Thomas Deloney's Works: Miscellaneous Ballads [Notes]


This ballad is entered in the Stationers' Registers.

'13 Decembris 1586.

Nicholas Colman Receaued of him for printinge a ballad of the Lamentation of Beckles a market towne in Suffolk, on Sainct Andrewes Day last paste beinge burnt with fier to the number of lxxx houses and loss of xx mli' (i.e. (pounds) 20,000). iiiijd

Reprinted from the Huth Collection, which contains another ballad on the same subject. The fire took place on the 29th of November previous. (Suckling's Antiquities of Suffolk, vol. i, p. 12.)


From the unique copy in the Library of the Society of Antiquaries.

This ballad, like the following, is practically a contemporary document upon Babington's Conspiracy, probably printed a day or two after the execution. Deloney might very well have been a witness of the scene he describes, and, in any case, his ballad affords interesting evidence of the extreme Protestant view in London at the time of the conspirators' execution. A ballad, from the very nature of its audience, had to be more or less popular in tone, and probably Deloney is only expressing contemporary feeling in his own thorough Protestant way. See also the note on the following ballad.

33-4. A reference to Eccles. x. 20: `Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.'

50. Paris streets. A reference to St. Bartholomew.

83. merely make, actually make. The Oxford English Dictionary quotes from Harrington's Metamorphosis of Ajax, `As I say merely in the book, the 118 page.'


From Collier's Blackletter Broadsides. Another copy in the Earl of Crawford s Library.

A long, unpleasant description of the execution will be found in Holinshed's Chronicle (1587), vol. ii, pp. 1573-5, with which Deloney's account is in strict accordance.

`On the first daie (Sept: 20) the traitors were placed vpon the scaffold, that the one might behold the rewarde of his fellowes treason. Ballard the preest. . . was the first that was hanged. . .

Next vnto this preest, Anthonie Babington was made readie to the gallows, who in euerie point was handled like vnto Ballard. . . .

Next vnto Babington, Sauage was likewise prepared for the execution. . . .

When Sauage was executed, Barnewell was made readie to die, an obstinate papist, who for his treason made conscience his best excuse; howbeit a rotten conscience, which was infected with the murther of a vertuous queene; . . .

After this Barnewell, Tichborns turne wasd serued, a proper yoong gentleman, whose humilitie and mone mooued much compassion. . . .

Tilneie one of the queens maiesties pensioners, next vnto Tichborne made worke for the hangman. . . .

The last of these seuen that suffered was Edward Abington . . .

On the daie following (according to generall expectation) being the one and twentih daie of September, Salisburie was laid alone upon an hurdell, and other six, two and two in like manner, all drawne from Tower hill through the citie of London, vnto the former place of execution. Salisburie was the first man that suffered. . .

After Salisburie . . . Dun was stripped vnto his shirt . . . who after that he had . . . disuaded the Romanists from attempting anie matter of violence, he was executed with exceeding fauour

When the execution of Dun was finished, the next in that tragedie was Jones . . . then Charnocke was executed, and after him Trauers, both two Men . . . bewitched with an ignorant deuotion, for that in their ends nothing was to be obserued but their praieng to our ladie, calling upon saints, ioined with a number of ceremonies, crossings, and blessings, &c.

When the hangman had hiuen these two his heauie blessing, Gage prepared himself to die, who began his protestation, . . . he fell to excuse him selfe of the odious treasons for which he was to die.

The last that suffered was one of the Bellamies.'

71-3. Cf. the gloss. in Holinshed, p. 1573: `A note of Babington's pride at the verie instant of execution.'


The ballad was entered in the Stationers' Register, on August 10, 1588: `JOHN WOLF Receaued of him for printinge a ballad of the obteynenge of the Galleazo wherein Don Pedro De Valdez was chief.

Reprinted from the unique copy in the British Museum.

The taking of Pedro de Valdez' galleon on the 21st of July is thus described in the Annalls of Elizabeth (Camden), 1625: ' A huge great Catalonian ship of Ogenda, was set on fire with Gunpowder, by the deuice of a Flemmish Gunner. But the fire was seasonably quenched by other Shippes sent in for the purpose; amongst which a Gallion of Peter Valdes, falling foule with another Ship, and her fore mast intangled and broken with the others sayle-yard, the Ayre being stormy and the night darke, and none able to relieue or succour her, was forsaken and became a prey to Sir Francis Drake, who sent Valdes to Dertmouth, and gaue the ship to bee rifled and pillaged by the Souldiers.' (Pages 269-270.)

