42  An Excellent Ballad of Patient Grissel [Euing 85]

Author: Deloney, Thomas (d. in or before 1600)

Bodies - clothing Bodies - looks/physique Emotions - love Emotions - sorrow Employment - female Environment - landscape Family - children/parents Gender - courtship Gender - femininity Gender - marriage Gender - masculinity History - medieval Morality - familial Morality - romantic/sexual Politics - court Politics - domestic Politics - obedience Recreation - hunting Recreation - weddings Society - rich/poor emotions - contentment

Song History

The extraordinary tale of the long-suffering Grissel (or Griselda) appeared in several medieval sources (see Related texts), and the ballad that was based upon it proved very successful from the Elizabethan period until the late eighteenth century. Its author was the superstar ballad-maker, Thomas Deloney, and the song probably appeared in a lost version of his collection, The Garland of good will (registered 1593). There were numerous broadside editions, and Patient Grissel also appeared in other song-collections.

More broadly, this story was exceptionally well-known, appearing not only in ballads but also in chapbooks and plays (see Related texts). Passing references to Grissel in literature on other themes were commonplace, and people sometimes spoke of an uncomplaining woman as a ‘patient Grissel’ (Rymer and Taylor). In 1714, John Gay imagined two rustics planning to cheer themselves up with music, and one says to the other, ‘Of Patient Grissel I devise to sing’. Furthermore, ‘Grissel’ (spelt in various ways) maintained a steady and perhaps increasing popularity as a name for baby girls (Ancestry).

The strongest reason for the song’s success was almost certainly the controversial nature of its subject matter. The contrasting behaviour of the Marquess and his wife was so extraordinary that it clearly had the capacity to stimulate debate between audience members, and such debate was good for business. A number of pressing questions surely presented themselves to listeners and readers. Was the story in any way realistic? Was Grissel really a useful role-model for women, or did she actually deserve criticism for absorbing so much psychological provocation so meekly? If admirable, was she to be praised for her utter devotion to patriarchal principle or for proving herself unbreakable? Was she weak or strong? And was her husband within his rights in testing her patience or was he, in truth, a tyrant and a monster?

Other literary sources preserve traces of the disagreements that the story could generate (see Related texts) and it is a fair assumption that the issues at stake were also thrashed out among ballad-consumers. Shifts in the titles given to successive editions of the ballad hint at a certain degree of male unease about presenting Grissel as the star of the song. Until the 1680s, all titles named her and her alone. From this decade onwards, however, a majority of titles included her husband and placed him first, as in An Excellent Ballad of a Noble Marquess and Patient Grissel. And when William Thackeray compiled his trade list in 1689, he listed the song as 'Noble Marquess' (for similar tensions, see also The most Rare and Excellent History, Of the Dutchess of Suffolks Callamity).

Several authors were intent on telling their readers exactly what to think but Deloney’s ballad suggests that he took a different approach. By the standards of the time, he held back on naked didacticism and presented the story with a relative lack of instruction or comment. Deloney seems to have been an author with an aptitude for appealing to women, and perhaps his understanding of this portion of the market influenced his approach.

We know from other types of evidence (Pearson) that early-modern women liked to read and hear about female characters who were highly virtuous but also that they sometimes bristled at the efforts of male moralists to define female virtue for them (Gowing). In the ballad, Deloney sprinkles positive adjectives over Grissel like confetti  - virtuous, fair, comely, lovely, sweet, pleasant, modest, mild, faithful, friendly and, of course, patient – but he refrains from telling women directly that they should strive to emulate her. It is perhaps no coincidence that his ballad appears to have been the single most successful Grissel-text of the early modern period, if surviving editions and copies are a useful guide.

Christopher Marsh



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

Judith Bronfman, ‘Grizelda, Renaissance woman’ in Anne M. Haselkorn and Betty S. Travitsky (eds.), The Renaissance Englishwoman in print. Counterbalancing the canon (Amherst, 1990), pp. 211-23.

Viviana Comensoli, ‘Refashioning the marriage code: The Patient Grissel of Dekker, Chettle and Haughton’, Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Réforme 13.2 (1989), pp. 199-214.

Thomas Deloney, The works of Thomas Deloney, ed. Francis Oscar Mann (Oxford, 1912).

English Broadside Ballad Archive: https://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/

English Short Title Catalogue.

John Gay, The shepherd’s week (1714), p. 36.

