65  A pleasant new Ballad to sing both Even and Morne,/ Of the bloody murther of Sir John Barley-corne [Pepys 1.426-27]

Author: Anonymous

Recording: A pleasant new Ballad to sing both Even and Morne

Bodies - looks/physique Crime - murder Death - unlawful killing Employment - crafts/trades Environment - crops Gender - masculinity Humour - satire Recreation - alcohol Recreation - good fellowship Violence - interpersonal

Song History

Our featured edition is one of the earliest surviving copies of this song, dating from the opening decades of the seventeenth century. And if Robert Thomson is right to suggest that ‘Sir William White Wine’ and ‘Richard Beere’, mentioned in the song’s opening verses, were references to the printers ‘William White’ and ‘Richard Jugge’, then there may have been earlier editions as well. Jugge died in 1577, and it seems unlikely that a new ballad, composed at least a quarter of a century later, would have included a pun upon his name. On the other hand, the similarity of names may be coincidental. We simply do not have the evidence to draw reliable conclusions about the precise origins of the song, and it is also possible that the printed broadside was a polished re-working of a ballad that had previously circulated orally.

We can be more certain that A pleasant new Ballad was a major hit during the seventeenth century. It was published very regularly, and spin-offs included another ballad, a chapbook (see Related texts) and a proverb: ‘Sir John Barley-Corn’s the strongest Knight’ (because ale is capable of bringing down the biggest, toughest man in any company).

Sir John was also mentioned in other forms of literature. An anonymous broadsheet, A health to all vintners, beer-brewers and ale-tonners (1642), presented Sir John Barleycorn as the ‘chief Judge’ in a fraternity of all alcohol-producers. In 1648, John Taylor wrote a satirical pamphlet entitled A brown dozen of drunkards, describing the punishment of individuals who had abused ‘Mr. Malt the bearded son, and Barley-broth the brainlesse daughter of Sir John Barley-corne’ (Master Malt is the subject of the similarly-themed second song that appears on our featured edition of A pleasant new Ballad). And in 1694, the author of The Counter-rat noted ‘Sir John Barleycorn’ was in common parlance as a term for barley.

Such uses continued into the eighteenth century, when the heads of drunkards could be said to be ‘full of the Fumes of Sir John Barley-Corn’ (The Yorkshire medley). In 1774, Robert Sanders slandered a dissenting minister who allegedly enjoyed alcohol by referring to him as ‘Sir John Barleycorn’. In one edition of Sanders’ Lucubrations of Gaffer Greybeard, a knowledgeable reader has added the name ‘John Richardson’ at the bottom of the page in order to identify the intended target.

The popularity of A pleasant new Ballad in the early-modern period might be explored in various ways. Most obviously, a song that personified barley in such an inventive manner was always likely to appeal to members of an ale-dependent society. The song's riddling text was highly inventive, and ale-making was such a familiar process that there can have been few people who failed to get the joke. Just as significantly, the song encapsulated beautifully the love-hate relationship - the interplay of contentment and resentment - that characterised interaction with alcohol for many people. Far from simply celebrating ale, the song describes human efforts to kill off Sir John Barleycorn once and for all because of the manner in which he stimulates violence and disorder. Of course, he cannot truly be killed, and the song ends just as it began, with Sir John’s victory over his angry addicts. The song describes a cycle of dependence that cannot be broken.

There are also certain parallels with the life, death and resurrection of Christ, though we cannot know how strongly the possibility of an irreverent or blasphemous interpretation was realised (it is interesting that a version of the text published by Robert Burns in the 1780s replaced the knights who appear at the opening of the song with ‘three kings into the east’).

A pleasant new Ballad was clearly the originator of an extremely popular and long-lived folk-song that occurs in many different but related forms. It has been suggested that our hit ballad was itself based on a Scottish song of the sixteenth century entitled ‘Quhy sowld Nocht Allane Honorit Be’ but the links between the two texts are in fact rather weak (see Related texts). Many versions of the song known as ‘John Barleycorn’ were printed in the period c. 1750-1900 and collected from tradition in the early twentieth century. These were much shorter than the original, and many of them included new concluding verses on the mainly positive power of alcohol, but they all bear unmistakable textual traces of A pleasant new Ballad.

