Percy's Reliques - Sir Andrew Barton.

Sir Andrew Barton.

            I cannot give a better relation of the fact, which is the subject of the following ballad, than in an extract from the late Mr. Guthrie 's Peerage; which was begun upon a very elegant plan, but never finished. Vol. i. 4to. p. 22.

            "The transactions which did the greatest honour to the Earl of Surrey[ 1] and his family at this time [A. D. 1511] was their behaviour in the case of Barton, a Scotch sea-officer. This gentleman's father having suffered by sea from the Portuguese, he had obtained letters of marque for his two sons to make reprisals upon the subjects of Portugal. It is extremely probable, that the court of Scotland granted these letters with no very honest intention. The council board of England, at which the Earl of Surrey held the chief place, was daily pestered with complaints from the sailors and merchants, that Barton, who was called Sir Andrew Barton, under pretence of searching for Portuguese goods, interrupted the English navigation. Henry's situation at that time rendered him backward from breaking with Scotland, so that their complaints were but coldly received. The Earl of Surrey, however, could not smother his indignation, but gallantly declared at the council board, that while he had an estate that could furnish out a ship, or a son that was capable of commanding one, the narrow seas should not be infested.

            "Sir Andrew Barton, who commanded the two Scotch ships, had the reputation of being one of the ablest sea officers of his time. By his depredations, he had amassed great wealth, and his ships were very richly laden. Henry, notwithstanding his situation, could not refuse the generous offer made by the Earl of Surrey. Two ships were immediately fitted out, and put to sea with letters of marque, under his two sons, Sir Thomas[ 2] and Sir Edward Howard. After encountering a great deal of foul weather, Sir Thomas came up with the Lion, which was commanded by Sir Andrew Barton in person; and Sir Edward came up with the Union, Barton's other ship, (called by Hall, the Bark of Scotland.) The engagement which ensued was extremely obstinate on both sides; but at last the fortune of the Howards prevailed. Sir Andrew was killed fighting bravely, and encouraging his men with his whistle, to hold out to the last; and the two Scotch ships, with their crews, were carried into the river Thames. (Aug. 2, 1511.)

            "This exploit had the more merit, as the two English commanders were in a manner volunteers in the service, by their father's order. But it seems to have laid the foundation of Sir Edward's fortune; for, on the 7th of April, 1512, the king constituted him (according to Dugdale) Admiral of England, Wales, &c.

            "King James insisted upon satisfaction for the death of Barton, and capture of his ship: though Henry had generously dismissed the crews, and even agreed that the parties accused might appear in his courts of admiralty by their attorneys, to vindicate themselves." This affair was in a great measure the cause of the battle of Flodden, in which James IV. lost his life.

            In the following ballad will be found perhaps some few deviations from the truth of history: to atone for which it has probably recorded many lesser facts, which history hath not condescended to relate. I take many of the little circumstances of the story to be real, because I find one of the most unlikely to be not very remote from the truth. In Part ii. ver. 156, it is said, that England had before "but two ships of war." Now the Great Harry had been built only seven years before, viz. in 1504: which "was properly speaking the first ship in the English navy. Before this period, when the prince wanted a fleet, he had no other expedient but hiring ships from the merchants."-- Hume.

            This ballad, which appears to have been written in the reign of Elizabeth, has received great improvements from the Editor's folio manuscript, wherein was an ancient copy, which, though very incorrect, seemed in many respects superior to the common ballad; the latter being evidently modernized and abridged from it. The following text is however amended and improved by the latter (chiefly from a black-letter copy in the Pepys Collection), as also by conjecture.

WHEN Flora with her fragrant flowers
Bedeckt the earth so trim and gaye,
And Neptune with his daintye showers
Came to present the monthe of Maye;
King Henrye rode to take the ayre,
Over the river of Thames past hee;
When eighty merchants of London came,
And downe they knelt upon their knee.

"O yee are welcome, rich merchànts;
Good saylors, welcome unto mee."
They swore by the rood, they were saylors good,
But rich merchants they cold not bee:
"To France nor Flanders dare we pass:
Nor Bourdeaux voyage dare we fare;
And all for a rover that lyes on the seas,
Who robbs us of our merchant ware."

King Henrye frownd, and turned him rounde,
And swore by the Lord, that was mickle of might,
"I thought he had not beene in the world,
Durst have wrought England such unright."
The merchants sighed, and said, "Alas!"
And thus they did their answer frame,
"He is a proud Scott, that robbs on the seas,
And Sir Andrewe Barton is his name."