Laura Gowing, Gender relations in early modern England (Harlow, 2012), pp. 34 and 123-24.

Madden Collection, Garlands, vol. 3, nos. 655 and 656, Cambridge University Library.

Christopher Marsh, ‘Best-selling ballads and the female voices of Thomas Deloney’, Huntington Library Quarterly 82.1 (Spring, 2019), pp. 127-54.

Jacqueline Pearson, The prostituted muse: images of women and women dramatists 1642-1737 (New York, 1988), pp. 33-41.

Ambrose Philips, A collection of old ballads (1723), pp. 252-60.

Hyder E. Rollins, An analytical index to the ballad-entries (1557-1709) in the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London (1924; Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1967), nos. 1956, 1957 and 2045.

Thomas Rymer, The tragedies of the last age consider’d (1678), p. 70.

John Taylor, A juniper lecture with the description of all sorts of women (1639), unpaginated preface ‘To the reader’.

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Featured Tune History

To the tune of ‘The Brides Good-Morrow’ (lost tune)

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

Only a fragment of this tune has survived, transcribed in the manuscript Shirburn collection of ballads, and we have not therefore made a recording.

Echoes (an overview)

‘The bride’s good morrow’ was nominated quite sparingly on black-letter ballads of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, and its most famous outing was Thomas Deloney’s hit song about Patient Grissel. This was, however, preceded by The Brides Good-morrow and perhaps also by A pleasant ditty. Both of these ballads presented marriage in an uplifting and positive manner, suggesting that Deloney selected a tune that carried optimistic associations. Given that much of the story about Grissel is upsetting, the melody may have functioned to reassure knowledgeable listeners that all would be well in the end. It also seems possible that the tension between a happy tune and a challenging narrative may have contributed towards the success of this song.

It is also worth noting that the primary theme of An Excellent Ballad of Patient Grissel – wifely subjection – was prefigured in A pleasant ditty when the generally benevolent husband advises his wife, ‘And so , my Deare, be yow content/ to yeeld unto the thing I do require’.

The songs are also connected by various textual affinities. In A pleasant ditty, for example, the birds are described as ‘Singing tunes melodious’, a phrase that was echoed in the statement that Grissel sang ‘With pleasant voyce melodiously’. 'Life' and 'wife' are rhymed in the closing lines of both ballads. A pleasant ditty also shares with The Brides Good-morrow an emphasis on the divine roots of earthly joy and the value of Bible study. Overall, the texts – though distinct in many ways – also reach out to one another from time to time, encouraging listeners to understand each new song in relation to others that share its tune.

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

Songs and Summaries

The Brides Good-morrow (composed late sixteenth century; ‘Printed by the Assignes of Thomas Symcocke’, 1628-31).  Roxburghe 1.15; EBBA 30019.  Gender – marriage; Emotions – joy; Recreation – weddings, food, music; Religion – church, Christ/God; Bodies – clothing, nourishment; Family – children/parents, kin; Society - friendship.  This addresses a bride on her wedding day, emphasising the joy of the occasion and the benefits of marriage.

A pleasant ditty, which doth pleasantly displaye the joyfull walkes in the month of Maye. To the Tune of The Bride’s god-morrowe (copied by hand 1600-03). Shirburn XLIV. Environment – animals, birds, flowers/trees, rivers; Recreation – walking; Religion – Christ/God; Gender – marriage; Emotions – joy; Society – rural life; Bodies – clothing.  A husband invites his wife to take a walk with him and observe the wonders of nature provided by God.

An Excellent Ballad of Patient Grissel. To the Tune of, The Brides Good-Morrow (composed c. 1593; F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63). Euing 85; EBBA 31768. Gender – courtship, marriage, femininity, masculinity; History – medieval; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Family – children/parents; Society – rich/poor; Bodies – clothing, looks/physique; Politics – court, domestic, obedience; Emotions – contentment, love, sorrow; Employment – female; Environnment – landscape;  Recreation – hunting, weddings. A marquess marries Grissel, a poor woman, and then puts her through a gruelling set of tests in order to prove her patience and constancy.


The tune does not appear to have nominated on many white-letter ballads, nor for the singing of additional ballads that were published in collections of the period.

Christopher Marsh


Andrew Clark (ed.), The Shirburn ballads, 1585-1616 (Oxford, 1907), pp. 186-89.

Claude Simpson, The British broadside ballad and its music (New Brunswick, 1966), pp. 66-67.

