174. Tutbury, or Stutesbury, Staffordshire. This celebrated place lies about four miles from Burton-upon-Trent, on the west bank of the river Don. Its castle, it is supposed, was built a considerable time before the Norman conquest. Being the principal seat of the Dukes of Lancaster, it was long distinguished as the scene of festivity and splendour. The number of minstrels which crowded it was so great, that it was found necessary to have recourse to some expedient for preserving order among them, and determining their claims of precedence. Accordingly, one of their number, with the title of king of the minstrels, was appointed, and under him several inferior officers, to assist in the execution of the laws. To this chief a charter was granted by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, 22nd August, 4th Richard II., 1381. This king of the minstrels and his officers having inflicted fines and punishments which exceeded the due bounds of justice, a court for hearing and determining complaints and controversies was instituted, which was yearly held with many forms and ceremonies. The business of the court being concluded, the officers withdraw to partake of a sumptuous repast, prepared for them by the steward of the lordship. In the afternoon the minstrels assembled at the gate of the priory, where, by way of amusement for the multitude, a bull, having his horns, ears, and tail cut off, his body besmeared with soap, and his nose blown full of pepper, was then let loose. If the minstrels could take and hold him, even so long as to deprive him of the smallest portion of his hair, he was declared their property, provided this was done within the confines of Staffordshire, and before sunset. The bull was next collared and roped, and being brought to the market cross, was baited with dogs. After this he was delivered to the minstrels, who might dispose of him as they deemed proper. _Vide_ Blount's _Ancient Tenures_, Hawkins's _History of Music_, Strutt's _Sports and Pastimes_, for fuller particulars of this ancient custom. GUTCH.
A TRUE TALE OF ROBIN HOOD.
Gutch's _Robin Hood_, ii. 88.
This doggerel is by Martin Parker, a well-known author of ballads in the reign of Charles I. and during the Protectorate. The titles of several of his works are given by Ritson, (_Robin Hood_, i. 127,) and those of others may be seen in Collier's _Roxburghe Ballads_, 237, 243, and Ritson's _Ancient Songs_, ii. 257, 263; among these last is the celebrated song, _When the king enjoys his own again_.
Ritson printed this piece from a black-letter edition dated 1686.
Gutch obtained a somewhat better copy from Mr. Collier, which we have here followed. "The date of Mr. Collier's copy is cut off, but enough remains to shew that it was printed at London, 'for T. Cotes, and are to be sold by F. Grove, dwelling upon Snow-hill near the Saracens * *
*.' The first edition was entered at Stationers' Hall, 20th February, 1631."
The title in full is: "_A True Tale of Robbin Hood, Or, a brief touch of the life and death of that renowned outlaw, Robert, Earle of Huntington, vulgarly called Robbin Hood, who lived and died in 1198, being the 9th yeare of king Richard the first, commonly called Richard Cuer de Lyon; carefully collected out of the truest writers of our English_ _Chronicles and published for the satisfaction of those who desire to see truth purged from falsehood_. BY MARTIN PARKER."
At the end of the tale is the following epitaph, "which the prioresse of the monastery of Kirkes Lay in Yorkshire set over Robbin Hood, which was to bee reade within these hundreth yeares (though in old broken English), much to the same sence and meaning."
_Decembris quarto die 1198. anno regni Richardii primi 9._
Robert earle of Huntington Lies under this little stone.
No archer was like him so good; His wildnesse named him Robbin Hood.
Full thirteene yeares and something more, These northern parts he vexed sore; Such outlawes as hee and his men, May England never know agen.
"Some other superstitious words were in it, which I thought fit to leave out." M. P.
Both gentlemen, or yeomen bould, Or whatsoever you are, To have a stately story tould Attention now prepare.
It is a tale of Robin Hood, 5 Which I to you will tell, Which being rightly understood, I know will please you well.
This Robbin (so much talked on) Was once a man of fame, 10 Instiled earle of Huntington, Lord Robert Hood by name.
In courtship and magnificence His carriage won him prayse, And greater favour with his prince 15 Than any in his dayes.
In bounteous liberality He too much did excell, And loved men of quality More than exceeding well. 20
His great revennues all he sould For wine and costly cheere; He kept three hundred bowmen bold, He shooting loved so deare.
No archer living in his time 25 With him might well compare: He practis'd all his youthfull prime That exercise most rare.
At last, by his profuse expence, He had consum'd his wealth; 30 And being outlawed by his prince, In woods he liv'd by stealth.
The abbot of Saint Maries rich, To whom he mony ought, His hatred to the earle was such 35 That he his downefall wrought.
So being outlaw'd (as 'tis told) He with a crew went forth Of lusty cutters stout and bold, And robbed in the North. 40
Among the rest one Little John, A yeoman bold and free, Who could (if it stood him upon) With ease encounter three.
One hundred men in all he got, 45 With whom (the story sayes) Three hundred commen men durst not Hold combat any wayes.
They Yorkshire woods frequented much, And Lancashire also, 50 Wherein their practises were such That they wrought mickle woe.
None rich durst travell to and fro, Though nere so strongly arm'd, But by these theeves (so strong in show) 55 They still were rob'd and harm'd.
His chiefest spight to th' clergie was, That liv'd in monstrous pride: No one of them he would let passe Along the highway side, 60
But first they must to dinner go, And afterwards to shrift: Full many a one he served so, Thus while he liv'd by theft.
No monks nor fryers would he let goe, 65 Without paying their fees: If they thought much to be us'd so, Their stones he made them leese.
For such as they the country fill'd With bastards in those dayes; 70 Which to prevent, these sparkes did geld All that came by their ways.
But Robbin Hood so gentle was, And bore so brave a minde, If any in distresse did passe, 75 To them he was so kinde,
That he would give and lend to them, To helpe them in their neede; This made all poore men pray for him, And wish he well might speede. 80
The widdow and the fatherlesse He would send meanes unto; And those whom famine did oppresse Found him a friendly foe.
Nor would he doe a woman wrong, 85 But see her safe conveid: He would protect with power strong All those who crav'd his ayde.
The abbot of Saint Maries then, Who him undid before, 90 Was riding with two hundred men, And gold and silver store.
But Robbin Hood upon him set, With his couragious sparkes, And all the coyne perforce did get, 95 Which was twelve thousand markes.
He bound the abbot to a tree, And would not let him passe, Before that to his men and he His lordship had said masse. 100
Which being done, upon his horse He set him fast astride, And with his face towards his---- He forced him to ride.
His men were faine to be his guide, 105 For he rode backward home: The abbot, being thus villified, Did sorely chafe and fume.
Thus Robbin Hood did vindicate His former wrongs receiv'd; 110 For 'twas this covetous prelate That him of land bereav'd.
The abbot he rode to the king, With all the haste he could, And to his grace he every thing 115 Exactly did unfold:
And sayd if that no course were ta'en, By force or stratagem, To take this rebel and his traine, No man should passe for them. 120
The king protested by and by Unto the abbot then, That Robbin Hood with speed should dye, With all his merry men.
But e're the king did any send, 125 He did another feate, Which did his grace much more offend, The fact indeed was great.
For in a short time after that The kings receivers went 130 Towards London with the coyne they got, For 's highness northerne rent.
Bold Robbin Hood and Little John, With the rest of their traine, Not dreading law, set them upon, 135 And did their gold obtaine.
The king much moved at the same, And the abbots talke also, In this his anger did proclaime, And sent word to and fro, 140