Introduced by Arthur Knevett

This ballad has enjoyed widespread popularity. It was regularly printed on broadsides, which have kept it in circulation and helped to stabilize the text.

The story is a ‘ripping yarn’ concerning an adventurous lord who sails to Turkey and is taken prisoner. The jailer’s daughter, Sophie, releases him and he sails home to freedom. After seven years, she decides to find him, and having done so, he jilts his new bride and marries her!

It’s one of the few Child ballads that has a happy ending (except, of course, for the jilted bride). It has been a favourite of mine since I learnt it in the 1960s from the recording of Bert Lloyd (The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, Vol. 2 on Riverside Records, 1956).

The mp3 is from the Fellside “Ballads” CD in 1997.

Listen to Arthur Knevett singing “Lord Bateman:”

"Lord Bateman" sheet music
Click here to download a PDF of the sheet music.


Lord Bateman was a noble lord
A noble lord of some high degree
He set his foot on board of ship
Some foreign country he would go see

He sailed east and he sailed west
Until he came to proud Turkey
There he was taken and put in prison
‘Til of his life he grew quite weary

Now in this prison there grew a tree
It grew so stout and it grew so strong
There he was chained all by the middle
Until his life it was almost gone.

This jailer had but one only daughter
The fairest creature my two eyes did see
She stole the keys to her father’s prison
And vowed Lord Bateman she would set free.

“Have you got houses, have you got lands
And does Northumberland belong to thee?
What would you give to that fair young lady
That out of prison would set you free?”

“Oh I’ve got houses and I’ve got lands
And half Northumberland belongs to me
I’d give it all to that fair young lady
That out of prison would set me free.”

She took him to her marble parlour
With sugar cake and the best of wine
And every health that she drank unto him,
“I wish, Lord Bateman, your heart was mine.

“For seven long years I will make a vow
For seven long years I will keep it strong
If you do not wed to no other woman
Then I will wed to no other man.”

She took him to her father’s harbour
And gave to him a ship of fame.
“Adieu, adieu to you Lord Bateman
I fear I never will see you again.”

When seven long years and fourteen days
When seven long years well nigh were gone
She dressed herself in her silken clothes
O’er the raging main to find Lord Bateman.

She floated low and she floated high
‘Till turf and stone she has chanced to spy
Then she went cracking of her fair white fingers
As for Lord Bateman she did enquire.

“Oh isn’t this Lord Batemans palace
And is that noble lord within?”
“Oh yes, oh yes,” cried the brisk young porter
“He has just taken his new bride in.”

“Then tell him to send me a slice of bread
And a bottle of the best of wine
And not to forget that fair young lady
That did release him when close confined.”

“What news, what news, oh my brisk young porter
What news, what news have you brought to me?”
“There is a lady enquiring for you
The fairest creature my eyes did see.

“She tells you to send her a slice of bread
And a bottle of the best of wine
And not to forget that fair young lady
Who did release you when close confined.”

Lord Bateman flew into a passion
He broke the table in splinters three
“I’ll lay my life if that’s young Sophie
So now my new wed wife, farewell to thee.”

“I own I made a bride of thee
But you’re none the better nor the worse by me,
You came to me on a horse and saddle
You shall go back in a coach and three.”

He then prepared such another wedding
And both their hearts, they was full of glee.
“I’ll sail no more to a foreign country
Now that my Sophie has crossed the sea.”

Arthur Knevett writes: I have had a passion for English traditional songs, particularly ballads, since the 1960s. When a folk club opened in Surbiton, where I lived, I was one the first members. Over the years I have sung at many clubs and festivals but always working around the ‘day job’ as a university lecturer. Now that I have more time available I am pursuing academic research, writing journal articles and giving guest lectures while also continuing with my great passion of singing traditional songs. Further details can be found at my website.