The Death of Queen Jane

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Melody -
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Traditional ballad, c. 1537; right: collected by Sabine Baring-Gould

Queen Jane was in travail
For six weeks or more,
Till the women grew tired,
And fain would give o'er.
'O women! O women!
Good wives if ye be,
Go, send for King Henrie,
And bring him to me.'

2. King Henrie was sent for,
He came with all speed,
In a gownd of green velvet
From heel to the head.
'King Henrie! King Henrie!
If kind Henrie you be,
Send for a surgeon,
And bring him to me.'

3. The surgeon was sent for,
He came with all speed,
In a gownd of black velvet
From heel to the head.
He gave her rich caudle,
But the death-sleep slept she.
Then her right side was opened,
And the babe was set free.

Song fragments follow:

4. The babe it was christened,
And put out and nursed,
While the royal Queen Jane
She lay cold in the dust.

So black was the mourning,
And white were the wands,
Yellow, yellow the torches,
They bore in their hands.

The bells they were muffled,
And mournful did play,
While the royal Queen Jane
She lay cold in the clay.

Six knights and six lords
Bore her corpse through the grounds;
Six dukes followed after,
In black mourning gownds.

The flower of Old England
Was laid in cold clay,
Whilst the royal King Henrie
Came weeping away.

Queen Jane O! Queen Jane O! What a lady was she
And she was in labour six weeks and a day
Queen Jane was in labour for six weeks and more
Till the women grew weary and fain would give o’er
O women! O women! Good women if ye be
Go send for King Henry and bring him to me".

2. King Henry was sent for, and to her he came
"Dear Lady! Fair Lady! your eyes look so dim"
King Henry came to her he came in all speed
In a gown of red velvet from the heel to the head
"King Henry! King Henry! If kind you will be
Send for a good doctor and let him come to me".

3. The doctor was sent for he came with all speed
In a gown of black velvet from the heel to the head
The doctor was sent for and to her he came
"Dear Lady! Fair Lady! Your labour is vain"
Dear Doctor! Dear Doctor! Will you do this for me
O open up my right side and save my baby".

4. Then out spoke King Henry "That never can be
I’d rather lose the branches than the top of the tree"
The doctor gave a caudle - the death sleep slept she
Then her right side was opened and the baby set free
The babe it was christened and put out and nursed
But the royal Queen Jane she lay cold in the dust.


Baring-Gould's version was written down from a Sam Fone, in 1893. There were more verses but he could not remember them.

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