The Lamentation of John Musgrave,


The Lamentation of John Musgrave,


Who was Executed at Kendal, for Robbing the King's Receiver, and taking away from his great store of Treasure.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

British Library - Roxburghe, C.20.f.8.487; Pepys 2.160; EBBA 30986

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To lodge it was my chance of late,
at Kendal in the Sizes week,
Where I saw many a gallant state
was walking up and down the street,

Down plumpton park as I did pass,
I heard a Bird sing in a glen:
The chiefest of her Song it was,
farewell the flower of Serving-men.

Sometimes I heard the the Musick sweet,
which was delightfull unto me:
At length I heard one wail and weep.
a gallant youth condemn'd to dye:
Down Plumpton park, etc.

A Gentleman of courage bold,
his like I never saw before,
But when as I did him behold,
my grief it grew still more and more:
Down Plumpton Park, etc.

Of watery eyes there were great store,
for all did weep that did him see,
He made the heart of many sore,
and I lamented for company:
Down Plumpton park, etc.

To God above (quoth he) I call,
that sent his son to suffer death:
For to receive my sinful soul,
so soon as I shall loose my breath,
Down Plumpton park, etc.

O God I have deserved death,
for deeds that I have done to thee:
Yet never liv'd I like a thief,
till I met with ill company.
Down Plumpton park, etc.

For I may curse the dismal hour,
first time that I did give consent:
For to Rob the King's Receiver
and to take away his Rent:
Down Plumpton park, etc.

You Gallants all be warn'd by me,
learn Cards and Dice for to refrain,
Fly whores, eschew ill company,
for these 3 thing will breed you pain:
Down Plumpton park, etc.

All earthly treasures are but vain
and worldly wealth is vanity:
Search nothing else but heaven to gain
remember all that we must dye:
Down Plumton park, etc.

Farewell good fellows less and more,
be not dismaid at this my fall:
I never did offend before,
John Musgrave, all men did me call:
Down Plumton park as I did pass,
I heard a bird sing in a glen, etc.

The second part of the Lamentation of John Musgrave.
To the same Tune.
T He bait beguiles the bonny Fish,
some care not what they swear or say
The Lamb becomes the Foxes dish
when as the old sheep runs away:
Down Plumpton park as I did pass,
I heard a bird sing in a glen,
The chiefest of her song it was,
fare well the flower of Serving-men.

The Fowlers that the Plovers get,
take glistering glass their net to set:
The Ferret when the mouth is cop't.
doth drive the Coney to the Net:
Down Plumton park, etc.

The Pike devours the Salmon free,
which is a better Fish than himself:
Some care not how whose children cry,
so that themselves may keep their pelf:
Down Plumpton park, etc.

Farewell good people less and more,
both great and small that did me ken:
Farewell rich, and farewell poor,
and farewell all good Serving-men;
Down Plumpton park, etc.

Now by my death I wish all know,
that this same lesson you may teach,
Of what degree, of high, or low,
climb not I say above your reach:
Down Plumpton park, etc.

Good Gentlemen I you intreat,
that have more sons than you have lands,
In idleness do not them keep,
teach them to labour with their hands:
Down Plumpton park; etc.

For idleness is the root of evil,
and this sin never goes alone:
But Theft and Robbery follows after,
as by my self is plainly shown:
Down plumpton park, etc.

For Youth & Age, will not understand,
that friends in want, they be but cold,
If they spend their portions and lack land
they may go beg when they are old:
Down Plumpton park, etc.

Farewell, farewell my bretheren dear,
sweet Sisters make no doal for me:
My death's at hand I do not fear,
we are all mortal and born to dye:
Down Plumpton park, etc.

I know that Christ did dye for me,
no earthly pleasures would I have:
I care not for the world a flye,
but mercy Lord of thee I crave.
Down Plumpton park, etc.

Come man of death and do me right,
my glass is run I cannot stay:
With Christ I hope to lodge this night
and all good people for me pray:
Down Plumpton park, etc.

The man of death his part did play,
which made the tears blind many an eye
He is with Christ, as I dare say,
the Lord grant us that so we may:
Down Plumpton park, etc.


Execution Location


Printing Location

Printed for J. Wright, J. Clark, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger.

Tune Data

Tune not in The British Broadside Ballad and its Music (Simpson 1966).


The duel of Stewart and Wharton
From Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Volume 2, by Sir Walter Scott 

By a circuitous route, we are now arrived at the subject of our ballad; for, to the tragical duel of Stuart and Wharton, and to other instances of bloody combats and brawls betwixt the two nations, is imputed James's firmness in the case of Lord Sanquhar. The sufferers in this melancholy affair were both men of high birth, the heirs apparent of two noble families, and youths of the most promising expectation. 

Sir James Stuart was a knight of the Bath, and eldest son of Walter, first lord Blantyre, by Nicolas, daughter of Sir James Somerville, of Cambusnethan. Sir George Wharton was also a knight of the Bath, and eldest son of Philip, lord Wharton, by Frances, daughter of Henry Clifford, earl of Cumberland. He married Anne, daughter of the earl of Rutland, but left no issue. The circumstances of the quarrel and combat are accurately detailed in the ballad, of which there exists a black-letter copy in the Pearson Collection, now in the library of the late John duke of Roxburghe, entitled, "A Lamentable Ballad, of a Combate, lately fought, near London, between Sir James Stewarde, and Sir George Wharton, knights, who were both slain at that time.--To the tune of, Down Plumpton Park." 

A copy of this ballad has been published in Mr Ritson's Ancient Songs, and, upon comparison, appears very little different from that which has been preserved by tradition in Ettrick Forest. Two verses have been added, and one considerably improved, from Mr Ritson's edition. These three stanzas are the fifth and ninth of Part First, and the penult verse of Part Second.





“The Lamentation of John Musgrave,,” Execution Ballads, accessed June 23, 2024,

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