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> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Lord Bateman
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Young Beichan / Lord Bateman

[ Roud 40 ; Child 53#L ; G/D 5:1023 ; Ballad Index C053 ; Full English PG/6/11 , PG/6/12 ; Bodleian Roud 40 ; Wiltshire Roud 40 ; trad]

Both Joseph Taylor and Mr Thompson sang Lord Bateman to Percy Grainger in July 1908 who recorded them on wax cylinders. The recordings were published in 1972 on the Leader LP Unto Brigg Fair. Joseph Taylor's singing was included in 1996 on the Topic anthology Hidden English: A Celebration of English Traditional Music.

A.L. Lloyd recorded this ballad in the early 1950's for his 78rpm record The Shooting of His Dear / Lord Bateman. This recording was included in 2008 on his Fellside CD Ten Thousand Miles Away. He also sang it in 1956 on his and Ewan MacColl's Riverside anthology The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (The Child Ballads) Volume II. This and his other songs from this anthology were reissued in 2011 on his CD Bramble Briars and Beams of the Sun. Lloyd also sang Lord Bateman live at the Top Lock Folk Club, Runcorn, on November 5, 1972. This concert was published in 2010 on his Fellside CD An Evening with A.L. Lloyd.

Bob Copper reports gathering parts of just two stanzas of Lord Bateman from Frank 'Mush' Bond when he was collecting for the BBC in the 1950s: see Chapter 15, pp. 123-134, of his book Songs and Southern Breezes for the details; and the appendix for the words printed below in the lyrics section.

A patched-together version of Thomas Moeran of Mohill, Co. Leitrim, and Jeannie Robertson of Aberdeen singing Lord Bateman was included on the anthology The Child Ballads 1 (The Folk Songs of Britain Volume 4; Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968).

Charlotte Higgins of Blairgowrie, Perthshire, sang Susie Pirate (Lord Bateman) to Maurice Fleming in 1955. This field recording was included in 2011 on the Greentrax anthology Songs and Ballads from Perthshire (Scottish Tradition 24). Another field recording of her singing Lord Bateman to Isabel Sutherland and Joby Blanchard in July 1955 was included in 2012 on the Topic anthology Good People Take Warning. (The Voice of the People Volume 23).

Sandy and Caroline Paton sang Lord Bateman in 1960 on their Topic EP of American songs and ballads sung as lullabies, Hush Little Baby. The liner notes commented:

Perhaps it was during the Crusades that sorties and ballads first became popular in Western Europe about heroes captured by Turks or Arabs, freed by loving Oriental maidens, and pursued home by the said maidens who arrive in the nick of time to marry their man. Germans, Scandinavians, French and Italians all have ballads of this theme, and in England the story of the Oriental girl who follows Thomas a Becket's father across the sea, and found him by wandering abound the country crying “Gilbert! Gilbert!” has been preserved in a manuscript from about 1300. Clearly Lord Bateman has been influenced by the legend about St Thomas's father, though the ballad is probably of later date. It remains a firm favourite through the centuries, and gained a new lease of life through its use by music-hall comedians in the mid-19th century. It has shown itself to be very common in all areas of the United States where folk song collecting has been carried out. The present version is considered by some to be local to Kentucky, but in fact more or less identical forms are current in many other areas. It is said that the Patons hit on this way of singing the ballad while Caroline Paton was washing up in the kitchen and listening to her husband, Sandy, singing in another room.

Tom Willett sang Lord Bateman in 1962 at the age of 84 on the Willett Family's Topic album, The Roving Journeymen. The album's notes commented:

Mr Willett's text is very similar to many published versions of this most popular ballad. See for example Kidson's Traditional Tunes. The singer, however, has lost the verses which introduce Lord Bateman and place him in Turkey—indeed the Turk has become ‘turnkey’. The final verses in which Bateman dismisses the previous bride and her mother are also missing. There can be no doubt that the singer has this song directly or indirectly from a broadside or ballet sheet.

The tune, a good major one, is not one of those usually attached to the text of Lord Bateman. The three-fold repetition of the tonic at the end suggests that it may be Irish in origin.

Caroline Hughes sang one verse of Lord Bateman in 1963 or 1966 to Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and Charles Parker. This recording was included in 2014 on her Musical Traditions anthology Sheep-Crook and Black Dog.

Isabel Sutherland, who recorded Charlotte Higgins in 1955, sang Lord Bateman herself on her 1966 Topic album Vagrant Songs of Scotland.

