Lord Bateman

The Old Reliable String Band

This ballad is Child Ballad #53 (Lord Beichan). And, yes, it is long. As I've said before these old ballads are what people had for radio and TV back in the way-back-yander. So settle in for a story not a quick ditty.

This is of course a very old song with a theme that suggests origins in the crusades. Lord Bateman appears in the title of a 1624 broadside and Child's collected version was first printed in 1783. In 1839, Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray published "The Loving Ballad of Lord Bateman" with delightful illustrations by George Cruikshank, some of which appear with the lyrics below. You can get full text and all from the Gutenberg project at http://gutenberg.org/ebooks/15618

The are many variations of tune and words found in the Appalachians as well as the UK. I especially like this rendition by Elizabeth Laprelle. http://youtu.be/ycmpn1bLN14 . The version I sing here was sung by Roy Berkeley on the one album made by the "Old Reliable String Band", a trio formed by Tom Paley after he left the NLCR. I love that record and wish they had made us a few more.


Lord Bateman was a high born noble
He held he held himself of high degree
He would not rest or be contented
Until he'd sailed across the sea

He sailed east and he sailed westward
Until he come to the Turkish shore
And there they took him and they put him in prison
He never expected his freedom any more

Now the Turk he had one only daughter
As pretty a fair maiden as eyes did see
She stole the key to her father's prison
Said, "Lord Bateman I'll set free"

"Have you got house, have you got land sir?
Do you hold yourself of high degree
What would you give the Turkish lady
If out of prison I'd set you free?"

"Yes I've got house and I've got land, love.
Half of Northumberland belongs to me.
I' d give it all to the Turkish lady
If out of prison you'd set me free"

She took him to her father's harbor
And give to him a ship of fame.
Says "Fare-the-well to thee, Lord Bateman
I fear I'll never see you again"

They made a promise to each other
That was seven long years in span
And in that time he'd wed no woman
She would marry no other man.

Seven long years she kept that vow true
Seven long years in her own country
Then she gathered up her gay fine clothing
Said, "Lord Bateman I'll go see"

So she sailed east and she sailed westward
'Until she come to the English shore
She went unto Lord Bateman's castle
And lighted down beside the door

"Is this Lord Bateman's fine castle
And is his Lordship here with thee"
"Oh yes, Oh yes," cried the proud young porter
"He's just taken his new bride in.”

What news? What news, my proud young porter?
What news, what news do you bring to me?"
"Oh there's as fine and fair young lady
As my two eyes er’ did see

“She says for you to cut a slice of cake, sir
Draw a cup of your finest wine.
And not forget the Turkish lady
That did free you when confined"

Lord Bateman rose where he was sitting
His face it was s white as snow
Saying, "If this is the Turkish lady
With her love I'm bound to go"

He called to him the young bride’s mother
"She's none the better nor worse for me
She came to me on a horse and saddle
I'll send her home in a carriage free.”

“She came to me on a horse and saddle
I'll send her home in a carriage free.
And I'll go marry the Turkish lady
That did cross the seas for me.”