Earl of Westmoreland, The [Child 177]
DESCRIPTION: Following the failure of his revolt, Neville of Westmoreland flees to Scotland and is taken to Hume Castle. Neville at last sails for Seville, and is given office by the queen. He fights the heathen and is victorious, and receives various rewards
EARLIEST DATE: before 1750 (Percy folio)
KEYWORDS: rebellion exile nobility royalty battle fight
FOUND IN: Britain
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Child 177, "The Earl of Westmoreland" (1 text)
cf. "The Rising in the North" [Child 175] (subject)
cf. "Northumberland Betrayed by Douglas" [Child 176] (subject)
NOTES: For the background to this song, see the notes on "The Rising in the North" [Child 175]; also "Northumberland Betrayed by Douglas" [Child 176].
The song itself is almost pure fiction; the only truth is in the introduction, in which Neville flees to Scotland, goes to Hume, and sails to the Continent. (In reality, he spend the rest of his life in exile in Flanders.)
One suspects that this story somehow got mixed up with a romance. I have this odd feeling the legend of Guy of Warwick is involved (though the only clear similarity between the two is that both fought pagans); Guy was not a Neville, but the most famous Earl of Warwick in English history was of the Neville family (though a cadet branch); the main Neville line was, in fact, the Nevilles of Westmoreland.
There seem to be no actual ballads about Guy of Warwick, but he did gain a place in popular mythology, as this verse about a local beverage attests:
Of Guy Earl of Warwick our country can boast,
Who in fighting and thuming ruled lord of the roast;
He with courage relentless his foes did assail,
For he strengthened his sinews with Birmingham ale.
(Quoted in Roy Palmer, The Folklore of Warwickshire, Rowman and Littlefield, 1976, p. 133). - RBW
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