Denny Smith sang Lord Bateman on April 27, 1966 to Pete Shepheard in The Tabard bar, North Street, Gloucester, and Wiggy Smith sang it on June 27, 1998 to Gwilym Davies at the English Country Music Weekend, Postlip Tithe Barn, Gloucestershire. Both recordings were included in 2000 on Wiggy Smith's Musical Traditions anthology Band of Gold.

Sandy Denny recorded Lord Bateman as a demo that didn't make it on her 1971 album The North Star Grassman and the Ravens. But the demo was included in 2011 on this album's Deluxe Edition CD reissue, in 2010 on the Sandy Denny Box Set, and in 2012 on a collection of her demos and rarities, The Notes and the Words.

Nic Jones recorded Lord Bateman in 1971 for his eponymous second album on the Trailer label, Nic Jones. He commented in the album notes:

A number of singers have said to me at different times that in their opinion the story of Bateman is a drag. I have always viewed the ballad as a kind of epitomised Errol Flynn film, possessing great sweep and colour, in spite of a degree of predictability, and as such it deserves to stand as a classic!

Alice Penfolk from Sussex sang Lord Bateman in a recording made by Mike Yates in 1972-75. It was included in 2003 on the Musical Traditions anthology Here's Luck to a Man: Gypsy Songs and Music from South-East England. Rod Stradling commented in the accompanying booklet:

Once an extremely popular ballad; Cecil Sharp said that most singers knew at least a verse or two of it, and Roud has 517 instances listed. Past scholars have suggested a connection between the ballad's story line and the life of Gilbert Beket, father of St Thomas. According to Professor Child, “That our ballad has been affected by the legend of Gilbert Beket is altogether likely. The name Beckie (found in some versions of the ballad) is very close to Becket.” Child gives similar versions from Scandinavia (Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, the Faroes and Norway), Spain, and Italy. He also mentions that the story is an inverted version of another ballad, Hind Horn (Child 17). In Britain, the earliest known versions of the ballad date from the mid-18th century, and its popularity was maintained throughout the 19th century in chapbooks and on broadsides. Some people have linked the story with the later song The Turkish Lady, a version of which is sung by Harry Cox (Norfolk), although this seems unlikely.

Frankie Armstrong sang Lord Bateman in 1973 on her album Out of Love, Hope and Suffering. She also sang it live in 1974 at the Fox Hollow Festival. This recording was included a year later in the festival's 10th anniversary album, You Got Magic.

The Albion Country Band Mk 1 sang Lord Bateman on Steve Ashley's 1974 album, Stroll On.

Both Campbell MacLean and Bella Higgins sang Young Beicham on the anthology The Muckle Sangs (Scottish Tradition 5; Tangent 1975; Greentrax 1992).

June Tabor sang Lord Bateman in a BBC Radio 1 John Peel session that was recorded on January 25, 1977 and broadcast on February 22, 1977. This recording was published on her BBC EP The Peel Sessions and CD On Air. The CD sleeve notes commented:

Child no. 53, Young Beichan, this text is The Loving Ballad of Lord Bateman, published in 1839 and “derived from the singing of a London vagrant”. The legend goes back to around 1300, and is often associated with Gilbert Becket, father of (St.) Thomas à Becket.

Jim & Lynnette Eldon sang Lord Bateman in 1997 on their eponymous CD Jim & Lynnette Eldon.

Arthur Knevett sang Lord Bateman in 1997 on the Fellside anthology Ballads. Paul Adams commented in the liner notes:

Arthur describes this as a “ripping yarn” and it is very much a “Boys Own” adventure ballad which enjoyed widespread popularity. It was regularly printed as a broadside which will have helped its popularity in the oral tradition and stabilised its text (Bronson gives 112 versions, most of them from oral sources). Essentially it is a medieval romance with a happy ending. Arthur's straightforward declamatory gives a certain nobility to the story. There is a school of thought which says that the adventures described in the ballad actually happened to Gilbert Beckett, father of Thomas à Beckett. Arthur's source for the song were recordings by Joseph Taylor, the Lincolnshire singer whose songs were collected by Percy Grainger, and A.L. Lloyd. He admits that is has “altered a bit over the years.”

Dan Milner sang Lord Bateman on the 1998 Folk-Legacy album Irish Ballads & Songs of the Sea.