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Featured Woodcut History

Standard woodcut name: Woman spinning

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)

Although the earliest use of this woodcut in the list below was on a different ballad, it is almost certain that it was drawn specially for a previous and now lost edition of An Excellent Ballad of Patient Grissel (the song was originally written in the 1590s). The pictorial details fit the opening verses of this song so precisely that it is difficult to believe otherwise. The woodcut also appears on most editions of the song from the seventeenth century and is encountered on very few other ballads. There were several woodblocks in existence, some of them back-to-front (this happened when a carver copied from a printed version of the picture; the image was then flipped in the production process). Printers clearly saw the value in holding their own copies of the block in stock. The woodcut also adorned the front covers of prose versions of Grissel’s story, issued in chapbook form (see ‘Postscript', below).

The strong and specific association between the picture and its subject makes the solitary alternative use listed below rather interesting. Ragged, and Torne, and True, another of our hit songs, is written in the voice of a poor man who accepts his lot without complaint and finds happiness, despite his destitute existence. There is thus a strong thematic connection with the ballad about Patient Grissel, and it seems likely that the picture was chosen precisely to point this out. Thus, an image that may look to us irrelevant was, arguably, nothing of the sort.

[See 'Postscript', below, for additional notes on the woodcut].

Songs and summaries:

Ragged, and Torne, and True. Or, the poore mans Resoltion [sic] (‘Printed by the Assignes of Thomas Symcocke, 1628-30). Roxburghe 1.352-53; EBBA 30240. Morality – social/economic, general; Society – rich/poor; Bodies – clothing, looks/physique; Crime – robbery/theft, punishment, general; Economy – hardship/prosperity, extortion; Emotions – contentment, scorn; Recreation – games/sports; Employment – alehouses/inns; Humour – general; Death – execution. A man in threadbare clothes argues that it is far better to be poor and honest than wealthy and corrupt, dishonest, violent or debauched (picture placement: the scene appears on the right, over the second half of the ballad).

An Excellent Ballad of Patient Grissel (F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gilbertson, 1661-63). Euing 85; EBBA 31768. Gender – courtship, marriage, femininity, masculinity; History – medieval; Morality – familial, romantic/sexual; Family – children/parents; Society – rich/poor; Bodies – clothing, looks/physique; Politics – court, domestic, obedience; Emotions – contentment, love, sorrow; Employment – female; Environnment – landscape;  Recreation – hunting, weddings. A marquess marries Grissel, a poor woman, and then puts her through a gruelling set of tests in order to prove her patience and constancy (picture placement: the scene appears on the right side of the sheet).


For the image's appearance in prose versions of the story, see The True and Admirable History of Patient Grissel (London, 1682) and The History of the Noble Marquess (London, 1686). Both of these were issued by publishers who specialised in the cheaper forms of print, including ballads. Eighteenth-century chapbooks about Grissel also featured re-drawn versions of the Woman spinning image.

Christopher Marsh

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Related Texts

Deloney’s ballad bears comparison with a number of other texts from the period (see list below). It was based squarely on Grissel’s story as recorded by the celebrated medieval authors Boccaccio, Petrarch and Chaucer (whose versions of the narrative were also closely related to one another). Most features of the ballad-narrative can be found in these sources, though it is difficult to know which of them Deloney may have consulted directly.

He also appears to have been familiar with John Phillip’s play of c. 1559, and where the ballad differs from the original medieval sources, the divergence can often be traced to this work. In these Elizabethan versions, for example, Grissel is a little more forthright than her medieval counterparts in attempting to dodge the marquess’ marriage proposal and in reacting to some of his tests. She still manages to arrive at a position of extreme acquiescence in every scenario, but Phillip and Deloney are slightly more realistic in revealing the pain of the emotional journey. For these writers, the criticism that the marquess receives from his nobles for marrying so far beneath his dignity is real, but in the medieval sources he fabricates the evidence as a pretext for the trials to which he subjects his wife. Deloney also seems to have inherited from Phillip the insulting term ‘beggar’s brat’, applied to Grissel by the marquess’ critics in both texts.

And because the criticism of the unequal match is real, Phillip and Deloney both re-think the marquess’ motives for testing Grissel. His aim, in the play and the ballad, is to prove his advisors wrong by demonstrating to them that his wife, though poor, is extraordinarily virtuous. This rational strategy sits a little uneasily alongside a more personal, psychological motive for testing his wife – a kind of deranged compulsion – that the Elizabethan texts absorb from the earlier sources. Deloney downplays the marquess’ mental instability but it seems to linger nonetheless.

