, 426. c. Garland of 1663, No 3. d. Garland of 1670, No 2. e. Pepys, II, 101, No 88.

Also Douce, III, 120 b, London, by L. How, and Roxburghe, III, 408: both of these are of the eighteenth century.

a is printed, with not a few changes, in Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, II, 66. Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 143, agrees nearly with the Aldermary garland.

Robin Hood, walking the forest, meets a gaily-dressed young fellow, who presently brings down a deer at forty yards with his bow. Robin commends the shot, and offers the youngster a place as one of his yeomen. The offer is rudely received; each bends his bow at the other. Robin suggests that one of them may be slain, if they shoot: swords and bucklers would be better. Robin strikes the first blow, and is so stoutly answered that he is fain to know who the young man is. His name is Gamwell, and, having killed his father’s steward, he has fled to the forest to join his uncle, Robin Hood. The kinsmen embrace, and walk on till they meet Little John. Robin Hood tells John that the stranger has beaten him. Little John would like a bout, to see if the stranger can beat him. This Robin forbids, for this stranger is his own sister’s son; he shall be next in rank to Little John among his yeomen, and be called Scarlet.

The story seems to have been built up on a portion of the ruins, so to speak, of the fine tale of Gamelyn. There the king of the outlaws, sitting at meat with his seven score young men, sees Gamelyn wandering in the wood with Adam, and tells some of his young men to fetch them in. Seven start up to execute the order, and when they come to Gamelyn and his comrade bid the twain hand over their bows and arrows. Gamelyn replies, Not though ye fetch five men, and so be twelve; but no violence being attempted, the pair go to the king, who asks them what they seek in the woods. Gamelyn answers, No harm; but to shoot a deer, if we meet one, like hungry men. The king gives them to eat and drink of the best, and, upon learning that the spokesman is Gamelyn, makes him master, under himself, over all the outlaws. Little John having long had the place of first man under Robin, the best that the ballad-maker could do for Gamwell was to make him chief yeoman after John.[109] (The Tale of Gamelyn, ed. Skeat, vv 625–686. The resemblance of the ballad is remarked upon at p. x.)

Ritson gives this ballad the title of Robin Hood and the Stranger, remarking: The title now given to this ballad is that which it seems to have originally borne; having been foolishly altered to Robin Hood newly Revived. R. H. and the Bishop, R. H. and the Beggar, R. H. and the Tanner, are directed to be sung to the tune of Robin Hood and the Stranger, but no ballad bears such a title in any garland or broadside.[110] The ballad referred to as Robin Hood and the Stranger may possibly have been this, but, for reasons given at 145p. 133, Robin Hood and Little John is, as I think, more likely to be the one meant.

Robin Hood and the Stranger was one name for the most popular of Robin Hood tunes, and this particular tune was sometimes called ‘Robin Hood’ absolutely (see the note at the end of the next ballad). If the ballad denoted by Robin Hood and the Stranger was also sometimes known as ‘Robin Hood’ simply, and especially if this ballad was Robin Hood and Little John, an explanation presents itself of the title ‘Robin Hood newly Revived.’ What is revived is the favorite topic of the process by which Robin Hood enlarged and strengthened his company. The earlier ballad had shown how Little John came to join the band; the second undertakes to tell us how Scarlet was enlisted, the next most important man after John.

The second part, referred to in the last stanza, was separated, Mr Chappell thought, when the present ballad was “newly revived,” because the whole was found too long for a penny (one would say that both parts together were “dear enough a leek”), and seven stanzas (incoherent in themselves and not cohering with what lies before us) added to fill up the sheet. These stanzas will be given under No 130, as Robin Hood and the Scotchman; and the “second part,” ‘R. H. and the Prince of Aragon,’ or ‘R. H., Will. Scadlock and Little John,’ follows immediately.

Come listen a while, you gentlemen all,
With a hey down down a down down
That are in this bower within,
For a story of gallant bold Robin Hood
I purpose now to begin.
‘What time of the day?’ quoth Robin Hood then;
Quoth Little John, ’Tis in the prime;
‘Why then we will to the green wood gang,
For we have no vittles to dine.’
As Robin Hood walkt the forrest along—
It was in the mid of the day—
There was he met of a deft young man
As ever walkt on the way.
His doublet it was of silk, he said,
His stockings like scarlet shone,
And he walkt on along the way,
To Robin Hood then unknown.
A herd of deer was in the bend,
All feeding before his face:
‘Now the best of ye I’le have to my dinner,
And that in a little space.’
Now the stranger he made no mickle adoe,
But he bends and a right good bow,
And the best buck in the herd he slew,
Forty good yards him full froe.
‘Well shot, well shot,’ quoth Robin Hood then,
‘That shot it was shot in time;
And if thou wilt accept of the place,
Thou shalt be a bold yeoman of mine.’
‘Go play the chiven,’ the stranger said,
‘Make haste and quickly go;
Or with my fist, be sure of this,
I’le give thee buffets store.’
‘Thou hadst not best buffet me,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘For though I seem forlorn,
Yet I can have those that will take my part,
If I but blow my horn.’
‘Thou wast not best wind thy horn,’ the stranger said,
‘Beest thou never so much in hast,
For I can draw out a good broad sword,
And quickly cut the blast.’
Then Robin Hood bent a very good bow,
To shoot, and that he would fain;
The stranger he bent a very good bow,
To shoot at bold Robin again.
‘O hold thy hand, hold thy hand,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘To shoot it would be in vain;
For if we should shoot the one at the other,
The one of us may be slain.
‘But let’s take our swords and our broad bucklers,
And gang under yonder tree:’
‘As I hope to be sav’d,’ the stranger said,
‘One foot I will not flee.’
Then Robin Hood lent the stranger a blow
Most scar’d him out of his wit;
‘Thou never felt blow,’ the stranger he said,
‘That shall be better quit.’
The stranger he drew out a good broad sword,
And hit Robin on the crown,
That from every haire of bold Robins head
The blood ran trickling down.
‘God a mercy, good fellow!’ quoth Robin Hood then,
‘And for this that thou hast done;
Tell me, good fellow, what thou art,
Tell me where thou doest woon.’
The stranger then answered bold Robin Hood,
I’le tell thee where I did dwell;
In Maxfield was I bred and born,
My name is Young Gamwell.
For killing of my own fathers steward,
I am forc’d to this English wood,
And for to seek an vncle of mine;
Some call him Robin Hood.
‘But thou art a cousin of Robin Hoods then?
The sooner we should have done:’
‘As I hope to be sav’d,’ the stranger then said,
‘I am his own sisters son.’
But, Lord! what kissing and courting was there,
When these two cousins did greet!
And they went all that summers day,
And Little John did meet.
But when they met with Little John,
He there unto [him] did say,
O master, where have you been,
You have tarried so long away?
‘I met with a stranger,’ quoth Robin Hood then,
‘Full sore he hath beaten me:’
‘Then I’le have a bout with him,’ quoth Little John,
‘And try if he can beat me.’
‘Oh [no], oh no,’ quoth Robin Hood then,
‘Little John, it may [not] be so;
For he’s my own dear sisters son,
And cousins I have no mo.
‘But he shall be a bold yeoman of mine,
My chief man next to thee;
And I Robin Hood, and thou Little John,
And Scarlet he shall be:
‘And wee’l be three of the bravest outlaws
That is in the North Country.’
If you will have any more of bold Robin Hood,
In his second part it will be.

a, b, e.

Robin Hood newly reviv’d. To a delightful new tune.

c, d.

Robin Hood newly revived: Or his meeting and fighting with his cousin Scarlet. To a delightful new tune.


Printed for Richard Burton. (1641–74.)

21, 71, 91, 121, 161, 221, 223, qd.

63. in th.

112. To that shoot and.

212. him supplied from c, d.


London, Printed for Richard Burton, at the Sign of the Horshooe in West Smithfield.

32. midst.

41. it wanting.

64. full wanting.

112. To shot and that.

124. must be.

212. him wanting.

231. Oh no.

232. may not.


33. ware for met.

71, 91, 121, 161, 221, 223, 231, qd.

93. can I.

101. blow for wind.

112. To shoot and that.

133. he said.

161, 184. bold Robin.

191. art thou.

212. unto him.

231. Oh no.

232. may not.

254. In this.


21, 71, 91, 121, 161, 221, qd.

33. ware for met.

64. good wanting.

72. was in.

92. am for seem.

111. he bent.

112. To shoot and that.

124. must be.

133. he said.

162. that wanting.

181. own wanting.

191. art thou.

212. unto him.

231. Oh no.

232. may not.

253. If thou wilt.

254. In this.


Printed for J. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger. (1670–82?)

12. in wanting.

21, 71, 91, 121, 161, 221, 223. quod.

32. midst.

33. with for of.

41. it wanting.

62. and wanting.

64. full wanting.

73. except.

93. can wanting.

112. To that shot and he.

113. bent up a noble.

121. O wanting.

124. must be.

191. art thou.

212. him wanting.

221, 231. then wanting.

231. Oh no.

232. may not.

253. If you’l have more.

254. In this.

Followed in all the copies by seven stanzas which belong to a different ballad. See No 130.


‘Robin Hood, Will. Scadlock and Little John.’[111]

a. Roxburghe, I, 358, in the Ballad Society’s reprint, II, 431. b. Pepys, II, 120, No 106.

Also Roxburghe, III, 582, without a printer’s name.

Ritson, Robin Hood, 1795, II, 71, from a, with changes; Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 186.

