Tom Potts

No: 109; variant: 109B

  1. OF all the lords in Scotland fair, And ladies that been so bright of blee, There is a noble lady among them all, And report of her you shall hear by me.
  2. For of her beauty she is bright, And of her colour very fair; She’s daughter to Lord Arundel, And of her colour very fair; She’s daughter to Lord Arundel, Approvd his parand and his heir.
  3. ‘I’le see this bride,’ Lord Phenix said, ‘That lady of so bright a blee, And if I like her countenance well, The heir of all my lands she’st be.’
  4. But when he came the lady before, Before this comely maid came he, ‘O God thee save, thou lady sweet, My heir and parand thou shalt be.’
  5. ‘Leave off your suit,’ the lady said, ‘As you are a lord of high degree; And I have a lord in mine own country.
  6. ‘For I have a lover true of mine own, A serving-man of low degree, One Tommy Pots it is his name, My first love and last that ever shall be.’
  7. ‘If that Tom Pots is his name, I do ken him right verily; I am able to spend fourty pounds a week, Where he is not able to spend pounds three.’
  8. ‘God give you good of your gold,’ she said, ‘And ever God give you good of your fee; Tom Pots was the first love that ever I had, And I do mean him the last to be.’
  9. With that Lord Phenix soon was movd; Towards the lady did he threat; He told her father, and so it was provd, How his daughter’s mind was set.
  10. ‘O daughter dear, thou art my own, The heir of all my lands to be; Thou shalt be bride to the Lord Phenix, If that thou mean to be heir to me.’
  11. ‘O father dear, I am your own, And at your command I needs must be; But bind my body to whom you please, My heart, Tom Pots, shall go with thee.’
  12. Alas! the lady her fondness must leave, And all her foolish wooing lay aside; The time is come, her friends have appointed, That she must be Lord Phenix bride.
  13. With that the lady began to weep; She knew not well then what to say, How she might Lord Phenix deny, And escape from marriage quite away.
  14. See calld unto her little foot-page, Saying, I can trust none but thee; Go carry Tom Pots this letter fair, And bid him on Guilford Green meet me.
  15. For I must marry against my mind, Or in faith well proved it shall be; And tell to him I am loving and kind, And wishes him this wedding to see.
  16. But see that thou note his countenance well, And his colour, and shew it to me; And go thy way and hie thee again, And forty shillings I will give thee.
  17. For if he smile now with his lips, His stomach will give him to laugh at the heart; Then may I seek another true-love, For of Tom Pots small is my part.
  18. But if he blush now in his face, Then in his heart he will sorry be; Then to his vow he hath some grace, And false to him I will never be.
  19. Away this lacky-boy he ran, And a full speed forsooth went he, Away this lacky-boy he ran, And a full speed forsooth went he, Till he came to Strawberry Castle, And there Tom Pots came he to see.
  20. He gave him the letter in his hand; Before that he began to read, He told him plainly by word of mouth, His love was forc’d to be Lord Phenix bride.
  21. When he lookd on the letter fair, The salt tears blemished his eye; Says, I cannot read this letter fair, Nor never a word to see or spy.
  22. My little boy, be to me true, Here is five marks I will give thee; And all these words I must peruse, And tell my lady this from me.
  23. By faith and troth she is my own, By some part of promise, so it’s to be found; Lord Phenix shall not have her night nor day, Except he can win her with his own hand.
  24. On Guilford Green I will her meet; Say that I wish her for me to pray; For there I’le lose my life so sweet, Or else the wedding I mean to stay.
  25. Away this lackey-boy he ran, Even as fast as he could hie; The lady she met him two miles of the way; Says, Why hast thou staid so long, my boy?
  26. My little boy, thou art but young, It gives me at heart thou’l mock and scorn; I’le not believe thee by word of mouth, Unless on this book thou wilt be sworn.
  27. ‘Now by this book,’ the boy did say, ‘And Jesus Christ be as true to me, Tom Pots could not read the letter fair, Nor never a word to spy or see.
