“King Estmere”


King Estmere, aided by his brother Adler Younge, seeks to wed the daughter of King Adland. He wins her troth; at threat of losing her to rival (heathen) king of Spain, he attends the wedding in guise of a harper, kills his rival, and wins the bride.


This ballad does not exist in any proper copy. It was found in the Percy manuscript, but Percy himself tore it out, and the pages have been lost. Thus the only reference is the text printed in the _Reliques_ -- and, from Percy's comments and his patently false claim to have another copy, it seems clear that he touched that up somewhere. Nor do Percy's two editions agree entirely.

The Opies note an item mentioned in _The Complaint of Scotland_, "How the King of Estmure land married the King's daughter of Westmure land." Possibly the same story -- but who knows? It does seem to imply that "Estmere" is the "East Moor" -- i.e. the lands east of the West Moor, or Westmoreland. Which would be Northumbria or maybe Durham. - RBW


  1. Child 60, "King Estmere" (1 text)
  2. Percy/Wheatley I, pp. 85-98, "King Estmere" (1 text)
  3. OBB 41, "King Estmere" (1 text)
  4. Gummere, pp. 270-279+358-359, "King Estmere" (1 text)
  5. ADDITIONAL: Iona & Peter Opie, The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse, pp. 100-108, "King Estmere" (1 text)
  6. Roud #3970
  7. BI, C060


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1765 (Percy)