This is only a pseudo-chivalrous romance, tagged to Robin Hood Newly Revived as a Second Part, with eight introductory stanzas. Both parts are as vapid as possible, and no piquancy is communicated by the matter of the two being as alien as oil and water. The Prince of Aragon, a Turk and an infidel, has beleaguered London, and will have the princess to his spouse, unless three champions can vanquish him and his two giants. Robin Hood, Scadlock, and John undertake the case, and disguise themselves as pilgrims, so as not to be stopped on their way. Robin kills the prince, and John and Scadlock each a giant. The king demands to know who his deliverers are, and Robin Hood avails himself of the opportunity to get the king’s pardon for himself and his men. The princess was to be the victor’s prize, but cannot marry all three, as might perhaps have been foreseen. She is allowed to pick, and chooses Will Scadlock. The Earl of Maxfield is present, and weeps bitterly at the sight of Scadlock, because, he says, he had a son like Will, of the name of Young Gamwell. Scadlock, whom we know from the First Part to be Gamwell, falls at his father’s feet, and the wedding follows.

Now Robin Hood, Will Scadlock and Little John
Are walking over the plain,
With a good fat buck which Will Scadlock
With his strong bow had slain.
‘Jog on, jog on,’ cries Robin Hood,
‘The day it runs full fast;
For though my nephew me a breakfast gave,
I have not yet broke my fast.
‘Then to yonder lodge let us take our way,
I think it wondrous good,
Where my nephew by my bold yeomen
Shall be welcomd unto the green wood.’
With that he took the bugle-horn,
Full well he could it blow;
Streight from the woods came marching down
One hundred tall fellows and mo.
‘Stand, stand to your arms!’ crys Will Scadlock,
‘Lo! the enemies are within ken:’
148With that Robin Hood he laughd aloud,
Crys, They are my bold yeomen.
Who, when they arriv’d and Robin espy’d,
Cry’d, Master, what is your will?
We thought you had in danger been,
Your horn did sound so shrill.
‘Now nay, now nay,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘The danger is past and gone;
I would have you to welcome my nephew here,
That hath paid me two for one.’
In feasting and sporting they passed the day,
Till Phœbus sunk into the deep;
Then each one to his quarters hy’d,
His guard there for to keep.
Long had they not walked within the green wood,
But Robin he was espy’d
Of a beautiful damsel all alone,
That on a black palfrey did ride.
Her riding-suit was of sable hew black,
Sypress over her face,
Through which her rose-like cheeks did blush,
All with a comely grace.
‘Come, tell me the cause, thou pritty one,’
Quoth Robin, ‘and tell me aright,
From whence thou comest, and whither thou goest,
All in this mournful plight?’
‘From London I came,’ the damsel reply’d,
‘From London upon the Thames,
Which circled is, O grief to tell!
Besieg’d with forraign arms.
‘By the proud Prince of Aragon,
Who swears by his martial hand
To have the princess for his spouse,
Or else to waste this land:
‘Except that champions can be found
That dare fight three to three,
Against the prince and giants twain,
Most horrid for to see:
‘Whose grisly looks, and eyes like brands,
Strike terrour where they come,
With serpents hissing on their helms,
Instead of feathered plume.
‘The princess shall be the victors prize,
The king hath vowd and said.
And he that shall the conquest win
Shall have her to his bride.
‘Now we are four damsels sent abroad,
To the east, west, north, and south,
To try whose fortune is so good
To find these champions forth.
‘But all in vaine we have sought about;
Yet none so bold there are
That dare adventure life and blood,
To free a lady fair.’
‘When is the day?’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘Tell me this and no more:’
‘On Midsummer next,’ the damsel said,
‘Which is June the twenty-four.’
With that the teares trickled down her cheeks,
And silent was her tongue;
With sighs and sobs she took her leave,
Away her palfrey sprung.
This news struck Robin to the heart,
He fell down on the grass;
His actions and his troubled mind
Shewd he perplexed was.
‘Where lies your grief?’ quoth Will Scadlock,
‘O master, tell to me;
If the damsels eyes have piercd your heart,
I’ll fetch her back to thee.’
‘Now nay, now nay,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘She doth not cause my smart;
But it is the poor distressed princess
That wounds me to the heart.
‘I will go fight the giants all
To set the lady free:’
‘The devil take my soul,’ quoth Little John,
‘If I part with thy company.’
‘Must I stay behind?’ quoth Will Scadlock;
‘No, no, that must not be;
I’le make the third man in the fight,
So we shall be three to three.’
These words cheerd Robin at the heart,
Joy shone within his face;
Within his arms he huggd them both,
And kindly did imbrace.
Quoth he, We’ll put on mothly gray,
With long staves in our hands,
A scrip and bottle by our sides,
As come from the Holy Land.
So may we pass along the high-way;
None will ask from whence we came,
But take us pilgrims for to be,
Or else some holy men.
Now they are on their journey gone,
As fast as they may speed,
Yet for all haste, ere they arriv’d,
The princess forth was led:
To be deliverd to the prince,
Who in the list did stand,
Prepar’d to fight, or else receive
His lady by the hand.
With that he walkt about the lists,
With giants by his side:
‘Bring forth,’ said he, ‘your champions,
Or bring me forth my bride.
‘This is the four and twentieth day,
The day prefixt upon;
Bring forth my bride, or London burns,
I swear by Acaron.’
Then cries the king, and queen likewise,
Both weeping as they speak,
Lo! we have brought our daughter dear,
Whom we are forcd to forsake.
With that stept out bold Robin Hood,
Crys, My liege, it must not be so;
Such beauty as the fair princess
Is not for a tyrants mow.
The prince he then began to storm;
Crys, Fool, fanatick, baboon!
How dares thou stop my valours prize?
I’ll kill thee with a frown.
‘Thou tyrant Turk, thou infidel,’
Thus Robin began to reply,
‘Thy frowns I scorn; lo! here’s my gage,
And thus I thee defie.
‘And for these two Goliahs there,
That stand on either side,
Here are two little Davids by,
That soon can tame their pride.’
Then did the king for armour send,
For lances, swords, and shields:
And thus all three in armour bright
Came marching to the field.
The trumpets began to sound a charge,
Each singled out his man;
Their arms in pieces soon were hewd,
Blood sprang from every vain.
The prince he reacht Robin a blow—
He struck with might and main—
Which forcd him to reel about the field,
As though he had been slain.
‘God-a-mercy,’ quoth Robin, ‘for that blow!
The quarrel shall soon be try’d;
This stroke shall shew a full divorce
Betwixt thee and thy bride.’
So from his shoulders he’s cut his head,
Which on the ground did fall,
And grumbling sore at Robin Hood,
To be so dealt withal.
The giants then began to rage,
To see their prince lie dead:
‘Thou’s be the next,’ quoth Little John,
‘Unless thou well guard thy head.’
With that his faulchion he whirld about—
It was both keen and sharp—
He clove the giant to the belt,
And cut in twain his heart.
Will Scadlock well had playd his part,
The giant he had brought to his knee;
Quoth he, The devil cannot break his fast,
Unless he have you all three.
So with his faulchion he run him through,
A deep and gashly wound;
Who damd and foamd, cursd and blasphemd,
And then fell to the ground.
Now all the lists with cheers were filld,
The skies they did resound,
Which brought the princess to herself,
Who was faln in a swound.
The king and queen and princess fair
Came walking to the place,
And gave the champions many thanks,
And did them further grace.
‘Tell me,’ quoth the king, ‘whence you are,
That thus disguised came,
Whose valour speaks that noble blood
Doth run through every vain.’
‘A boon, a boon,’ quoth Robin Hood,
‘On my knees I beg and crave:’
‘By my crown,’ quoth the king, ‘I grant;
Ask what, and thou shalt have.’
‘Then pardon I beg for my merry men,
Which are within the green wood,
For Little John, and Will Scadlock,
And for me, bold Robin Hood.’
‘Art thou Robin Hood?’ then quoth the king;
‘For the valour you have shewn,
Your pardons I doe freely grant,
And welcome every one.
‘The princess I promised the victors prize;
She cannot have you all three:’
‘She shall chuse,’ quoth Robin: saith Little John,
Then little share falls to me.
Then did the princess view all three,
With a comely lovely grace,
Who took Will Scadlock by the hand,
Quoth, Here I make my choice.
With that a noble lord stept forth,
Of Maxfield earl was he,
Who lookt Will Scadlock in the face,
Then wept most bitterly.
Quoth he, I had a son like thee,
Whom I lovd wondrous well;
But he is gone, or rather dead;
His name is Young Gamwell.
Then did Will Scadlock fall on his knees,
Cries, Father! father! here,
Here kneels your son, your Young Gamwell
You said you lovd so dear.
But, lord! what imbracing and kissing was there,
When all these friends were met!
They are gone to the wedding, and so to bedding,
And so I bid you good night.


Robin Hood, Will. Scadlock, and Little John, or, A narrative of their victory obtained against the Prince of Aragon and the two Giants: and how Will. Scadlock married the Princess.

Tune of Robin Hood, or, Hey down, down a down.

London, Printed by and for W. O[nley], and are to be sold by the booksellers. (1650–1702.)

11. Will., and always, except 553.

271. moth-ly.

322. perfixt.

471. sheers.


A new ballad of Robin Hood, etc., as in a. To the tune of, etc. London: Printed for A. M[ilbourne], W. O[nley], and T. Thackeray in Duck Lane. (1670–89?)

13. William.

73. I should.

74. has.

102. Cypress.

113. whether.

133. to his.

271. mothly.

321. twenty day.

322. prefixt.

323. or wanting.

371. those.

381. the king did.

403. him rell.

423. grumbled.

463. ramb’d for dam’d.

471. with sheets.

564. it is.

583. and so the bedding.


A. a. Wood, 401, leaf 27 b. b. Roxburghe, III, 18, in the Ballad Society’s reprint, II, 426. c. Garland of 1663, No 3. d. Garland of 1670, No 2. e. Pepys, II, 101, No 88.

