A Lamentable Ditty made on the Death of Robert Deverux Earl of Essex,


A Lamentable Ditty made on the Death of Robert Deverux Earl of Essex,


who was Beheaded in the Tower of London, on Ash-Wednesday, 1603.
A Lamentable Ballad on the Earl of Essex Death


Execution of Robert Deverux Earl of Essex by beheading at the Tower of London

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Shelfmark: Pepys Ballds 2.162-3; EBBA 20781 // EBBA 32618

Set to tune of...

Welladay // Essex' Last Good-night


SWeet Englands pride is gone,
welladay, welladay,
Which makes her sigh and groan,
evermore still,
He did her fame advance,
In Ireland Spain and France,
And by a sad mischance,
is from us tane.
He was a vertuous Peer,
weladay, etc.
And was esteemed dear,
evermore still.
He always lov'd the poor,
Which makes them sigh full sore,
His death they did deplore,
in every place.
Brave honour grac'd him still,
gallantly, gallantly,
He ne'r did deed of ill,
well it is known,
But envy that foul fiend,
Whose Malice there doth end,
Hath brought true vertues friend,
unto this thrall.
At Tilt he did surpass,
gallantly, etc,
All men that is and was,
evermore still,
One day as it was seen,
In honour of the Queen,
Such deeds are seldome been,
as he did do,
Abroad and eke at home,
gallantly, gallantly,
For valour there was none,
like him before,
But Ireland France and Spain,
That feared great Essexs name,
But England lov'd the same,
in every place.
But all would not prevail,
welladay, welladay,
His deeds did not prevail,
more was the pitty,
He was condemn'd to dye,
For Treason certainly,
But God that sits on high,
knoweth all things.
That Sunday in the Morn,
welladay, etc,
That he to the City came
with all his Troops.
That first began the strife,
And caus'd him loose his life,
And others did the like,
as well as he.
Yet her Princely Majesty,
graciously, graciously,
Hath pardon given free,
to many of them,
She hath releast them quite,
And given them their right,
They did pray day and night,
God to defend her.
Shrove-Tuesday in the night,
welladay, etc.
With a heavy hearted spight,
as it is said,
The Lieutennant of the Tower,
Who kept him in his power,
At ten a clock that hour,
to him did come,
And said unto him there,
mournfully, etc.
Mo Lord you must prepare,
to dye to morrow,
Gods will be done, quoth he,
Yet shall you strangely see,
God strong in me to be,
though I am weak.
I pray you pray for me,
welladay, etc.
That God may strengthen me
against that hour,
Then straightway he did call
To the Guard under the wall,
And did intreat them all
for him to pray.
For to morrow is the day,
welladay, etc.
That I a debt must pay,
which I do owe,
It is my life I mean,
Which I must pay the Queen,
Even so hath justice given,
that I must dye.
In the morning was he brought,
welladay, etc.
Where the Scaffold was set up,
within the Tower,
Many Lords were present then,
With other Gentlemen,
Which were appointed then,
to see him dye.
You Noble Lords, quoth he,
welladay, etc.
That must the witness,
of this my dream,
Know I ne'r lov'd Papistry,
But still doth it defie,
And thus doth Essex dye,
here in this place.
I have a sinner been,
welladay, etc.
Yet never wrong'd my Queen,
in all my life,
My God I did offend,
Which grieves me at my end,
May all the rest amend,
I do them forgive.
To the state I ne'r meant ill,
welladay, etc.
Neither wisht the commons ill,
in all my life:
But lov'd with all my heart,
And always took their part,
Whereas there were desert,
in every place.
Then mildly did he pray,
mournfully, etc.
He might the favour have,
private to pray,
He then pray'd heartily,
And with great fervency,
To God that sits on high,
for to receive him.
And then he pray'd again,
mournfully, etc.
God to preserve his Queen,
from all her foes.
And send her long to reign,
True Justice to remain,
And not to let proud Spain,
once to offend her,
His Gown be stript off then
welladay, etc.
And put off his Hat and Band,
and hung them by,
Praying still continually,
To God that sits on high,
That he might patiently
there suffer death.
My Heads-man that must be,
then said he chearfully,
Let him come here to me,
that I may see him,
Who kneeled to him then,
Art thou quoth he the Man,
Who art appointed now,
my life to free.
Yes my Lord he did say,
we[l]laday, etc.
Forgive me I you pray,
for this your death:
I here do thee forgive,
And may true justice live,
No foul crimes to forgive,
within this place.
Th[en] he kneeled down again,
welladay, etc.
And was required by some,
there standing by,
To forgive his Enemies,
Before Death clos'd his eyes,
Which he did in hearty wise,
thanking him for it.
That they would remember him,
welladay, etc.
That he would forgive all them,
that hath him wrong'd,
Now my Lords I take my leave,
Sweet Christ my Soul receive,
Now when you will prepare,
I am ready.
He laid his head on the block,
we[l]laday, etc.
But [hi]s Doublet let the stroke,
s[om]e there did say,
What must be done quoth he,
Sha[ll] be done presently,
There [h]is Doublet off put he,
a[nd] lay'd down again.
Th[en] the Headsman did his part,
cruelly, cruelly,
He was not seen to start
for all the blows,
His soul is now at rest,
In Heaven among the blest,
W[he]re God send us to rest
w[he]n it shall please him,


