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Lambkin, the finest mason that e'er laid a stone,
He built a lord"s mansion and for payment got none.
He built it without and he sealed it within,
And he made a false window for himself to get in.

His lordship going to London once upon a time,
The Lambkin though fit to commit his great crime.
"I fear the Lambkin", the lady did say;
"I fear the Lambkin when your lordship"s away."

"I fear not the Lambkin, nor any of his kind,
When my gates are well barred and my windows pinned down."
So in stepped the Lambkin in the middle of the night,
Without coal or candle to show him the light.

"Where is his lordship?" then said the Lambkin.
"He's in London buying pearls," said the fals nurse to him.
"Where's her ladyship?" said the Lambkin.
"She's in her chamber sleeping," says the false nurse to him.

"How will I get at her?" says the Lambkin.
"stab the baby in the cradle," says the false nurse to him.
"It's a pity, it's a pity," said the Lambkin.
"No pity, no pity," says the false nurse to him.

So the Lambkin he rocked and the false nurse she sung,
And with a small pen-knife he dabbed now and then.
So the Lambkin he rocked and the false nurse she sung,
And the tearing of the cradle made the blood cold to run.

"Please my child, nurse; please him with the keys";
"He won't be pleased, madam, you may do as you please."
"Please my child, nurse, please him with the bell";
"He won't be pleased madam, till you come down yourself."

"How can I come down, as my candle is out,
And the room is so dark that I cannot move about?"
"You have three golden mantles as bright as the sun;
Throw one of them round you, it will show you light down."

As soon as her ladyship entered the stairs,
So ready was the Lambkin to catch her with his snares.
"Good morrow, good morrow," says the Lambkin;
"Good morrow," says the lady to him.

"Where is his lordship?" says the Lambkin,
"He's in London buying pealrs for my lying-in."
"You never will enjoy them," says the Lambkin;
"The more is the pity," says the lady to him.

"Spare my life, Lambjin, spare it but one day;
I will give you as much gold as you can carry away."
"If you give me as much gold as I could heap in a sack,
I could not keep my pen-knife from your lily-white neck."

"Spare my life, Lambkin, spare it but one hour;
"I'll give you my daughter, Bessie, your bride for to be."
"Bring down your daughter, Bessie, she's both neat and trim,
With a silver basin to hold your life-blood in."

"Oh, no, no; that, Lambkin, that would never do;
If you say that, then Bessie will never be for you.
Bessie, lovely Bessie, stay up in your room.
Watch for your father coming home, and that will be soon."

Bessie sat watching that cold winter night,
With her father coming home with his men at daylight.
"Father, dear father, what kept you so long?
Your lady is murdered ad your own darling son.

"There is blood in the kitchen, there is blood in the hall;
But the blood of my mamma is the worst blood of all.
For the Lambkin will be hung high up on a tree,
And the false nurse will be burned, such a villian was she."

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Source: Palmer, Roy, 1998, A Book of British Ballads, Llanerch

Roy Palmer wrote:

Lambkin, (or Lammikin, or Rankin, or Long Lonkin), aided by a nursemaid, kills a noble lady and her child. He is caught by the loard and executed. English versions of the ballas give no motive for the ruthless crime, but Scots (and from those, Irish and American) text mention - in the first verse - that Lambkin is a mason who has received no recompense for building a castle. Many attempts have been made to attach the ballad to a particular locatity, or to give it significance as a covert symbol on the one hand for leprosy, or on the other for medieval revolt. The terrible story seems more akin to certain nursery tales which, although the are full od social and linguistic significance, have as their prime motive the cathartic arousal of terror.

"Noted from Mr Alexander Crawford, of Leck, Ballymoney, who learned it fifty years ago when a boy at Garry Bog, from an old travelling woamn who made the children's flesh creep with this sinister song" (no 735, Sam Henry Collection, published in Songs of the People; selections from the Sam Henry Collection, Part 1, ed John Moulden, Blackstaff Press, Belfast, 1979.

Roy also refers to the reason for the silver basin: "there was a superstitious horror of spilling noble blood on the ground."

Roud: 6 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Child: 93

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