  28. ‘He says, by faith and troth you are his own, By some part of promise, so it’s to be found; Lord Phenix shall not have you night nor day, Except he win you with his own hand.
  29. ‘On Guilford Green he will you meet; He wishes you for him to pray; For there he’l lose his life so sweet, Or else the wedding he means to stay.’
  30. ‘If this be true, my little boy, These tidings which thou tellest to me, Forty shillings I did thee promise, Here is ten pounds I will give thee.
  31. ‘My maidens all,’ the lady said, ‘That ever wish me well to prove, Now let us all kneel down and pray That Tommy Pots may win his love.
  32. ‘If it be his fortune the better to win, As I pray to Christ in Trinity, I’le make him the flower of all his kin, For the young Lord Arundel he shall be.’
  33. Let’s leave talking of this lady fair, In prayers full good where she may be; Now let us talk of Tommy Pots; To his lord and master for aid went he.
  34. But when he came Lord Jockey before, He kneeled lowly on his knee: ‘What news, what news, thou Tommy Pots, Thou art so full of courtesie?
  35. ‘What tydings, what tydings, thou Tommy Pots, Thou art so full of courtesie? Thou hast slain some of thy fellows fair, Or wrought to me some villany.’
  36. ‘I have slain none of my fellows fair, Nor wrought to you no villany, But I have a love in Scotland fair, And I fear I shall lose her with poverty.
  37. ‘If you’l not believe me by word of mouth, But read this letter, and you shall see, Here by all these suspitious words That she her own self hath sent to me.’
  38. But when he had read the letter fair, Of all the suspitious words in it might be, ‘O Tommy Pots, take thou no care, Thou’st never lose her with poverty.
  39. ‘For thou’st have forty pounds a week, In gold and silver thou shalt row, And Harvy Town I will give thee As long as thou intendst to wooe.
  40. ‘Thou’st have forty of thy fellows fair, And forty horses to go with thee, Forty of the best spears I have, And I my self in thy company.’
  41. ‘I thank you, master,’ said Tommy Pots, ‘That proffer is too good for me; But, if Jesus Christ stand on my side, My own hands shall set her free.
  42. ‘God be with you, master,’ said Tommy Pots, ‘Now Jesus Christ you save and see; If ever I come alive again, Staid the wedding it shall be.’
  43. ‘O God be your speed, thou Tommy Pots, Thou art well proved for a man; See never a drop of blood thou spil, Nor yonder gentleman confound.
  44. ‘See that some truce with him you take, And appoint a place of liberty; Let him provide him as well as he can, As well provided thou shalt be.’
  45. But when he came to Guilford Green, And there had walkt a little aside, There was he ware of Lord Phenix come, And Lady Rosamond his bride.
  46. Away by the bride then Tommy Pots went, But never a word to her did say, Till he the Lord Phenix came before; He gave him the right time of the day.
  47. ‘O welcome, welcome, thou Tommy Pots, Thou serving-man of low degree; How doth thy lord and master at home, And all the ladies in that countrey?’
  48. ‘My lord and master is in good health, I trust since that I did him see; Will you walk with me to an out-side, Two or three words to talk with me?
  49. ‘You are a noble man,’ said Tom, ‘And born a lord in Scotland free; You may have ladies enough at home, And never take my love from me.’
  50. ‘Away, away, thou Tommy Pots; Thou serving-man, stand thou aside; It is not a serving-man this day That can hinder me of my bride.’
  51. ‘If I be a serving-man,’ said Tom, ‘And you a lord of high degree, A spear or two with you I’le run, Before I’le lose her cowardly.
  52. ‘Appoint a place, I will thee meet, Appoint a place of liberty; For there I’le lose my life so sweet, Or else my lady I’le set free.’
  53. ‘On Guilford Green I will thee meet; No man nor boy shall come with me:’ ‘As I am a man,’ said Tommy Pots, ‘I’le have as few in my company.’