In 1923, Alfred Williams published a version of the song that had recently been ‘Obtained of Edward Warren’ from South Marston in Wiltshire (he had learned it from his father, ‘the old thatcher’). This includes thirteen verses, the first eight of which are very closely related to sections in the original seventeenth-century ballad (though they presumably reached twentieth-century Wiltshire through a complicated sequence of intervening influences, both printed and oral). And three of the remaining verses clearly derive ultimately from another seventeenth-century ballad, The little Barly-Corne, which may itself have been inspired by the success of A pleasant new Ballad (see Related texts). More recently, numerous versions of ‘John Barleycorn’ have been recorded by artists and groups including Traffic, Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull and Martin Carthy (a particularly fine version).

John Barleycorn has also left his big footprint in other areas of modern culture. He has frequently been painted and drawn, and during the 1930s the Doulton Ceramic Factory produced a jug in the shape of Sir John’s round, brown and jovial head. Not surprisingly, many pubs have been named after him, and one online business sells a ‘Sir John Barleycorn round beach towel’ that is said to have taken the internet ‘by storm’.

Somewhat darker is John Barleycorn (1913), a novel by Californian author, Jack London. It deals, appropriately, with the highs and lows of alcohol addiction. Just seven years after the publication of this work, the introduction of prohibition in America was marked by numerous mock-funerals in which John Barleycorn, often in the form of a giant bottle, was laid to rest before large crowds. These funerals were staged by supporters and opponents of prohibition alike, and they represent fascinating and resounding evidence that the eponymous hero of an early-modern ballad was built to last. Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and, as usual, Sir John Barleycorn had the last laugh.

Christopher Marsh


Anon, A health to all vintners, beer-brewers and ale-tanners (1642).

Anon, ‘Quhy sowld nocht Allane hororit be’ in The Bannatyne Manuscript. Compiled by George Bannatyne 1568, 4 vols (Printed for the Hunterian Club, 1896), vol. 2, pp. 306-08.

Anon, The Yorkshire medley (Halifax, 1763), p. 4.

Broadside ballads online from the Bodleian Libraries: http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

Margaret Aston, ‘Bibles to ballads: some pictorial migrations in the Reformation’ in Simon Ditchfield (ed.), Christianity and community in the West: Essays for John Bossy (Aldershot, 2001), pp. 16-17.

Robert Burns, Poems, chiefly in the Scottish dialect (Dublin, 1787), pp. 223-26.

Martin Carthy, Byker Hill (Topic Records, 2006), track 12.


Vic Gammon, Desire, drink and death in English folk and vernacular song, 1600-1900 (Aldershot, 2008), pp. 160-63.

Jack London, John Barleycorn (New York, 1913).


Robert S. Thomson, ‘The development of the broadside ballad trade and its influence upon the transmission of English folksong’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 1974.

John Ray, A collection of English proverbs (1678), p. 98.

Robert Sanders, Lucubrations of Gaffer Greybeard (1774), p. 82.

M. T., The counter-rat, or, Oats shifted and sack’t up in the counter (1684), preface.

John Taylor, A brown dozen of drunkards (1648), title-page.

Alfred Williams, Folk-songs of the upper Thames (1923), pp. 246-47.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library: https://www.vwml.org/

Victoria and Albert Museum, London: https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1260593/john-barleycorn-jug-noke-cj/

Peter Wood, ‘John Barleycorn: the evolution of a folk-song family’, Folk Music Journal 8.4 (2004), pp. 438-55. See also Pete Wood, ‘John Barleycorn revisited: Evolution and Folk Song’ (2009), https://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/j_barley.htm

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Featured Tune History

To the tune of ‘Shall I lie beyond thee’ (standard name: Lie lulling beyond thee)

The purpose of this section is to provide brief notes on the melody followed by detailed evidence relating to  its career, paying particular attention to the ‘echoes’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was nominated for the singing of more than one ballad. In the list presented in the ‘Songs and Summaries’ section below, we have endeavoured to include as many of the black-letter ballads that used the tune as possible, under any of its variant names. Titles from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type (these are also in colour when there is a link to the relevant ballad page on the website). It should be noted that it is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).  In most cases, we list the earliest surviving edition of a ballad, though in many instances there may have been earlier versions, now lost.