The king lookt over his left shoulder,
And an angrye look then looked hee:
"Have I never a lorde in all my realme,
Will feitch yond traytor unto me? "
"Yea, that dare I;" Lord Howard sayes;
"Yea, that dare I with heart and hand;
If it please your grace to give me leave,
Myselfe wil be the only man."

"Thou art but yong;" the kyng replyed:
"Yond Scott hath numbred manye a yeare."
"Trust me, my liege, Ile make him quail,
Or before my prince I will never appeare."
"Then bowemen and gunners thou shalt have,
And chuse them over my realme so free;
Besides good mariners, and shipp-boyes,
To guide the great shipp on the sea."

The first man, that Lord Howard chose,
Was the ablest gunner in all the realm,
Thoughe he was threescore yeeres and ten;
Good Peter Simon was his name.
"Peter," sais hee, "I must to the sea,
To bring home a traytor live or dead:
Before all others I have chosen thee;
Of a hundred gunners to be the head."

"If you, my lord, have chosen mee
Of a hundred gunners to be the head,
Then hang me up on your maine-mast tree,
If I misse my marke one shilling bread."[ 3]
My lord then chose a boweman rare,
Whose active hands had gained fame.
In Yorkshire was this gentleman borne,
And William Horseley was his name.[ 4]

"Horseley," said he, "I must with speede
Go seeke a traytor on the sea,
And now of a hundred bowemen brave
To be the head I have chosen thee."
"If you," quoth hee, "have chosen mee
Of a hundred bowemen to be the head;
On your main-mast Ile hanged bee,
If I miss twelvescore one penny bread."

With pikes and gunnes, and bowemen bold,
This noble Howard is gone to the sea;
With a valyant heart and a pleasant cheare,
Out at Thames mouth sayled he.
And days he scant had sayled three,
Upon the voyage, he tooke in hand,
But there he mett with a noble shipp,
And stoutely made itt stay and stand.

"Thou must tell me," Lord Howard said,
"Now who thou art, and what's thy name;
And shewe me where thy dwelling is:
And whither bound, and whence thou came."
"My name is Henry Hunt," quoth hee
With a heavye heart, and a carefull mind;
"I and my shipp doe both belong
To the Newcastle, that stands upon Tyne."

"Hast thou not heard, nowe, Henrye Hunt,
As thou hast sayled by daye and by night,
Of a Scottish rover on the seas;
Men call him Sir Andrew Barton, knight!"
Then ever he sighed, and said "Alas!"
With a grieved mind, and well away,
"But over-well I knowe that wight,
I was his prisoner yesterday."

"As I was sayling uppon the sea,
A Burdeaux voyage for to fare;
To his hach-borde he clasped me,
And robd me of all my merchant ware
And mickle debts, God wot, I owe,
And every man will have his owne;
And I am nowe to London bounde,
Of our gracious king to beg a boone.

"That shall not need," Lord Howard sais;
"Lett me but once that robber see,
For every penny tane thee froe
It shall be doubled shillings three."
"Nowe God forefend," the merchant said,
"That you should seek soe far amisse!
God keepe you out of that traitors hands!
Full litle ye wott what a man hee is.

"Hee is brasse within, and steele without,
With beames on his topcastle stronge;
And eighteen pieces of ordinance
He carries on each side along:
And he hath a pinnace deerlye dight,
St. Andrewes crosse that is his guide;
His pinnace beareth ninescore men,
And fifteen canons on each side.

"Were ye twentye shippes, and he but one;
I sweare by kirke, and bower, and hall;
He wold overcome them everye one,
If once his beames they doe downe fall."[ 5]
"This is cold comfort, sais my lord,
To wellcome a stranger thus to the sea:
Yet Ile bring him and his ship to shore,
Or to Scottland hee shall carrye mee."

"Then a noble gunner you must have,
And he must aim well with his ee,
And sinke his pinnace into the sea,
Or else hee never orecome will bee:
And if you chance his shipp to borde,
This counsel I must give withall,
Let no man to his topcastle goe
To strive to let his beams downe fall.

"And seven pieces of ordinance,
I pray your honour lend to mee,
On each side of my shipp along,
And I will lead you on the sea.
A glasse Ile sett, that may be seene
Whether you sail by day or night;
And to-morrowe, I sweare, by nine of the clocke
You shall meet with Sir Andrewe Barton, knight."