  54. And thus staid the marriage was, The bride unmarried went home again; Then to her maids fast did she laugh, And in her heart she was full fain.
  55. ‘My maidens all,’ the lady said, ‘That ever wait on me this day, Now let us all kneel down, And for Tommy Pots let us all pray.
  56. ‘If it be his fortune the better to win, As I trust to God in Trinity, I’le make him the flower of all his kin, For the young Lord Arundel he shall be.’
  57. When Tom Pots came home again, To try for his love he had but a week; For sorrow, God wot, he need not care, For four days that he fel sick.
  58. With that his master to him came, Says, Pray thee, Tom Pots, tell me if tho doubt Whether thou hast gotten thy gay lady, Or thou must go thy love without.
  59. ‘O master, yet it is unknown; Within these two days well try’d it must be; He is a lord, I am but a serving-man, I fear I shall lose her with poverty.’
  60. ‘I prethee, Tom Pots, get thee on thy feet; My former promises kept shall be; As I am a lord in Scotland fair, Thou’st never lose her with poverty.
  61. ‘For thou’st have the half of my lands a year, And that will raise thee many a pound; Before thou shalt out-braved be, Thou shalt drop angels with him on the ground.’
  62. ‘I thank you, master,’ said Tommy Pots, ‘Yet there is one thing of you I would fain; If that I lose my lady sweet, How I’st restore your goods again?’
  63. ‘If that thou win the lady sweet, Thou mayst well forth, thou shalt pay me; If thou loosest thy lady, thou losest enough; Thou shalt not pay me one penny.’
  64. ‘You have thirty horses in one close, You keep them all both frank and free; Amongst them all there’s an old white horse This day would set my lady free.
  65. ‘That is an old horse with a cut tail, Full sixteen years of age is he; If thou wilt lend me that old horse, Then could I win her easily.’
  66. ‘That’s a foolish opinion,’ his master said, ‘And a foolish opinion thou tak’st to thee; Thou’st have a better then ever he was, Though forty pounds more it cost me.’
  67. ‘O your choice horses are wild and tough, And little they can skill of their train; If I be out of my saddle cast, They are so wild they’l ner be tain.’
  68. ‘Thou’st have that horse,’ his master said, ‘If that one thing thou wilt tell me; Why that horse is better than any other, I pray thee, Tom Pots, shew thou to me.’
  69. ‘That horse is old, of stomach bold, And well can he skill of his train; If I be out of my saddle cast, He’l either stand still or turn again.’
  70. ‘Thou’st have the horse with all my heart, And my plate-coat of silver free; An hundred men to stand at thy back, To fight if he thy master be.’
  71. ‘I thank you master,’ said Tommy Pots; ‘That proffer is too good for me; I would not, for ten thousand pounds, Have man or boy in my company.
  72. ‘God be with you master,’ said Tommy Pots; ‘Now, as you are a man of law, One thing let me crave at your hand; Let never a one of my fellows know.
  73. ‘For if that my fellows they did wot, Or ken of my extremity, Except you keep them under a lock, Behind me I am sure they would not be.’
  74. But when he came to Guilford Green, He waited hours two or three; There he was ware of Lord Phenix come, And four men in his company.
  75. ‘You have broken your vow,’ said Tommy Pots, ‘The vow which you did make to me; You said you would bring neither man nor boy, And now has brought more than two or three.’
  76. ‘These are my men,’ Lord Phenix said, ‘Which every day do wait on me; [If] any of these dare proffer to strike, I’le run my spear through his body.’
  77. ‘I’le run no race now,’ said Tommy Pots, ‘Except now this may be; If either of us be slain this day, The other shall forgiven be.’
  78. ‘I’le make that vow with all my heart, My men shall bear witness with me; And if thou slay me here this day, In Scotland worse belovd thou never shalt be.’
  79. They turnd their horses thrice about, To run the race so eagerly; Lord Phenix he was fierce and stout, And ran Tom Pots through the thick o th’ thigh.