Versions and variations

This tune was known variously as ‘[Lie] lulling beyond thee’, ‘Lulling beyond her’, ‘Lull me beyond thee’, ‘Shall I lie beyond thee’, ‘Locks and bolts do hinder’, ‘Yongmen and maids’ and ‘[Old] Sir John Barley-corn’. It did not often attract the attention of sophisticated composers and, as a consequence, there are few if any instrumental settings for lute, viol or virginals. The melody was, however, included by John Playford in his famous collection, The English Dancing-Master (1651). It appeared in the first eight editions, without any of the successive alterations that Playford made to so many of his melodies. This seems to imply that the melody existed in a relatively stable form and, more obviously, that it was strongly associated with dancing in the second half of the seventeenth century. Our recording makes use of Playford’s version.

The song survived strongly within vernacular tradition into the twentieth century, and at least one of the numerous tunes to which it has been sung reveals significant points of contact with the original melody (though it is notoriously difficult to disentangle coincidence and significance in such cases). The tune used by The McCalmans on the album, Sandy Bell’s Ceilidh, includes the repetitive use of a phrase that rises in steps from the 3rd to the 5th notes of the scale; this bears a striking resemblance to a motif that is prominent in the seventeenth-century melody (and the first half of a tune collected by Cecil Sharp from an Oxfordshire shepherd in 1909 is also reminiscent of ‘Lie lulling beyond thee’).

Echoes (an overview)

‘Lie lulling beyond thee’ enjoyed significant popularity as a ballad tune between the 1620s and the 1650s but does not seem to have been named on many new songs in the later years of the century. When A pleasant new Ballad was originally written, with its elaborate and extended metaphor for the ale-brewing process, the associations of the tune may not have been particularly strong. In the next few years, however, it established itself as a melody that spoke primarily of romance. Most of the songs listed below follow this theme, and it is interesting that several of them combine courtship with suggestions of trouble and violence. Sometimes difficulties arise from the death of a devoted lover (The Northerne Turtle), while in other songs the pain is provided by military service (The two fervent Lovers) or by obstructive relatives (A constant Wife and The Lovers Joy and Griefe).

It seems probable that the evolution of these predominantly romantic associations had some impact on the reception of A pleasant new Ballad, which was republished repeatedly throught the period. Perhaps the endangered romance carried by the tune added new notes of love and grief to the sad and violent demise of Sir John Barleycorn.

The songs listed below are connected not only by their melody but also by a number of direct textual echoes, only a few of which can be outlined here. On three occasions, the rhyming words in the second and fourth lines of a song seem to echo those found at the same points in other ballads: sweeting/meeting in A constant Wife; weeping/sweeting in The Honest Wooer; and greeting/meeting in A pleasant new Ballad. One verse in A constant Wife ends with the line, ‘but doores and lockes doe hinder’, and this surely influenced the expression, ‘but locks and bolts doe hinder’ which became the refrain in The Lovers Joy and Griefe (the expression also provided a new title for the tune). In The two fervent Lovers, the line ‘and blesse the time of meeting’ recalls ‘blest be the time of meeting’ in A constant Wife (the words are sung to the fourth line of the melody in both cases). And the refrains in The two fervent Lovers and The Honest Wooer are notably similar: ‘how dearely I do love thee’ and ‘for it is I that love you’.

[See 'Postscript', below, for additional notes on this melody].

Songs and Summaries

The Northerne Turtle: Wayling his unhappy fate... To a new Northerne tune, or A health to betty (I. H.,?1602-12). Pepys 1.372; EBBA 20021. Death – general, tragedy; Emotions – sorrow, despair; Gender – courtship; Environment – birds, flowers/trees, weather. A sad man expresses his devotion to his dead sweetheart and wishes fervently to join her beyond the grave.

