The lamentation of Edward Bruton, and James Riley,


The lamentation of Edward Bruton, and James Riley,


who for the bloody murder committed on the bodies of Henry Howell, and his wife, vpon Queenes Downe, were executed and hanged in chaines, neere the same place on the 18. day of March, 1633. //
Another Bloody murther committed neere Ware, in Hart-fordshire, by some notorious offenders, who were executed in the same moneth. To the same Tune.


2 stories: Edward Bruton and James Riley are convicted of the murders of Henry Howell and his wife in Queenes Downe, Kent.
In Ware, in Hertfordshire, two men are robbed and murdered by four men, one of whom returns to make sure his victim is dead by bashing his brains in. One of the robbers later goes to change gold, but his ignorance of its value leads changer to suspect something. Robber confesses, and all are executed, the one who bashed the brains in being executed near the spot the murder took place, while the other are executed at 'the common Execution place'.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

British Library - Roxburghe, C.20.f.7.486 (same as Roxburghe 1.487, EBBA 31634); EBBA 30324

Set to tune of...


KInd Countreymen and our acquaintance all,
Example take by this our sodaine fall,
Dip not your hands in blood thats innocent,
For which offence we both too late repent.

The crying sinnes of murther pierceth heaven,
And great repentance craves to be forgiven,
One bloody deed deserves ten thousand deaths:
But we bereaved divers of their breaths.

The harmelesse man that did no hurt intend,
Most butcher-like we brought unto his end,
And that good woman his most loving wife
Inhumanely bereaved we of life,

She great with child (oh how it grieves our hearts
That we should act such bloody tragicke parts!)
The harmelesse infant that was in her wombe,
We likewise slew, whose mother was its tombe.

Their other children sitting by the fire
We likewise hurt, who mercy did require,
But we no mercy had, nor grace at all,
When as these Babes for life did cry and call.

And for the same no mercy here we find:
Deserved death are for our sinnes assignd,
Death is our doome, we here our lives must pay,
Our glasse is out, this is our dying day.

A shamelesse end for our most shamefull sinne
We must receive, that we have lived in,
Here on this tree we must resigne our breathe
Yet thats not all, though here we die this death.

Our bodies must no buriall place possesse,
This is our doome for our vild wickednesse,
Twixt Earth & Heaven we here must hang in chains
As long as sinewes, flesh or bones remaines.

Fowles of the aire our eyes they forth will pull,
Feed on our flesh, and peck upon our scull,
We shall be pointing stocks to every one
That passeth by, though we are dead and gone.

Earth scornes to hide our bodies from the light,
But in the ayre must tottering hang in sight,
And here in Kent we nere shall bee forgot,
Although our joints by piecemeale dropping rot,

Unto each other Travellers will say,
See you those Murtherers, as they passe this way,
Those are the villaines that the blood did spill
Of innocents, thats hanging on yon hill.

Thus shall we be discourse for after-times,
Which we deserve most justly for our crimes,
And we shall be recorded for this fact,
That we so mercilesse and foule did act.

Great God forgive our sinnes that are so foule,
And unto mercy take each sinfull Soule,
Deale not in Justice with our sinnes, O Lord,
But grace and pardon to our soules afford.

Thy mercy (Lord) is greater than our sinne,
And if thou please in Heaven to let us in,
We doe repent us of our wicked deed,
The thought of which doth make our soules to bleed.

But woe to him that was the cause of this,
Which did intice us first to doe amisse,
Oh bloody Darbie, it was long of thee
We did consent to do this villanie.

Though thou art fled, yet God will find thee out,
And will take vengeance on thee, theres no doubt,
Heel not let scape so foule and vile a crime,
As he hath justly done on us this time.

But we confesse, we have deservd to dye,
And to the Lord we now for mercy cry:
Receive us, Jesus Christ, to thee we pray,
Whose precious blood wash all our sinnes away.

Thus have you heard how these same two did dye,
Ending their lives with shame and infamy,
And one of them that was on thother side,
Converted, and a Protestant he dide.

The Lord (no doubt) to them did mercy lend,
Who were so penitent before their end,
Their soules I hope in Heaven above doe dwell.
But yet another bloody tale Ile tell.

Another Bloody murther committed neere Ware, in Hart-
fordshire, by some notorious offenders, who were execu-
ted in the same moneth. To the same Tune.

KInd hearts give eare to that which I shall tell
Of a sad story which of late befell,
In Hartfordshire neere Ware did chance this thing,
Which causd salt teares from many eyes to spring.

Two men were riding in an evening late,
That had a charge of money and estate,
And homeward they intended for to goe,
But destiny doth oftentimes say no.

And for these men foure villaines they did watch,
Which had way-layd them how they them might catch:
At him which was the formost they did lay,
But his swift horse did beare him safe away.

The next they hit, and felld him to the ground,
And rifling him, they gave him many a wound,
So leaving him, as they did thinke for dead,
Having his gold, away they streightway fled.

Yet one of them did backward cast his eye,
And did perceive him stir as he did lye,
Saying, Ile backe, and give him his deaths blo[w]
For every one of us he well doth know.

And with his staffe his braynes he out did beate.
Then straight this villaine to them did retreate;
But marke how God did bring this thing to light,
For blood and murther he will soone requite.

One of these theeves a peece of Gold would change
With one that knew him, that did thi[n]ke it strang[e]
He should have gold, yet not the valew knew,
Into suspition straite his mind it drew.

And hearing of the murther done of late,
Would understand how he came by this state,
And threatning him, he then confest straiteway,
Both him and them which that same man did slay.

They were convicted, and by Law were tride,
And for the same all foure of the[m] t[he]y dide,
And he that last went b[a]cke, did suffer [de]ath,
Just in the place he spent the true mans breath.

And at the common Execution place,
The other three did end their fatall ra[c]e,
A just reward for murtherers in their kind,
That beare so base and foule a bloody mind.

For he that sits above the heavenly skye,
Viewes all below with his all-seeing eye,
And will take vengeance when he sees his will,
On all that glories harmelesse blood to spill,

Great God, preserve us from all sodaine death,
Prepare our soules before we lose our breath,
Make us all ready for the day to come,
When thou shalt give to every one their doome.

Method of Punishment

hanging in chains




Execution Location

Queenes Downe, Kent

Printing Location

London, Printed for H.G.




“The lamentation of Edward Bruton, and James Riley,,” Execution Ballads, accessed June 16, 2024,

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