Other innovations seem to be Deloney’s own work. In order to reduce a repetitive aspect of the medieval story, Deloney’s Grissel gives birth to twins, rather than to a daughter and a son, four years apart. And despite the new Elizabethan rationale for the marquess’ behaviour, Deloney’s leading man is in some respects even more cruel than his predecessor.  For example, he tells Grissel explicitly that he plans to kill the twins and then forces her to explain to him how she feels about their murder.

Most importantly, Deloney avoids the explicit authorial reflection on the meaning and applicability of the tale that characterised most of the existing Grissel-texts (see also Song history). The medieval messaging was mixed. Both Boccaccio and Chaucer urged wives to learn lessons in patience and obedience from Grissel while also warning that any attempt to imitate the extremes of her conduct would end in failure and should not therefore be undertaken. Phillip had no such qualms, presenting his play as a ‘good example’ of wifely patience and devising several moralising characters who delivered explicit advice to the audience. Given the strength of this moralising inheritance, Deloney's restraint is interesting.

Although there is no surviving copy of the ballad from the 1590s, Deloney’s composition probably preceded the play by Dekker, Chettle and Haughton. The authors reinstated the tactic of including direct reflection on the meaning of the tale; their marquess concludes the play by warning husbands of the need to ‘tame’ and ‘curbe’ their wives if they wish to turn them all into ‘Grissils full of patience, full of love’.

From Phillip and Deloney, however, the playwrights retain the reality of opposition to the marquess, the revised version of his master-plan, the relative emotional realism in describing Grissel’s anguish, and the expression ‘beggers brat’. Grissel’s twins are also retained, and there are one or two strong echoes of the ballad in the language of the play. Deloney’s song concludes, for example, with a declaration that, ‘The Chronicles of lasting fame/ Shall evermore extoll the name/ Of Patient Grissell’. Similarly, one of the final speeches of Dekker’s marquess includes the lines, ‘My Grissill lives, and in the booke of Fame,/ All wordes in gold shall register her name’.

The chapbook entitled The pleasant and sweet history of patient Grissel (1686) consists mainly of Deloney’s ballad, topped and tailed by short prose sections. Here, the writer or editor seems to spot Deloney’s reluctance to deliver explicit advice and endeavours clumsily to rectify the situation by including a new concluding section entitled ‘The Authors perswasion to all Women in Generall’. ‘Therefore, ye women’, he advises, ‘as you are helpers for men & were created for that use, give no distaste to your loving husbands’. The possibility that the success of Deloney’s song was related in part to his moralising reticence was evidently missed by the creators of this new version.

A different chapbook version of the story had also been published earlier in the seventeenth century. The ancient, true and admirable history of patient Grissel was apparently translated from a French source, and it therefore by-passes the Elizabethan texts. As in the medieval sources, the anger of the nobles is fabricated by the marquess and Grissel’s children are not twins. This book is also the most explicit of all the sources in driving home the point that contemporary women had a responsibility to imitate Grissel’s extreme forbearance. She is ‘a mirror of her Sexe’, and the author anticipates objections about ‘the impossibility of the story’ and ‘the absurdity of the example’.

This allows us a rare glimpse of imagined readers at work, and the author is keen to quash any critical instincts that they might have. Women, he advises, often offend their husbands by seeking ‘superiority’ and ‘liberty’. And any woman ‘that will not be ruled by good councell, must be overruled by better example’. Patient Grissel, he hoped, would prove just such an example.

Christopher Marsh

Texts (in chronological order)

Giovanni Boccaccio, The decameron containing an hundred pleasant novels (written c. 1350; English translation, 1620), day 10, novel 10, pp.181-86.

Francesco Petrarch, ‘Patient Grissel’ in Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and Francesco Petrarch, Select novels (1694), pp. 329-58.

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury tales (1387-1400). See ‘The clerk of Oxenfordes tale’ in The woorkes of Geffrey Chaucer, newly printed (1561), I1v-K1v.

Thomas Deloney, The garland of good will (registered 1593; earliest extant edition 1628), E7r-F2v.

John Phillip, The commodye of pacient and meeke Grissill [sometimes called The play of patient Grissell] (c. 1559).