A Pleasant new Ballad to sing Even and Morne, Of the bloody murther of Sir John Barley-corne. To the tune of, Shall I lie beyond thee (registered 1624; H. G., 1629-40). Pepys 1.426-7; EBBA 20199.  Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing; Employment – trades and crafts; Gender – masculinity; Humour – satire; Recreation – alcohol, good fellowship; Violence – interpersonal.  A murder ballad that doubles up as an account of the ale-making process.

The Honest Wooer, His minde expressing in plaine and few termes, By which to his Mistresse his love he confirmes. To the tune of, Lulling beyond her (F. Coules., 1624-80). Roxburghe 1.156-57; EBBA 30098.  Gender – courtship; Emotions – love; History – ancient/mythological, romance.  A plain-talking man declares his love for a woman, and she reciprocates. 

The two fervent Lovers. OR A warlike kind of wooing... To the tune of the two loving Sisters, or lulling beyond thee (Fr. Coules, 1624-80). Roxburghe 1.416-17; EBBA 30285. Gender – courtship; Emotions – love, longing, contentment; History – ancient/mythological medieval; Employment – sailors/soldiers; Environment – birds, weather, landscape; Recreation – music; Violence – between states. A young man expresses his devotion to a woman, explaining that he has endured the dangers of warfare for her sake; suitably impressed, she agrees to marry him.

A constant Wife, a kinde Wife, A loving Wife, and a fine Wife... To the tune of, Lie lulling beyond thee (F. C., 1631-56). Pepys 1.390-91; EBBA 20181. Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Emotions – anger, love, joy; Morality – familial; Family – kin; Bodies – looks/physique; Violence – interpersonal; Society – old and young, rich/poor.  A young man fights hard to free his sweetheart from the confinement imposed by her disapproving ‘friends’, and then finds time to praise her person in considerable detail.

The Lovers Joy and Griefe: OR A young mans relation In a pitifull fashion, Being from his Love hindred By Locks, Bolts, and Kindred. To the tune of, Yongmen and Maids (Tho: Lambert, 1633-69).  Roxburghe 1.194-95; EBBA 30135.  Gender – courtship, Cupid, masculinity; Emotions – love, anger, longing, hope; Family – kin; History – ancient/mythological, romance; Morality – familial; Bodies – looks/physique; Religion – ancient Gods.  A man voices his devotion to a wealthier woman who has been locked up by her kinsfolk in order to prevent them from being together.

Tis a wise Child that knows his own Father... To the Tune of, the Locks and Bolts doe hinder (R Oulson for John Wright the younger, 1634-58). Manchester Central Library, Blackletter Ballads 2.33; EBBA 36207. Family – pregnancy/childbirth, children/parents; Gender – sex, masculinity, femininity; Employment – crafts/trades, sailors/soldiers; Places – nationalities; Humour – bawdry; Morality – romantic/sexual; Emotions – anxiety, hope. A maiden laments the fact that she is pregnant by an unknown man and she devises a strategy to identify the father of her child.


The melody does not appear to have been used for white-letter ballads, nor was it nominated regularly in song-books of the period. The only example we have found is Thomas Robins’ chapbook, The Arraigning and Indicting of Sir John Barley-corn (1675). This is an account, mainly written in dialogue, of Sir John’s trial and eventual acquittal. The story expands upon the ballad and it includes two songs that allude to it, not least in that they are both set to the tune of ‘[Old] Sir John Barley-corn’.

Christopher Marsh


Jeremy Barlow (ed.), The Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford’s Dancing Master (1985), no. 56.

The McCalmans, Sandy Bell’s Ceilidh (2006), track 2.

John Playford, The English Dancing-Master (1651), p. 93. Subsequent editions were entitled The dancing-master.

Thomas Robins, The Arraigning and Indicting of Sir John Barley-corn (1675), pp. 5-6 and 14-15.

