The Duke of Bedford
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

This is related to Child Ballad #170 (The Death of Queen Jane).

A version of The Death of Queen Jane appears as early as 1612. It is reprinted in Old Ballads (1723). A ballett and The Lamentation of Queen Jane were licensed in 1560.

Child considered this a plagiarism of The Death of Queen Jane, and noted that "any Duke would probably answer as well". However, in Longman's Magazine (1890), Lucy Broadwood proposed several identities for the Duke:

  1. William de la Pole, first Duke of Suffolk (1396-1450).
  2. The Duke of Grafton, a son of Charles II, because a version of his death was printed on a broadside in 1690.
  3. The son of the fourth Duke of Bedford, born in 1739 and killed by a fall from his horse in 1767.

For a complete list of Child Ballads go to Francis J. Child Ballads.

Six lords went a hunting
Down by the sea side,
And they spied a dead body
Wash'd away by the tide.

They took him to Portsmouth,
The place he was known
And straight away to London
The place he was born.

They open'd his bowels
And stretch'd out his fee,
And garnish'd him all over
With lilies so sweet.

'Twas the Noble Duke of Bedford,
The sea had upthrown,
'Twas the Noble Duke of Bedford
The sea had upthrown.

But some folks disputed
The huntmen's bare word
Until a grand lady Cried;
'Tis my dear lord.

She kneel'd down beside him
And kiss'd his cold cheek
And sadly did murmur;
Whose poor heart will break.

For him I did worship,
Who no more will speak
To kindred and vassals
Who gaze on the form.

Of the noble Duke of Bedford
In his coffin of stone,
Of the noble Duke of Bedford
In his coffin of stone.

Within Woburn Abbey
His body was laid,
Amongst his ancestors,
Whose deeds are not dead.

And a weird rush of waters
Is heard to this day,
When a noble Duke of Bedford
Is passing away.
One Hundred English Folksongs and
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads
See Bibliography for full information.