Earl Richard – Child 68


Earl Richard’s a name that pops up in a lot o the Child Ballads, but it’s nae the same mannie.

In this sang, he’s a bittie tactless fan he tells his girlfriend that he’s awa hame tae see a quine that’s ten times bonnier than her. It wid be an understatement tae sae that she wisna pleased, cos she killed him and flung him doon a well. But it disna finish there, cos he cam back as a bird and gaed her a richt tellin aff.


This is a much shorter version o an English Ballad caed Young Hunting. It’s fae William Motherwell’s Manuscripts o 1825 and is version ‘F’ in Child.


Earl Richard is a-huntin gaen
As fast as he could ride
A huntin-horn hung roond his neck
And a shairp sword by his side
Fan he’s come tae my lady’s gate
He’s tirled at the pin
There wis nane sae ready as my lady
Tae gae doon and let him in

Licht doon licht doon Earl Richard she says
Licht doon and bide aa nicht
We’ll hae cheer wi charcoal clear
Aye and candles burnin bricht
I canna bide I winna bide
I canna bide ava
For a fairer lady than ten o ye
Is waiting at my haa

He’s bent doon fae his milk-white steed
Tae kiss her rosy cheek
She’s taen a pen-knife in her hand
And wounded him richt deep
Lie ye there Earl Richard she says
Lie there until the morn
And a fairer lady than ten o me
Will think ye’r lang comin hame

Then she has ca’ed her servin maids
Aye she’s ca’ed them twa by twa
There is a deid man at my gate
And I wish he wis awa
Twa maids hae taen him by the hands
And twa hae taen his feet
And they’ve flung him in a deep draw-well
Fu fifty fathoms deep

Then up there spake a bonny bird
That sat upon a tree
Gae hame gae hame ye fause lady
And pey your maids their fee
Come doon here my bonny bird
And sit upon my hand
I’ll gie ye a cage o the beaten gowd
And nae the hazel wan

Gae hame gae hame ye fause lady
And an ill death may ye dee
For as ye’ve din tae Earl Richard
Sae wid ye dae tae me
Gin I had a bent bow in my hand
An arrow on the string
I’d shoot a dart at your prood hert
Amang the leaves sae green


Ballad: Earl Richard (Child 68)
Singer: Tom Spiers
Accompanists: Emma Spiers, Harmonium / Martin MacDonald, Guitar



The tune is taen fae the appendix o William Motherwell’s “Minstrelsy Ancient and Modern” 1828.

Print Version