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Sir Walter Raleigh Songs


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(origins) Origins: Raleigh and Spencer (26)
Chord Req: 'Raleigh and Spencer' (3)
Sir Walter Raleighs poem to his son (17) 16 Feb 99 - 01:52 AM
Barry Finn 16 Feb 99 - 03:30 PM
Bruce O. 16 Feb 99 - 04:06 PM
Robin 17 Feb 99 - 03:18 AM
Barry Finn 17 Feb 99 - 11:11 PM
Bruce O. 18 Feb 99 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,Caitlin Baker 26 Nov 12 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Eliza 26 Nov 12 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,Ken Brock 26 Nov 12 - 02:55 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 26 Nov 12 - 05:52 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 26 Nov 12 - 07:18 PM
Jim Dixon 04 Jun 13 - 09:26 AM
Jack Campin 04 Jun 13 - 11:33 AM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Jun 13 - 09:26 PM
davidkiddnet 29 Jun 17 - 09:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Jun 17 - 03:38 AM
Ged Fox 30 Jun 17 - 05:47 AM
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Subject: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
Date: 16 Feb 99 - 01:52 AM

My husband will be portraying Sir Walter Raleigh at a few Renaissance events. We've heard that Raleigh was universally hated and that there were several unflattering songs about him. We've been led to the "Golden Vanity", and have gleaned several sets of verses for it. Are there, indeed other songs we could learn, so we could sing them "just out of earshot" of him? It could ever so jolly!

Thank you, Robin

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: Barry Finn
Date: 16 Feb 99 - 03:30 PM

Enter into the search #286 for relating Child ballads. Songs called the Golden Vanity, the Bold Trinity, the Golden Willow Tree, the Sweet Trinity & there's one called "Sir Walter Raleigh Sailing in the Lowlands" from around 1635. A sometimes favorite in the Elizabethan court, Walter never had much luck as a buccaneer. Pirating with his half brother was a failure & his son was killed in battle. He was imprisoned twice in the Tower of London & then hung. Barry

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 16 Feb 99 - 04:06 PM

The form of the licensing statement of the early copies of "Sir Walter Raleigh Sailing in the Lowlands" (ZN2370 in the broadside index on my website) is "This May be Printed. R.L.S." This fixes the date of the ballad as between June and December, 1685.

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: Robin
Date: 17 Feb 99 - 03:18 AM

Bruce and Barry,

Thank you for the leads. We tend to portray "a chapter, not a page", so we can probably justify the century lapse in the publishing date. Could this also be a matter of an oral tradition finally being written down? I'll pursue these clues with much gratitude.

Thank you,


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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: Barry Finn
Date: 17 Feb 99 - 11:11 PM

Hi Bruce O, could you investigate:
Euing#334 ("Sir Walter Sailing in the Lowlands. Shewing how the famous Ship called the Sweet Trinity was taken by a false Gally, and how it was again restored by the craft of a little Sea-boy, who sunk the Gally; as the following song will declare"./ To the tune of, The Sailing of the Lowlands. Printed for J. Conyers, at the Black-Raven the first shop in Fetter-Lane next Holborn, London.
From what I'm reading, the younger version (Sir Walter Raleigh Sailing in the Lowlands, circa 1685) supplanted the older (long title above) which seems to have not been in wide circulation, in it's original form, in popular tradition.

Bruce, this I'm taking from the forewords to the song & source references Stuart Frank uses when he says in the original form it's circa 1635.
If you can clear up anything by finding Euing could you post it. Thanks Bruce. Barry

Robin, hopefully more to come, I trust in Bruce.

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: Bruce O.
Date: 18 Feb 99 - 01:34 PM

On Euing # 334 at the end of the text, and just before the 'Printed for J. Conyers...' is "This May be Printed. R. L. S.", so it is again a 1685 copy. The J. Conyers here is John Conyers, and I don't have specific dates for his publications, but I don't think he published anything before about 1670, or a little later. His son Joshua finished his apprenticesship in Nov. 1692. It wasn't necessary to license a new reprint of an old broadside, so I take the 1685 date to be the original issue. That doesn't mean that some ballad writer didn't rework an old song that wasn't on a broadside and publish his new version. That did happen.

The usually form of the licensing statement for Roger LeStrange was 'With Allowance' or, occasionally 'With Priviledge' and this lasts to early June of 1685. Then the 'This many be Printed' appears, and this lasts to the end of Lestrange's tenure (c Dec. 1685) and through Richard Pocock's term (ending soon after the time James II left England).

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: GUEST,Caitlin Baker
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 12:47 PM

In my school a class did an assembly about sir walter raleigh and a girl called Chloe Drake sang a song

In my school we have 4 houses raleigh grenville drake scott raleigh is red grenville is blue drake is green and scott is yellow!!!!!

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 02:11 PM

Barry, I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that Raleigh was executed with an axe on the block at the Tower.

