> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Sir Andrew Barton

Sir Andrew Barton

[ Roud 104 ; Child 167 ; Ballad Index C167 ; MusTrad MT338 ; DT ANDBART ; Mudcat 107973 ; trad. arr. Peter Bellamy]

Note: Steve Roud now considers Sir Andrew Barton [Child 167, formerly Roud 192] and Henry Martin [Child 250] as versions of the same song and catalogues both as Roud 104.

Peter Bellamy sang Sir Andrew Barton in 1982 on the privately issued cassette The Maritime England Suite, accompanied by Dorothy Collins on piano and Ursula Pank on cello. This track was also included on his Free Reed anthologies Wake the Vaulted Echoes and The Ballads of Peter Bellamy. The booklet of Wake the Vaulted Echoes commented:

“I was looking for a song to accompany a picture of one of Henry VIII’s warships: It was Bert Lloyd who suggested this one.” [Peter Bellamy]

The original ballad ran to 82 verses and this succinct dramatic retelling is a tribute to Peter’s skills as an editor—though he regularly told audiences that he had thrown out all the interesting verses and just “kept the ones that were really dull”.

A tale of revenge and piracy, it recounts events that took place in 1511. Acting on behalf of the King of Scotland, Barton choose to abuse his power; with the consent of Henry VIII, Sir Thomas and Sir Edward Howard set out to seize him. In a hard naval battle, Barton was killed and his ship, the Lion, was sunk; the King of Scotland was refused the right of redress on the grounds of Barton’s alleged piracy.

This ballad is the father of the Henry Martin school of songs: The Lofty Tall Ship which Peter learned from Sam Larner’s recording, was therefore one of its grandchildren.


Peter Bellamy sings Sir Andrew Barton

King Henry did a progress ride,
To take the air and view his fleet,
When fifty merchants drew him nigh,
And on their knees they did entreat.

“And please, Your Grace, we may not sail
For France, no voyage do we dare,
But Andrew Barton he makes us quail,
And robs us of our merchant ware.”

Vexed was the King, and turning him,
Says to his lords of high degree,
“Is there no lord in all my realm
Dare fetch this pirate unto me?”

Lord Charles Howard him replied,
“I will my Lord with heart and hand.
If it you please to grant me leave
I will perform as you command.”

He had not been long on the main,
For days not more than two or three,
When Andrew Barton he espied
Come sailing down the wind so free.

He was brass within and steel without,
His ship most huge and mighty strong,
With eighteen pieces good and stout
He carried on each side along.

Bold Barton called his men amain,
“Fetch me yon merchant now,” quoth he,
“Against this way he come again
I will teach him well his courtesy.”

A piece of ordnance it was shot
By this proud pirate fiercely then
Into Lord Howard’s middle deck,
Which cruel shot killed fourteen men.

But Howard’s broadside come so hot,
It broached that pirate’s side amain,
And likewise at the deck he shot
Til’ fifty of his foes were slain.

“Alas!” then cried this pirate stout,
“I am in danger now, I see.
This is some Lord, I greatly doubt,
That is set on to conquer me.”

His men being slain, then up aloft
To his great topcastle he sped.
For armour good he had put on
And did not dint of arrows dread.

But an archer spied a private place,
With perfect eye, in secret part.
His arrow swiftly loosed apace
Which smote Sir Andrew through the heart.

Lord Howard went where Sir Andrew lay,
And quickly thence cut off his head.
“I would forsake England all my days
Were’t thou alive as thou art dead.”

But from the wars Lord Howard came
With goodleye mirth and triumphing,
And Barton’s head he brought with him,
A gift for Hen-er-y his King.