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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleDuke of Marlborough
Roud No.233
Collected FromPillinger, John
LocationLechlade
CountyGloucestershire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 4 - Wiltshire: Williams, A: MS collection No Wt 442
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 6th November, 1915, p 2, Part 7, No. 5: Williams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923 p 161
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

You generals all and champions bold
That takes delight in fields,
That knock down palaces and castle walls,
And soon to Death must yield;
I am an Englishman by birth,
Marlborough is my name,
In Devonshire I first drew my breath,
That place of noble fame.

Verse 2

I was well loved of all my men,
By kings and princes likewise,
And in every town that we rode through
We did the world surprise;
King Charles the Second then I did serve,
For to face our foes in France,
All in the Battle of Ramillies
Most bravely I did advance.

Verse 3

'Twas that very day my horse was shot,
And by a musket ball,
And as I was rising up again
My Aide de Camp did fall,
The sun went down, the earth did shake,
So loudly I did cry,
"Fight on, fight on, for old England's sake,
We'll conquer or we'll die."

Verse 4

Now on this bed, infirm and old,
I am resigned to die,
You generals all and champions bold,
Stand true, as well as I.
Let every man be true to his guns,
And fight with courage so bold,
For I led my men through fire and smoke
And never was bribed with gold.
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS: 'The Duke of Marlborough was the greatest general of his day, and won a series of striking victories at Blenheim, Ramillies, Malplaquet and elsewhere. He died in the year 1722. The age of the song may be easily conjectured. Obtained of David Sawyer and John Pillinger.'

Williams, Alfred: FSUT: 'The Duke of Marlborough died in the year 1722. The age of the song may be easily conjectured. Obtained of David Sawyer and John Pillinger.'

Note 2

In the versions in WGS and FSUT the verses are split into four lines so doubling the verse count.

In Verse 3 Line 4 the original text read:

My hairy cap did fall

The manuscript shows signs of Williams reo-ordering the components of the song. The original order is:

Verse 1

You generals all and champions bold
That takes delight in fields,
That knock down palaces and castle walls,
And soon to Death must yield;
I am an Englishman by birth,
Marlborough is my name,
In Devonshire I first drew my breath,
That place of noble fame.

Verse 2

King Charles the Second then I did serve,
For to face our foes in France,
All in the Battle of Ramillies
Most bravely I did advance.
'Twas that very day my horse was shot,
And by a musket ball,
And as I was rising up again
My Aide de Camp did fall,

Verse 3

The sun went down, the earth did shake,
So loudly I did cry,
'Fight on, fight on, for old England's sake,
We'll conquer or we'll die.'
I was well loved of all my men,
By kings and princes likewise,
And in every town that we rode through
We did the world surprise;

Verse 4

Now on this bed, infirm and old,
I am resigned to die,
You generals all and champions bold,
Stand true, as well as I.
Let every man be true to his guns,
And fight with courage bold,
For I led my men through fire and smoke
And never was bribed with gold.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.

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