A discription of Nortons falcehod Of Yorke shyre, and of his fatall farewel.


A discription of Nortons falcehod Of Yorke shyre, and of his fatall farewel.


The fatal fine of Traitours loe: By Iustice due, deseruyng soe.


A ballad commemorating the execution of nobles involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace, a widespread revolt against the rule of Henry VIII. The Pilgrimage of Grace started in late 1536 and finished in early 1537.

Stuffed full of animal lore like: 'The Crane wolde flye vp to the Sunne, I heard it once of olde', and seasoned with Biblical and classical allusions, what this exhortation against papistry and treason lacks is hard information. The family name of the Nortons is mentioned three times in connection with the gallows; nothing more specific appears.

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HuntingtonbLibrary - Britwell, Shelfmark: HEH18305; EBBA 32269


A discription of Nortons falcehod of Yorke shyre, and of his fatall farewel.

The fatal fine of Traitours loe:
By Iustice due, deseruyng soe.

OF late (alas) the great vntruth
Of Traitours, how it sped
Who list to know, shal here Single illegible lettere
How late allegeance fled.
If Riuers rage against the Sea.
And swell with soddeine rayne:
How glad are they to fall agayne,
And trace their wonted traine?
If fire by force wolde forge the fall
Of any sumptuouse place,
If water floods byd him leaue of,
His flames he wyll disgrace.
If God command the wyndes to cease,
His blastes are layd full low:
If God command the seas to calme,
They wyll not rage or flow.
All thinges at Gods commandeme~t be,
If he their state regarde:
And no man liues whose destinie
By him is vnpreparde.
But when a man forsakes the ship,
And rowles in wallowing waues:
And of his voluntarie wyll,
His owne good hap depraues:
How shal he hope to scape the gulfe?
How shal he thinke to deale?
How shal his fansie bring him sound
To Safties shore with sayle?
How shall his fraight in fine succede?
Alas what shall he gayne?
What feare by storms do make him quake
How ofte subiecte to payne?
How sundrie times in Dangers den
Is throwne the man vnwyse?
Who climes withouten holde on hye,
Beware, I him aduize.
All such as trust to false contracts,
Or secret harmes conspire?
Be sure, with Nortons they shal taste
A right deserued hire.
They can not looke for better sp_ede,
No death for such too fell?
God grant the iustice of the worlde
Put by the paynes of hell.
For such a pensiue case it is,
That English harts did dare
To passe the boundes of duties lawe,
Or of their cuntrie care.
And mercie hath so long releast
Offendours (God doth know)
And bountie of our curteous Quene
Too long hath spared her foe.
But God, whose grace inspires her harte,
Wyll not abyde the spight
Of Rebels rage, who rampe to reach
From her, her title quight.
Although shee flowe in pitifull zeale,
And loueth to sucke no blood:
Yet God a caueat wyll her lend
T'appease those Vipers moode.
A man that sets his house on fire,
Wyll seke to quench the flame:
Els from the spoyle some parte conuey,
Els seke the heate to tame.
Who s_e a penthouse wether beate,
And heares a boistrouse wynde:
But hedefull sasetie of himselfe,
Wyll force him succour fynde?
The pitifull pacient Pellican,
Her blood although sh_e shed:
Yet wyll she seme her date to end,
Or care her young be sped.
The Eagle flynges her yong ones downe
That sight of sunne refuse:
Vnperfect fowles she deadly hates,
And rightly such misvse.
The Crane wolde flye vp to the Sunne,
I heard it once of olde:
And with the kyng of byrdes did striue
By Fame, I heard it tolde
And do woe she wolde not fal f[...]e no,
But higher styll did mou[...]:
Til past her reach (saith olde reporte)
Shame made a backe recour
I touch no Armes herein at all
But shew a fable wyse:
Whose morall sence doth repr[1 span missing]
Of clymers hye the guyse.
Who buyldes a house of many [1 span missing],
and laith not ground work[1 span missing]
But doth ertorte the ground [1 span missing]g,
His buildyng can not dure[1 span missing]