Cecil Sharp Manuscript Collection, Clare College, Cambridge, CJS2/10/2333, song collected from shepherd Hayden (1909). Facsimile at https://www.vwml.org/search?q=CJS2/10/2333&is=1   

Claude Simpson, The British broadside ballad and its music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 445-46.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Gallant with small hand

The purpose of this section is to provide evidence relating to  the career of the image under discussion, paying particular attention to the ‘reflections’ (inter-song associations and connections) that may have been set up if it was chosen to illustrate more than one ballad. The list given below includes all ballads from the Pepys and Roxburghe collections that feature this woodcut or a close variant (these are the two largest collections, including approximately 3300 sheets, in total). References to ballads from other collections occur only when the featured edition of the song under consideration here (or the featured edition of another song from our list) comes from such a source. Ballads from our chart of best-sellers are presented in bold type, and they also appear in colour where there is a link to another song in the database. Please note, however, that the editions of hit songs listed below are not necessarily those for which digital images are presented on this website. Cross-references to other examples of our featured woodcuts are also presented in bold. It is extremely difficult to date many ballads precisely and the chronological order in which the songs are listed is therefore very approximate (we have drawn on previous attempts to date the ballads, making adjustments when additional evidence can be brought into play).

Reflections (an overview)

This woodcut appeared on a number of ballads in the first half of the seventeenth century, several of them published by Henry Gosson. The Gallant with small hand was chosen particularly to illustrate songs in which the central male character was admirable and/or deserving of sympathy. He was thus a positive figure, suited to the roles of male lover, strong husband and free-thinking, free-drinking ‘good fellow’. The hand-on-hip stance often signified confidence, even belligerence, and this impression is reinforced by other features: the widely-spaced feet, the interactive gesture performed with the right hand, and the sword by his side. Despite being well-suited to this metaphorical song about the violent demise of Sir John Barley-corne, however, other editions tended to use different pictures. It seems that all surviving versions of the image were produced from the same woodblock.

Songs and summaries

The lamentable Ditty of Little Mousgroue, and the Lady Barnet (H. Gosson, ?1601-29).  Pepys 1.364-65; EBBA 20172.  Gender – marriage, adultery, sex, masculinity; Death – tragedy; Emotions – anger; Society – service and apprenticeship.  A man commits adultery with the wife of an aristocrat and all three parties face the consequences (picture placement: he stands alongside Queen Elizabeth, immediately below the title).

A pleasant new Ballad, both merry and witty, That sheweth the humours, of the wives in the City (H. G., 1601-40).  Pepys 1.376-77; ESTC 20174.  Gender – marriage, femininity, masculinity; Humour – extreme situations; Morality – romantic/sexual.  A husband rebukes his rude, shrewish and materialistic wife and successfully wins from her a declaration of obedience (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, alongside a Gallant on tiles and an aristocratic woman with a leafy fan).

A Lovers complaint being forsaken of his Loue (J. W., 1602-46).  Pepys 1.358-59; EBBA 20167.  Gender – courtship, femininity, masculinity; Emotions – sorrow; Nature – flowers/trees. A man bemoans the fact that his sweetheart has deserted him (picture placement: he appears alone over the opening verses).

An excellent Ditty, both merry and witty, Expressing the love of the Youthes of the City (John Grismond, 1622-62).  Pepys 1.242-3; EBBA 20111. Gender – courtship; Society – urban life; Places – English; Recreation – festivals. A positive celebration of courtship (picture placement: he stands on the far right of the sheet, alongside a man on a pavement who faces away from him).

A Pleasant new Ballad to sing Even and Morne, Of the bloody murther of Sir John Barley-corne (H. G., 1624-40). Pepys 1.426-7; EBBA 20199.  Crime – murder; Death – unlawful killing; Employment – trades and crafts; Gender – masculinity; Humour – satire; Recreation – alcohol, good fellowship; Violence – interpersonal.  A murder ballad that doubles up as an account of the ale-making process (picture placement: this is the only woodcut to appear).

Roaring Dick of Douer: OR, The Jouiall good fellow of Kent (H. G., 1632).  Pepys 1.434-35; EBBA 20204. Recreation – good fellowship, alcohol; Gender – marriage, mixed sociablity, masculinity, femininity; Places - English. A man sings in praise of good fellowship and recommends enjoying the moment rather than thinking about the future (picture placement: he appears beneath the title, gesturing towards two men who engage in a drinking sessions).

