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Origin: Duke of Bedford / Six Lords Went a-Hunting

In Mudcat MIDIs:
Duke of Bedford (Midi made from Cecil Sharp's transcription from William Atkinson at Marylebone Workhouse, London, 9th October 1908, as printed in The Folk Music Journal, vol.I, no.1, 1966.)
Six Lords Went a-Hunting (Midi made from Cecil Sharp's transcription from William Atkinson at Marylebone Workhouse, London, 9th October 1908, as printed in The Folk Music Journal, vol.I, no.1, 1966.)


Ian HP 03 Jun 98 - 01:31 PM
Bruce O. 03 Jun 98 - 02:53 PM
jehill 03 Jun 98 - 03:47 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 03 Jun 98 - 05:03 PM
Bruce O. 03 Jun 98 - 06:20 PM
Ian HP 03 Jun 98 - 07:28 PM
jehill 03 Jun 98 - 07:48 PM
Barry Finn 04 Jun 98 - 12:47 AM
Bruce O. 04 Jun 98 - 11:02 AM
Ian HP 04 Jun 98 - 11:13 AM
Watson 02 Apr 02 - 10:36 AM
IanC 02 Apr 02 - 11:22 AM
Watson 02 Apr 02 - 11:34 AM
greg stephens 02 Apr 02 - 11:34 AM
IanC 02 Apr 02 - 11:50 AM
Watson 02 Apr 02 - 11:55 AM
GUEST 02 Apr 02 - 02:46 PM
Ebbie 02 Apr 02 - 06:34 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Apr 02 - 09:06 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Apr 02 - 09:22 PM
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Subject: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Ian HP
Date: 03 Jun 98 - 01:31 PM

I sing a trad song called The Duke of Bedford, the story of a man who is found drowned by three huntsmen. I have never heard it recorded, nor do I know if the story is based on fact. Any clues anyone?


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Bruce O.
Date: 03 Jun 98 - 02:53 PM

Broadside and traditional versions, and an article on the song are noted in my broadside ballad index, item ZN316, at www.erols.com/olsonw


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: jehill
Date: 03 Jun 98 - 03:47 PM

Well, I've had a look at my 1953 copy of Burkes Peerage. There is no mention of any of the Dukes of Bedford being found drowned.
However, Lord William Russell, who was brother to both the 5th and 6th Dukes of Bedford, was murdered by his valet Benjamin Francis Courvoisier on 6th May 1840, who was tried and executed for the crime. There is no mention in the book of under what cicumstances the murder was carried out or who found him.
Does this sound like anything in the song?
Regards John Hill


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 03 Jun 98 - 05:03 PM

I've read an account of this man's hanging -- Thackeray? Dickens?


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Bruce O.
Date: 03 Jun 98 - 06:20 PM

Actually the folksong has apparently Bedford but the broadside was on the Duke of Grafton. The article I noted is entitled 'Which Noble Duke'. There's a similar 16th century broadside on a Dukle of Bedford, also in my broadside index. I've now crossed referenced these, but I need about 15 minutes to get the new version loaded.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE DUKE OF BEDFORD (from C Sharp)
From: Ian HP
Date: 03 Jun 98 - 07:28 PM

Thanks a million, folks, please keep the info coming. If it is of any help, here is the song itself and my source.

THE DUKE OF BEDFORD
Traditional

Sung by William Atkinson (80) at Marylebone Workhouse, London, 9 October 1908. Collected by Cecil Sharp.


1. Six huntsmen went hunting down by the seaside
And they spied a dead body washed away by the tide.

2. They took him to Portsmouth, the place he was known,
And straight away to London, to the place he was born.

3. They opened his bowels and stretched out his feet
And garnished him all over with the lilies so sweet.

4. 'Twas the noble Duke of Bedford the sea had upthrown,
The noble Duke of Bedford the sea had upthrown.

5. But some folk disputed the huntsmen's bare word
Until a grand old lady cried, 'O 'tis my dear Am lord.'

6. She kneeled down beside him and kissed his cold cheek
And lowly she did murmur, 'My poor heart will break

7. For him I did worship who no more will speak
To kindred or to vassals who gaze on the form

8. Of the noble Duke of Bedford in his coffin if stone,
The noble Duke of Bedford in his coffin of stone.

9. Within Woburn Abbey his body was laid
Amongst his ancestors whose deeds are not dead.

10. And a weird rush of waters is heard on the day
That a noble Duke of Bedford did pass away

Source: Found in the book, The Crystal Spring: English Folk Songs collected by Cecil Sharp, edited by Maud Karpeles.


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: jehill
Date: 03 Jun 98 - 07:48 PM

I've had a quick look in Burkes Peerage again. I can't see any of the Dukes of Grafton who drowned. The song mentions Woburn Abbey which certainly is the home of the Duke of Bedford.
Very strange. Perhaps it should be someone entirly different.


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Barry Finn
Date: 04 Jun 98 - 12:47 AM

I used to do the same version, got it from Ewan MacColl but don't know if he's got it recorded. You could check him out by going to Peggy Seeger's web page & lookin through the listing of their recordings. Barry


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Bruce O.
Date: 04 Jun 98 - 11:02 AM

Grafton died in the siege of Cork, Oct. 1690. Don't look for good history (or correct names)in old songs.


