William Grismond’s Downfall

James Bell

Joy & Jealousy

  1. William Grismond’s Downfall
"And for my offence I shall die..."


I stumbled on this one almost by accident. I was looking at another broadside song which said it was to the tune of ‘And for my offence I shall die’, and I thought that sounded pretty cool, and wondered if there were any words for it. After a bit of hunting, I found ‘William Grismond’s Downfall’. I suspect this is also based on a real event, judging by the song’s brief preface: "A Lamentable Murther by him committed at Lainterdine, in the country of Hereford, the 12 of March 1650. with his woeful Lamentation."


O come you wilful young men, and hear what I shall tell, My name is William Grismond, at Leintwardine did dwell; O there I did a murder, as it is known full well; ----------------------------------------- And for my offence I shall die, I shall die. And for my offence I shall die. ----------------------------------------- There was a neighbour’s daughter that lived me hard by, Whom I had promised marriage, and with her I did lie I did dissemble with her, my lust to satisfy; ----------------------------------------- And for my offence I shall die.... I had my pleasure on her, I had my lewd desire, The using of her body was that I did require: I was overcome and I was ensnared by Him that was a Liar; ----------------------------------------- And for my offence I shall die.... She claimed of me marriage, and said she was with child, Saying “Marry me sweet William, now you have me defiled: If you do now forsake me, I utterly am spoiled, ----------------------------------------- And for my offence I shall die....” When she had used these speeches, my anger did arise, And then to work her overthrow, I quickly did devise; What though her words were honest, yet I did them despise; ----------------------------------------- And for my offence I shall die.... In flattering short I brought her, into the field of broom, And when we both together into the field were come, I had my pleasure with her, and then I was her doom; ----------------------------------------- And for my offence I shall die.... Then in the broom I killed her, with my accursed knife, There hatefully I killed her, who loved me as her life; I cut her throat, I killed her, who should have been my wife; ----------------------------------------- And for my offence I shall die.... But then my loving father, his gold he did not spare, To save me from the gallows, he had of me great care; But it would not be granted. the gallows was my share; ----------------------------------------- And for my offence I did die, I did die. And for my offence I did die.

Credits & Copyright

Traditional, adapted and recorded by James Bell in 2012/3. Released in November 2013. Remastered in April 2017. (P) House of Lyra. Photo by Servicelinket (CC0).

The tune given is ‘Where Is My Love’, which I took to be referring to the well-known traditional song ‘The Blacksmith’. The tune just about fitted, although it did need a little shoe-horning here and there. The ‘bridge’ tune is ‘Childgrove’. (Via Ennio Morricone.)