Lord Derwentwater [Child 208]

DESCRIPTION: The king sends (Derwentwater) a summons to London. His wife bids him make his will before going. As he goes along his way, ill portents greet him. Arriving in London, he is condemned to death. (He gives gifts to the poor and is executed)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1812 (Bell)
KEYWORDS: rebellion nobility execution lastwill
1715 - the 1715 Jacobite rebellion
Sept. 1715 - Warrant issued for Derwentwater's arrest. He responds by openly going into revolt
Nov. 14, 1715 - Derwentwater and his comrades forced to surrender
Feb 24, 1716 - Execution of Derwentwater at the age of (probably) 26
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South),Scotland) US(SE)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Child 208, "Lord Derwentwater" (10 texts)
Bronson 208, "Lord Derwentwater" (5 versions)
Bronson-SingingTraditionOfChildsPopularBallads 208, "Lord Derwentwater" (2 versions: #1, #3)
Palmer-FolkSongsCollectedBy-Ralph-VaughanWilliams, #5, "Lord Ellenwater" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #2}
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume1 3, "My Lord Derwater" (1 text)
Leach-TheBalladBook, pp. 553-554, "Lord Derwentwater" (1 text)
Morris-FolksongsOfFlorida, #167, "Lord Derwentwater" (1 text, 1 tune, in which Derwentwater becomes the "Duke of Bellanter") {Bronson's #4b; #4a is a different collection from the same informant which has some substanial differences in text and tunes which, according to Bronson, actually differ in time signature; one is in 4/4, the other in 6/8!}

Roud #89
Mrs. G. A. Griffin, "The King's Love-Letter" (AFS, 1937; on LC58) {Bronson's #4a}
cf. "Sir Patrick Spens" [Child #58]
cf. "The Mother's Malison, or Clyde's Water" [Child 216]
cf. "Derwentwater's Farewell" (subject)
cf. "Derwentwater" (subject)
NOTES [337 words]: Although based on a historical incident, this ballad is a rather curious amalgam of material from other pieces; the opening is straight from "Sir Patrick Spens" [Child #58], while the incident of the nosebleed portending doom is found in "The Mother's Malison, or Clyde's Water" [Child 216]. The making of the will is harder to trace, but the idea is commonplace.
There is an obvious urge to confuse this with "Derwentwater's Farewell," by Robert Surtees, but Child explicitly and correctly denies this link.
Derwentwater seems by all accounts to have been popular, and other poems were written of his death. In this case, it would appear that an unknown poet (Surtees?) took pieces of older ballads to produce a song for the occasion.
The night of Derwentwater's execution witnessed a particularly bright aurora, and the aurora is sometimes called "Derwentwater's Lights" as a result. But this usage, like the ballad itself, seems to have faded out with time. Another version of "Derwentwater's Lights" makes it an annual reappearance of a beacon Lady Derwentwater once put out to welcome her husband home."
According to Marc Alexander, A Companion to the Folklore, Myths & Customs of Britain, Sutton Publishing, 2002, pp. 66-67, gives this history of James, 3rd Earl of Dermentwater:
"In 1705 James Ratcliffe succeeded to the [Derwentwater] title at the age of seventeen. As befitted a scion of a Catholic and ardently pro-Stuart family, he had been educated at the court of St Germain with the son of the exiled James II. His devotion to the Stuart cause was reinforced by the fact that his mother was Lady Mary Tudor, a daughter of Charles II by Moll Davis. In 1712 James married a Catholic lady named Anne Welch, and three years later she watched her husband and his retainers join the Jacobite rebellion. Following their defeat, he was one of nine rebel lords taken prisoner."
Derwentater pled guilty to treason, but no clemency was granted and he was beheaded after making a speech in behalf of the Stuart cause. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
File: C208

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