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Ian HP
Date: 04 Jun 98 - 11:13 AM

Thanks again, folks, for all of your help. Yes, Bruce, I know that the history of many folk songs is so redacted as to be unrecognisable as 'true' history. Still, it is sometimes the case, though not often, and when it is not, I love tracing and knowing the process by which a song transformed what it was to what it is. Cheers. Any more anyone?


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Watson
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 10:36 AM

I don't suppose there's a prize for the 'catter who resurrects the oldest thread, but I'm surprised nobody said that this song is virtually identical to Six Dukes Went A-Fishing or The Royal Duke of Grantham, and there is a suggestion there of a possible historical tie-in:

Strongest suggestion on the background is that the incident refers to William de la Pole, first Duke of Suffolk who was murdered by political enemies & his body tossed on the sea-shore at Dover in 1450. This was mentioned in Shakepeare's Henry VI, Part II, Act 4. A broadside on the song appeared in 1690. AJS Are you still with us Ian?


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: IanC
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 11:22 AM

Thanks for re-opening this.

I was struck by the resemblance of the funeral details to those of Queen Jane (in DT) and even more so in the version recorded by Bell.

I have to admit to knowing both the Grantham and Bedford versions of "Six Dukes", though I've never heard the Grafton one. I must own up to preferring the Bedford one, simply because Woburn Abbey is only about 15 miles from where I live. I suspect that's why songs like this take on local colouring, though.

It also looks as if there was a nice set of floating verses for aristocratic funerals also. Does anyone know any more examples of these turning up elsewhere?

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Watson
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 11:34 AM

Yes, that verse is somewhat similar, isn't it.
I'ts a bit more than the usual off-the-shelf lines that crop up in traditional songs - "lofty tall ship", "pretty fair maid" etc. etc.
Back to the song in question, Ive always gone with the Grantham version because I first came across it in a poetry book we used at school - Voices (volume 3), and it's the version I first heard sung by Shirley Collins.


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 11:34 AM

Should be "sinking verses"?


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: IanC
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 11:50 AM

Curses!!!

Messed up the link to Bell above. Is there anyone (JoeClone) can fix it. Ta.


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Watson
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 11:55 AM

The link works for me.


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 02:46 PM

A complete copy of the unreprinted 17th century broadside ballad on the funeral of the Duke of Grafton (Six dukes went a-fishing/Duke of Bedford) is now in the Scarce Songs 2 file at www.erols.com/olsonw


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Ebbie
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 06:34 PM

More oddities-

The (the sixth, I believe)Duke of Bedford wrote a book that I enjoyed a lot on parrots and parrot-like birds. He had a large aviary on his estate, with many different kinds of birds. He wrote well and the book was full of good information.

Eventually, he was found dead after having been out hunting- they said his shotgun had accidentally fired while he was crossing a fence.

This was in the 1950s or '60s, I believe. Are they a star-crossed lot?

Ebbie


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Subject: Lyr Add: SIX LORDS WENT A-HUNTING (from C Sharp)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 09:06 PM

As it appeared in The Crystal Spring, under the title of The Duke of Bedford, two verses are omitted from William Atkinson's version. Since Ian's post of nearly four years ago contains some errors and the Crystal Stream set differs in some details from the originally published text, I may as well give the full version here. It originally appeared in The Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol.V, issue 18, 1914, pp.79-80; I quote it here as re-printed in The Folk Song Journal, vol.I no.1, 1966, pp.30-31.

SIX LORDS WENT A-HUNTING

(Noted by Cecil Sharp from William Atkinson at Marylebone Workhouse, London, (19th October 1908)

Six lords went a-hunting
Down by the seaside
And they spied a dead body
Washed away by the tide.

They took him to Portsmouth,
The place he was known,
And straight away to London,
To the place he was born.

They opened his bowels
And stretched out his feet,
And garnished him all over
With lilies so sweet.

'Twas the noble Duke of Bedford
The sea had upthrown,
'Twas the noble Duke of Bedford
The sea had upthrown.

But some folk disputed
The huntsmen's bare word,
Until a grand lady
Cried: 'Tis my dear lord.

She kneeled down beside him
And kissed his cold cheek
And sadly did murmur:
My poor heart will break.

For him I did worship
Who no more will speak
To kindred and vassals
who gazed on the form

Of the noble Duke of Bedford
In his coffin of stone,
Of the noble Duke of Bedford
In his coffin of stone.

The courts of his father
No longer will ring
With the clink of his gold spurs
And the twang of bow string.

In chase and in tournament
A valiant knight,
Who kept his escutcheon
With honour most bright.

Within Woburn Abbey
His body was laid
Amongst his ancestors
Whose deeds are not dead.

And a weird rush of waters
Is heard in this day
When a noble Duke of Bedford
Is passing away.

Mr. Atkinson had learned the song from a workmate, Frank Habershon; Habershon was a Sheffield man, and the song had been in his family for several generations, perhaps as far back as c.1780. A midi of the tune as given in The Folk Song Journal will go in due course to The Mudcat Midi Pages; meanwhile it can be heard via the South Riding Folk Network site:

Six Lords Went A-Hunting (midi).

I have added a reasonably comprehensive list of links to related material at reliable websites and so on in the Six Dukes Went A-Fishing thread.


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Subject: RE: DUKE OF BEFORD - INFO PLEASE
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Apr 02 - 09:22 PM

The Journal edition was actually 1965, not 1966; the wrong cover had been bound in at the beginning of my copy, and I failed to double-check it.


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