“Captain Car, or, Edom o Gordon”


(Captain Carr) decides to take a castle, calling upon the lady who holds it to surrender and lie by his side. She refuses (despite the appeals of her children). Carr burns the castle and slaughters the inhabitants


Said to be the "sick tune" referred to, e.g., in "Much Ado about Nothing," III, iv, 42. This text, first found in the British Museum manuscript Cotton Vespasian A25 (late sixteenth century) is associated with a piece found in several lute books beginning no later than 1597. The events described are dated by Ritson to 1571; a piece labelled "Sick, sick" was licensed in 1578. - RBW, AS

The actual event this is said to have been based on is the attack of Captain Ker (an agent of Sir Adam Gordon, brother of George Gordon, earl of Huntly) upon the Forbes stronghold at Towie on October 9, 1571 (during the minority of James VI, when the Regency had great difficulty controlling the country).

The song, however, is by no means an accurate account of the assault -- which is curious given that the song seemingly came into existence so soon after the event. - RBW


  1. Child 178, "Captain Car, or, Edom o Gordon" (9 texts)
  2. Bronson 178, "Captain Car, or, Edom o Gordon" (6 versions)
  3. Percy/Wheatley I, pp. 140-150, "Edom o' Gordon" (2 texts, one a fragment from the Percy folio and the other Percy's published text, drawn partly from other sources
  4. Flanders/Olney, pp. 134-139, "Adam Gorman" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Flanders-Ancient3, pp. 173-184, "Captain Car, or Edom O Gordon" (2 texts, 1 tune; the "B" text is from "The Charms of Melody" rather than tradition)
  6. Leach, pp. 488-491, "Captain Car, or, Edom o Gordon" (1 text) {Bronson's #6, which he places in an appendix}
  7. Friedman, p. 256, "Captain Car (Edom o' Gordon)" (2 texts)
  8. OBB 77, "Edom o Gordon" (1 text)
  9. PBB 46, "Edom o Gordon" (1 text)
  10. Gummere, pp. 146-150+332, "Captain Car, or Edom o Gordon" (1 text)
  11. Hodgart, p. 111, "Captain Car (Edom o' Gordon)" (1 text)
  12. DBuchan 53, "Edom o Gordon"; 54, "Edom o Gordon" (2 texts)
  13. HarvClass-EP1, pp. 103-107, "Captain Car" (1 text)
  14. Chappell/Wooldridge I, pp. 73-75, "Sick, Sick" (2 tunes, partial text) {Tune I is listed as Bronson's #2, but recast; Bronson does not print Chappell's tune II)
  15. BBI, ZN3329, "It befell at martynmas, When wether waxed colde"
  16. DT 178, ADAMGRMN*
  17. Roud #80
  18. BI, C178


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1755
Found in: Britain(England,Scotland(Aber)) US(NE)