B. Gutch’s Robin Hood, II, 392, from an Irish garland, printed at Monaghan, 1796.

A is simply the conclusion given to Robin Hood Newly Revived in the broadsides, and has neither connection with that ballad nor coherence in itself, being on the face of it the beginning and the end of an independent ballad, with the break after the third stanza. 3 may possibly refer to the Scots giving up Charles I to the parliamentary commissioners, in 1647. In B, four stanzas appear to have been added to the first three of A in order to make out a story,—the too familiar one of Robin being beaten in a fight with a fellow whom he chances to meet, and consequently enlisting the man as a recruit.



a. Wood, 401, leaf 27 b. b. Roxburghe, III, 18, in the Ballad Society’s reprint, II, 426. c. Garland of 1663, No 3. d. Garland of 1670, No 2. e. Pepys, II, 101, No 88.

Then bold Robin Hood to the north he would go,
With a hey down down a down down
With valour and mickle might,
With sword by his side, which oft had been tri’d,
To fight and recover his right.
The first that he met was a bony bold Scot,
His servant he said he would be;
‘No,’ quoth Robin Hood, ‘it cannot be good,
For thou wilt prove false unto me.
‘Thou hast not bin true to sire nor cuz:’
‘Nay, marry,’ the Scot he said,
‘As true as your heart, I’le never part,
Gude master, be not afraid.’
  *       *       *       *       *
Then Robin Hood turnd his face to the east;
‘Fight on my merry men stout,
Our cause is good,’ quoth brave Robin Hood,
‘And we shall not be beaten out.’
The battel grows hot on every side,
The Scotchman made great moan;
Quoth Jockey, Gude faith, they fight on each side;
Would I were with my wife Ione!
The enemy compast brave Robin about,
’Tis long ere the battel ends;
Ther’s neither will yeeld nor give up the field,
For both are supplied with friends.
  *       *       *       *       *
This song it was made in Robin Hoods dayes;
Let’s pray unto Iove above
To give us true peace, that mischief may cease,
And war may give place unto love.


Gutch’s Robin Hood, II, 392, from an Irish garland, printed at Monaghan, 1796.

Now bold Robin Hood to the north would go,
With valour and mickle might,
With sword by his side, which oft had been try’d,
To fight and recover his right.
The first that he met was a jolly stout Scot,
His servant he said he would be;
‘No,’ quoth Robin Hood, ‘it cannot be good,
For thou wilt prove false unto me.
‘Thou hast not been true to sire or cuz;’
‘Nay, marry,’ the Scot he said,
‘As true as your heart, I never will part;
Good master, be not afraid.’
‘But eer I employ you,’ said bold Robin Hood,
‘With you I must have a bout;’
The Scotchman reply’d, Let the battle be try’d,
For I know I will beat you out.
Thus saying, the contest did quickly begin,
Which lasted two hours and more;
The blows Sawney gave bold Robin so brave
The battle soon made him give oer.
‘Have mercy, thou Scotchman,’ bold Robin Hood cry’d,
‘Full dearly this boon have I bought;
We will both agree, and my man you shall be,
For a stouter I never have fought.’
Then Sawny consented with Robin to go,
To be of his bowmen so gay;
Thus ended the fight, and with mickle delight
To Sherwood they hasted away.


For the printer, etc., see No 128, Robin Hood newly Revived.


13. trid.

14. rigth.

43, 53. qd.


13. tri’d.

31. or for nor.

43. case.


43, 53. qd.


43. case.


21. met with was a bold.

23. qd.

43. case: quod.



‘Robin Hood and the Ranger.’ a. Robin Hood’s Garland, London, C. Dicey, in Bow Church-Yard, n. d., but before 1741, p. 78. b. R. H.’s Garland, London, W. & C. Dicey, n. d. c. R. H.’s Garland, London, L. How, in Peticoat Lane, n. d. d. The English Archer, etc., York, N. Nickson, in Feasegate, n. d. e. The English Archer, etc., Paisley, John Neilson, 1786. f. R. H.’s Garland, York, T. Wilson & R. Spence, n. d. (All in the Bodleian Library.)

In Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, II, 133, from a York edition of Robin Hood’s Garland. Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 200, apparently from an Aldermary garland.

Mr Halliwell, in Notices of Fugitive Tracts, etc., Percy Society, vol. xxix. p. 19, refers to an edition of Robin Hood’s Garland printed for James Hodges, at the Looking-glass, London-bridge, n. d., as containing “the earliest copy yet known” of Robin Hood and the Ranger, but does not indicate how the alleged fact was ascertained. Inside of the cover of a is written, William Stukely, 1741. b appears in advertisements as early as 1753.

Robin Hood, while about to kill deer, is forbidden by a forester, and claiming the forest as his own, the cause has to be tried with weapons. They break their swords on one another, and take to quarter-staves. Robin Hood is so sorely cudgelled that he gives up the fight, declaring that he has never met with so good a man. He summons his yeomen with his horn; the forester is induced to join them.

When Phœbus had melted the sickles of ice,
With a hey down, &c.
And likewise the mountains of snow,
Bold Robin Hood he would ramble to see,
To frolick abroad with his bow.
He left all his merry men waiting behind,
Whilst through the green vallies he passd;
There did he behold a forester bold,
Who cry’d out, Friend, whither so fast?
‘I’m going,’ quoth Robin, ‘to kill a fat buck,
For me and my merry men all;
Besides, eer I go, I’ll have a fat doe,
Or else it shall cost me a fall.’
‘You’d best have a care,’ said the forester then,
‘For these are his majesty’s deer;
Before you shall shoot, the thing I’ll dispute,
For I am head-forester here.’
‘These thirteen long summers,’ quoth Robin, ‘I’m sure,
My arrows I here have let fly,
Where freely I range; methinks it is strange,
You should have more power than I.
‘This forest,’ quoth Robin, ‘I think is my own,
And so are the nimble deer too;
Therefore I declare, and solemnly swear,
I wont be affronted by you.’
The forester he had a long quarter-staff,
Likewise a broad sword by his side;
Without more ado, he presently drew,
Declaring the truth should be try’d.
Bold Robin Hood had a sword of the best,
Thus, eer he would take any wrong,
His courage was flush, he’d venture a brush,
And thus they fell to it ding dong.
The very first blow that the forester gave,
He made his broad weapon cry twang;
’Twas over the head, he fell down for dead,
O that was a damnable bang!
But Robin he soon did recover himself,
And bravely fell to it again;
The very next stroke their weapons were broke,
Yet never a man there was slain.
At quarter-staff then they resolved to play,
Because they would have t’other bout;
And brave Robin Hood right valiantly stood,
Unwilling he was to give out.
Bold Robin he gave him very hard blows,
The other returnd them as fast;
At every stroke their jackets did smoke,
Three hours the combat did last.
At length in a rage the bold forester grew,
And cudgeld bold Robin so sore
That he could not stand, so shaking his hand,
He said, Let us freely give oer.
Thou art a brave fellow, I needs must confess
I never knew any so good;
Thou’rt fitting to be a yeoman for me,
And range in the merry green wood.
I’ll give thee this ring as a token of love,
For bravely thou’st acted thy part;
That man that can fight, in him I delight,
And love him with all my whole heart.
Then Robin Hood setting his horn to his mouth,
A blast he merrily blows;
His yeomen did hear, and strait did appear,
A hundred, with trusty long bows.
Now Little John came at the head of them all,
Cloathd in a rich mantle of green;
And likewise the rest were gloriously drest,
A delicate sight to be seen.
‘Lo, these are my yeomen,’ said Robin Hood,
‘And thou shalt be one of the train;
A mantle and bow, a quiver also,
I give them whom I entertain.’
The forester willingly enterd the list,
They were such a beautiful sight;
Then with a long bow they shot a fat doe,
And made a rich supper that night.
What singing and dancing was in the green wood,
For joy of another new mate!
With mirth and delight they spent the long night,
And liv’d at a plentiful rate.
The forester neer was so merry before
As then he was with these brave souls,
Who never would fail, in wine, beer or ale,
To take off their cherishing bowls.
Then Robin Hood gave him a mantle of green,
Broad arrows, and a curious long bow;
This done, the next day, so gallant and gay,
He marched them all on a row.
Quoth he, My brave yeomen, be true to your trust,
And then we may range the woods wide:
They all did declare, and solemnly swear,
They’d conquer, or die by his side.


Robin Hood and the Ranger, or True Friendship after a fierce Fight. Tune of Arthur a Bland.

24. whether.

83. he’ll.

121. a very hard blow.


24. whither.

62. are all.

112. the other.

121. very hard blows.

142. any one.

152. thou hast.

182. And wanting.

234. They would.


Burden: With a hey down down down and a down.

24. whither.

53. methink’.

62. deers.

83. he’d.

101. soon recoverd.

102. to wanting.

103. they broke.

121. very hard blows.

124. this combat.

134. He cry’d.

144. And live.

162. blast then.

192. a wanting.

212. with the.


Tune of, etc. wanting. Burden wanting.

11. the circles.

13. he wanting: ramble away.

24. whither.

52. arrows here I’ve.

54. then I.

62. so is.

71. he wanting.

81. he had.

15483. he’d.

91. that wanting.

93. his head.

101. soon recoverd.

103. they broke.

121. he wanting: many hard blows.

134. He cry’d.

161. Then wanting: Hood set his bugle horn.

162. blast then.

163. and soon.

164. An.

173. rest was.

181. said bold.

184. I’ll.

203. the whole.

212. with the.

213. beer and.

214. take of the.

222. a wanting.

234. They would.


Burden: With a hey down down derry down: or Hey down derry derry down.

11. circle.

13. he wanting: ramble away.

23. he did.

24. whither.

31. quoth Robin wanting.

33. ere.

52. here wanting.

62. so is.

71. he wanting.

82. neer.

83. he’d.

84. thus wanting.

93. his head.

101. soon recovered.

103. they broke.

111. then wanting.

121. many hard blows.

134. He cry’d.

154. whole wanting.

161. set his brave.

162. blast then.

163. and soon.

164. An.

181. said bold.

183. and a bow.

184. I’ll.

201. were in.

203. the whole.

212. with the.

222. a wanting.


11. ickles of ice.

13. would frolicksome be.

14. And ramble about with his bow.

24. whither.

