Child's, The English And Scottish Ballads

Volume 5 of 8 from 1860 edition - online book

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Fifth [1416], the account was rendered by Thomas Hercy, and in the fourth year by Simon Leak. The mention of his adhesion to the Scots, leads us to the Scottish border, and will not leave a doubt in the mind of the most sceptical (!) that we have here one of the persons, some of whose deeds (with some poetical license, perhaps) are come down to us in the words of one of our popular ballads." New Illustrations of the Life, Studies, and Writings of Shakespeare, i. 245.
It must be confessed that Mr. Hunter is easily satisĀ­fied. The Bells were one of the most notorious of the marauding tribes of the Marches, and as late as 1593, are grouped with the Graemes and Armstrongs, in a memorial of the English Warden, as among " the bad and more vagrant of the great surnames of the 'border." (Rymer's Fosdera, xvi. 183, 2d ed.) Adam was a very common pmnomen among these people, and is borne by two other familiar ballad heroes, Adam Gordon and Adam Car. The combination of Adam Bell must have been anything but a rarity; i nor could it have been an unfrequent occurrence, for a Scottish freebooter who had entered into the pay of the English King, to return to his natural connections, when a tempting opportunity offered itself, or for any Border mercenary to change sides as often as this seemed to be for his interest.
The rescue of William of Cloudesly by Adam Bell and Clym of the Clough, in the second fit, resembles in all the main points the rescue of Robin Hood by
1 Thus, in the Parliamentary Writs, we have two Adam Bells (possibly only one) contemporary with Mr. Hunter's Robin Hood, and both resident in Yorkshire.
1315, Adam Belle, manuoaptor of a burgess for Scarborough.
1324, Adam Bole, manucaptor for citizens returned for York.