THE merchant sett my lorde a glasse
Soe well apparent in his sight,
And on the morrowe, by nine of the clocke,
He shewed him Sir Andrewe Barton knight.
His hachebord it was gilt with gold,
Soe deerlye dight it dazzled the ee:
"Nowe by my faith," Lord Howarde sais,
"This is a gallant sight to see.

"Take in your ancyents, standards eke,
So close that no man may them see;
And put me forth a white willowe wand,
As merchants use to sayle the sea."
But they stirred neither top, nor mast;[ 6]
Stoutly they past Sir Andrew by.
"What English churles are yonder," he sayd,
"That can soe little curtesye?

"Now by the roode, three yeares and more
I have beene admirall over the sea;
And never an English nor Portingall
Without my Ieave can passe this way."
Then called he forth his stout pinnace;
"Fetch backe yond pedlars nowe to mee:
I sweare by the masse, yon English churles
Shall all hang att my maine-mast tree."

With that the pinnace itt shot off,
Full well Lord Howard might it ken;
For itt stroke down my lord's fore mast,
And killed fourteen of his men.
"Come hither, Simon," sayes my lord,
"Looke that thy word be true, thou said;
For at my maine-mast thou shalt hang,
If thou misse thy marke one shilling bread."

Simon was old, but his heart itt was bold;
His ordinance he laid right lowe;
He put in chaine[ 7] full nine yardes long,
With other great shott lesse, and moe;
And he lette goe his great gunnes shott:
Soe well he settled itt with his ee,
The first sight that Sir Andrew sawe,
He see his pinnace sunke in the sea.

And when he saw his pinnace sunke,
Lord, how his heart with rage did swell!
"Nowe cutt my ropes, itt is time to be gon;
Ile fetch yond pedlars backe mysell."
When my lord sawe Sir Andrewe loose,
Within his heart he was full faine:
"Now spread your ancyents, strike up your drummer,
Sound all your trumpetts out amaine."

"Fight on, my men," Sir Andrewe sais,
"Weale howsoever this geere will sway;
Itt is my Lord Admirall of England,
Is come to seeke mee on the sea."
Simon had a sonne, who shott right well,
That did Sir Andrewe mickle scare;
In att his decke he gave a shott,
Killed threescore of his men of warre.

Then Henrye Hunt with rigour hott
Came bravely on the other side,
Soone he drove downe his fore-mast tree,
And killed fourscore men beside.
"Nowe, out alas!" Sir Andrewe cryed,
"What may a man now thinke, or say?
Yonder merchant theefe, that pierceth mee,
He was my prisoner yesterday.

"Come hither to me, thou Gordon good,
That aye wast readye att my call:
I will give thee three hundred markes,
If thou wilt let my beames downe fall."
Lord Howard hee then calld in haste,
"Horseley see thou be true in stead;
For thou shalt at the maine-mast hang,
If thou misse twelvescore one penny bread."

Then Gordon swarved the maine-mast tree,
He swarved it with might and maine;
But Horseley with a bearing[ 8] arrowe,
Stroke the Gordon through the braine;
And he fell unto the haches again,
And sore his deadlye wounde did bleed:
Then word went through Sir Andrews men,
How that the Gordon hee was dead.

"Come hither to mee, James Hambilton,
Thou art my only sisters sonne,
If thou wilt let my beames downe fall,
Six hundred nobles thou hast wonne."
With that he swarved the maine-mast tree,
He swarved it with nimble art;
But Horseley with a broad arrowe
Pierced the Hambilton thorough the heart.

And downe he fell upon the deck,
That with his blood did streame amaine:
Then every Scott cryed, "Well-away!
Alas! a comelye youth is slaine."
All woe begone was Sir Andrew then,
With griefe and rage his heart did swell:
"Go fetch me forth my armour of proofe,
For I will to the topcastle mysell."

"Goe fetch me forth my armour of proofe;
That gilded is with gold soe cleare
God be with my brother John of Barton!
Against the Portingalls hee it ware;
And when he had on this armour of proofe,
He was a gallant sight to see:
Ah! nere didst thou meet with living wight,
My deere brothèr, could cope with thee."

"Come hither Horseley," sayes my lord,
"And looke your shaft that itt goe right,
Shoot a good shoote in time of need,
And for it thou shalt be made a knight.
"Ile shoot my best," quoth Horseley then,
"Your honour shall see, with might and maine
But if I were hanged at your maine-mast,
I have now left but arrowes twaine."