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

The short list that appears below is arranged chronologically and includes texts published before 1700 that share certain themes or material with A pleasant new Ballad and that may therefore be related to it in some way. The sixteenth-century Scottish song with the refrain, ‘Quhy sowld nocht Allane honorit be’, has been suggested as a piece that influenced the composition of our hit ballad directly. Like the English song, it personifies ale, though the Scottish character is ‘Allane’ rather than John Barleycorn. There are, however, very few textual similarities between the two songs, and the mood of anger and violence – so integral to A pleasant new Ballad – is almost completely absent from the Scottish piece (the refrain means ‘Why shold Allane not be honoured’). It is perhaps more likely that the songs existed independently of one another, and that the impression of a connected chronology is an illusion created by the very patchy survival of sources.

Thomas Robins’ chapbook, The arraigning and indicting of John Barley-corn (1675), is more clearly connected with A pleasant new Ballad. Indeed, it was published by Thomas Passinger, one of the most successful producers of broadside ballads in the seventeenth century. In the chapbook, Robins resists the easy option of simply re-telling the story, opting instead to describe the trial of John Barleycorn, with conflicting evidence presented by two sets of witnesses.

The first witnesses accuse Barleycorn of causing them to fight, enticing them into alehouses against their wills and throwing them into ditches. Barleycorn’s friends respond, arguing that Barleycorn is good for all sorts of people, provided that they do not misuse him (the references to alcohol ‘abuse’ in this text are interesting). Sir John, we are told, boosts the economy and boasts the power to ‘make a Criple to go’ and ‘a Coward to fight’. He can ‘pull down the strongest man in the World’ and, without him, ‘all England is undone’. The judges are impressed by this testimony and Barleycorn is duly acquitted. Although the chapbook tells a new story, the influence of the original ballad can be heard in the argument of the hostile witnesses ‘that Barley-corn must die’ (a line from the original hit song that has proved exceptionally memorable across the centuries).

The final source listed below, The little Barly-Corne, was a more consistently celebratory treatment of ale (‘take a full cup in thy hand’) but it is included here because several of its verses later fed directly into revised versions of the original song in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Christopher Marsh

Texts (in chronological order)

Anon, ‘Quhy sowld nocht Allane hororit be’ in The Bannatyne Manuscript. Compiled by George Bannatyne 1568, 4 vols (Printed for the Hunterian Club, 1896), vol. 2, pp. 306-08.

The little Barly-Corne (ballad, registered 1632).

Thomas Robins, The arraigning and indicting of Sir John Barley-corn a man of noble blood and well beloved in England (1675 and 1680).

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A pleasant new Ballad to sing both Even and Morne,/ Of the bloody murther of Sir John Barley-corne.

To the tune of, Shall I lie beyond thee.

[Play each verse by clicking anywhere within its text]


AS I went through the North Country,

I heard a merry greeting:

A pleasant toy, and full of joy,

two noble men were meeting.

And as they walked for to to sport,

upon a Summers day,

Then with another nobleman

they went to make a fray,


Whose name was sir John Barly corne,

he dwelt downe in a dale:

Who had a kinsman dwelt him nigh,

they cal’d him Thomas Goodale.

Another named Richard Beere,

was ready at that time:

Another worthy Knight was there,

cal’d sir William White Wine.


Some of them fought in a Jacke,

some of them in a Can:

But the chiefest in a blacke pot,

like a worthy noble man.

Sir John Barlycorne fought in a Boule,

who wonne the victorie:

And made them all to fume and sweare,

that Barlycorne should die.


Some said kill him, some said drowne,

others wisht to hang him hie:

For as many as follow Barly-corne,

shall surely beggers die.

Then with a plough they plowed him up

and thus they did devise,

To burie him quicke within the earth,

and swore he should no rise.


With harrowes strong they combed him

and burst clods on his head:

A joyfull banquet then was made,

when Barly-corne was dead.

He rested still within the earth,

till raine from skies did fall,

Then he grew up in branches greene,

which sore amaz’d them all,


And so grew up till Mid-sommer,

which made them all afeard:

For he was sprouted up on hie,

and got a goodly beard.

Then he grew till S. James tide,

his countenance was wan.

