beggar's daughter of Bednall Green



  • The subject of a play by Henry Chettle and John Day (1600), another by Sheridan Knowles (1834), and a musical play by Robert Dodsley (1791). All three are based on an old ballad. According to the tale, the beautiful Bessee had four suitors - a knight, a gentleman, a merchant, and the son of an innkeeper. She told them that she could not marry without the consent of her father, the poor blind beggar of Bethnal Green; on hearing this, they all slunk off except the knight, who went to ask the beggar's leave. At the weddingfeast the 'beggar' revealed his true identity as the son of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester.