A version of this article was published in English Dance and Song Volume 65 part 3
Published here by permission of the current editor, Derek Schofield

Another Rare Child Ballad Uncovered

a broadside version of Lord Thomas and Lady Margaret (Roud 109, Child 260)

Lord Thomas and Lady Margaret, to the best of my knowledge, until recently has only been published in the three versions given by Child in his The English and Scottish Popular Ballads Vol. 4, (1890).  Two of the versions were obtained by William Motherwell: Aa from the recitation of Mrs Parkhill of Maxwelton (1825), and Ab from a lady in Glasgow.  The other version is from Peter Buchan's Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland Vol.1, p.42, not always a reliable source for genuine ballads.

Our broadside version Lady Margaret appears on a broadside in the Madden Collection, 17 (Country Printers 2), VWML microfilm 84, item 87, with no stanza divisions.  It lies amongst a batch of broadsides printed in Carlisle but with no printer's imprint and following on from a batch printed by Stewart of Carlisle c.1840.  On the same two-column sheet is a fifteen stanza ballad Lord Warden which retrospectively tells in modern language much the same story as Roud 4013, Child 186, Kinmont Willie (an even scarcer ballad), i.e. how, in 1596, Sir Walter Scott of Branxholm, Laird of Buccleuch, rescued Willie from Carlisle Castle and was himself summoned to Elizabeth's court to account for his actions.

Our seventeen stanza version of Child 260 has points in common with all three of Child's versions but seems to follow more closely in text the version collected in Glasgow, Child Ab.  The broadside's first stanza, not in the Child versions, is a commonplace which can be found in Roud 43, Child 63A Child Waters, but more commonly in versions of Lord Lovell, Roud 48, Child 75.  Here is the first stanza of Lord Lovell version C for comparison:

Lord Travell stands in his stable door
Dressing his milk-white steed
An by comes Lady Ounceville
"I wish you muckle speed."
The extra two lines in stanza 6 which don't occur in the other versions have probably been added to emphasise her assent to his demands.  Stanza 7 has a feature not found in other versions in that a third character is introduced, but these lines are very weak in other versions, having been introduced from Roud 28, Child 7 Earl Brand.  Stanza 8 occurs in none of the other versions and is a commonplace found in Roud 44, Child 64 Fair Janet, C13, and in Roud 201, Child 218 The False Lover Won Back, A9/14, B8.  Stanza 9 occurs in no other version and in my opinion is a link verse probably made up by a hack from the prose recitation of the reciter.  After stanza 10 in the Motherwell versions there runs a four stanza dialogue, he asking relief and she denying.  The latter half of stanza 11 and all of stanza 12 seem to be modern concoctions to replace the missing stanzas mentioned above.  Stanzas 14 and 15 are closer in text to Buchan's version than Motherwell's but these are commonplaces found also in Roud 55, Child 87 Prince Robert, e.g. version A4, 5, and Buchan's version of Lady Isabel Roud 3884, Child 261, stanzas 20 and 21.

One thing we are seeking to demonstrate here is that rare versions of ballads are coming to light in these collections of broadsides and old manuscripts, and that they can bear fruit with diligent searching and study; also how essential it is that these collections are made more accessible to scholars instead of being hidden away in dusty inaccessible libraries.  One of the main aims of The Traditional Song Forum is to make these collections more accessible.  You can find out more information about this by visiting the TSF website at www.tradsong.com.

Lady Margaret

As Lord Thomas was standing at his stable door,
A saddling his milk white steed,
And who came by but Lady Margaret,
And she wished him micle speed.

He called upon his merry men all,
By one, by two, and by three,
Go hunt away this wild woman,
For she daily troubles me.

They hunted her high, and they hunted her low,
And they hunted her over the plain,
Till the peticoat of scarlet that Lady Margaret wore,
And they never could be mended again.

They hunted her high, and they hunted her low;
O far in the woods she ran,
And there she saw a good natured Lord,
He was riding all alone.

Some help, some help, now my good Lord,
Some help now give it unto me,
For I am a young Lady that's fallen in love,
And I'm hunted from my own country.

No help, no help, my Lady fair,
No help will I give unto thee,
Unless you forsake all the men of this world,
And my own wedded wife will be.
Some help, some help, now my good Lord
And thy own wedded wife I'll be.

He put her upon a milk white steed,
And himself on dapple grey,
And he got his footman by his side,
And they all three rode away.

The very first town that they came to,
He gave her a gold ring,
And the very next that they came to,
He gave her a gay wedding.

I wish there may be a famine in merry England,
And a heavy famine therein,
That would make Lord Thomas sell his park and cattle
And a begging may he gang.

As Lady Margaret was sitting at her window,
A sewing her silk so brave,
And who did she see but Lord Thomas,
At her door he was begging there.

She called upon her servants all,
For to let the poor man in,
And for to conduct him into the hall,
That she might question him.

O well do I mind that Lady Margaret he said,
When you was a true lover of mine;
And so did I Lord Thomas she said,
But that day you'll never see again.
She called upon her little butler boy,
For to bring her a cup of wine;
And with her fingers long and small,
She mingled the poison in.

She put the cup to her cherry cheeks,
And she signed it to her chin;
And she put the cup to her ruby lips,
But there not one drop went in.

Lord Thomas put the glass to his cherry lips,
And he signed it next to his chin;
And he put the cup to his ruby lips,
And it every drop went in.

Take away your wine Lady Margaret,
For O but I am weary.
And so was I Lord Thomas she said,
When you hunted your dogs after me.

But you shall be as well a buried Lord,
As any of your kin,
And when that my good natured Lord comes home,
I will tell him that you are my sister's son.

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