Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender

The Brown Girl, Fair Eleanor

Melody - 2 alternating melodies

A conflation of 6 different versions, from 14 to 3 verses each (which hardly tells the story). The song seems to have traveled from the eastern mountains through the Cumberland Gap to Kentucky.

Lord Thomas was a gay forester
And the lodge-keeper of the king's deer
Fair Ellender was as fair a woman
Lord Thomas, he loved her well

2. "Father, come father, come riddle to me,
Come riddle it all in one,
And tell me whether to marry Fair Ellen
Or bring the brown girl home."

3. The Brown girl she has house and land,
Fair Ellender she has none,
And there I charge you with the blessing
To bring the Brown girl home.

4. He got on his horse and he rode and he rode,
He rode 'til he came to the home,
And no one so ready as Fair Ellen herself
To rise and bid him in.

5. He went till he came to fair Ellender's court
So loudly twirled at the pin,
There was none so ready as fair Ellender herself
To let Lord Thomas in.

6. What news have you brought unto me, Lord Thomas?
What news have you brought unto me?
I've come to ask you to my wedding,
A sorrowful wedding to be.

7. Bad news, bad news, Lord Thomas," she said,
Bad news, bad news to me;
You've come to ask me to your wedding,
When I thought your your bride tobe.

8. "Come come riddle to me, dear mother," she says
"Come riddle it all in one,
If I must go to Lord Thomas's wedding
Or if I must stay at home."

9. "Many may be your friends, daughter
But thousands are your foe
And therefore I charge you with my blessing
To Lord Thomas's wedding don't go."

10. "Yes, many may be my friends, mother
And thousands are my foes
But betide to my life, betide to my death,
To Lord Thomas's wedding I'll go."

11. She turned around and dressed in white
Her sisters dressed in green,
And every town that they rode through
They took her to be some queen.

12. They rode and they rode 'til they came to the hall,
So loudly she twirled at the pin
And no one so ready as Lord Thomas himself
To let fair Ellender in.

13. He took her by her lily white hand
When leading her through the hall
Saying fifty gay ladies are here today
But here is the flower of all.

14. "Is this your bride, Lord Thomas?" she said
"She looks most wonderful brown
You might have had as fair a woman
As ever trod England's ground."

15. "Despise her not, fair Ellender," he said
"Despise her not to me
Much better do I like your little finger
Than I do her whole body."

16. The Brown girl she was standing by
With knife ground keen and sharp,
Betwixt the long ribs and the short,
She pierced Fair Ellender's heart.

17. "Oh, what's the matter?" Lord Thomas said
"You look so pale and wan
You used to have so fair a color
As ever the sun shone on."

18. "Oh, are you blind, Lord Thomas?" she said
"Or can't you very well see,
And can't you see my own heart's blood,
As it trickles down to my knee?"

19. Lord Thomas he was standing by,
With knife ground keen and sharp,
Between the long ribs and the short,
He pierced his own bride's heart.

20. He held the grip against the wall,
The point against his breast,
"There is the going of three true lovers,
God send our souls to rest."

21. "Oh father, oh father, go dig my grave,
Go dig it wide and deep,
And place fair Ellender in my arms
And the Brown girl at my feet."