“Mary Ambree”


Mary disguises herself to join her lover's regiment. When he is slain, she becomes an officer. She leads her men bravely, but is at last captured when her supply officer betrays her. Threatened with death by the enemy, she reveals her sex and is spared

Supplemental text

Mary Ambree
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Arthur Quiller-Couch, The Oxford Book of Ballads, #165,
pp. 829-832. Source not listed.

When captains courageous, whom death could not daunte,
Did march to the siege of the city of Gaunt,
They muster'd their souldiers by two and by three,
And the foremost in battle was Mary Ambree.

When brave Sir John Major was slaine in her sight,
Who was her true lover, her joy, and delight,
Because he was slaine most treacherouslie,
She vow'd to revenge him, did Mary Ambree.

(18 additional stanzas)


"The Female Warrior" and "Mary Ambree" have many points of similarity; I was tempted to classify them as the same ballad. Since, however, the former involves the navy and the latter the army, I have kept them separate. - RBW

Same tune

  • The Blind Beggar's Daughter of Bednall Green [Laws N27] (File: LN27)

Cross references


  1. Percy/Wheatley II, pp. 232-237, "Mary Ambree" (2 text, one from the Folio manuscript and one touched up by Percy for the _Reliques_)
  2. OBB 165, "Mary Ambree" (1 text)
  3. BBI, ZN468, "Captains courageous"; ZN2826, "When captains courageous, whom death could not daunt"
  4. ST OBB165 (Partial)
  5. BI, OBB165


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1765 (Percy; alluded to by Ben Johnson, 1609)