Of the loss of de Moncada's galleon on July 29, Camden gives the following description (Annalls, 1625): `The Admiralls Galeasse had her Rudder broken, and went almost adrift, and the day following, making fearefully towards Calais, ranne vpon the sands, and after a doubtfull fight. . . was taken; Hugh Moncada, the Captaine being slaine, and the Souldiers and rowers eyther drowned or slaine, they found and carried away a great quantity of gold.'

See also Froude's History of England, vol. xii, pp. 396-7, 414-5.

92. Quite, i.e. quit or quiet, the same words. Cf. quit-rent.


This, together with the preceding ballad, was entered in the Stationers' Register on August 10, 1588 (the day following the actual events described): `John Wolf Allowed vnto him the queenes visitinge of the campe at Tilberye and her enterteynement there the 8 and 9 of August 1588.'

Reprinted from the unique copy in the British Museum.

Deloney's description of the Queen's visit agrees with that given in Elizabetha Triumphans (1588), by J. Aske (Nichols, Progress of Queen Elizabeth, 1788, vol. ii).

A campe of fiftie thousand able men,
Appointed should haue layne on Tilbery-hill,
Where Leicester's thrise made renowned Earle
Lieutenant was vnto our Royall Queene:
And Sir John Norris, honored for his deedes,
Lord Marshall was among that companie. Page 16.

The following parallel extracts illustrate the general reliability of the ballad:


From Block-house where she should be set on land
There rancked were both armed men and shot,
With Captaines, who of them had taken charge,
To entertaine their sacred Generall. Page 19.


The cannons at the Block-house were discharged:
The drums do sound, the phiphes do yeeld their notes,
And ensignes are displayed throughout the Campe.
Our peerelesse Queene doth by her Souldiers passe,
And shewes herselfe vnto her Subiects there:
She thanks them oft for their (of dutie) paines,
And they againe on knees do pray for her. Page 19.

91-4. . . . her Highnesse . .

From out the Campe vnto her lodging then,
Full three miles distant from that warlike place,
Prepared for her to Master Ritche his house,
With purpose meant for to returne next day
That way againe, the better it to view. Page 20.

95-100. our Princely Soveraigne

. . .
Most brauely mounted on a stately steede,
With trunchion in her hand (not vsed there to)
And with her none, except her Liutenant,
Accompanied with the Lord Chamberlaine,
Came marching towards this her marching fight. Page 22.
. . .
Vnto the tent of her Lieutenant there.
Where readie were in readines each thing,
Which could be fit to entertayne a Queene. Page 23.

161-70. The writer of the article on Tilbury in the Yictoria County History of Essex regards Elizabeth's speech as apocryphal. Deloney's account, however, is strikingly supported by that in Elizabetha Triumphans, and it must be remembered that the ballad was printed the day after the event. Both writers may of course, however, have made use of a common rumour.

Yet say to them, that we in like regarde,
And estimate of this their dearest zeale,
(If time of need shall euer call them foorth
To dare in field their fearce, and cruell foes)
Wil be ourselfe their noted Generall. Page 24.


Wich sayd, she bowed her princely bodie downe
And passed thence vnto the water side,
Where once imbarg'd the roring Cannons were
Discharged. Page 25.

62. auncient, i.e. ensign.

128. cales, i.e. cauls.


This ballad is entered in the Stationers' Registers on the last day of August, 1588: `Thomas Orwyn Allowed vnto him . . .a ballade of the strange whippes which the Spanyardes had prepared the Englishemen and women.'

Reprinted from the unique copy in the British Museum.

There appears to be no foundation in fact for the substance of this ballad. Popular politics probably symbolized Spanish and papal aggression by the concrete whips and torments. The writer of an early naval ballad (Percy Society, vol. ii, p. 18) is distinctly sceptical:

Some say two shipps were full of whipps
But I thinke they were mistaken

97-112. Elizabeth is compared to Boadicea in Elizabetha Triumphans (1588), with the same implications.

Now Voada, once Englands happie Queene,
Through Romans flight by her constrained to flie:
Who making way amidst the slaughtered corps,
Pursued her foes with honor of the day
With Vodice her daughter . . .
Are nowe reuiued; their vertues liue (I say)
Through this our Queene, now England's happie Queene.
Nichol's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth (1788), vol. ii, p. 22.


Reprinted from Collier's Blackletter Broadsides. The ballad afterwards passed into the possession of Frederick Ouvry, Esq., and Ebbsworth worth appears to have seen the original. Neither the Roxburghe nor Cranford copies are initialled, however.