For he was growne unto his strength,

and thus became a man.


[‘Wherefore’ added in other editions] With hookes and sickles keene,

into the field they hide,

They cut his legs off by the knees,

and made him wounds full wide.

Thus bloodily they cut him downe

from place where he did stand,

And like a thiefe for treachery,

they bound him in a band.


So when they tooke him up againe,

according to his kind:

And packt him up in severall stackes,

to wither with the wind.

And with a pitch-forke that was sharpe,

they rent him to the heart,

And like a thiefe for treason vile,

they bound him in a cart.


And tending him with weapons strong,

unto the towne they hie,

And straight they mowed him in a mow

and there they let him lie.

Then he lay groning by the wals,

till all his wounds were sore,

At length they tooke him up againe,

and cast him on the store.


They hyred two with holly clubs,

to beat on him at once,

They thwacked so on Barly-corne,

that flesh fell from the bones.

And then they tooke him up againe,

to fulfill womens minde

they dusted and they sifted him,

till he was almost blind.


And then they knit him in a sacke,

which grieved him full sore:

They steep’d him in a Fat, God wot,

for three dayes space and more.

Then they tooke him up againe,

and laid him for to drie,

They cast him on a chamber floore,

and swore that he should die


They rubbed and they stirred him,

and still they did him turne,

The Malt-man swore that he should die,

his body he would burne.

They spightfully tooke him up againe,

and threw him on a Kill:

So dried him there with fire hot,

and thus they wrought their will.


Then they brought him to the mill,

and there they burst his bones,

The Miller swore to murther him

betwixt a paire of stones.

Then they tooke him up againe,

and serv’d him worse then that,

For with hot scolding liquor store

they washt him in a fat.


But not content with this God wot,

That [‘they’ in other editions] did him mickle harme,

With threatning words they promised

to beat him into Barme.

And lying in this danger deep,

for feare that he should quarrell,

They tooke him straight out of the fat,

and turn’d him in a barrell,


And then they set a tap to him,

even thus his death begun:

They drew out every dram of blood,

whilst any drop would run.

Some brought jacks upon their backs,

some brought bill and bow,

And every man his weapon had,

Barly-corne to overthrow.


When sir John Good-ale heard of this,

he came with mickle might,

And there he tooke their tongues away,

their legs or else their sight.

And thus sir John in each respect

so paid them all their hire,

That some lay sleeping by the way,

some tumbling in the mire.


Some lay groning by the wals,

some in the streets downe right,

The best of them did scarcely know

what they had done ore-night.

All you good wive that brew good ale,

God turne from you all teene:

But if you put too much water in,

the devill put out your eyne.


Printed at London for H. [G?]


A new Ballad for you to look on, How Mault doth deale with every one. To the tune of, Triumph and Joy.


MAs Mault he is a Gentleman,

And hath beene since the world began,

I never knew yet any man

that could match with master Mault sir,

I never knew any match Mault be once,

The Miller with his grinding stones,

He laid them so close that he crusht his bones,

you never knew the like sir.

Mault, Mault, thou art a flowre.

Thou art beloved in every bowre,

Thou canst not be missing one halfe hour.

you never saw the like sir.

For laying of his stones so close,

Mault gave the Miller a copper nose,

Saying thou and I will never be foes,

but unto thee I sticke sir.

Mault gave the Miller such a blow,

That from is horse he fell full low,

He taught him his master Mault for to know,

you never saw the like sir.

Our hostesse maid she was to blame,

She stole master Mault away from her dame,

And in her belly she hid the same,

you never saw the like sir.

So when the Mault did worke in her head,

Twice a day she would be sped,

At night she could not goe to bid,

nor scarce stand on her feet sir.

Then came in the master Smith,

And said that Mault he was a theefe.

But Mault gave him such a dash in the teeth:

you never saw the like sir,

For when his Iron was hot and red,

He had such an ache all in his head,

The Smith was faine to get him to bed,

for then he was very sicke sir.

The Carpenter came a peece to square,

He had Mault come out if he dare,

He would empty his belly, & beat his sides bare

that he know not where to sit sir.