  80. He bord him out of the saddle fair, Down to the ground so sorrowfully: ‘For the loss of my life I do not care, But for the loss of my fair lady.
  81. ‘Now for the loss of my lady sweet, Which once I thought to have been my wife, I pray thee, Lord Phenix, ride not away, For with thee I would end my life.’
  82. Tom Pots was but a serving-man, But yet he was a doctor good; He bound his handkerchief on his wound, And with some kind of words he stancht his blood.
  83. He leapt into his saddle again, The blood in his body began to warm; He mist Lord Phenix body fair, And ran him through the brawn of the arm.
  84. He bord him out of his saddle fair, Down to the ground most sorrowfully; Says, Prethee, Lord Phenix, rise up and fight, Or yield my lady unto me.
  85. ‘Now for to fight I cannot tell, And for to fight I am not sure; Thou hast run me throw the brawn o th’ arm, That with a spear I may not endure.
  86. ‘Thou’st have the lady with all my heart; It was never likely better to prove With me, or any nobleman else, That would hinder a poor man of his love.’
  87. ‘Seeing you say so much,’ said Tommy Pots, ‘I will not seem your butcher to be; But I will come and stanch your blood, If any thing you will give me.’
  88. As he did stanch Lord Phenix blood, Lord, in his heart he did rejoyce! ‘I’le not take the lady from you thus, But of her you’st have another choice.
  89. ‘Here is a lane of two miles long; At either end we set will be; The lady shall stand us among, Her own choice shall set her free.’
  90. ‘If thou’l do so,’ Lord Phenix said, ‘To lose her by her own choice it’s honesty; Chuse whether I get her or go her without, Forty pounds I will give thee.’
  91. But when they in that lane was set, The wit of a woman for to prove, ‘By the faith of my body,’ the lady said, ‘Then Tom Pots must needs have his love.’
  92. Towards Tom Pots the lady did hie, To get on behind him hastily; ‘Nay stay, nay stay,’ Lord Phenix said, ‘Better proved it shall be.
  93. ‘Stay you with your maidens here– In number fair they are but three– Tom Pots and I will go behind yonder wall, That one of us two be proved to dye.’
  94. But when they came behind the wall, The one came not the other nigh; For the Lord Phenix had made a vow, That with Tom Pots he would never fight.
  95. ‘O give me this choice,’ Lord Phenix said, ‘To prove whether true or false she be, And I will go to the lady fair, And tell her Tom Pots slain is he.’
  96. When he came from behind the wall, With his face all bloody as it might be, ‘O lady sweet, thou art my own, For Tom Pots slain have I.
  97. ‘Now have I slain him, Tommy Pots, And given him death’s wounds two or three; O lady sweet, thou art my own; Of all loves, wilt thou live with me?’
  98. ‘If thou hast slain him, Tommy Pots, And given him death’s wounds two or three, I’le sell the state of my father’s lands But hanged shall Lord Phenix be.’
  99. With that the lady fell in a swound, For a grieved woman, God wot, was she; Lord Phenix he was ready then To take her up so hastily.
  100. ‘O lady sweet, stand thou on thy feet, Tom Pots alive this day may be; I’le send for thy father, Lord Arundel, And he and I the wedding will see.
  101. ‘I’le send for thy father, Lord Arundel, And he and I the wedding will see; If he will not maintain you well, Both lands and livings you’st have of me.’
  102. ‘I’le see this wedding,’ Lord Arundel said, ‘Of my daughter’s luck that is so fair; Seeing the matter will be no better, Of all my lands Tom Pots shall be the heir.’
  103. With that the lady began for to smile, For a glad woman, God wot, was she; ‘Now all my maids,’ the lady said, ‘Example you may take by me.
  104. ‘But all the ladies of Scotland fair, And lasses of England that well would prove, Neither marry for gold nor goods, Nor marry for nothing but only love.
  105. ‘For I had a lover true of my own, A serving-man of low degree; Now from Tom Pots I’le change his name, For the young Lord Arundel he shall be.’