Mary Ambree

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Mary Ambree (fl 1584) was an English captain, a participator in the liberation of the Belgium city Ghent during the war against Spain. She is the subject of a ballad.

In 1584 the Spanish captured Ghent, and Captain Mary Ambree, along with several other Dutch and English volunteers, fought to liberate the city. Ambree eventually became the subject of an English ballad.The ballad is noteworthy as providing the title to Rudyard Kipling's well-known novel, "Captains Courageous." [1] The ballad begins, "When captaines couragious, whom death cold not daunt..."[2] [3]

A female French Legionnaire in the book Sowing Glory by P.C. Wren was referred to by the pseudonym of Mary Ambree in order to protect her identity.[citation needed]

She was a popular subject of ballads during the 17th-century from 1620s onwards.


  1. ^ [1] from text notes on, based on those written by Leonee Ormond for the OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS edition of Captains Courageous
  2. ^ [2] taken from a black-letter copy in the Pepys Collection, from Mary Ambree, in Reliques Of Ancient English Poetry, Edited By THOMAS PERCY.
  3. ^ [3] The full text of the ballad may be found on this site, which notes that it is taken by Percy from a piece in the Pepys Collection. Nothing is known of Mary Ambree as an historical personage.

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