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: GUEST,Ken Brock
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 02:55 PM

Of more modern vintage is John Lennon's "Happiness Is A Warm Gun"

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 05:52 PM

In addition to Sir Walter Sailing..., the English Broadside Ballad Archive also has Sir Walter Rauleigh his lamentation: / Who was beheaded in the old Pallace at Westminster the 29. / of October. 1618., to the tune of Welladay dated 1618: EBBA Search for Raleigh. (Plus authored ballads)


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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 26 Nov 12 - 07:18 PM

Isn't there a street song from his times that goes "Sir Walter, Sir Walter is come, is come," or something to that effect?

A collection of Elizabethan poetry might turn it up. Bob

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From: Jim Dixon
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 09:26 AM

From A Pepysian Garland: Black-letter Broadside Ballads of the Years 1595-1639 edited by Hyder E. Rollins (Cambridge: University Press, 1922), page 89:

The ballad is correct enough in dates and places, but misrepresents Raleigh's words and actions on the scaffold. For this misrepresentation, censorship of the press rather than personal animosity of the author is, no doubt, responsible. For although in 1601 Raleigh's supposed responsibility for the execution of the Earl of Essex aroused much hostile feeling against him, by 1618 this feeling had largely changed to sympathy for his own misfortunes. No ballads on Raleigh were entered in the Stationers' Register for 1618, but many were in fact printed. On November 21, 1618, John Chamberlain wrote: "We are so full still of Sir Walter Raleigh that almost every day brings forth somewhat in this kind, besides divers ballets, wherof some are called in, and the rest such poore stuffe as are not worth the overlooking" (Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 1611-18, p. 597; C. H. Firth, Royal Historical Society Transactions, 3rd Series, v, 40). Of this "poore stuffe" the Pepysian ballad is the sole surviving printed specimen. Years later (in 1644) appeared a prose and verse pamphlet called To day a man, To morrow none: Or, Sir Walter Rawleighs Farewell to his Lady, The night before hee was beheaded: Together with his advice concerning HER, and her SONNE (reprinted in Charles Hindley's Old Book Collector's Miscellany, vol. III).

For the tune see Chappell's Popular Music, i, 174.

Sir Walter Rauleigh his lamentation:
Who was beheaded in the old Pallace at Westminster the 29. of October. 1618.

To the tune of Welladay.

1 Courteous kind Gallants all,
    pittie me, pittie me,
My time is now but small,
    here to continue:
Thousands of people stay,
To see my dying day,
Sing I then welladay,
    wofully mourning.

2 Once in a gallant sort
    liued I, liued I,
Belou'd in Englands court
    graced with honours:
Sir Walter Rauleighs name
Had then a noble fame:
Though turned now to shame
    through my misdoing.

3 In youth I was too free
    of my will, of my will,
Which now deceiueth me
    of my best fortunes:
All that same gallant traine
Which I did then maintaine,
Holds me now in disdaine
    for my vaine folly.

4 When as Queene Elizabeth
    ruld this land, ruld this land,
I trode the honord path
    of a braue Courtier;
Offices I had store,
Heapt on me more and more,
And my selfe I in them bore
    proud and commanding.

5 Gone are those golden dayes,
    woe is me woe is me:
Offences many waies
    brought vnto triall,
Shewes that disloyaltie
Done to his Maiestie,
Iudgeth me thus to dye;
    Lord for thy pitie.

6 But the good graces heere
    of my King, of my King,
Shewd to me many a yeere
    makes my soule happie
In that his royall Grace
Gaue me both time and space
Repentance to embrace:
    now heauen be praised.

7 Thirteene yeare in the tower
    haue I lien, haue I lien,
Before this appoynted houre
    of my liues ending:
Likewise such libertie
Had I vnluckily,
To be sent gallantly
    out on a voyage.

8 But that same voyage then
    prou'd amis prou'd amis,
Many good gentlemen
    lost their good fortunes:
All that with me did goe
Had sudden ouerthrowe
My wicked will to shew
    gainst my deere Countrey.

9 When I returned backe,
    hoping grace, hoping grace,
The tower againe alacke
    was my abiding:
Where for offences past,
My life againe was cast
Woe on woe followed fast
    to my confusion.

10 It pleas'd my royall King
    thus to doe, thus to doe,
That his peeres should me bring
    to my liues iudgement.
The Lieutenant of the tower
Kept me fast in his power,
Till the appointed houre
    of my remoouing.

The Second Part.

11 To Westminster then was I
    garded strong, garded strong
Where many a wandring eye
    saw me conuayed
Where I a Iudgment had,
for my offences bad,
Which was to loose my head,
    there the next morning.

12 So to the Gatehouse there,
    was I sent, was I sent,
By knights and gentlemen,
    guarding me safely,
Where all that wofull night,
My heart tooke no delight:
Such is the heauie plight
    of a poore prisoner.

13 Calling then to my mind,
    all my ioyes, all my ioyes,
Whereto I was inclind,
    liuing in pleasures:
All those dayes past and gon,
Brings me now care and mone,
Being thus ouerthrowne,
    by mine owne folly.