81. Hood wanting.

83. he’d.

101. recovered.

103. they broke.

104. Yet neither of them were slain.

112. the other.

121. very hard blows.

124. this combat.

134. He cry’d.

141. And live.

181. said bold.

194. a good.

212. As when.

213. beer and.


J. H. Dixon, Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England, p. 71, Percy Society, vol. xvii, 1846.

“An aged female in Bermondsey, Surrey, from whose oral recitation the editor took down the present version, informed him, that she had often heard her grandmother sing it, and that it was never in print; but he has of late met with several common stall copies.”

Robin Hood and Little John fall in with a pedlar. Little John asks what goods he carries, and says he will have half his pack. The pedlar says he shall have the whole if he can make him give a perch of ground. They fight, and John cries Hold. Robin Hood undertakes the pedlar, and in turn cries Hold. Robin asks the pedlar’s name. He will not give it till they have told theirs, and when they have so done says it still lies with him to tell or not. However, he is Gamble Gold, forced to flee his country for killing a man. If you are Gamble Gold, says Robin, you are my own cousin. They go to a tavern and dine and drink.

Stanzas 11, 12, 15 recall Robin Hood’s Delight, No 136, 19, 20, 24; 13, 14 Robin Hood Revived, No 128, 17, 18. As remarked under No 128, this is a traditional variation of Robin Hood Revived.

There chanced to be a pedlar bold,
A pedlar bold he chanced to be;
He rolled his pack all on his back,
And he came tripping oer the lee.
Down a down a down a down,
Down a down a down
By chance he met two troublesome blades,
Two troublesome blades they chanced to be;
The one of them was bold Robin Hood,
And the other was Little John so free.
‘O pedlar, pedlar, what is in thy pack?
Come speedilie and tell to me:’
‘I’ve several suits of the gay green silks,
And silken bow-strings two or three.’
‘If you have several suits of the gay green silk,
And silken bow-strings two or three,
Then it’s by my body,’ cries Little John,
‘One half your pack shall belong to me.’
‘O nay, o nay,’ says the pedlar bold,
‘O nay, o nay, that never can be;
For there’s never a man from fair Nottingham
Can take one half my pack from me.’
Then the pedlar he pulled off his pack,
And put it a little below his knee,
Saying, If you do move me one perch from this,
My pack and all shall gang with thee.
Then Little John he drew his sword,
The pedlar by his pack did stand;
They fought until they both did sweat,
Till he cried, Pedlar, pray hold your hand!
Then Robin Hood he was standing by,
And he did laugh most heartilie;
Saying, I could find a man, of a smaller scale,
Could thrash the pedlar and also thee.
‘Go you try, master,’ says Little John,
‘Go you try, master, most speedilie,
Or by my body,’ says Little John,
‘I am sure this night you will not know me.’
Then Robin Hood he drew his sword,
And the pedlar by his pack did stand;
They fought till the blood in streams did flow,
Till he cried, Pedlar, pray hold your hand!
Pedlar, pedlar, what is thy name?
Come speedilie and tell to me:
‘My name! my name I neer will tell,
Till both your names you have told to me.’
‘The one of us is bold Robin Hood,
And the other Little John so free:’
‘Now,’ says the pedlar, ‘it lays to my good will,
Whether my name I chuse to tell to thee.
‘I am Gamble Gold of the gay green woods,
And travelled far beyond the sea;
For killing a man in my father’s land
From my country I was forced to flee.’
‘If you are Gamble Gold of the gay green woods,
And travelled far beyond the sea,
You are my mother’s own sister’s son;
What nearer cousins then can we be?’
They sheathed their swords with friendly words,
So merrilie they did agree;
They went to a tavern, and there they dined,
And bottles cracked most merrilie.

31, 51, 52. Oh.


a. Wood, 401, leaf 23 b.

b. Garland of 1663, No 8.

c. Garland of 1670, No 7.

d. Pepys, II, 116, No 100.

a is printed, with changes, by Ritson, Robin Hood, 1795, II, 122. Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 180, agrees with the Aldermary garland.

156There is a copy in the Roxburghe Collection, III, 20.

Robin Hood, riding towards Nottingham, comes upon a beggar, who asks charity. Robin says he has no money, but must have a bout with him. The beggar with his staff gives three blows for every stroke of Robin’s with his sword. Robin cries truce, and at the suggestion, we might almost say upon the requisition, of the beggar, exchanges his horse and finery for the beggar’s bags and rags. Thus equipped, he proceeds to Nottingham, and has the adventure with the sheriff and three yeomen which is the subject of No 140.

The copy in the Wood and in the Roxburghe collections is signed T. R., like Robin Hood and the Butcher, B, and, like the latter ballad, this is a rifacimento, with middle rhyme in the third line. It is perhaps made up from two distinct stories; the Second Part, beginning at stanza 20, from Robin Hood rescuing Three Squires, and what precedes from a ballad resembling Robin Hood and the Beggar, II.

But no seventeenth-century version of Robin Hood and the Beggar, II, is known, and it is more likely that we owe the fight between Robin Hood and the Beggar to the folly and bad taste of T. R. Robin has no sort of provocation to fight with the beggar, and no motive for changing clothes, the proposition actually coming from the beggar, st. 15, and it is an accident that his disguise proves useful (cf. Guy of Gisborne). The beggar should have reported that three men were to be hanged, but instead of this is forced into a fight, in order that one more ignominious defeat may be scored against Robin.

The verses,

I am an outlaw, as many do know,
My name it is Robin Hood,

occur also in Robin Hood and the Bishop, No 143, 63,4. ‘And this mantle of mine I’le to thee resign,’ 163, looks very like a reminiscence of Robin Hood and the Bishop, 103, ‘Thy spindle and twine unto me resign.’[112]

Come light and listen, you gentlemen all,
Hey down, down, and a down
That mirth do love for to hear,
And a story true I’le tell unto you,
If that you will but draw near.
In elder times, when merriment was,
And archery was holden good,
There was an outlaw, as many did know,
Which men called Robin Hood.
Vpon a time it chanced so
Bold Robin was merry disposed,
His time to spend he did intend,
Either with friends or foes.
Then he got vp on a gallant brave steed,
The which was worth angels ten;
With a mantle of green, most brave to be seen,
He left all his merry men.
And riding towards fair Nottingham,
Some pastime for to spy,
There was he aware of a jolly beggar
As ere he beheld with his eye.
An old patcht coat the beggar had on,
Which he daily did vse for to wear;
And many a bag about him did wag,
Which made Robin Hood to him repair.
‘God speed, God speed,’ said Robin Hood,
‘What countryman? tell to me:’
‘I am Yorkeshire, sir; but, ere you go far,
Some charity give vnto me.’
‘Why, what wouldst thou have?’ said Robin Hood,
‘I pray thee tell vnto me:’
‘No lands nor livings,’ the beggar he said,
‘But a penny for charitie.’
‘I have no money,’ said Robin Hood then,
‘But, a ranger within the wood,
I am an outlaw, as many do know,
My name it is Robin Hood.
‘But yet I must tell thee, bonny beggar,
That a bout with [thee] I must try;
157Thy coat of gray, lay down I say,
And my mantle of green shall lye by.’
‘Content, content,’ the beggar he cry’d,
‘Thy part it will be the worse;
For I hope this bout to give thee the rout,
And then have at thy purse.’
The beggar he had a mickle long staffe,
And Robin had a nut-brown sword;
So the beggar drew nigh, and at Robin let fly,
But gave him never a word.
‘Fight on, fight on,’ said Robin Hood then,
‘This game well pleaseth me;’
For every blow that Robin did give,
The beggar gave buffets three.
And fighting there full hard and sore,
Not far from Nottingham town,
They never fled, till from Robinś head
The blood came trickling down.
‘O hold thy hand,’ said Robin Hood then,
‘And thou and I will agree;’
‘If that be true,’ the beggar he said,
‘Thy mantle come give vnto me.’
‘Nay a change, a change,’ cri’d Robin Hood;
‘Thy bags and coat give me,
And this mantle of mine I’le to thee resign,
My horse and my braverie.’
When Robin Hood had got the beggars clothes,
He looked round about;
‘Methinks,’ said he, ‘I seem to be
A beggar brave and stout.
‘For now I have a bag for my bread,
So have I another for corn;
I have one for salt, and another for malt,
And one for my little horn.
‘And now I will a begging goe,
Some charitie for to find:’
And if any more of Robin you’l know,
In this second part it’s behind.
Now Robin he is to Nottingham bound,
With his bags hanging down to his knee,
His staff, and his coat, scarce worth a groat,
Yet merrilie passed he.
As Robin he passed the streets along,
He heard a pittifull cry;
Three brethren deer, as he did hear,
Condemned were to dye.
Then Robin he highed to the sheriffs [house],
Some reliefe for to seek;
He skipt, and leapt, and capored full high,
As he went along the street.
But when to the sheriffs doore he came,
There a gentleman fine and brave,
‘Thou beggar,’ said he, ‘come tell vnto me
What is it that thou wouldest have?’
‘No meat, nor drink,’ said Robin Hood then,
‘That I come here to crave;
But to beg the lives of yeomen three,
And that I fain would have.’
‘That cannot be, thou bold beggar,
Their fact it is so cleer;
I tell to thee, hangd they must be,
For stealing of our kings deer.’
But when to the gallows they did come,
There was many a weeping eye:
‘O hold your peace,’ said Robin then,
‘For certainly they shall not dye.’
Then Robin he set his horn to his mouth,
And he blew but blastes three,
Till a hundred bold archers brave
Came kneeling down to his knee.
‘What is your will, master?’ they said,
‘We are here at your command:’
‘Shoot east, shoot west,’ said Robin Hood then,
‘And look that you spare no man.’
Then they shot east, and they shot west;
Their arrows were so keen
The sheriffe he, and his companie,
No longer must be seen.
Then he stept to these brethren three,
And away he had them tane;
But the sheriff was crost, and many a man lost,
That dead lay on the plain.
And away they went into the merry green wood,
And sung with a merry glee,
And Robin took these brethren good
To be of his yeomandrie.