John Roberts & Tony Barrand sang Lord Bateman in 1998 on their CD of English folksongs collected by Percy Grainger, Heartoutbursts . Tony Barrand commented:

Grainger recorded a number of versions of Lord Bateman, all quite similar, from the singing of Joseph Taylor, George Wray, Joseph Leaning, and Mr. Thomson. It was one of the most popular of all the ballads, well known among traditional singers on both sides of the Atlantic. It's certainly a good tale, and it's nice to have an occasional long ballad that doesn't end in tragedy and death for all the protagonists.

Chris Wood sang Lord Bateman in 1998 on Wood–Wilson–Carthy. He also recorded it in 2005 for his own CD The Lark Descending; this track was also included in 2011 on the anthology the Rough Guide to English Folk. He commented in the first album's sleeve notes:

This CD has been a most enjoyable experience but the cherry on the cake for me is the recording of this song, I've been living with for about eight years and the relief finally 'coming out' is no small thing. Martin [Carthy] tells me that it is the story of Gilbert Bekett and Shusha Pye who, after the song finishes, apparently went on to have a son called Thomas. It's re-written all over the place principally with the intention of shortening it.

Jim Moray sang Lord Bateman in 2003 on his CD Sweet England.

Ed Rennie sang Lord Bateman in 2004 on his Fellside CD Narrative.

John Kirkpatrick sang Lord Bateman in 2007 on his Fledg'ling CD Make No Bones.

James Findlay sang Lord Bateman in 2009 on his first CD, As I Carelessly Did Stray.

The Askew Sisters sang Lord Bateman in 2010 on their WildGoose CD Through Lonesome Woods. They commented;

Lord Bateman is perhaps one of the most beautiful and compelling ballads around with its vivid characters and gripping narrative. We originally heard this tune from a recording made in 1967 of John Reilly’s version—Lord Baker—but listening back it seems to have evolved quite a lot since then! The words come from various versions in the Child Ballad collection (no. 53, Young Beichan). The story is very similar to the legend of Gilbert Becket and Shusha Pye, parents of St Thomas à Becket, a tale which can be dated back to 1300. This narrative was also popular in Europe and versions have been found in Scandinavia, Spain and Italy. We like to think of Lord Bateman’s adventure as a bit of a gap year!

This video shows the Hungarian group Simply English singing Lord Bateman at ICWIP Balkan Festival in Pécs, Hungary, on July 28, 2010:

Jon Boden sang Lord Bateman as the April 10, 2011 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day. He noted in his blog:

A ballad I’ve always meant to get around to learning. This version is from Bert Lloyd. I’ve just today been listening to An Evening with A.L. Lloyd, a new release by Fellside which is a whole live gig with Lloyd—all brilliant stuff. He sings this there but adds a few extra verses—perhaps he edited them out later, not sure.

Stephanie Hladowski and Chris Joynes sang Lord Bateman on their 2012 CD The Wild Wild Berry.

Andy Turner sang Lord Bateman as the February 18, 2012 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week, referring to Tom Willett as his source.

Thom Ashworth sang Lord Bateman on his 2017 debut EP Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.

Lyrics

Joseph Taylor sings Lord Bateman Chris Wood sings Lord Bateman

Lord Bateman was a noble lord,
A noble lord of some high degree;
He shipped himself on board of ship,
Some foreign count-e-ry he would go see.

Lord Bateman was a noble lord,
A noble lord of high degree.
He put himself on board a ship
Some foreign country he would go see.

He sail-ed East, and he sail-ed West,
Until he came to p-roud Turkey,
Where he was taken and put in prison,
Until his life it-e-grew quite weary.

He sailed East and he sailed West,
Sailed in to proud Turkey;
But he was taken and put in prison
Until his life grew quite weary.

And in this prison there grew a tree,
It grew so large and it grew so strong;
Where he was chain-ed around the middle
Until his life it-e-was almost gone.

In their prisons they grew a tree,
They grew it stout and grew it strong,
And he was chained up all by the middle
Until his life was almost gone.

His gaoler had but one only daughter,
The fairest creature my two eyes did see.
She stole the keys of her father's prison
And said Lord Bateman she would set free.

But Turkey had one only daughter,
As fair a lady as ever did see.
She shed her tear, she set her mind,
And she swore Lord Bateman she would go see.

“Now have you got houses, have you got land,
And does Northumberland belong to thee?
And what would you give to that fair young lady
That out of prison would set you free?”

“Do you have land, do you have living,
Does Northumberland belong to thee?
What would you give to a brave young lady
If out of prison she set you free?”