14 When the sad morning came
I should die, I should die:
O what a fright of shame:
    fild vp my bosome:
My heart did almost breake,
when I heard people speake,
I shold my ending make
    as a vile traitor.

15 I thought my fortunes hard,
    when I saw, when I saw
In the faire pallace yard
    a scaffold prepared:
My loathed life to end:
On which I did ascend,
Hauing at all no friend
    there to grant mercy.

16 Kneeling downe on my knee,
    willingly, willingly,
Prayed for his Maiestie
    long to continue:
And for his Nobles all,
With subiects great and small,
Let this my wofull fall
    be a fit warning.

17 And you that hither come
    thus to see, thus to see
My most vnhappy doome:
    pittie my ending.
A Christian true I die:
Papistrie I defie,
Nor neuer Atheist I
    as is reported.

18 You Lords & knights also
    in this place, in this place
Some gentle loue bestow
    pity my falling:
As I rose suddenly
Vp to great dignitie,
So I deseruedly
    die for my folly.

19 Farewell my louing wife
    woe is me, woe is me:
Mournefull wil bee thy life,
    Left a sad widdow.
Farewell my children sweet,
We neuer more shall meet
Till we each other greet,
    blessed in heauen.

20 With this my dying knell
    willingly, willingly,
Bid I the world farewell
    full of vaine shadowes
All her deluding showes
brings my heart naught but woes
Who rightly feeles and knowes,
    all her deceiuings.

21 Thus with my dying breath
    doe I kis, doe I kis,
This axe that for my death
    here is prouided:
May I feele little paine,
when as it cuts in twaine,
what my life must sustaine,
    all her deceiuings.

22 My head on block is laid,
    And my last part is plaid:
Fortune hath me betraid,
    sweet Iesus grant mercy.
Thou that my headsman art,
when thou list, when thou list,
Without feare doe thy part
    I am prepared:

23 Thus here my end I take
    farewel world, farewel world,
And my last will I make,
    climing to heauen:
For this my offence,
I die with true penitence,
Iesus receiue me hence:
    farewell sweet England.

London Printed for Philip Birch and are to be sold at his shop at the Guyld-hall.

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 11:33 AM

Farewell ballads from the scaffold are one occasion where you have a legitimate excuse to make them as long as possible.

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Jun 13 - 09:26 PM

Sir Walter Raleigh wrote some well crafted verses which I suspect may have been used to make songs. He also wrote (in prose) a moving Last Will addressed to his wife, which could perhaps be usable in a reenactment..

This shouldn't be confused with an entertaining piece entitled My Last Will, which is sometimes ascribed to him, but was actually written by a 19th/20th century professor and writer with the same name - who also wrote the immortal lines

I wish I loved the Human Race;
I wish I loved its silly face;
I wish I liked the way it walks;
I wish I liked the way it talks;
And when I'm introduced to one
I wish I thought What Jolly Fun!

As for Sir Walter Raleigh's alleged unpopularity at the time, and the implication in the Golden Vanity version that he could be pretty cold blooded and treacherous, there might have been good grounds for it. One of the charges at his trial involved his role in a remarkably brutal massacre of hundreds of rebels in Ireland who had surrendered on a promise of their lives being spared. His defence was that he was only obeying orders....

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: davidkiddnet
Date: 29 Jun 17 - 09:26 PM

In A Pepysian Garland: of "Welladay" he says "For the tune see Chappell's Popular Music, i, 174" So where can I view that tune without buying the book "Old English Popular Music" by Chappell, William and Harry Ellis Wooldridge

Also, about "Welladay", at
he says of "Welladay" that "Simpson put it to B496 but Ward has a different melody which fits the ballads better."

I agree, Simpson's B496 is much too cute for a last confession tune. But where can I view the tune that Ward put to "Welladay" without going to Harvard Uni Library?

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Jun 17 - 03:38 AM

Seamus Heaney poem about the scoundrel



Speaking broad Devonshire,
Raleigh has backed the maid to a tree
As Ireland is backed to England

And drives inland
Till all her strands are breathless:
' Sweesir, Swatter! Sweesir, Swatter! '

He is water, he is ocean, lifting
Her farthingale like a scarf of weed lifting
In the front of a wave.


Yet his superb crest inclines to Cynthia
Even while it runs its bent
In the rivers of Lee and Blackwater.

Those are the splashy spots where he would lay
His cape before her. In London, his name
Will rise on water and on these dark seepings:

Smerwick sowed with the mouthing corpses
Of six hundred papists, 'as gallant and good
Personages as ever where beheld'.


The ruined maid complains in Irish,
Ocean has scattered her dream of fleets,
The Spanish prince has spilled his gold

And failed her. Iambic drums
Of English beat the woods where her poets
Sink like Onan. Rush-light, mushroom-flesh,

She fades from their somnolent clasp
Into ringlet-breath and dew,
The ground possessed and repossessed.

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Subject: RE: Sir Walter Raleigh Songs
From: Ged Fox
Date: 30 Jun 17 - 05:47 AM

Chappell's version of Welladay, from the copy in my possession

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