An Excellent Ballad of Patient Grissel (ballad composed c. 1593; earliest surviving edition, c. 1600).

Thomas Dekker, Henry Chettle and William Haughton, The pleasant comodie of patient Grisill As it hath been sundrie times lately plaid by the right honorable the Earl of Nottingham (Lord high Admirall) his servants (staged 1599; published 1603).

Anon, The antient, true and admirable history of patient Grisel a poore mans daughter in France, shewing how maides, by her example, in their good behaviour may marrie rich husbands; And likewise , wives by their patience and obedience may gaine much glorie. Written first in French (1619).


Judith Bronfman, ‘Grizelda, Renaissance woman’ in Anne M. Haselkorn and Betty S. Travitsky (eds.), The Renaissance Englishwoman in print. Counterbalancing the canon (Amherst, 1990), pp. 211-23.

Viviana Comensoli, ‘Refashioning the marriage code: The Patient Grissel of Dekker, Chettle and Haughton’, Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et Réforme 13.2 (1989), pp. 199-214.

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An Excellent Ballad of Patient Grissel.

To the Tune of, The Brides Good-Morrow.

[We have not recorded this song because the tune is unknown]


A Noble Marquess

As he did ride a hunting

hard by a forrest side,

A fair and comely Maiden

As she did sit a spinning

his gentle eye espied,

Most fair and lovely

And of a comely grace was she,

although in simple attire,

She sung full sweetly

With pleasant voyce melodiously,

which set the Lords heart on fire:

The more he lovd the more he might,

Beauty bred his hearts delight

And to this Damsel

then he went [w]ith speed,

God speed quoth he thou famous flo[w]er,

Fair Mistris of this homely Bower,

Where Love and Vertue,

d[w]els [w]ith sweet content,

With comely gesture

And modest mild behaviour,

she bod him welcome then,

She entertained him,

in faithful friendly manner,

an[d] all his Gentlemen:

The Noble Marquess,

In s heart felt such a flame,

witch set his sences at strife,

Quoth he fair Maiden,


Show me soon what is thy name,

I mean to make thee my Wife,

Grissel is my name quoth she,

Far unfit for your degree,

A silly Maiden,

and of Parents poor:

Nay Grisel thou art rich he said,

A vertuous, fair, and comely Maid,

Grant me thy Love,

and I will ask no more:

At length she consented,

And being both contented,

they Married were with speed:

Her Country Russet

Was changed to silk and velvet,

as to her state agreed;

And when that she

Was trimly tired in the same,

her beauty shined most bright,

Far staining every

Other fair and Princely Dame,

that did appear in her ss[ig]ht.

Many envying her therefore,

because she was of Parents poor,

And twixt her Lord and she

great strife did raise:

Some said this, and same said that,

And some did call her beggers brat

And to her Lord

they wold her oft despise.


O noble Marquess

Quoth they why dost thou wrong us

thus basely for to wed:

Who might have gotten,

An Honourable Lady,

into your Princely bed,

Who will not now,

Your noble issue soon deride,

which shall hereafter be born,

That are of blood so base,

Born by the mothers side,

the which will bring them in scorn.

Put her therefore quite away,

And take to you a Lady gay,

Wherein your Lineage

may renowned be

Thus every day they seemed to prate

That maliced Grissels good estate,

Who all this while

took it most patiently.

When [t]hat the Marquess

Did see that the[y] were bent thus,

against his faithful wife,

Whom he most dearly,

Tenderly and intirely,

he loved as his life,

Minding in secret

for to prove her patient heart.

Thereby her foes to disgrace;

Thinking to shew her

a hard discourteous part,

That men might pitty her case,

Great with child this Lady was,

And at last it came to pass,

Two goodly children,

at one birth she had,

A Son and a Daughter God had sent:

Which did their Mother well content,

And which did make

their Fathers heart full glad.

Great Royal [f]easting

Was at these childrens Christening,

and Princely tryumph made.

Six weeks together

All Nobles that came thither,

were entertaind and staid,

And when that all this pleasant

Sporting quite was done,

the Marquess a Messenger sent,

For his young Daughter

And his pretty smiling Son,

declaring his full intent,

How [t]hat the babes must murdered be

For so the Marquess did decree.

Come let me have

t[h]e Chi[l]dren then he said,

With that fair Grissel wept full sore,

She wrung her hands & said no more,

My Gracious Lord

must have his will obeyd.


The second part to the same Tune.