Who sekes surmising to disp[1 span missing]
a Ruler sent by GOD:
Is subiect sure, deuoide of grace
The cause of his owne rod.
A byrde that wyll her nest defyle
By right should loose a wyng:
And then is shee no slying fowle,
But slow as other thyng.
And he that loseth all at games,
Or spendes in fowle excesse:
And hopes by haps to heale his harme,
Must drinke of deare distresse.
To speake of brydles to restrayne
This wylfull wayward crewe:
They care not for the booke of God,
To Princes, men vntrue.
To cuntrye, causers of much woe,
To faithfull fr_endes, a fall:
And to their owne estates, a styng,
To others, sharpe as gall.
O Lorde, how long these Lizerds lurkt,
Good GOD, how great a whyle
Were they in hand with feigned harts
Their cuntrye to defyle?
How did they frame their furniture?
How sit they made their tooles:
How Symon sought our englysh Troie
To bryng to Romaine scooles.
How Simon Magus playd his parte,
How Babilon bawde did rage:
How Basan bulles begon to bell,
How Iudas sought his wage.
How Iannes and Iambres did abyde
The brunt of brainesicke acts,
How Dathan, Chore, Abiram s_emd
To dash our Moyses facts.
How Romaine marchant set a fresh
His pardons braue a sale,
How alwayes some against the Truth
Wolde dreame a senceles tale.
Gods vicar from his god receaued
The keyes to lose and bynd:
Baals chaplein thoght h{is} fire wo[1 span missing]e
Such was his pagan mynd.
Good Lorde how hits the ter[...] their [1 span missing]ts
That saith such men shall be
In their religion hot nor colde
Of much varietie.
And sundry sorts of sects sur[1 span missing]
Diuision shall appeare:
Against the father, sonne sha[1 span missing]ue,
Gainst mother, daughter [1 span missing]e.
Is it not come to passe trow you?
Yea, bastards sure they be,
Who our good mother Qu_ene [1 span missing]
Withstand rebelliouslie.
Can God his vengeance long reta[1 span missing]
Where his true seruants f_ele
Iniuriouse spights of godlesse men,
Who turne as doth a whele?
No no, his suffryug long (be sure)
Wyll pay his foes at last:
His mercye moued once away,
He shall them quight out cast
With sentence iust for their vntruth,
And breakyng of his wyll:
The fruits of their sedicious s_eds,
The barnes of earth shall fyll.
Their soules God wot sore clogd wt crime
And their posteritie
Bespotted sore with their abuse,
And stand by their follie.
Their liuyngs left their name a shame,
Their deedes with poyson sped:
Their deathes a wage for want of grace
Their honours quite is dead.
Their flesh to feede the kytes and crowes
Their armes a maze for men:
Their guerdon as examples are
To dash dolte Dunces den.
Throw vp your snouts you sluggish sorte
You mumming maskyng route:
Extoll your exclamations vp,
Baals chapleines, champions stoute.
Make sute for pardons, papists braue,
For traitours indulgence:
Send out some purgatorie scraps,
Some Bulls with Peter pence.
O swarme of Drones, how dare ye styl
With labouryng B_es contend?
You sought for home from the hiues,
But gall you found in end.
These waspes do wast, their stings be out
Their spight wyll not auayle:
These Peacocks proude are naked lefte
Of their displayed tayle.
These Turkye cocks iu cullour red,
So long haue lurkt a loofe:
The Beare (although but slow of foote)
Hath pluct his wynges by proofe.
The Moone her borowed light hath lost,
Shee wayned as we see:
Who hoped by hap of others harmes,
A full Moone once to b_e.
The Lyon suffred long the Bull,
His noble mynd to trye:
Vntyll the Bull was rageyng wood,
And from his stake did hye.
Then time it was to bid him stay
Perforce, his hornes to cut:
And make him leaue his rageing tunes
In scilence to be put.
And all the calues of Basan kynd
Are weaned from their wish:
The Hircan Tigers tamed now,
Lemathon eates no fish.
Beholde before your balefull eyes
The purchace of your parte,
Suruey your sodeine sorrowful sight
With sighes of dubble harte.
Lament the lacke of your alies
Religious rebells all:
Bewepe that yll successe of yours,
Come curse your sodeine fall.
And when ye haue your guiles out sought
And all your craft approued,
Peccauimus shall be your song
Your ground worke is remoued.
And looke how Nortons sped their wills
Euen so their sect shall haue,
No better let them hope to gayne
But gallowes without graue.

{que} William Gibson.


Composer of Ballad

William Gibson

Method of Punishment

hanging; drawing and quartering





Execution Location


Printing Location

London by Alexander Lacie, or Henrie Kyrkeham, dwellyng at the signe of the blacke Boye, at the middle North dore of Paules church.


From The Goodricke Family Files:  Richard Norton, his sons, Christopher and Marmaduke, and his brother Thomas Norton, and about fifty others of noble extraction or of other distinction were tainted of high treason 7 Nov 1569 and their possessions forfeited. Richard Norton fled to Flanders where doubtless he rejoined the Earl of Westmorland, and died there in poverty 9 Apr 1585 (aged 91), the Patriarch of the Rebellion. His brother Thomas was hanged and quartered in the presence of his nephew Christopher at Tyburn on 27 May 1570. The fate on the sons of Richard Norton was as follows: Francis, the eldest, was a fugitive with his father; John, the second, was of Ripon, was not implicated; Edmund, the third, ancestor of the Lords Grantly, was of Clowbeck, Co. York, and died there in 1610, not implicated; William, the fourth, was tried with his uncle Thomas and brother Christopher but was pardoned; George, the fifth, was a fugitive with his father; Thomas, the sixth, died without issue, was not implicated; Christopher, the seventh, was hanged and quartered with his uncle Thomas, at Tyburn, 27 May 1570; Marmaduke, the eighth, pleaded guilty but was pardoned and died at Stranton where he was buried 4th Nov 1594. He was kept a prisoner in the Tower, however, until 1572. Sampson, the ninth, and youngest son, was a fugitive with his father and was at Mechlin in 1571, then a pensioner of the King of Spain. Richard Norton had seven daughters, all well married.




“A discription of Nortons falcehod Of Yorke shyre, and of his fatall farewel.,” Execution Ballads, accessed May 30, 2024, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/844.

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