Robin Hood and the Beggar: Shewing how Robin Hood and the Beggar fought, and how he changed clothes with the Beggar, and how he went a begging to Nottingham, and how he saved three brethren from being hangd for stealing of deer. To the tune of Robin Hood and the Stranger. Signed T. R.

London, Printed for Francis Grove, on Snowhill. (1620–55.)

Burden: an a.

11. light in all: a corruption of lyth.

22. archrey.

34. friend or foe: cf. b, c.

42. angell.

61. had one.

101. tell the.

121. saffe.

213. brethred.

274. dow.

314. yeomandriee.

b, c.

Title as in a. Not signed. Burden sometimes, With hey, etc., or, With a hey, etc.; once, in c, Hey derry derry down.


34. friends or foes.

42. angels.

71. Hood then.

72. unto.

83. he wanting.

93. doth know.

102. with thee.

104. lay.

161. said for cri’d.

201. he wanting.

214. was for to.

221. sheriffs house.

272. he wanting.

302. them had.


34. friends or foes.

42. angels.

71. Hood then.

72. unto.

83. living.

102. with thee.

194. known for behind.

214. for to.

221. sheriffs house.

253. they hanged.

272. he wanting.

302. them had.


Title as in a: except of the king’s deer. Not signed.

Printed for I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passinger. (1670–86.)

Burden: With a hey down down and a down.

32. merrily.

34. friend or foe.

42. angels.

51. brave for fair.

71. Hood then.

72. unto.

102. with thee.

111. he said.

121. muckle.

124. But he.

133. Robin gave.

143. Robin Hood’s head.

153. If it.

171. Hood wanting.

173. Methink.

183. for mault: for salt.

194. In the. house wanting, as in a.

223. and he leapt.

234. is’t: would’st.

254. of the.

263. O wanting: Robin Hood.

274. down on their.

282. here wanting.

291. east then.

302. has.

303. many men.

311. And wanting.

313. Then Robin Hood.


a. ‘The History of Robin Hood and the Beggar,’ Aberdeen, Printed by and for A. Keith: Bodleian Library, Douce, HH 88, pasted between pp 68, 69 of Robin Hood’s Garland, London, C. Dicey. A. Keith of Aberdeen printed from 1810 to 1835.

b. ‘A pretty dialogue betwixt Robin Hood and a Beggar,’ Newcastle, in Ritson’s Robin Hood, 1795, I, 97.

a is printed by Gutch, Robin Hood, II, 230, with deviations. Of b Ritson says: The corruptions of the press being equally numerous and minute, some of the most trifling have been corrected without notice. Despite the corruptions, b is, in some readings, preferable to a. Motherwell, Minstrelsy, p. xliii, says that pretty early stall copies were printed both at Aberdeen and Glasgow.

Robin Hood attempts to stop a beggar, from whom he thinks he may get some money. The beggar gives no heed to his summons, but hies on. Robin, getting a surly answer upon a second essay, says that if there be but a farthing he will have it, orders the beggar to loose the strings of his pocks, and threatens him with an arrow. The beggar defies him, and upon Robin’s drawing his bow, reaches him such a stroke with a staff that bow and arrow are broken to bits. 159Robin takes to his sword; the beggar lights on his hand with his staff and disables him completely, then follows in with lusty blows, till Robin falls in a swoon. The beggar moves on with entire unconcern. Three of Robin’s men come by and revive him with water. Their master tells them of his disgrace; he had never been in so hard a place in forty year. He bids them bring the beggar back or slay him. Two of the three will be enough for that, they say, and one shall stay with him. Two set forth, accordingly, with a caution to be wary, take a short cut, which brings them out ahead of the beggar, and leap on him from a hiding, one gripping his staff and the other putting a dagger to his breast. The beggar sues for his life in vain; they will bind him and will take him back to their master, to be slain or hanged. He offers them a hundred pound and more for his liberty. They decide together to take the money, and say nothing about it, simply reporting that they have killed the old carl. The beggar spreads his cloak on the ground and many a pock on it; then, standing between them and the wind, takes a great bag of meal from his neck and flings the meal into their eyes. Having thus blinded them, he seizes his staff, which they had stuck in the ground, and gives each of them a dozen. The young men take to their heels, the beggar calling after them to stop for their pay. Robin, after a jest at the meal on their cloaths, makes them tell how they have fared. We are shamed forever, he cries; but smiles to see that they have had their taste of the beggar’s tree.

This tale is rightly called by Ritson a North Country composition of some antiquity, “perhaps Scottish.” Fragments of Robin Hood ballads, Motherwell informs us, were traditionally extant in his day which had not (and have not) found their way into printed collections, and we know from very early testimony that such ballads were current in Scotland. This is by far the best of the Robin Hood ballads of the secondary, so to speak cyclic, period. It has plenty of homely humor, but the heroic sentiment is gone. It does not belong to the iron, the cast-iron, age of Robin Hood’s Birth, Breeding, etc.; but neither does it belong to the golden age of Robin Hood and the Monk, or the Gest. It would be no gain to have Thersites drubbing Odysseus. Robin finds his match, for the nonce, in the Potter, but he does not for that depute two of his men to be the death of the Potter. It never occurred to Little John and Much to get a hundred pound from a beggar, kill him, and pocket the money.

A story resembling that of the second part of this ballad occurs, as Ritson has observed, in Le moyen de parvenir, “1739, I, 304;” II, 94, London, 1786; p. 171, Paris, 1841. A friar encounters two footpads, who offer to relieve him of the burden of his frock. He asks them to let him take it off peaceably, puts his staff under his foot, takes off the frock and throws it before them. While one of the pair stoops to get it, the friar picks up the staff and hits the knave a blow which sends him headlong; the other runs off.

Translated by Anastasius Grün, p. 180.