SHe took the Babies,

Even from the nursing Ladies,

Between her tender arms,

She often wishes,

With many sorrowful kisses,

that she might ease their harms.

Farwel, farwel,

A thousand times my Children dear,

never shall I see you again,

Tis long of me

Your sad and woful Mother here,

for whose sake both most be slain,

Had I been born of Royal race,

You might have livd in happy case,

But you must dye,

for my unworthiness,

Come Messenger of Death quoth she,

Take my dearest babes to thee,

And to their Father

my complaints express,

He took the children,

And to his Noble master,

he bore them then with speed,

Who in secret sent them,

Unto a Noble Lady,

to be brought up in deed.

Then to fair Grissel

With a heavy heart he goes.

where she sate mildly all alone,

A pleasant gesture,

And a lovely look she shows,

as if no grief she had known.

Quoth he my children now are slain,

What thinks fair Grissel of the same,

S[w]eet Grissel now,

declare thy mind to me,

Sith you my Lord are pleas[e]d with it,

Poor Grissel thinks the action fit,

Both I and mine

at your command will be.


My Nobles murmer,

Fair Grissel at thy honour

and I no joy can have,

Till thou be banisht

Both from my court and presence

as they unjustly crave,

Thou must be stript

Out of thy stately garments all,

and as thou camst to me

In homely gray,

Instead of biss and purest pall,

now all thy clothing must be

My Lady thou must be no more,

Nor I thy Lord which grieves me sore

The poorest life

must now content thy mind,

A groat to thee I must not give,

Thee to maintain whilst I do live,

Against my Grissel

such great foes I find.

When gentle Grissel

Did hear these woful tydings,

the tears stood in her eys,

Nothing she answered,

No words of discontentment,

did from her lips arise,

Her Velvet Gown

Most patiently she stripped off,

her kirtle of silk with the same,

Her Russet Gown

was brought again with many a scoff,

to hear them her self she did frame;

When she was drest in this array,

And ready was to part away,

God send long life

unto my Lord quoth she.

Let no offence be found in this,

To give me Lord a parting kiss

With watry Eys

farewel my Dear said she.


From Princely Pallace,

Unto her fathers Cotta[g]e,

poor Grissel now is gone,

Full sixteen winters,

She lived there contented

no wrong she thought upon,

And at that time through

All the Land the speeches went

the Marquess should married be.

Unto a Noble Lady great

And of high Descent

and to the same all Parties did agree,

The Marquess sent for Grissel fair

The brides bed=chamber to prepare,

That nothing therein

might be found awry.

The bride was with her brother come,

Which was great joy to all and some,

But Grissel took all this

most patiently,

And in the morning

When as they should be wedded,

her patience there was tryed,

Grissel was charged,

Her self in friendly manner

for to attend the bride,

Most willing

She gave consent to do the same

the bride in bravery was drest,

And presently

The Noble Marquess thither came

with all his Lords at his request.

O Grissel I will ask of thee,

If to this match thou wilt agree,

Methinks thy looks,

are waxed wondrous coy,

With that they all began to smile

And Grissel she replyd the while

God send Lord Marquess

many years of joy.

The Marquess was moved,

To see his best beloved

thus patient in distress.

He stept unto her

And by the hand he took her

these words he did express.

Thou art the bride

And all the brides I mean to have,

these two thine own children be.

The youthful Lady,

On her knees did blessing crave,

her brother as well as she,

And you that envyed her estate,

Whom I have made my chosen Mate,

Now blush for shame,

and honour vertu[o]us life,

The Chronicles of lasting Fame,

Shall ever more extoll the name,

Of patient Grissel

my most constant wife:


London Printed for F. Coles, T. Vere, and W. Gi[l]bertson.

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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 'A noble Marquis' from first line); Coles, Vere, Wright and Clarke, 1675 (2 separate entries: 'An excellent ballad of patient Grissell'; and 'Noble Marquesse'); and Thackeray, 1689 ('Noble Marquess').

Other registrations with Stationers' Company: none.

No. of known editions c.1560-1711: 11

No. of extant copies: 9

New tune-titles generated: none.

Specially-commissioned woodcuts: Woman spinning on featured edition (and other editions).

Vaughan Williams Memorial Library databases: 25 references, with no evidence of later collection as a folk-song (Roud no. V39303).

POINTS: 0 + 30 + 0 + 22 + 9 + 0 + 5 + 3 = 69

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