“Henry Martyn”


Henry Martin (Martyn), the youngest of three brothers, is chosen by lot to turn pirate "to maintain his brothers and he." Martin overhauls a merchant ship; he either sinks her or is himself mortally wounded


This ballad cannot always be distinguished in practice from "Sir Andrew Barton" [Child 167]; see also the discussion under that song. - RBW

Having looked at the lyrics to "Elder Bordee," I'd place it somewhat closer to "Henry Martyn" than to "Sir Andrew Barton" [even though the Lawrence Older recording lists it as Child #167]; it's shorter, and it doesn't include the theme of the complaining merchants. Frankly, I think Child goofed when he split these ballads. - PJS

Child had the "advantage," if such it can be called, of seeing only British versions. Those are distinct enough. I've yet to see such clear distinctions in American versions.

Checking through the sources available to me, here are the "votes" of the various scholars:

Barry: One ballad (but with some rather farfetched conjectures about its evolution)

Belden: Apparently two (but based on the close similarities of the "Henry Martin" texts, which really proves only that this is a distinct family)

Bronson: One ballad (apparently, but based mostly on others' comments)

Child: Two ballads (probably), with "Andrew Barton" the elder and the source

Coffin: One ballad, following the arguments from Barry.

Davis: Two ballads

Sharp: Two ballads

Editors who print texts from their collections but state no clear opinion: Cox, Eddy, Flanders, Randolph


Cross references


  • Bodleian, Harding B 28(181), "Henry Martin," W. Armstrong (Liverpool) , 1820-1824; also Firth c.12(87), Harding B 11(1367), Harding B 11(4096), 2806 c.16(273), Harding B 17(295a), Harding B 11(4207), Firth b.26(253), Firth c.26(210), "Henry Martin"


  • Warde Ford, "Andrew Batan" (AFS 4194 B1, 1938; on LC58, in AMMEM/COWELL) {Bronson's #8 under "Sir Andrew Barton"}
  • A. L. Lloyd, "Henry Martin" (on ESFB1, ESFB2)
  • Sam Larner, "The Lofty Tall Ship" (on SLarner01, Voice12);"Henry Martin" (on SLarner02) [I do not know that the two Larner recordings are in fact different -- these two compilations drew from the same collection of field tapes -- but as the titles are given as different I thought it prudent to separate them. - PJS]
  • Lawrence Older, "Elder Bordee" (on LOlder01)
  • Pete Seeger, "Elder Bordee" (on PeteSeeger29)
  • Phillip Tanner, "Henry Martin" (on FSB5); "Young Henry Martin" (on Voice02) {one of these recordings, which may be the same, is Bronson's #33}
  • Tony Wales, "Henry Martin" (on TWales1)


  1. Child 250, "Henry Martyn" (5 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #42}
  2. Bronson 250, Henry Martyn" (50 versions+2 in addenda)
  3. Belden, pp. 87-89, "Henry Martin" (1 text, called by the singer "Andy Bardan")
  4. Randolph 31, "Andrew Bardeen" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #50}
  5. Eddy 24, "Henry Martyn" (2 texts, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #16, #47}
  6. Gardner/Chickering 81, "The Three Scotch Robbers" (1 text plus a fragment, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #6, #10}
  7. Flanders/Olney, pp. 72-74, "Andrew Marteen"; pp. 201-203, "Andrew Batan" (2 texts, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #31, #46}
  8. Flanders-Ancient4, pp. 15-44, "Sir Andrew Barton" "but including Henry Martyn" (11 texts plus a fragment, 10 tunes; in every text but "L," the robber is Andrew Bardeen or something like that, but many of the texts appear more Henry Martin-like) {K=Bronson's #2 tune for Child #167; B=#46, C=#31 for Child #250}
  9. JHCox 150, "Henry Martin" (1 text)
  10. Davis-More 37, pp. 290-299, "Henry Martyn" (1 text)
  11. Creighton/Senior, pp. 86-87, "Henry Martyn" (1 text, 2 tunes) {Bronson's #3, #4}
  12. Karpeles-Newfoundland 22, "Henry Martin" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
  13. Mackenzie 13, "Bolender Martin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #17}
  14. Leach, pp. 615-616, "Henry Martyn" (1 text)
  15. Friedman, p. 358, "Henry Martyn" (2 texts, 1 tune) {Bronson's #36}
  16. Sharp-100E 1, "Henry Martin" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #36}
  17. Silber-FSWB, p. 215, "Henry Martin" (1 text)
  19. ADDITIONAL: Maud Karpeles, _Folk Songs of Europe_, Oak, 1956, 1964, pp. 36-37, "Henry Martin" (1 text, 1 tune)
  20. Roud #104
  21. BI, C250


Alternate titles: “Elder Bordee”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1825 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 28(181))
Keywords: brother pirate
Found in: Britain(England(All),Scotland(Aber),Wales) US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So,SW) Canada(Mar,Newf)