Lyth and listen, gentlemen,
That’s come of high born blood;
I’ll tell you of a brave booting
That befel Robin Hood.
Robin Hood upon a day,
He went forth him alone,
And as he came from Barnesdale
Into a fair evening,
He met a beggar on the way,
That sturdily could gang;
He had a pike-staff in his hand,
That was baith stark and strang.
A clouted cloak about him was,
That held him from the cold;
The thinnest bit of it, I guess,
Was more than twenty fold.
His meal-pock hang about his neck,
Into a leathern fang,
Well fastened with a broad buckle,
That was both stark and strang.
He had three hats upon his head,
Together sticked fast;
He cared neither for wind nor weet,
In lands wherever he past.
Good Robin coost him in his way,
To see what he might be;
If any beggar had money,
He thought some part had he.
‘Tarry, tarry,’ good Robin says,
‘Tarry, and speak with me;’
He heard him as he heard [him] not,
And fast his way can hie.
‘It be’s not so,’ says good Robin,
‘Nay, thou must tarry still;’
‘By my troth,’ says the bold beggar,
‘Of that I have no will.
‘It is far to my lodging-house,
And it is growing late;
If they have supt ere I come in,
I will look wondrous blate.’
‘Now, by my troth,’ says good Robin,
‘I see well by thy fare,
If thou chear well to thy supper,
Of mine thou takes no care;
‘Who wants my dinner all the day,
And wots not where to lie,
And should I to the tavern go,
I want money to buy.
‘Sir, thou must lend me some money,
Till we two meet again:’
The beggar answerd cankerdly,
I have no money to lend.
Thou art as young a man as I,
And seems to be as sweer;
If thou fast till thou get from me,
Thou shalt eat none this year.
‘Now, by my troth,’ says good Robin,
‘Since we are sembled so,
If thou have but a small farthing,
I’ll have it ere thou go.
‘Therefore, lay down thy clouted cloak,
And do no longer stand,
And loose the strings of all thy pocks;
I’ll ripe them with my hand.
‘And now to thee I make a vow,
If thou make any din,
I shall see if a broad arrow
Can pierce a beggar’s skin.’
The beggar smil’d, and answer made:
Far better let me be;
Think not that I will be afraid
For thy nip crooked tree.
Or that I fear thee any whit
For thy curn nips of sticks;
I know no use for them so meet
As to be pudding-pricks.
Here I defy thee to do me ill,
For all thy boistrous fare;
Thou’s get nothing from me but ill,
Would thou seek it evermair.
Good Robin bent his noble bow—
He was an angry man—
And in it set a broad arrow;
Yet er ’twas drawn a span,
The beggar, with his noble tree,
Reacht him so round a rout
That his bow and his broad arrow
In flinders flew about.
Good Robin bound him to his brand,
But that provd likewise vain;
The beggar lighted on his hand
With his pike-staff again.
I wot he might not draw a sword
For forty days and more;
Good Robin could not speak a word,
His heart was never so sore.
He could not fight, he could not flee,
He wist not what to do;
The beggar, with his noble tree,
Laid lusty flaps him to.
He paid good Robin back and side,
And beft him up and down,
And with his pike-staff still on laid
Till he fell in a swoon.
‘Fy! stand up, man,’ the beggar said,
‘’Tis shame to go to rest;
Stay still till thou get thy mony [told],
I think it were the best.
‘And syne go to the tavern-house,
And buy both wine and ale;
Hereat thy friends will crack full crouse,
Thou has been at a dale.’
Good Robin answerd never a word,
But lay still as a stane;
His cheeks were white as any clay,
And closed were his eyne.
The beggar thought him dead but fail,
And boldly bownd away;
I would you had been at the dale,
And gotten part of the play.
Now three of Robin’s men, by chance,
Came walking on the way,
And found their master in a trance,
On ground where he did lie.
Up have they taken good Robin,
Making a piteous bier,
Yet saw they no man there at whom
They might the matter spear.
They looked him all round about,
But wounds on him saw none,
Yet at his mouth came bocking out
The blood of a good vein.
Cold water they have taken syne,
And cast into his face;
Then he began to lift his eyne,
And spake within short space.
‘Tell us, dear master,’ says his men,
‘How with you stands the case?’
Good Robin sighd ere he began
To tell of his disgrace.
‘I have been watchman in this wood
Near hand this forty year,
Yet I was never so hard bestead
As you have found me here.
‘A beggar with a clouted cloak,
In whom I feard no ill,
Hath with a pike-staff clawd my back;
I fear’t shall never be well.
‘See, where he goes out oer yon hill,
With hat upon his head;
If ever you lovd your master well,
Go now revenge this deed.
‘And bring him back again to me,
If it lie in your might,
That I may see, before I die,
Him punisht in my sight.
‘And if you may not bring him back,
Let him not go loose on;
For to us all it were great shame
If he escapt again.’
‘One of us shall with you remain,
Because you’re ill at ease;
The other two shall bring him back,
To use him as you please.’
‘Now, by my troth,’ says good Robin,
‘I trow there’s enough said;
If he get scouth to weild his tree,
I fear you’ll both be paid.’
‘Be ye not feard, our good master,
That we two can be dung
With any blutter base beggar,
That hath nought but a rung.
‘His staff shall stand him in no stead;
That you shall shortly see;
But back again he shall be led,
And fast bound shall he be,
To see if you will have him slain,
Or hanged on a tree.’
‘But cast you slily in his way,
Before he be aware,
And on his pike-staff first lay hands;
You’ll speed the better far.’
Now leave we Robin with his man,
Again to play the child,
And learn himself to stand and gang
By haulds, for all his eild.
Now pass we to the bold beggar,
That raked oer the hill,
Who never mended his pace no more
Nor he had done no ill.
The young men knew the country well,
So soon where he would be,
And they have taken another way,
Was nearer by miles three.
They rudely ran with all their might,
Spar’d neither dub nor mire,
They stirred neither at laigh nor hight,
No travel made them tire,
Till they before the beggar wan,
And coost them in his way;
A little wood lay in a glen,
And there they both did stay.
They stood up closely by a tree,
In ilk side of the gate,
Until the beggar came them to,
That thought not of such fate.
And as he was betwixt them past,
They leapt upon him baith;
The one his pike-staff gripped fast,
They feared for its scaith.
The other he held in his sight
A drawn dirk to his breast,
And said, False carl, quit thy staff,
Or I shall be thy priest.
His pike-staff they have taken him frae,
And stuck it in the green;
He was full leath to let [it] gae,
If better might have been.
The beggar was the feardest man
Of one that ever might be;
To win away no way he can,
Nor help him with his tree.
He wist not wherefore he was tane,
Nor how many was there;
He thought his life-days had been gone,
And grew into despair.
‘Grant me my life,’ the beggar said,
‘For him that died on tree,
And take away that ugly knife,
Or then for fear I’ll die.
‘I grievd you never in all my life,
By late nor yet by ayre;
Ye have great sin, if ye should slay
A silly poor beggar.’
‘Thou lies, false lown,’ they said again,
‘By all that may be sworn;
Thou hast near slain the gentlest man
That ever yet was born.
‘And back again thou shalt be led,
And fast bound shalt thou be,
To see if he will have thee slain,
Or hanged on a tree.’
The beggar then thought all was wrong;
They were set for his wrack;
He saw nothing appearing then
But ill upon worse back.
Were he out of their hands, he thought,
And had again his tree,
He should not be had back for nought,
With such as he did see.
Then he bethought him on a wile,
If it could take effect,
How he the young men might beguile,
And give them a begeck.
Thus for to do them shame or ill
His beastly breast was bent;
He found the wind grew something shril,
To further his intent.
He said, Brave gentlemen, be good,
And let the poor man be;
When ye have taken a beggar’s blood,
It helps you not a flee.
It was but in my own defence,
If he hath gotten skaith;
But I will make a recompence,
Much better for you baith.
If ye will set me safe and free,
And do me no danger,
An hundred pounds I will you give,
And much more good silver,
That I have gathered these many years,
Under this clouted cloak,
And hid up wonder privately,
In bottom of my pock.
The young men to a council yeed,
And let the beggar gae;
They wist how well he had no speed
From them to run away.
They thought they would the money take,
Come after what so may,
And then they would not bring him back,
But in that part him slay.
By that good Robin would not know
That they had gotten coin;
It would content him for to show
That there they had him slain.
They said, False carl, soon have done
And tell forth that money;
For the ill turn thou hast done
’Tis but a simple fee.
And yet we will not have thee back,
Come after what so may,
If thou will do that which thou spake,
And make us present pay.
O then he loosd his clouted cloak,
And spread it on the ground,
And thereon laid he many a pock,
Betwixt them and the wind.
He took a great bag from his hase;
It was near full of meal;
Two pecks in it at least there was,
And more, I wot full well.
Upon his cloak he laid it down,
The mouth he opend wide,
To turn the same he made him bown,
The young men ready spy’d.
In every hand he took a nook
Of that great leathern meal,
And with a fling the meal he shook
Into their faces hail.
Wherewith he blinded them so close
A stime they could not see;
And then in heart he did rejoice,
And clapt his lusty tree.
He thought, if he had done them wrong
In mealing of their cloaths,
For to strike off the meal again
With his pike-staff he goes.
Or any one of them could red their eyne,
Or yet a glimmering could see,
Ilk ane of them a dozen had,
Well laid on with the tree.
The young men were right swift of foot,
And boldly ran away;
The beggar could them no more hit,
For all the haste he may.
‘What ails this haste?’ the beggar said,
‘May ye not tarry still,
Until your money be receivd?
I’ll pay you with good will.
‘The shaking of my pocks, I fear,
Hath blown into your eyne;
But I have a good pike-staff here
Will ripe them out full clean.’
The young men answerd neer a word,
They were dumb as a stane;
In the thick wood the beggar fled,
Eer they riped their eyne.
And syne the night became so late,
To seek him was but vain:
But judge ye, if they looked blate
When they came home again.
Good Robin speard how they had sped;
They answerd him, Full ill;
‘That cannot be,’ good Robin says;
‘Ye have been at the mill.
‘The mill it is a meatrif place,
They may lick what they please;
Most like ye have been at that art,
Who would look to your cloaths.’
They hangd their heads, and droped down,
A word they could not speak:
Robin said, Because I fell a-swoon,
I think you’ll do the like.
Tell on the matter, less and more,
And tell me what and how
Ye have done with the bold beggar
I sent you for right now.
And then they told him to an end,
As I have said before,
How that the beggar did them blind,
What misters process more.
And how he lin’d their shoulders broad
With his great trenchen tree,
And how in the thick wood he fled,
Eer they a stime could see.
And how they scarcely could win home,
Their bones were beft so sore:
Good Robin cry’d, Fy! out, for shame!
We’re sham’d for evermore.
Altho good Robin would full fain
Of his wrong revenged be,
He smil’d to see his merry young men
Had gotten a taste of the tree.


The History of Robin Hood and the Beggar: in two Parts. Part I: Shewing how Robin Hood, in attempting to rob a Beggar near Barnesdale, was shamefully defeated, and left for dead, till taken up by three of his men. Part II: How the beggar blinded two of his men with a bag of meal, who were sent to kill him or bring him back.

Title prefixed to the ballad: Robin Hood and the Beggar.

In stanzas of two long lines. After 30: The Second Part.

223. arrows.

301. but sail: that is, but ſail.

383. you for your.

412. ill a case: which perhaps should be retained.

461. and for with.

464. the eild.

483. a another.

514. fate: b, late, that is, let.

533. quite.

654. fly: b, flee.

773. sling: that is, ſling.

793. strick.

892. where and.


In stanzas of two long lines.

Some of these readings may be Ritson’s corrections.

12. That be.

24. a wanting.

32. Who for That.

42. frae the.

52. whang.

53. to a.

71. cast.

83. heard him not.

84. on his.

91. ’Tis be.

93. said.

113. shares well.

114. dost not care.

121. all this.

123. would I.

131. you must.

132. two wanting.

141. art a.

152. asembled.

153. has.

161. Come lay.

173. if wanting.

204. Wouldst: it wanting.

214. Lo eer.

223. arrow.

242,4. mair, sair.

253. ſlaps.

262. baiſt.

263. laid on loud for still on laid.

271. Fy wanting.

273. still till: money told.

284. hast been at the.

293. pale for white.

301. but fail.

302. his way.

303. ye.

312. by the.

314. where that he lay.

332. wound.

341. gotten for taken.

342. unto.

343. to hitch his ear.

344. speak.

351. said.

362. this twenty.

364. ye.

372. Of whom.

373. with his.

374. ‘twill.

381. out wanting.

383. eer ye.

404. escape.

412. ill at ease.

423. And he.

431. ye, good wanting.

434. has.

445. ye.

453. hands lay.

454. Ye.

461. with his.

464. his eild.

473. no wanting.

474. Then he.

481,2. wanting.

491. They stoutly.

493. They started at neither how nor height.

502. cast them.

512. In each.

513. them nigh.

514. thought of no such late.

543. let it.

544. An better might it been.

552. any for one.

561. Nor wist he.

564. He for And.

572. on the.

573. And hold.

574. Or else.

582. Neither by late or air.

583. You have great sin if you would.

592. For all.

594. Of one that eer.

601. shall.

623. led back.

633. he might the young men.

634. gave them a begack.

641. for wanting: for ill.

643. blew for grew.

652. a poor.

654. flee.

662. has.

664. Is better.

671. fair and.

672. no more dear.

674. odd for good.

681. this.

691. to the.

693. full well.

703. And yet: not take.

704. that place.

165713. for wanting.

722. forth thy.

723. turn that.

724. It’s: plee for fee.

743. lay he.

751. half, that is, half.

761. this cloak: set it.

763. bound.

772. bag for meal.

773. fling.

774. face all hail.

792. cloath.

793. strike.

801. Eer any of.

802. Or a glimmering might.

804. with his.