Sir Andrew he did swarve the tree,
With right good will he swarved then:
Upon his breast did Horseley hitt,
But the arrow bounded back agen.
Then Horseley spyed a privye place
With a perfect eye in a secrette part;
Under the spole of his right arme
He smote Sir Andrew to the heart,

"Fight on, my men," Sir Andrew sayes,
"A little Ime hurt, but yett not slaine;
Ile but lye downe and bleede a while,
And then Ile rise and fight againe.
Fight on, my men," Sir Andrew sayes,
"And never flinche before the foe;
And stand fast by St. Andrewes crosse
Until you heare my whistle blowe."

They never heard his whistle blow
Which made their hearts waxe sore adread:
Then Horseley sayd, "Aboard, my lord,
For well I wott Sir Andrew's dead.
They boarded then his noble shipp,
They boarded it with might and maine;
Eighteen score Scots alive they found,
The rest were either maimed or slaine.

Lord Howard tooke a sword in hand,
And off he smote Sir Andrewes head,
"I must have left England many a daye,
If thou wert alive as thou art dead."
He caused his body to be cast
Over the hatchbord into the sea,
And about his middle three hundred crownes:
"Wherever thou land this will bury thee."

Thus from the warres Lord Howard came,
And backe he sayled ore the maine,
With mickle Joy and triumphing
Into Thames mouth he came againe.
Lord Howard then a letter wrote,
And sealed it with seale and ring;
"Such a noble prize have I brought to your grace,
As never did subject to a king:

"Sir Andrewes shipp I bring with mee;
A braver shipp was never none:
Nowe hath Your Grace two shipps of warr,
Before in England was but one."
King Henryes grace with royall cheere
Welcomed the noble Howard home,
"And where," said he, "is this rover stout,
That I myselfe may give the doome?"

"The rover, he is safe, my liege,
Full many a fadom in the sea;
If he were alive as he is dead,
I must have left England many a day:
And your grace may thank four men i' the ship
For the victory wee have wonne,
These are William Horseley, Henry Hunt,
And Peter Simon, and his sonne."

To Henry Hunt, the king then sayd,
"In lieu of what was from thee tane,
A noble a day now thou shalt have,
Sir Andrewes jewels and his chayne.
And Horseley thou shalt be a knight,
And lands and livings shalt have store;
Howard shall be erle Surrye hight,
As Howards erst have beene before.

"Nowe, Peter Simon, thou art old,
I will maintaine thee and thy sonne:
And the men shall have five hundred markes
For the good service they have done.
Then in came the queene with ladyes fair
To see Sir Andrewe Barton, knight:
They weend that hee were brought on shore,
And thought to have seen a gallant sight.

But when they see his deadlye face,
And eyes soe hollow in his head,
"I wold give," quoth the king, "a thousand markes,
This man were alive as hee is dead:
Yett for the manfull part hee playd,
Which fought soe well with heart and hand,
His men shall have twelvepence a day,
Till they come to my brother kings high land."


1. Thomas Howard, afterwards created Duke of Norfolk.

2. Called by old historians Lord Howard, afterwards created Earl of Surrey in his father's life-time. He was father of the poetical Earl of Surrey.

3. An old English word for "breadth."

4. Mr. Lambe, in his Notes to the Poem on the Battle of Flodden Field, contends, that this expert bowman's name was not Horseley, but Hustler, of a family long seated near Stockton, in Cleveland, Yorkshire. Vid. p. 5.

5. It should seem from hence, that before our marine artillery was brought to its present perfection, some naval commanders had recourse to instruments or machines, similar in use, though perhaps unlike in construction, to the heavy Dolphins, made of lead or iron, used by the ancient Greeks; which they suspended from beams or yards fastened to the mast, and which they precipitately let fall on the enemies' ships, in order to sink them, by beating holes through the bottoms of their undecked triremes, or otherwise damaging them. These are mentioned by Thucydides, lib. vii. p. 256, ed. 1564, folio, and are more fully explained in Schefferi de Militia Navali, lib. ii, cap. v. p. 136, ed. 1653, 4to.
            N.B.-- It every where in the manuscript seems to be written beames.

6. i.e. did not salute.

7. i.e. discharged chain-shot.

8. Bearinge, sc. that carries well, &c. But see Gloss.


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