William Grismond’s Downfall

James Bell
  1. William Grismond’s Downfall -:-- / 08:48

“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.)