“Yes I've got houses and I've got land,
And half Northumberland belongs to me.
I would give it all to that fair young lady
That out of prison would set me free.”

“I have land, land and I have living
And half Northumberland belongs to me.
I'd give it all to a brave young lady
If out of prison she would set me.”

That's what Joseph Taylor sings on the cylinder recording. The following verses which continue the story are from Tony Barrand's Heartoutbursts. Mr Thomson (more or less) sings the second and third of these on Unto Brigg Fair, in addition to those sung by Joseph Taylor (except for the one about the tree).

 

Tony Barrand sings Lord Bateman Chris Wood (continued)

She took him to her marble parlour,
She gave him cake and a bottle of wine,
And every health that she drank unto him,
“I wish, Lord Bateman, that you were mine.”

She stole the key from her fathers pillow,
Poured Lord Bateman her fathers wine;
Every health they drank together,
“Oh I wish Lord Bateman you were mine.”

“And it's seven long years I'll make a vow,
And seven long years I will keep it strong,
If you will wed with no other woman,
Then I'll not wed with no other man.”

She took him to her father's harbour,
She gave to him a ship of fame,
“Farewell and adieu to you, Lord Bateman,
I fear I'll never see you again.”

She's took him down to her father's harbour,
Found for him the ship of fame.
“Farewell, farewell, farewell Lord Bateman,
I'm sure I'll never see your face again.”

Now the seven long years were past and gone,
And fourteen days, well-known to me,
She set her foot all in a ship,
And said Lord Bateman she would go see.

Seven long years were gone and past,
From her heart she had not ken free.
She's packed up all her gold clothing,
Swore Lord Bateman she would go see.

And when she's come to Lord Bateman's castle,
She knocked so loudly upon the pin,
And who should come down but the proud young porter,
To rise and let this fair lady in.

When she came to London city
She cried Lord Bateman through the town,
Every stranger that did pass by her
Did lead her on too Northumberland.

“Is this here Lord Bateman's castle,
And is Lord Bateman here within?”
“Oh yes, oh yes, said the proud young porter,
“He's just now taken his new bride in.”

“Is this called Lord Bateman's castle?
Is his lordship here within?”
“Oh yes, oh yes,” cried the proud young porter,
Pray tell what news I may give to him.”

“Tell him to bring me a loaf of bread,
A bottle of the very best wine,
And not to forget the fair young lady
As did release him when close confined.”

“Go tell him send me a cut of bread,
Go tell him send me a cup of wine,
And to remember the brave young lady
Who did release him when he was confined.”

Away, away tore the proud young porter.
Away, away, away went he.
He cried, “Lord Bateman, my lord and master
I'm sure Sophia has crossed the sea.”

“What news, what news, my proud young porter?
What news, what news? Now, tell to me.”
“There is the fairest of all young ladies
As ever my two eyes did see.”

“She has got rings, rings on every finger,
And round her middle one she wears three.
She has more gold all about her person
For to buy Northumberland from under thee.”

“She bid you send her a loaf of bread,
A bottle of the very best wine,
And not to forget the fair young lady
As did release you when close confined.”

“She tells you send her a cut of bread
And tells you send her a cup of wine,
And to remember the brave young lady
Who did release you when you were confined.”

Lord Bateman he flew in a passion,
He broke the table in splinters three,
“I'll wager all my father's lands and riches
That my Sophia has come from sea.”

Lord Bateman then in silence fell
From his heart he had not been free,
“I'll give you all my Father's stable
If my Sophia has crossed the sea.”

Then up and spoke the young bride's mother,
Who never was known to speak so free,
“What will you do for my only daughter,
If your Sophia has come from sea?”

“I own I wed your only daughter,
She's neither the better nor the worse for me,
She came to me on a horse and saddle,
She shall ride home in a carriage and three.”

Then he's prepared another wedding,
And both their hearts so full of glee,
“Oh, never more will I sail the ocean,
Now my Sophia has come to me.”

Bateman then too his true love flew
From their hearts they had not ken free
He's kissed her hand and he's kissed her cheek
And neither man nor woman speak
And never was love so complete
Since brave Sophia have acrossed the sea.

Frank Bond sings Lord Bateman

Lord Bateman was a rich noble lord
A rich noble lord of some high degree
He travelled east and he travelled west
Until he came unto proud Turkee

Alone I made a bride of your daughter,
She's none the better nor the worse for me,
You brought her here in a horse and saddle,
You may take her back in a coach and three.

