A breefe balet touching the traytorous takynge of Scarborow Castell.


A breefe balet touching the traytorous takynge of Scarborow Castell.


The abortive uprising of Thomas Stafford

Digital Object

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Society of Antiquaries, no. 40, STC (2nd ed.) / 13290.7. EEBO record (institutional login required). 


OH valiaunt inuaders gallants gaie.
Who, with your compeeres conqueringe the route,
Castels or towrs: all standynge in your waie,
Ye take, controlling all estates most stoute.
Yet had it now bene good to looke aboute.
[illegible] to haue let alone,
And take scarborow warnynge euerichone.

By Scarborow castell, not Scarborow:
I onely meane: but further vnderstande,
Eche Hauene, eche hold, or other harborow,
That our good Kyng and Queene do holde in hande:
As dewe obedience bindth vs in bande.
Their Scarborow castels to let a lone,
And take Scarborow warnings euerychone.

The scalers of which castells euermore,
In bookes of olde, and in our eyes of new:
Haue alway lost them selues and theirs therfore.
All this ye did forget: in time to vew.
Which myght haue wrought both you and yours teschew:
Lettyng Scarborow castel now alone,
Takyng Scarborow warnyng euerychone.

This Scarborow castell, symplie standyng:
Yet could that castell slyly you begyle,
Ye thought ye tooke the castell: at your landyng:
The castell takyng you: in the selfe whyle.
Eche stone within the castell wall did smyle,
That Scarborow castell ye let not alone,
And tooke Scarborow warnyng euerychone.

Your puttyng now in vre your dyuylishe dreame,
Hath made you see (and lyke enough to feele)
A fewe false traytours can not wynne a reame,
Good subiectes be (and will be) trew as steele.
To stand with you, the ende they lyke no deele.
Scarborow castels they can lette alone,
And take Scarborow warnyng{is} euerychone.

They know gods law: tobey their Kyng and Queene.
Not take from them: but kepe for them their owne.
And geue to them: when such traytours are seene
As ye are now: to brynge all ouerthrowne:
They woorke your ouerthrow, by god{is} power growne.
God saith: let Scarborow castell alone,
Take Scarborow warnyng euerychone.

To late for you, and in time for the rest
Of your most traytorous sect (if any bee)
You all are spectacles at full witnest:
As other weare to you: treason to flee.
Which in you past, yet may the rest of yee:
The saide Scarborow castells let alone,
And take Scarborow warnyngs euerychone.

This terme Scarborow warnyng, grew (some say),
By hasty hangyng, for rank robbry theare.
Who that was met, but suspect in that way,
Streight was he trust vp: what euer he weare.
Wherupon theeues thynkyng good to forbeare,
Scarborow Robbyng they let that alone,
And tooke Scarborow warnyng euerychone.

If Robbyng in that way, bred hangyng so,
By theft to take, way, towne, castell and all,
What Scarborow hangyng craueth this lo:
Weare your selues herein Iudges capitall:
I thinke your Iudgementes on these woords must fall.
Scarborow Robbyng who letth not alone,
Scarborow hangyng deserue euerychone.

We wold to god that you (and al of yow)
Had but considered: as wel as ye knew:
The end of all traytorie, as you see it now,
Long to haue liued, louyng subiectes trew.
Alas: your losse we not reioyse, but rew.
That Scarborow castell ye leete not alone,
And tooke Scarborow warnyng euerychone.

To craft{is} that euer thryue, wyse men euer cleaue.
To crafts that seeld when thryue, wyse men seeld when flee.
The crafts that neuer thryue, a foole can learne to leaue.
This thriftles crafty crafte then clere leaue we.
One God, one Kynge, one Queene, serue franke and free.
Their Scarborow castell let it alone,
Take we Scarborow warning euerichone.

Our soueraigne lord: and soueraigne lady both.
Lawde we our lorde, for their prosperitee.
Beseching him for it: as it now goth,
And to this daie hath gone, that it may bee:
Continued so, in perpetuitee.
We lettyng theyr Scarborow castells alone,
Takyng Scarborow warnings euerychone,

Composer of Ballad

John Heywood

Method of Punishment



high treason



Execution Location

Tower Hill

Printing Location

England London Fleetestrete

Tune Data

Composer: Thomas Powell
Reference: (Simpson 1966, pp. 176-77)


Wikipedia: Thomas Stafford was the ninth child and second surviving son of Henry Stafford, 1st Baron Stafford and Ursula Pole. Little is known of his early life, first being mentioned in 1550 as he travelled to Rome, where he associated with his uncle Reginald, Cardinal Pole.

He spent three years in Italy before travelling to Poland, obtaining the recommendation of King Sigismund Augustus who requested Mary restored him to the Dukedom of Buckingham. Augustus's appeal appeared to have no effect. When Stafford returned to England in January 1554 he joined the rebellion led by Thomas Wyatt; this arose out of concern of Mary's determination to marry Philip II of Spain. The rebellion failed and Thomas was captured and briefly imprisoned in the Fleet Prison before fleeing to France. There, he intrigued with other English exiles and continued to promote his claim to the English throne. On 18 April 1557 (Easter Sunday) Stafford sailed from Dieppe with two ships and over 30 men.

Landing in Scarborough on 25 April 1557, he walked into the unprotected Castle and proclaimed himself Protector of the Realm, attempting to incite a new revolt by denouncing the Spanish marriage, railed against increased Spanish influence and promised to return the crown 'to the trewe Inglyshe bloude of our owne naterall countrye'. Stafford claimed he had seen letters at Dieppe showing that Scarborough and 12 other castles would be given to Philip II and garrisoned with 12,000 Spanish soldiers before his coronation. Three days later, the Earl of Westmorland recaptured the castle and arrested Stafford and his companions. Stafford was beheaded for treason on 28 May 1557 on Tower Hill, after imprisonment in the Tower. Thirty-two of his followers were also executed after the rebellion.




“A breefe balet touching the traytorous takynge of Scarborow Castell.,” Execution Ballads, accessed April 24, 2024, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/840.

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