> John Kirkpatrick > Songs > Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires

Robin Hood and the Widow’s Three Sons / Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires

[ Roud 71 ; Master title: Robin Hood and the Widow’s Three Sons ; Child 140 ; G/D 2:243 ; Ballad Index C140 ; VWML GG/1/13/796 ; Bodleian Roud 71 ; GlosTrad Roud 71 ; DT RH3SQUIR ; Mudcat 62579 ; trad.]

The Halliard sang Robin Hood in a 1968 recording session as a demo for their Saga label. It was finally released in 2006 on their CD The Last Goodnight!. Dave Moran noted:

This broadside lyric, which Nic [Jones] set to his own tune, is closely allied to a Child ballad collected by Percy Grainger. Although these words are very similar in some sections, they are totally different in others. The notes on the Grainger recording indicate that the ballad often appeared on broadsides, especially during the nineteenth century, and in many garlands of the Robin Hood cycle of ballads; including a Lincoln one in 1773. A copy of this latter garland is in the reference collection of Grimsby Public Library. Neither Nic nor I can remember where we got it from but I don’t think it was Grimsby.

The Songwainers sang Robin Hood and the Three Squires in 1971 on their eponymous Argo album The Songwainers. They noted:

A set of words collated from various sources about Robin Hood bringing off one of his last-minute rescues from—of course—the Sheriff of Nottingham. The tunes used here are a genuine Three Squires melody from Hampshire, and an additional air from a Daniel Wright broadsheet about Robin Hood’s meeting with the Bishop of Hereford.

John Kirkpatrick sang Robin Hood Rescuing the Three Squires in 1997 on the Fellside anthology Ballads. Paul Adams noted:

As England’s foremost mythical hero it seems fitting that there should be a good number of ballads devoted to his exploits (Child printed 38). This one is based on the song sung to Vaughan Williams by Mrs Goodyear of Axford, Hampshire in 1909 [VWML GG/1/13/796] . To fill the gaps in the story John has adapted verses from versions in Child and that remembered by Northamptonshire poet, John Clare.


John Kirkpatrick sings Robin Hood Rescuing the Three Squires

I’ll tell you a story of bold Robin Hood,
Through the forest around ranged he,
And the first that he met was a gay lady
A-weeping all on the highway.

“Oh why do you weep, gay lady?” he said,
“Oh why do you weep?” said he.
“Oh why do you weep?” said bold Robin Hood,
“I pray thee, come tell unto me”.

“Oh do you weep for gold?” he said,
“Or do you weep for fee?
Or do you weep for your sweet maidenhead
That some villain has stolen from thee?”

“Oh, I don’t weep for gold,” she said,
“Nor do I weep for fee,
Nor do I weep for me sweet maidenhead
For no villain has stole it from me.”

“But I do weep,” this lady she said
And bitterly she did cry,
“Oh I do weep for my three sons
For they are condemned to die.”

“What church have they plundered?” said bold Robin Hood,
“Or what parish priests have they slain?
Or have they forced maidens against their will
Or with other men’s wives have they lain?”

“Oh no church have they plundered,” this lady she said,
“Nor no parish priests have they slain,
Nor have they forced maidens against their will,
Nor with other men’s wives have they lain.”

“But this they have done,” the lady she said,
“That they are condemned to die:
They’ve stolen sixteen of the king’s royal deer
And for that to be hanged on high.”

“Oh go you ’way home, gay lady,” he said,
“Go you ’way home,” said he.
“Oh go you ’way home,” said bold Robin Hood,
“Tomorrow I set them free.”

“Oh my scarf for a favour, pray wear it,” she said,
“For a fine gallant knight such as thee.
You do me great honour, my champion to ride
For me and me sons all three.”

“Oh, your favour, I’ll wear it,” said bold Robin Hood,
“For truly ’tis you honour me.
For I am no knight, gay lady,” he said,
“But gladly your champion I’ll be.”

So bold Robin Hood he was galloping along,
’Twas in the best part of the day
When there he did meet with an old beggar-man
Come begging all on the highway.

“Oh, what news, what news, old father,” he said,
“What news, pray tell unto me?”
“Oh there’s weeping and wailing in Nottingham Town
And it’s all for the squires all three.”

Now the beggar-man had an old coat on his back,
Nor green, nor yellow, nor red,
And thinks bold Robin Hood, ’twould serve him full well
To be in this beggar-man’s stead.

“Oh, come change your apparel, old father,” he said,
“Come change your apparel with mine;
And here’s twenty good shillings to drink your own health
In merry good ale and wine.”

“Oh, you are apparelled in clothing so fine,
Mine is all ragged and torn;
But still it’s not fitting a young man like you
Should laugh an old man to scorn.”

“Oh, no scorn do I give thee,” said bold Robin Hood,
“I swear by Our Lady;
For tales will be told of your beggar-man’s coat
If a beggar-man you’ll let me be.”

So they changed their apparel, they changed all their clothes
Till each wore the other’s attire,
And as much like a beggar did Robin Hood look
As the beggar-man looked like a squire.

For the beggar-man’s hat did Robin have on
That stood full high at the crown;
“Sure, no one will know me,” said bold Robin Hood,
“In the whole of fair Nottingham town.”

And the beggar-man’s britches did Robin have on
With patches from ball up to side;
“By the breath of my body,” said bold Robin Hood,
’I never wore so little pride.”

And the beggar-man’s coat did Robin have on
’T was worn right through to the skin;
“Though I shake and I shiver,” said bold Robin Hood,
“There’s pockets a-plenty within.”

“There’s a pocket for meal, a pocket for malt
And a pocket for barley and corn;
And one pocket more to make up the score
And that’s for my bugle horn.”

So bold Robin Hood to Nottingham came,
To Nottingham town came he.
And the sheriff did meet, and him he did greet,
Likewise the squires all three.

“Oh save you, oh save you, High Sheriff,” he said,
“And I beg you all down on one knee
That as for the death of these three squires
The hangman I might be.”

“Soon granted, soon granted,” the High Sheriff said,
“Soon granted unto thee.
And you shall have all of their clothing so fine
And their money to be your fee.”

“Oh, I want none of their clothing so fine
Nor their money to be my fee.
But all I desire is to blast on my horn
That their souls to heaven may flee.”

So Robin Hood climbed up to the gallows so high,
Went skipping from stock to stone.
“By the faith of my body,” the High Sheriff said,
“You’re nimble for an old beggar-man.”

“Oh, look well, look well on this old beggar-man,
Look well, High Sheriff,” said he,
“For tales will be told of this beggar-man’s coat
With its patches and pockets so free.”

“I’ve a pocket for meal, a pocket for malt,
And a pocket for barley and corn,
And one pocket more to make up the score
And that’s for my bugle horn.”

“Oh blow, then blow,” the High Sheriff said,
“Blow, and have no doubt,
I would have you blow well such a mighty fine blast
You’d blow both your blessed eyes out.”

So Robin blew once, Robin blew twice,
And Robin blew three times shrill
Till a hundred and ten of Robin Hood’s men
Came running all down the green hill.

“What men are those?” the High Sheriff said,
“What men are all those?” said he.
“Oh, they’re all of them mine and none of them thine
And they’ve come for the squires all three.”

“Oh take them, oh take them,” the High Sheriff said,
“And a curse on your bugle that blows.
And curse every pocket in your beggar-man’s cloak,
And curse you and your beggar-man’s clothes.”

Then bold Robin Hood he shot a fat buck,
Little John he shot a fat doe;
And they are away to the merry green wood
With the three squires all in a row, a row,
The three squires all in a row.