812. boldly bound.

821. What’s all this.

822. May not thou.

834. Can ripe.

852. in vain.

871. meat rife part.

873. at the.

874. at your.

881. they drooped.

883. a sound.

884. ye.

891. less or.

892. what and.

901. And when.

904. presses for process.

911,2. wanting.

913. woods.

922. were baste.

932. his wrath.


a. Garland of 1663, No 13.

b. Garland of 1670, No 12.

c. Wood, 401, leaf 13 b.

d. Pepys, II, 115, No 102.

Roxburghe, II, 392, III, 284; Douce, III, 115 b, by L. How, of the eighteenth century. A manuscript copy in the British Museum, Add. 15072, fol. 59, is a, with omission of 122–154, and a few errors of carelessness.

Printed in Ritson’s Robin Hood from c and one of the Roxburghe broadsides. Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 136, seems to have followed the Aldermary garland, with slight deviation.

Robin Hood, walking in the forest, finds a shepherd lying on the ground, and bids him rise and show what he has in his bottle and bag. The shepherd tells him that he shall not see a drop of his bottle until his valor has been tried. Robin stakes twenty pound on the issue of a fight, and the shepherd his bag and bottle. They fight from ten to four, hook against sword. Robin Hood falls to the ground, and the shepherd calls on him to own himself beaten. Robin demands the boon of three blasts on his horn. These bring Little John, who undertakes the shepherd, and is so roughly handled that Robin is fain to yield his wager, to which Little John heartily agrees.

It is but the natural course of exaggeration that the shepherd, having beaten Robin Hood, should beat Little John. This is descending low enough, but we do not see the bottom of this kind of balladry here.

In King Alfred and the Shepherd, Old Ballads, 1723, I, 43, stanzas 6–17, the king plays Robin’s part, fighting four hours with the Shepherd and then craving a truce. Further on Alfred blows his horn. There are also verbal agreements.

All gentlemen and yeomen good,
Down a down a down a down
I wish you to draw near;
For a story of gallant brave Robin Hood
Vnto you I wil declare.
Down, etc.
As Robin Hood walkt the forrest along,
Some pastime for to spie,
There was he aware of a jolly shepherd,
That on the ground did lie.
‘Arise, arise,’ cryed jolly Robin,
‘And now come let me see
What is in thy bag and bottle, I say;
Come tell it unto me.’
‘What’s that to thee, thou proud fellow?
Tell me as I do stand
What thou hast to do with my bag and bottle?
Let me see thy command.’
‘My sword, which hangeth by my side,
Is my command I know;
Come, and let me taste of thy bottle,
Or it may breed thee wo.’
‘Tut, the devil a drop, thou proud fellow,
Of my bottle thou shalt see,
Untill thy valour here be tried,
Whether thou wilt fight or flee.’
‘What shall we fight for?’ cries bold Robin Hood;
‘Come tell it soon to me;
Here is twenty pounds in good red gold;
Win it, and take it thee.’
The Shepherd stood all in a maze,
And knew not what to say:
‘I have no money, thou proud fellow,
But bag and bottle I’le lay.’
‘I am content, thou shepherd-swain,
Fling them down on the ground;
But it will breed thee mickle pain,
To win my twenty pound.’
‘Come draw thy sword, thou proud fellow,
Thou stands too long to prate;
This hook of mine shall let thee know
A coward I do hate.’
So they fell to it, full hardy and sore;
It was on a summers day;
From ten till four in the afternoon
The Shepherd held him play.
Robins buckler proved his chief defence,
And saved him many a bang,
For every blow the Shepherd gave
Made Robins sword cry twang.
Many a sturdy blow the Shepherd gave,
And that bold Robin found,
Till the blood ran trickling from his head;
Then he fell to the ground.
‘Arise, arise, thou proud fellow,
And thou shalt have fair play,
If thou wilt yield, before thou go,
That I have won the day.’
‘A boon, a boon,’ cried bold Robin;
‘If that a man thou be,
Then let me take my beaugle-horn,
And blow but blasts three.’
‘To blow three times three,’ the Shepherd said,
‘I will not thee deny;
For if thou shouldst blow till to-morrow morn,
I scorn one foot to fly.’
Then Robin set his horn to his mouth,
And he blew with mickle main,
Until he espied Little John
Come tripping over the plain.
‘O who is yonder, thou proud fellow,
That comes down yonder hill?’
‘Yonder is Little John, bold Robin Hoods man,
Shall fight with thee thy fill.’
‘What is the matter?’ saies Little John,
‘Master, come tell to me:’
‘My case is great,’ saies Robin Hood,
‘For the Shepherd hath conquered me.’
‘I am glad of that,’ cries Little John,
‘Shepherd, turn thou to me;
For a bout with thee I mean to have,
Either come fight or flee.’
‘With all my heart, thou proud fellow,
For it never shall be said
That a shepherds hook of thy sturdy look
Will one jot be dismaid.’
So they fell to it, full hardy and sore,
Striving for victory;
‘I will know,’ saies John, ‘ere we give ore,
Whether thou wilt fight or flye.’
The Shepherd gave John a sturdy blow,
With his hook under the chin;
‘Beshrew thy heart,’ said Little John,
‘Thou basely dost begin.’
‘Nay, that’s nothing,’ said the Shepherd;
‘Either yield to me the day,
Or I will bang thee back and sides,
Before thou goest thy way.
‘What? dost thou think, thou proud fellow,
That thou canst conquer me?
Nay, thou shalt know, before thou go,
I’le fight before I’le flee.’
With that to thrash Little John like mad
The Shepherd he begun;
‘Hold, hold,’ cryed bold Robin Hood,
‘And I’le yield the wager won.’
‘With all my heart,’ said Little John,
‘To that I will agree;
For he is the flower of shepherd-swains,
The like I never did see.’
Thus have you heard of Robin Hood,
Also of Little John,
How a shepherd-swain did conquer them;
The like did never none.

a, b.

Robin Hood and the Shepard: Shewing how Robin Hood, Little John and the Shepheard fought a sore combate.

Tune is, Robin Hood and Queen Katherine.


Burden: a third a down is not printed after the first line, but is after the last.

43. hast thou.

54. thy wo.

72. Gome.

204. Eihter.

262. Sheherd.


Burden: Down a down a down a down.

After 91, 214, With a, &c.

13. bold for brave.

43. thou hast.

53. tast.

54. thee for thy.

71. bold wanting.

73. pound.

102. standst.

121. chiefest.

133. tickling.

161. Then said the Shepherd to bold Robin.

162. wanting.

171. Robin he.

183. Little wanting.

193. is very bad, cries.

261. Again the Shepherd laid on him.

264. And wanting: I will.

274. I did never.

284. was never known.


Robin Hood and the Shepheard: Shewing how Robin Hood, Little John and the Shepheard fought a sore combat.

The Shepherd fought for twenty pound,
And Robin for bottle and bag,
But the Shepheard stout gave them the rout
So sore they could not wag.

The tune is Robin and Queen Katherine.

London, Printed for John Andrews, at the White Lion, in Pie-Corner. (1660.)

Burden: Down a down a down a down.

13. bold for brave.

43. thou hast.

54. my wo.

81. amaze.

113. four till ten.

121. chiefest.

134. And then.

161. wanting.

193. cries for saies.

194. hath beaten.

223. ile know saith.

224. flee.

251. doest.

261. wanting.

262. began.

264. And wanting: I will.

273. Shepheards.

274. I did never.


Title as in a, b.

Printed for William Thackeray, at the Angel in Duck Lane. (1689.)

Burden: Down a down down.

13. bold for brave.

23. he was.

43. hast thou, as in a.

51. that for which.

54. thy woe, as in a.

61. Tut wanting.

71. bold wanting.

73. pound.

102. standest.

111. hard.

121. chiefest.

153. beagle.

161. Then said the Shepherd to bold Robin.

162. To that will I agree.

164. flee.

171. he set.

172. with might and main.

183. Little wanting.

193. bad cries.

212. shall never.

213. at thy.

224. flee.

243. thy for thee.

261. Again the Shepherd laid on him.

262. began.

263. Hood wanting.

264. And wanting: I will.

274. I did never.

284. The like was never known.



a. Wood, 401, leaf 41 b.

b. Garland of 1663, No 17.

c. Garland of 1670, No 16.

d. Pepys, II, 112, No 99.

Ritson, Robin Hood, 1795, II, 116, from a, with changes. Evans, Old Ballads, 1777, 1784, I, 176.

Robin Hood, Scarlock, and John, walking in Sherwood, are charged to stand by three of King Henry’s keepers. There is a fight from eight till two o’clock, in which the outlaws are at some disadvantage. Robin asks that he may blow his horn, then he will fight again. The keepers refuse; he must fall on or yield. Robin owns them to be stout fellows; he will not fight it out there with swords, but at Nottingham with sack. They go to Nottingham accordingly, and drink themselves good friends.

The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood, No 132, a late traditional copy, shows traces of st. 20 of this ballad in st. 12, where the Pedlar says it lies with him whether he will tell his name, and again at the end, where Robin Hood, John, and the Pedlar drink friendship at the tavern. Robin Hood’s antagonists are again foresters and keepers in the Progress to Nottingham, and in Robin Hood and the Ranger. There are numerous verbal agreements between Robin Hood’s Delight and Robin Hood and the Shepherd.

Translated by Loève-Veimars, p. 199.