The tragic story of `Mistris Page of Plimouth' illustrates an unpleasant side of Elizabethan social life. The forced marriage of young girls to rich and elderly men is a common subject of reprobatlon among contemporary writers (see note on p. 21, l. 86), and such murders as that of Page were the natural outcome of such unnatural unions. J . P. Collier, in vol. ii of the Papers of the Shakespeare Society (p. 80), gives a prose account of the crime, which he professes to have `transcribed from a copy preserved in an ancient library with which I am acquainted'. I have been unable to trace any such document, and while Collier gives the date of the execution as February 20th, 1591, it must be noted that the parish registers of Barnstaple give the date of burial as March 20th, 1589-90.

The full extract (quoted by Clark in the Shireburn Ballads, p. 109) runs as follows:

`Here ffolloweth the names of them Prysoners which were Buryed
in the Church yearde of Barnstaple the Syce (Assizes) week:--

March 1590

George Strongewithe, Buryed the xxth daye.
Vlalya Paige, Buryed at Byshope tauton the xxth daye.'

Two other ballads upon this murder are still extant, THE LAMENTATION OF GEORGE STRANGWIDGE, Who for the consenting of the death of Mr. Page of Plymouth, suffered death at Barnstable and the Complaint of Ulaleia, both in the Roxburghe Collection. (See Appendix on Attributed Ballads, p. 504.) Jonson in conjunction w!th Dekker wrote a play upon the subject, `Pagge of Plimothe,' which is however no longer extant (Henslowe's Diary, Aug. 10, 1599).


This ballad was entered with the author's name in the Stationers' Registers to Abell Jeffes, on the 22nd March, 1594: `A moste sweete songe of an Englishe merchant that killed a man in Guidene and was for the same Iudged to lose his head and howe in thende a mayden saued his lyfe by T. Deloney.' Guidene appears to be an error of the clerk for `Embden'.

Reprinted from Pepys, i. 542; other copies: Douce, B. 4. 16; Roxb. i. 104, 105.

The custom of reprieving a condemned man who received an offer of marriage seems to have been common in Mediaeval France. Larousse, in Dictionnaire Universel (sub Mariage), quotes from Du Cange a letter dated 1382: `Hennequin Douart a ete condamne par nos hommes liges jugeant en notre cour de Peronne a etre pendu. Pour lequel jugement enteriner, il a ete traine et mene en une charrette par le pendeur jusqu'au gibet, et lui fut mise la hart au col, et alors vint en ce lieu, Jehennete Mourchon, dite Rebaude, jeune fille nee de la ville de Hamaincourt, en suppliant et requerrant audit prevat ou a son lieutenant que ledit Douart elle put avoir en mariage; par quoi il fut ramene et remis es dites prisons.'

Balzac makes a characteristically unpleasant use of the custom in the Contes Drolatiques. The topic has been discussed in Notes and Queries, 4to Series, v. 4, and verses were quoted from Reliquiae Antiquae, i, 288:

Of life and death now chuse thee.
There is the woman, here the galowe tree !--
Of boothe choyce harde is the part--
The woman is the warsse -- driue forth the cart.

The custom is also noted in the Diary of John Manninghain (Camden Society):

`It is the custome (not the lawe) in France and Italy that yf anie notorious professed strumpet will begg for a husband a man which is going to execution he shal be reprieved, and she may obteine a pardon, and marry him, that both their ill lives may be bettered by so holie an action.' . . . In England it hath bin used that yf a woman will beg a condemned person for her husband, she must come in hir smocke onely and a white rod in hir hand, as Sterrill said he had seen.'

`Montagne tells of a Piccard that was going to execution, and when he saw a limping wenche coming to begg him: "Oh shee limps! she limps ! " sayd hee "dispatch me quickly" preferring death before a limping wife.'

How the custom became connected with Emden, the flourishing German seaport of the sixteenth century, and a merchant of Chichester, I have been unable to discover. It does not seem reasonable to think that Deloney chose these localities out of mere caprice.

A play `the marchant of eamden', apparently founded on the ballad, is noted in Henslowe's Diary, July 30, 1594. It is not now extant.


This poem is reprinted from the 1607 edition of Strange Histories, to which it was added together with Faire Rosamond and some other poems undoubtedly not Deloney's, which do not appear in the edition of 1602. The last verse missing in Strange Histories is added from the copy printed in J. P. Collier's Blackletter Broadsides, and perhaps may therefore be regarded as of doubtful authenticity. According to Collier the copy printed for T. Simcocke is actually signed T. D.

The poem is of course a very close paraphrase of Proverbs xxxi.

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Greg Lindahl