Sir Walter Rauleigh his lamentation:


Sir Walter Rauleigh his lamentation:


Who was beheaded in the old Pallace at Westminster the 29.
of October. 1618. To the tune of Welladay.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College, Pepys Library - Cambridge (1.110-111); EBBA 20046

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C Ourteous kind Gallants all, pittie me, pittie me,
My time is now but small, here to continue:
Thousands of people stay,
To see my dying day,
Sing I then welladay, wofully mourning.

Once in a gallant sort lived I, lived I.
Belov'd in Englands court graced with honours:
Sir Walter Rauleighs name
Had then a noble fame:
Though turned now to shame through my misdoing.

In youth I was too free of my will, of my will,
Which now deceiveth me of my best fortunes:
All that same gallant traine
Which I did then maintaine,
Holds me now in disdaine for my vaine folly.

When as Queene Elizabeth ruld this land, ruld this land,
I trode the honord path of a brave Courtier:
Offices I had store,
Heapt on me more and more,
And my selfe I in them bore proud and commanding.

Gone are those golden dayes, woe is me woe is me:
Offences many waies brought unto triall,
Showes that disloyaltie
Done to his Majestie,
Judgeth me thus to dye; Lord for thy pitie.

But the good graces here of my King, of my King,
Shewd to me many a yeere
makes my soule happie
In that his royall Grace
Gave me both time and space
Repentance to embrace: now heaven be praised.

Thirteene years in the tower have I lien, have I lien.
Before this appoynted houre of my lives ending:
Likewise such libertie
Had I unluckily,
To be sent gallantly out on a voyage.

But that same voyage then prov'd amis prov'd amis,
Many good gentlemen lost their good fortunes:
All that with me did goe
Had sudden overthrow
My wicked will to shew gainst my deere Countrey.

When I returned backe, hoping grace, hoping grace,
The tower againe alacke was my abiding:
Where for offences past,
My life againe was cast
Woe on woe followed fast to my confusion.

It plea'sd my royall King thus to doe, thus to doe,
That his peeres should me bring to my lives judgement.
The Lieutenant of the tower
Kept me fast in his power,
Till the appointed houre of my remooving.

The Second Part .

T O Westminster then was I garded strong, garded strong
Where many a wandring eye saw me convayed
Where I a Judgment had, for my offences bad,
Which was to loose my head, there the next morning.

So to the Gatehouse there, was I sent, was I sent,
By knights and gentlemen, guarding me safely,
Where all that wofull night,
My heart tooke no delight:
Such is the heavie plight of a poore prisoner.

Calling then to my mind, all my joyes, all my joyes,
Whereto I was inclind, living in pleasures:
All those dayes past and gon,
Brings me now care and mone,
Being thus overthrowne, by mine own folly.

When the sad morning came
I should die, I should die:
O what a fright of shame:
fild up my bosome:
My heart did almost breake, when I heard people speake,
I shold my ending make as a vile traitor.

I thought my fortunes hard, when I saw, when I saw
In the faire pallace yard a scaffold prepared:
My loathed life to end:
On which I did ascend.
Having at all no friend there to grant mercy.

Kneeling downe on my knee, willingly, willingly,
Prayed for his Majustie long to continue:
And for his Nobles all.
With subjects great and small,
Let this my wofull fall be a fit warning.

And you that hither come thus to see, thus to see
My most unhappy doome
pittie my ending.
A Christian true I die:
Papistrie I defie,
Nor never Atheist I as is reported.

You Lords & knights also in this place, in this place
Some gentle love bestow
pity my falling:
As I rose suddenly
Up to great dignitie,
So I deservedly die for my folly.

Farewell my loving wife woe is me, woe is me:
Mournefull wil bee thy life,
Left a sad widdow.
Farewell my children sweet,
We never more shall meet
Till we each other gr[ee]t, blessed in heaven,

With this my dying knell willingly, willingly,
Bid I the world farewell full of vaine shadowes
All her deluding showes
brings my heart naught but woes
Who rightly feeles and knowes. all her deceivings.

Thus with my dying breath doe I kis, doe I kis,
This axe that for my death here is provided:
May I feele little paine,
when as it cuts in twaine,
what my life must sustaine all her deceivings.

My head on block is laid,
And my last part is plaid:
Fortune hath me betraid, sweet Jesus grant mercy.
Thou that my headsman art, when thou list, when thou list,
Without feare doe thy part
I am prepared:

Thus here my end I take
farewel world, farewel world,
And my last will I make, climing to heaven:
For this my offence,
I die with true penitance,
Jesus recieve me hence: farewell sweet England.

Method of Punishment






Execution Location

Old Palace, Westminster

Printing Location

London Printed for Philip Birch and are to be sold at his shop at the Guyld-hall .

Tune Data

Composer: William Elderton
Date tune first appeared: 1569




“Sir Walter Rauleigh his lamentation:,” Execution Ballads, accessed May 30, 2024,

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