For my book on the Fenwick family history, I am including a section of Fenwicks in Song and Verse. There is a pretty Northumberland tune called Sir John Fenwick; Flower among Them All (probably nicked from the Scots) which is usually played as an instrumental these days. See eg Alistair Anderson, Richard Thompson & Kathryn Tickell at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxBZ5NPCzYI for a lovely performance.
But we know that there were once lyrics, when the tune was used as a rallying song for Sir John Fenwick 3rd Bart in his fight with William of Orange (later King William) at the end of the 17th century. Bates’ History tells us that John Fenwick of Rock was singing it the night before his fatal duel with the MP Ferdinando Forster in Newcastle in 1701:
John Fenwick of Rock came in singing the popular ballad, ‘Sir John Fenwick’s the flower among them’. This gave umbrage to Ferdinando Forster of Bamburgh, one of the knights of the shire. A violent altercation took place, which was appeased by some of the company. Next morning, however, Fenwick and Forster happening to meet near the White Cross, drew their swords on each other, and Forster fell. Fenwick was immediately indicted for murder. In spite of the popular feeling in his behalf, which found expression in the doggerel,
Noble squire Fenwick, he must be put down,
For killing squire Forster of Bamburgh town,’
he was hung during the following month. The gates of the town were shut for fear of a rescue by the miners in his employment at the Kenton collieries.
But where are the lyrics? Does anyone still have them?