There is some will talk of lords and knights,
Doun a doun a doun a doun
And some of yeoman good,
But I will tell you of Will Scarlock,
Little John and Robin Hood.
Doun a doun a doun a doun
They were outlaws, as ’tis well known,
And men of a noble blood;
And a many a time was their valour shown
In the forrest of merry Sheerwood.
Vpon a time it chanced so,
As Robin Hood would have it be,
They all three would a walking go,
Some pastime for to see.
And as they walked the forest along,
Upon a midsummer day,
There was they aware of three keepers,
Clade all in green aray.
With brave long faucheons by their sides,
And forest-bills in hand,
They calld aloud to those bold outlaws,
And charged them to stand.
‘Why, who are you,’ cry’d bold Robin,
‘That speaks so boldly here? ’
‘We three belong to King Henry,
And are keepers of his deer.’
‘The devil thou art!’ sayes Robin Hood,
‘I am sure that it is not so;
169We be the keepers of this forest,
And that you soon shall know.
‘Come, your coats of green lay on the ground,
And so will we all three,
And take your swords and bucklers round,
And try the victory.’
‘We be content,’ the keepers said,
‘We be three, and you no less;
Then why should we be of you afraid,
And we never did transgress?’
‘Why, if you be three keepers in this forest,
Then we be three rangers good,
And we will make you to know, before you do go,
You meet with bold Robin Hood.’
‘We be content, thou bold outlaw,
Our valour here to try,
And we will make you know, before we do go,
We will fight before we will fly.
‘Then, come draw your swords, you bold outlaws,
And no longer stand to prate,
But let us try it out with blows,
For cowards we do hate.
‘Here is one of us for Will Scarlock,
And another for Little John,
And I my self for Robin Hood,
Because he is stout and strong.’
So they fell to it full hard and sore;
It was on a midsummers day;
From eight a clock till two and past,
They all shewed gallant play.
There Robin, and Will, and Little John,
They fought most manfully,
Till all their winde was spent and gone,
Then Robin aloud did cry:
‘O hold, O hold,’ cries bold Robin,
‘I see you be stout men;
Let me blow one blast on my bugle-horn,
Then I’le fight with you again.’
‘That bargain’s to make, bold Robin Hood,
Therefore we it deny;
Though a blast upon thy bugle-horn
Cannot make us fight nor fly.
‘Therefore fall on, or else be gone,
And yield to us the day:
It shall never be said that we were afraid
Of thee, nor thy yeomen gay.’
‘If that be so,’ cries bold Robin,
‘Let me but know your names,
And in the forest of merry Sheerwood
I shall extol your fames.’
‘And with our names,’ one of them said,
‘What hast thou here to do?
Except that you will fight it out,
Our names thou shalt not know.’
‘We will fight no more,’ sayes bold Robin,
‘You be men of valour stout;
Come and go with me to Nottingham,
And there we will fight it out.
‘With a but of sack we will bang it out,
To see who wins the day;
And for the cost, make you no doubt
I have gold and money to pay
‘And ever after, so long as we live,
We all will brethren be;
For I love those men with heart and hand
That will fight, and never flee.’
So away they went to Nottingham,
With sack to make amends;
For three dayes space they wine did chase,
And drank themselves good friends.


Robin Hood’s Delight, or, A merry combat fought between Robin Hood, Little John and Will Scarelock and three stout Keepers in Sheerwood Forrest.

Robin was valiant and stout, so was Scarelock and John, in the field,
But these keepers stout did give them the rout, and made them all for to yield;
170But after the battel ended was, bold Robin did make them amends,
For claret and sack they did not lack, so drank themselves good friends.

To the tune of Robin Hood and Quene Katherine, or, Robin Hood and the Shepheard.

London, Printed for John Andrews, at the White Lion, near Pye Corner. (1660.)

b, c.

Title the same, without the verses: Scarlet for Scarelock.

12. b, yeomen.

13, 131. Scarlet.

21. it is.

23. And many.

43. was he: c, forresters for keepers.

51. side.

52. c, forrests bils.

53. c, bold wanting.

71. b, bold Robin, Hood wanting: c, said Robin Hood.

72. b, it wanting: c, that wanting.

104. met.

113. do wanting.

114. b. wee’l.

161. c. thy hand cryes.

171. is.

193. c. in that.

194. b. I will.

203. thou wilt.

231. hereafter.


Title as in b, c, except: fought against.

Printed for William Thackeray, at the Angel in Duck Lane. (1689.)

11. There’s.

12. yeomen.

13, 131. Scarlet.

23. And many.

43. forresters for keepers.

53. bold wanting.

62. speak.

71. said.

72. that wanting.

73. the wanting: in for of.

81. Come wanting.

92. you wanting.

93. we of you be.

101. the for three.

103. we’l: to wanting.

113. first we, do wanting.

141. hardy.

153. spend.

163. with my beagle.

171. is.

173. Thy blast: beagle.

183. never shall: we are.

203. thou wilt.

231. hereafter.

233. these.


‘Robinhood and the Peddlers,’ the fourth ballad in a MS. formerly in the possession of J. Payne Collier, now in the British Museum; previously printed in Gutch’s Robin Hood, II, 351.

The manuscript in which this ballad occurs contains a variety of matters, and, as the best authority[113] has declared, may in part have been written as early as 1650, but all the ballads are in a nineteenth-century hand, and some of them are maintained to be forgeries. I see no sufficient reason for regarding this particular piece as spurious, and therefore, though I should be glad to be rid of it, accept it for the present as perhaps a copy of a broadside, or a copy of a copy.

The story resembles that of Robin Hood’s Delight, pedlars taking the place of keepers; but Robin is reduced to an ignominy paralleled only in the second ballad of Robin Hood and the Beggar. Robin Hood, accompanied by Scarlet and John, bids three pedlars stand. They pay no heed, and he sends an arrow through the pack of one of them. Hereupon they throw down their packs and wait for their assailants to come up. Robin’s bow is broken by a blow from a staff of one of the pedlars. Robin calls a truce until he and his men can get staves. There is then an equal fight, the end of which is that Robin Hood is knocked senseless and left in a swoon, tended by Scarlet and John. But before the pedlars set forward, Kit o Thirske, the best man of the three, and the one who has fought with Robin, administers a balsam to his fallen foe, 171which he says will heal his hurts, but which operates unpleasantly.

Thirsk is about twenty miles from York, in the North Riding.

Will you heare a tale of Robin Hood,
Will Scarlett, and Little John?
Now listen awhile, it will make you smile,
As before it hath many done.
They were archers three, of hie degree,
As good as ever drewe bowe;
Their arrowes were long and their armes were strong,
As most had cause to knowe.
But one sommers day, as they toke their way
Through the forrest of greene Sherwood,
To kill the kings deare, you shall presently heare
What befell these archers good.
They were ware on the roade of three peddlers with loade,
Ffor each had his packe,
Ffull of all wares for countrie faires,
Trusst up upon his backe.
A good oke staffe, a yard and a halfe,
Each one had in his hande;
And they were all bound to Nottingham towne,
As you shall understand.
‘Yonder I see bolde peddlers three,’
Said Robin to Scarlett and John;
‘We’le search their packes upon their backes
Before that they be gone.
‘Holla, good fellowes!’ quod Robin Hood,
‘Whither is it ye doe goe?
Now stay and rest, for that is the best,
’Tis well ye should doe soe.’
‘Noe rest we neede, on our roade we speede,
Till to Nottingham we get:’
‘Thou tellst a lewde lye,’ said Robin, ‘for I
Can see that ye swinke and swet.’
The peddlers three crosst over the lee,
They did not list to fight:
‘I charge you tarrie,’ quod Robin, ‘for marry,
This is my owne land by right.
‘This is my mannor and this is my parke,
I would have ye for to knowe;
Ye are bolde outlawes, I see by cause
Ye are so prest to goe.’
The peddlers three turned round to see
Who it might be they herd;
Then agen went on as they list to be gone,
And never answered word.
Then toke Robin Hood an arrow so good,
Which he did never lacke,
And drew his bowe, and the swift arrowe
Went through the last peddlers packe.
Ffor him it was well on the packe it fell,
Or his life had found an ende;
And it pierst the skin of his backe within,
Though the packe did stand his frend.
Then downe they flung their packes eche one,
And stayde till Robin came:
Quod Robin, I saide ye had better stayde;
Good sooth, ye were to blame.
‘And who art thou? by S. Crispin, I vowe
I’le quickly cracke thy head!’
Cried Robin, Come on, all three, or one;
It is not so soone done as said.
My name, by the roode, is Robin Hood,
And this is Scarlett and John;
It is three to three, ye may plainelie see,
Soe now, brave fellowes, laye on.
The first peddlars blowe brake Robins bowe
That he had in his hand;
And Scarlett and John, they eche had one
That they unneath could stand.
‘Now holde your handes,’ cride Robin Hood,
‘Ffor ye have got oken staves;
But tarie till wee can get but three,
And a fig for all your braves.’
Of the peddlers the first, his name Kit o Thirske,
Said, We are all content;
Soe eche tooke a stake for his weapon, to make
The peddlers to repent.
Soe to it they fell, and their blowes did ring well
Uppon the others backes;
And gave the peddlers cause to wish
They had not cast their packes.
Yet the peddlers three of their blowes were so free
That Robin began for to rue;
And Scarlett and John had such loade laide on
It made the sunne looke blue.
At last Kits oke caught Robin a stroke
That made his head to sound;
He staggerd, and reelde, till he fell on the fielde,
And the trees with him went round.
‘Now holde your handes,’ cride Little John,
And soe said Scarlett eke;
‘Our maister is slaine, I tell you plaine,
He never more will speake.’
‘Now, heaven forefend he come to that ende,’
Said Kit, ‘I love him well;
But lett him learne to be wise in turne,
And not with pore peddlers mell.
‘In my packe, God wot, I a balsame have got
That soone his hurts will heale;’
And into Robin Hoods gaping mouth
He presentlie powrde some deale.
‘Now fare ye well, tis best not to tell
How ye three peddlers met;
Or if ye doe, prithee tell alsoe
How they made ye swinke and swett.’
Poore Robin in sound they left on the ground,
And hied them to Nottingham,
While Scarlett and John Robin tended on,
Till at length his senses came.
Noe soone[r], in haste, did Robin Hood taste
The balsame he had tane,
Than he gan to spewe, and up he threwe
The balsame all againe.
And Scarlett and John, who were looki