A new Ballad intituled, the stout Cripple of Cornwall


A new Ballad intituled, the stout Cripple of Cornwall


wherein is shewed his dissolute life and deserved death. To the tune of, the blind Begger .


An amputee ('he had never a legge to the knee')begs on the highway in daylight hours, but at night, disguises himself with stilts to rob travellers. Although his attempt to rob the Lord Courtney is botched, eventually he is caught and all are amazed.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Pepys Ballads 1.136; EBBA 20003; (see also Roxburghe 1.389 EBBA ID: 30262; Roxburghe 1.446, EBBA 30300; Roxburghe 3.616-617, EBBA 31316; Euing 1.241, EBBA 31790 ; Euing 1.242, EBBA 31791).

Set to tune of...

The blind beggar


O F a stout Cripple that kept the high way,
and beg'd for his living all time of the day,
A story Ile tell you that pleasant shall be,
the Cripple of Cornwall sir-named was he.
He crept on his hands and his knees up and down,
in a torne Jacket and ragged patcht Gowne:
For he had never a legge to the knee,
the Cripple of Cornwall sir [-] named was hee.
He was of stomacke couragious and stout,
for he had no cause to complaine of the Gout:
To goe upon stilts most cunning was hee,
with a staffe on his necke gallant and free.
Yea, no good fellowship would he forsake,
were it in secret a purse for to take:
His helpe was as good as any might be,
the Cripple of Cornwall sir-named was he.
When he upon any such service did goe,
the craftie young Cripple provided it so:
His tooles he kept close in an old hollow Tree,
that stood from the Citie a mile two or three.
Thus all the day long he begd for reliefe,
and late in the night he plaid the false Theefe:
And seven yeares together this custome kept he,
and no man knew him such a person to be.
There were few Grasiers went on the way,
but unto the Cripple for passage did pay,
And every brave Merchant that he did descry,
he emptied their purses ere they passed by.
The gallant Lord Courtney both valiant and bold,
rode forth with great plentie of silver and Gold:
At Exeter there a purchase to pay.
but that the false Cripple his journey did stay.
For why the false Cripple heard tydings of late,
as he lay for almes at this Noblemans gate:
What day and what houre his journey should be,
this is (quoth the Cripple) a bootie for me.
Then to his Companions the matter he moned,
which their like actions beforetime had proned:
They make themselves ready & deeply they sweare
this mony's their owne before they come there.
Upon his two stilts the Cripple doth mount,
to have his best share he makes his account:
All clothed in Canvas downe to the ground,
he takes up his standing his mates with him round
Then comes the L.Courtney with halfe a scoremen
that little suspecting these theeves in their den:
And they perceiving them come to their hand,
in a darke evening they bid him to stand.
Deliver thy purse quoth the Cripple with speed,
for we be good fellowes and thereof have need:
Not so, quoth Lord Courtney , but this I tell thee,
win it, and weare it, else get none of me.
With that the Lord Courtney stood in his defence,
and so did his servants, but ere they went [hence]
Two of the true men were slaine in the fight,
and foure of the theeves were put to their flight
And while for their safegard they ran thus away,
the jolly bold Cripple did hold the rest play:
And with his pike-staffe he wounded them so,
as they were unable to runne or to goe.
With fight the L. Courtney was driven out of breath
and most of his servants wounded to death:
Then came other horsemen riding so fast,
the Cripple was forced to flie at the last,
And over a River that ran there beside,
which was very deepe and eighteene foot wide:
With his long staffe and his stilts leaped hee,
and shifted himselfe in an old hollow Tree.
Then thorow the Country was hue and cry made,
to have these theeves apprehended and stayde:
The Cripple he creeps on his hands and his knees,
and on the high way great posting he sees.
And as they came riding he begging doth say,
O give me one penny, good Master, I pray:
And thus unto Exeter creepes he along,
no man suspecting that he had done wrong.
Anon the Lord Courtney he spyde in the street
he comes unto him and kisses his feet:
Saying, God save your honor & keepe you from il,
and from the hands of your enemies still.
Amen qouth L. Courtney , and therewith flung downe
unto the poore Cripple an English Crowne:
Away went the Cripple and thus he did thinke,
500 . pounds more would make me to drinke.
In vaine that hue and cry it was made,
they found none of them though the Countrey was layd:
But this grieved the Cripple both night and day,
that he so unluckily mist of his pray.
Nine hundred pounds this Cripple had got,
by begging and robbing so good was his lot,
A thousand pound he would make it he said,
and then hee would quite give over his trade.
But as he strived his minde to fulfill,
in following his actions so lewd and so ill,
At last he was taken the law to suffice,
condemned and hanged at Exeter [sise].
Which made all men amazed to see,
that such an impotent person as hee,
Should venture himselfe to such actions as they,
to rob in such sort upon the high way.

F I N I S.

Method of Punishment



robbery; theft



Execution Location


Printing Location

London, Printed for J .W.


EEBO link to later (1750) version. Words are mostly unchanged (institutional login required). 




“A new Ballad intituled, the stout Cripple of Cornwall,” Execution Ballads, accessed May 30, 2024, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/853.

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