Kinmont Willie 6:370:00/6:37
Traditional, arr. Calhoun, recorded on Telfer's Cows.
Child#186 Tune: Bold Archer
From an actual jailbreak of April 13, 1596. Sir Walter Scott collected and rewrote this (or may have written the entire thing; Buccleuch was his direct ancestor). I've reworked his version, condensing 46 verses to 33. It's a prototype of the Hollywood Western, complete with the bad guy getting his, to our expected delight, and some prime male bonding.
"Haribee" was Carlisle's place of execution; Willie Armstrong, of Kinmont, a notorious thief. The term "outlaw" used to indicate a criminal who was no longer under the protection of the state. You could murder such a person without legal consequences. The same did not apply to in-laws.
O haven't ye heard of the keen Lord Scroope?
And of his man, the false Sakelde?
How they have taken bold Kinmont Willie
Just as a day of truce was held?
Behind his back, his hands were bound
Beneath his steed, his legs they tied
They guarded him, ten mounted men,
To bring him to the English side.
They led him through the Liddell ford
They led him through the Carlisle sands;
They led him in to Carlisle castle
To be at the keen Lord Scroope's commands.
"My hands are tied, but my tongue is free
and who will dare this deed avow?
or answer by the border law?
Or answer to the bold Buccleuch?"
"Now hold thy tongue, thou rank robber,
There's never a Scot shall set ye free
When next ye cross my castle gate
Ye'll go to hang on Haribee"
Now word is gone to the bold Buccleuch
The keeper on the Scottish side
How they have taken bold Kinmont Willie
Against the truce of border tide
He slammed the table with his hand
He made the red wine spring on high
"I'll be avenged on Lord Scroope
Kinmont Willie shall go free"
He gathered forty marchmen bold
All kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch
With spur at heel, with plate on shoulder,
Gloves of green, and feathers blue
There were five and five before them all
With hunting horns and bugles bright
And five and five came with Buccleuch
Like Warden's men, arrayed for fight
And five and five like a mason's gang
That carried ladders long and high
And five and five were outlawed men
And so they reached the Woodhouselee.
And as we crossed the bateable land
When to the English side we held
The first of men that we should meet
Who should it be but the false Sakelde?
"Where are ye bound, ye hunters keen?
Cried out Sakelde, "come tell to me"
"We go to hunt an English stag
That's trespassed on the Scots country"
"Where are ye bound, ye marshal-men?"
Then cried Sakelde, "come tell me true!"
"We go to catch a rank robber
That's broken faith with the bold Buccleuch."
"Where are ye bound, ye mason lads
With all your ladders, long and high?"
"We go to rob a raven's nest
That sits not far from Woodhouselee.
"Where are ye bound, ye rough outlaws"
Cried out Sakelde, "come tell me true"
Now Dickie of Dryhope led that band
Though he'd had never a day at school.
"Why trespass ye on the English side?
Ye rank and rough-shod outlaw, stand!"
The never a word had Dickie to say
But through Sakelde he thrust his lance
Then on we held for Carlisle town
at Stony Bank the Eden we crossed
The river racing in full flood,
But not one horse or man was lost
And when we reached the other side
The wind was rising loud and high
Buccleuch said to leave our steeds
For fear that they should stamp and neigh.
And when we left the Stony Bank
The wind was rising to a squall
In frost and wet, and fire and sleet
we came beneath the castle wall
We crept along, we held our breath
We set the ladders against the wall
And ready was Buccleuch himself
To mount the first before us all
He took the watchman by the throat
Upon the roof he tied him down
"were there not peace between our lands
I would have flung ye to the ground."
Then speedily we went to work
And raised the slogan one and all
And cut a hole though a sheet of lead
And climbed down in the castle hall
Then locks and bolts and chains we broke
We made the bars bang merrily
Until we came to the inner prison
Where they had fettered Kinmont Willie.
And when we came to the prison cell
Where Will of Kinmont he did lie
"O sleep or wake ye, Kinmont Willie
Upon the day that you're to die?"
"O I sleep soft, and I wake oft
It's long since sleep was fled from me
Give my service back to my wife and sons
And all good souls that ask for me"
Then Red Rowan broke the door,
The starkest man in Teviotdale
He drew his chains out from the stone
And carried Willie from the jail.
"Now sound out bugles," cried Buccleuch
"To signal the lads that Willie is free"
And when Scroope heard their bugles blow,
He cried, "Who sounds this reveille?"
"Farewell, farewell, my good Lord Scroope
"My thanks for the lodging," Willie he cried
"I'll settle up the bill with you
When next we meet on the border side"
Then shoulder high, with shout and cry
We bore him down the ladder long
And very stride Red Rowan took
Made Willle's heavy irons clang
We scarce had reached our steeds again
When Carlisle's bells rang out for troops
A thousand men by horse and foot
Came along with the keen Lord Scroope.
Buccleuch turned to Eden Water,
And he plunged in with all his band
The river raced from bank to brim
And still we swam to fair Scotland
Lord Scroope cried, "he is a devil from hell
Or his mother's a witch, as you can see,
I wouldn't have ridden that white water
For all the gold in Christendie"