To fire he went with an arme full of chips,

Mault hit him right betweene his lips,

And made him lame in both his hips,

you never saw the like sir,

The Shooe-maker sitting upon his seat

With master Mault he began to fret,

He said he would the knave so beat,

you never saw the like sir.

Mault peept his head out of a hall,

The shoomaker said, he would drinke him up al,

They tumled together till downe they did fall,

you never saw the like sir.

The Weaver being in his loome,

He threatned master Mault to bum,

When he had knit on to the thrum,

you never saw the like sir.

And such a Court some Weavers held,

They would pay our hostes when they had feld,

But when every one had his part and deald,

they knew not where to sit sir.

The Tinker he tooke the Weavers part

Because he is touching unto his Art,

He tooke the pot and dranke a quart,

the world was very quicke sir,

Mault had of him his owne desire,

He made him tumble into the fire,

[An]d there he lost his burling ire,

[  ] he hath not found it yet sir.

The Taylor he came in to grinde his sheares,

Mault and he were together by the eares,

Great is the company Mault still reares,

you never saw the like sir.

For when his pressing Iron was hot,

He pressed a boord in stead of a coat,

And sayled home in a fether-bed boat,

you never saw the like sir.

So then the Tinker did sound his pan,

Then said master Mault I most be gone,

I am the good fellow that helpeth eatch one,

you never saw the like sir.

The Tinker then that he was faine,

With Mault to have a bout or twaine,

Mault hit him sore in every vaine,

you never saw the like sir.

Then bespake the Tinker anon

He said he would prove himselfe a man,

He laid on Mault till the bousse was gone,

the Bung and the Tinker fell sicke sir.

The Sayler he did curse and ban,

He bad the boy, goe tap the can,

Ile have a bout with Mault anon,

you never saw the like sir.

Aboord they went to try their match,

And there they playd at hop and catch,

Mault bestowed him under the hatch,

and made him keepe the ship sir.

Then came the Chapman travelling by,

And said, My masters I will be w'ye,

In deed mstaer Mault my mouth is dry,

I will gnaw you with my teeth sir.

The Chapman he laid on a pace,

Till store of blood came in his face,

But Mault brought him in such a case,

you never saw the like sir.

The Mason came an Oven to make,

The Bricklayer he his part did take,

They bound Mault to the good-ale stake,

you never saw the like sir.

Then Mault began to tell his mind,

And plide them with Ale, Beere and Wine,

They left the Brick-axe and trowell behind,

they could not lay a bricke sir.

Then came the Labourer out with his hood,

And saw his two masters how they stood,

He tooke master Mault by the whood,

and swore he would him strike sir.

Mault he ran and for feare did weep,

The Labourer he did skip and leape,

But Mault cast him into the morter heape,

and there he fell a sleepe sir.

The Butcher came to buy a sheepe:

He said he would make Mault to creepe,

But Mault made him the cat to whip.

You never saw the like sir.

The Glover came to buy a skin,

Mault hit him right above the chin,

The pewter John came doubling in,

you never saw the like sir.

And laid on head, armes, and joynts,

Tooke away his gloves, and grosse of points,

And swore they had paid him in quartes and pints,

you never saw the like sir.

Thus of my song I will make an end,

And pray my hostesse to be my friend,

To give me some drink now my mony is spend

then Mault and I am quit sir.    FINIS.





















































































































Printed at London for H. G.

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This ballad is included according to the criteria for List A (see Methodology). The evidence presented here is accurate, to the best of our knowledge, as of 1st January 2024.

Shirburn ballads: not included.

Appearances on Ballad Partners' lists: Pavier and partners, 1624 (as 'Sir John Barlycorne'); Thackeray, 1689 ('Barlicorn').

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 9

No. of extant copies: 9

New tune-titles generated: none.

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: none known.

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases: 442 references, with extensive evidence of later collection as a folk-song (Roud no. 164) - but the record seems to include information on another song that is not clearly a version of A pleasant new ballad.

POINTS: 0 + 20 + 0 + 18 + 9 + 0 + 0 + 15 = 62

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This box will be used to highlight any new information on this song that might come to light after the launch of the website.

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