> Louis Killen > Songs > Derwentwater’s Farewell

Derwentwater’s Farewell

[ Roud 2616 ; Ballad Index Sto004 ; DT DRWNTFRW ; trad.]

Louis Killen sang Derwentwater’s Farewell in 1962 on the Topic EP Northumbrian Garland (reissued in 1968 on the Topic LP Along the Coaly Tyne and in 1998 on CD); and on 4 June 1965 at a concert presented by the English Folk, Dance and Song Society at the Royal Festival Hall, London. A recording of this concert was published on the HMP LP Folksound of Britain.

He re-recorded Derwentwater’s Farewell in Winter 1977 at the Eldron Fennig Folk Museum of American Ephemera for his album Old Songs, Old Friends. He noted:

And in 1962 I learned a song from the Northumbrian Minstrelsy that has never ceased to move me—sometimes to tears; the farewell (as written by Scotsman Robert Surtees years after the event) of James Radcliffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater, before his execution in 1716 in London for his “treason” of supporting James Stuart’s bid for the throne in the 1715 uprising—Derwentwater’s Farewell.

Carolyn Robson sang Derwentwater’s Farewell in 1981 on her Dingle’s album Banks of Tyne. She noted:

Derwentwater’s Farewell is thought to have been written by Robert Surtees round about the turn of the last century. he same James Radcliffe as in Derwentwater [Roud 3158, on the same CD] is awaiting his execution in the Tower of London, lamenting that he cannot die in his beloved homeland. Dilston Hall, his ancestral home, is between Hexham and Corbridge and also happens to be my birthplace, though I hasten to add I was born the Maternity Hospital later built in the grounds of the ruined castle. The tune is older than the ballad by about 100 years.

Sheena Wellington sang Derwentwater’s Farewell in 1986 on her Dunkeld album Kerelaw. She commented:

The words are an extract from Lord Derwentwater’s Goodnight as published in James Hogg’s Jacobite Relics (1821), set to the ancient tune. James Radcliff, Earl of Derwentwater, was executed for his part in the rebellion of 1715.

Anni Fentiman sang Lady Margaret in 2002 on her and Dave Webber’s album Away From It All. They noted:

James Radcliff, Earl of Derwentwater, was executed for his involvement in the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. This song was probably written by Surtees, long after the event. It appears that Derwentwater was very popular, despite being of the nobility and having spent most of his life in France. The song may be rather more romantic than factual but there are still families in Northumberland, who keep the details of their involvement in the rebellion a secret even after nearly 300 years!

The New Scorpion Band sang Derwentwater’s Farewell in 2004 on their CD The Downfall of Pears. They noted:

James Radclyffe, third Earl of Derwentwater, held extensive estates in Northumberland and Durham, based on the ancestral seat of Dilston Hall, near Corbridge in the Tyne valley. He was beheaded on Tower Hill in February 1716 for his prominent role in the first Jacobite Rebellion of the previous year. At the time of his execution he was only twenty-six years old, and his youth and personal charm made him something of a romantic hero before his death. This is the best known of the laments written for him at the time. The text is found in Hogg’s Jacobite Relics of Scotland.

Miguel Girão sang Derwentwater’s Farewell on his 2020 CD Prologue. He noted:

Another song from Northumbria, which refers to the Jacobite rising of 1715. This one I got from a book called Songs and Ballads of Northern England. The song refers to a character who finds himself gazing with a thoughtful eye upon the main sights and people that have been around him since he can recall. A certain feeling of sorrow and longing flows through the words, as the man bids his last farewell when leaving to war where he will most likely be killed in battle.

Originally, the song has six verses and is played as a slow air. After some arranging, I decided I would play it much faster than it is normally played, and with a lesser number of verses.

See also the Child ballad Lord Derwentwater (Roud 89; Child 208).


Louis Killen sings Derwentwater’s Farewell

Fareweel to pleasant Dilston Hall, my father’s ancient seat,
A stranger now mun ca’ thee his, which gars my heart to greet.
Fareweel, fareweel, each wellknown face my heart has held so dear,
My tenants now mun leave their land or hold their lives in fear.

Fareweel, fareweel, my bonny gray steed, that carried me aye so free;
I wish I’d been sleeping in my bed last time I mounted thee.
Fareweel, fareweel, my lady dear, ill, ill thou counselled me,
I never mair may see the babe ye dandle on your knee.

The warning bell now bids me cease, my trouble’s nearly o’er,
The sun that rises frae the east will rise on me nae mair.
Albeit that here in London town it is my fate to die,
Oh, but carry me back to Northumberland, in my father’s grave to lie.