A.L. Lloyd sings Lord BatemanNic Jones sings Lord Bateman

Lord Bateman was a noble lord,
A noble lord of some high degree,
Who set his foot on board of ship
Some foreign country would go see.

Lord Bateman was a noble lord,
A noble lord of high degree,
And he shipped himself on board a sailing ship,
Some foreign lands he would go and see.

He sailed East, and he sailed West,
Until he came to proud Turkey.
Where he was taken and put in prison
Until his life it grew quite weary.

He sailed East, and he sailed West,
Until he came to proud Turkey.
And he was taken and put in prison
Until his life was quite weary.

This Turkey had but one only daughter,
The fairest creature my eyes did see.
She's stolen keys from her father's pillow
And vowed Lord Bateman would be set free.

The Turkman had one only daughter,
The fairest lady me eyes did see.
And she's stolen the keys of her father's prison
And said Lord Bateman she would set free.

“Have you got houses, have you got lands?
And does Northumb'rland belong to thee?
And what would you give to the fair young lady,
As would release you and set you free?”

“Oh I've got houses and I've got lands,
And half Northumb'rland belongs to me;
And I'd grant it all to the fair young lady,
As would release me and let me free.”

She took him to her marble parlour
with sugar, cake and the best of wine,
And ev'ry health that she drank unto him,
“O I wish, Lord Bateman, your heart was mine.

She's taken him to her father's hall
And given to him a glass of wine.
And ev'ry health that she drank unto him was
“I wish, Lord Bateman, that you were mine.

For seven long year I'll make a vow,
For seven long year I'll keep it strong;
If you don't not wed to no other woman
I will not wed to no other man.”

For seven long years I'll make a vow,
And seven long years I'll keep it strong;
If you will wed with no other lady
Then I will wed no other man.”

She's taken him to her father's harbour,
And given to him a ship of fame:
“Farewell, farewell to you, Lord Bateman,
I fear I never shall see you again.”

With seven long years she did then set sail
Till turf and stone she chanced to spy;
And she went cracking her fair white fingers
As for Lord Bateman she did enquire.

Seven long years were up and past
These seven long years as I tell to thee
And she's packed up all of her gay clothing,
And said Lord Bateman she would go see.

When she's come to Bateman's castle,
So boldly then she did ring the bell.
“Who's there? Who's there?” Cried the proud young porter,
“Who is there, come to me tell.”

“Oh, isn't this Lord Bateman's palace?
And is the noble Lord within?”
“O yes! O yes!” said the brisk young porter,
“He and his new wed bride have just gone in.”

“Isn't this here Lord Bateman's castle?
And is Lord Bateman here within?”
“O yes! O yes!” cried the proud young porter,
“He's just now taken his new bride in.”

“Tell him to bring me a slice off bread,
And bring a bottle of the best of wine;
And not to forget the fair young lady
That did release him when close confined.”

Away and away went the young proud young porter,
Away and away and away went he,
And when he's come to Bateman's chamber,
Down he fell upon bended knees.

“What news, what news,” says Lord Bateman
“What news have you now brought to me?”
“There is the fairest of fine young ladies
That ever my own two eyes did see.”

“She bids you bring her a slice of bread,
And bring a bottle of the very best wine;
And not to forget the fair young lady,
That did release you when close confined.”

Lord Bateman flew into a passion,
He kicked his table in splinters three;
“I lay my life at that young Sophie
So now my new wed wife, fare well to thee.”

Bateman arose all in a passion,
He's broken his sword in splinters three;
“O I'd have give up all of my father's riches
If my Sophia have a-crossed the sea.”

O then up spoke the young bride's mother
Who was never heard to speak so free:
“You'll not forget my only daughter
If but Sophia has come from sea.”

Then up spoke the young bride's mother
Who never was heard to speak so free:
“What will you give to me only daughter
If your Sophia's come from sea.”

“I own I wed your only daughter;
She's neither the better nor worse for me.
She came to me on a horse and saddle;
She'll go home in a carriage and three.”

He then prepared another wedding,
With both their hearts so full of glee.
“I'll sail no more in no foreign country
Now that young Sophia she has crossed the sea.”

Bateman's prepared another wedding,
With all their hearts so full of glee.
“O never more will I range the ocean
Now my Sophia's come from sea.”

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Tony Barrand and Wolfgang Hell. Joseph Taylor's verses were copied from the liner notes of Unto Brigg Fair. Chris Wood's version was copied from the Wood–Wilson–Carthy sleeve notes.