ALL you that cry O hone, Ohone,
come now & sing O hone with me
For why our Jewel is from us gone,
the valiant Knight of Chivalry:
Of rich and poor belov'd was he,
in time an honourable Knight;
When by our Laws condemn'd to dye,
he lately took his last good night.
Count him not like to Champion,
those Traytorous men of Babington,
Nor like the Earl of Westmerland,
by whom a number were undone:
He never yet hurt Mothers Son,
his quarrel still maintains the right,
Which makes the tears my face down run
when I think on his last good night.
The Portugals can witness be,
his Dagger at Lisborn Gate he flung,
And like a Knight of Chivalry,
his Chain upon the gate he hung;
I would to God that he would come
to fetch them back in order right
Which thing was by his honour done,
yet lately took his last good night.
The Frenchmen they can testifie,
the town of Gourney he took in,
And marcht to Rome immediately,
not caring for his foes a pin,
With Bullets then he pierc'd their skin
and made them flye from his sight:
He there that time did credit win,
and now hath tane his last good night
And stately Cales can witness be,
even by his Proclamation right,
He did command them all straightly,
to have a care of Infants lives:
And that none should hurt man or wife,
which was against their right,
Therefore they pray'd for his long life,
which lately took his last good night.
Would God he ne'r had Ireland known,
nor set one foot on Flanders ground
Then might we well injoy'd our own,
where now our Jewel will not be found
Which makes our foes still abound,
trickling with salt tears in our sight,
To hear his name in our ears to sound,
Lord Deverux took his last good night.
Ashwednesday that dismal day,
when he came forth of his chamber door,
Upon a Scaffold there he saw,
his heads-man standing him before:
His Nobles all they did deplore,
sheding salt tears in his sight,
He said farewel to rich and poor,
at his good morrow and goodnight:
My Lords said he you stand but by,
to see performance of the Law,
It is I that have deserv'd to dye.
and yield my self unto the blow,
I have deserv'd to dye I know,
but ne'r against my Countries right,
Nor to my Queen was ever foe,
upon my death at my good night.
Farewel Elizabeth my gracious Queen,
God bless thee with thy council all,
Farewel my Knights of Chivalry,
farewel my Souldiers stout and tall.
Farewel the Commons great and small,
into the hands of men I light,
My life shall make amends for all,
for Essex bids the world good night.
Farewel dear wife and children three,
farewel my kind and tender son,
Comfort your selves mourn not for me,
although your fall be now begun,
My time is come my glass is run,
comfort your self in former light,
Seeing by my fall you are undone,
your father bids the world good night.
Derick thou know'st at Cales I sav'd
thy life lost for a Rape there done,
As thou thy self can'st testifie,
thine own hand three and twenty hung,
But now thou seest my self is come
by chance into thy hands I light,
Strike out thy blow that I may know,
thou Essex lov'd at his good night.
When England counted me a Papist,
the work of Papists I defie,
I ne'r worshipt saint nor Angel in heaven
nor the Virgin Mary I.
But to Christ which for my sins did dye,
trickling with Salt tears in his sight
Spreading my arms to God on high,
Lord Jesus receive my soul this night

Method of Punishment






Execution Location

Tower of London

Printing Location

Printed for W. Thackeray and T. Passinger




“A Lamentable Ditty made on the Death of Robert Deverux Earl of Essex,,” Execution Ballads, accessed June 13, 2024, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/846.

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