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The Death of Parcy Reed

[ Roud 335 ; Child 193 ; Ballad Index C193 ; trad.]

J. Collingwood Bruce, John Stokoe: Northumbrian Minstrelsy James Kinsley: The Oxford Book of Ballads

Graham Pirt sang the Border ballad The Death of Parcy Reed in 1998 on the Fellside CD Fyre and Sworde: Songs of the Border Reivers. The album’s sleeve notes commented:

This song takes us over to the Middle and Eastern Marches and into Redesdale. Here again we see cross-Border alliances, in this case the Redesdale Halls joining the Scottish Crosiers (of Liddesdale) against the Reeds, another Redesdale family. Troughend pele tower has long disappeared but was about two miles from Otterburn. Percival Reed, the Laird of Troughend, held the office of Keeper of the District. He had apprehended Whinton Crosier who had been raiding into Redesdale. This put Reed ‘at a feud’ with the Crosiers. The three ‘false Halls’ conspire with the Crosiers to trap Percy Reed whilst on a hunting expedition. Batinghope lies eastwards from Carter Fell and was a noted thieves pass from Scotland. The text of the song is substantially that noted by James Telfer from an old woman named Kitty Hall of Roxburghshire (c. 1824).


Graham Pirt sings The Death of Parcy Reed

God send the land deliverance
From every reaving, riding Scot;
We’ll soon have neither cow nor ewe,
We’ll soon have neither horse nor stot.

The Crosiers came frae Liddesdale,
They harried Redesdale far and near;
And they have lost a gallant lad,
Whinton Crosier it was his name.

For Parcy Reed he has him taen
And has delivered him to the law;
But Crosier has his answer gain,
He’ll make the house of Troughend fall.

And Crosier says he will do worse,
He will do worse if worse can be;
He’ll make the bairns all fatherless,
And then, the land it may lie lea.

“To the hunting, ho!” cried Parcy Reed,
And to the hunting he has gane;
But three false Halls of Girsonsfield
Alang with him he has them taen.

They hunted high and they did down
When as the sun was sinking low;
Says Parcy then, “Call off the dogs,
We’ll rouse our steeds and homeward go.”

They lighted high in Batinghope,
Between the brown and grassy ground;
They had but rested a little while
Till Parcy Reed was sleeping sound.

They’ve stolen the bridle off his steed,
They’ve put water in his lang gun;
They’ve fixed his sword within the sheath
That out again it would not come.

“Awaken, Parcy!” cried Tommy Hall,
Or by your enemies ye be taen;
For yonder are five Crosier men
A-coming ower the hanging stane.”

“If they be five, and we be four,
Sae that ye stand alang wi me.
We’ll meet them as brave men ought,
And make them either fight or flee.”

“We mayna stand, we canna stand,
We dare na stand alang wi thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they would kill baith thee and we.”

“Turn thee, turn thee, o Tommy Hall,
Turn now, man, and fight wi me;
if e’er we come to Troughend again,
My daughter Jean I’ll gie to thee.”

“I mayna turn, I canna turn,
I dare na turn and fight wi thee;
The Crosiers haud thee at a feud,
And they wad kill baith thee and me.”

“Shame upon ye, traitors all!
I wish your hames ye may never see;
Ye’ve stolen the bridle off my naig,
And I can neither fight nor flee.”

They fell upon him all at once,
They mangled him most cruelly;
They hacked off his hands and feet,
And left him lying on the lee.

It was the hour of gloaming gray,
When herds come in frae fauld and pen;
A herdsman saw a huntsman lie,
Says he, “Can this be Laird Troughen?”

“There’s some will call me Parcy Reed,
And some will call me Laird Troughen;
It does not matter what I’m called,
My foes have made me ill to ken.

The herd flung off his clouted shoon
And to the nearest stream he ran;
He made his bonnet serve a cup,
And won the blessing of the dying man.

“Now, honest herd, you must do more,
Ye must do more, as I you tell;
Ye must bear tidings to Troughend,
And bear likewise my last farewell.

“A farewell to my wedded wife,
A farewell to my brother John,
At Troughend he waits for me
Wi heart as black as any stane.

“A farewell to my daughter Jean,
A farewell to my young sons five;
Had they been at their father’s hand,
I had this night been man alive.

“The Laird o Clennel bears my bow,
The Laird o Brandon bears my brand;
Whene’er they ride on the Border-side,
They’ll mind the fate o the Laird Troughend.”