The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #56447   Message #1712778
Posted By: Barry Finn
07-Apr-06 - 05:01 PM
Thread Name: DTStudy: Captain Ward
Subject: RE: DTStudy: Captain Ward
I some how missed this thread, thanks for starting it Joe, very interesting.

In 'The Book of Pirate Songs' (a very well done job with the research) by Stuart Frank, he presents 3 old ballads. Captain Ward, Dansekar The Dutchman & Captain Ward & the Rainbow (#287). His notes on The older of teh two 'Captain has Ward born in 1553 in Kent & being a Fisherman before enlisting in the navy & "commenced 'rover' about 1604" (Child V:143) by perpetrating a naval mutiny, taking command, & turing the shipto piracy. "By 1606 he commanded a fleet of 500 & living in a palaceat Tunis. In 1609 he "tried unsuccessfully to obtain a pardon" from King James 1 (Cordingly 1996, 90). That same year with Ward still active & thriving in the Mediterranean, his terrible reputation achieved new heights: one Andrew Barker wrote a book about him (Child V 143; Ebsworth VI: 423: Logan,4) and the ballad "Captain Ward" was licensed, making it pehaps the earliest pirate ballad to appear in print in English. Child appears to be mistaken in his contention that Ward "seems not to be heard of after 1609". According to Cordingly (Cordingly 1996,13) Ward died in his bed of natural causes -plague-in 1622.
Frank goes on to mention tha : For both this & the copmanion ballad, "Dansekar the Dutchman" which appeared on the same sheet at the same time, the tune specified is "The King's Going to Bulloign," now lost. Early editions of "Captain Ward & the Rainbow" call for a tune called "Captain Ward" but that tune cannot be the one intended here, as the "Rainbow" ballad & this one (Captain Ward) are metrically incompatible & cannot be sung to the same tune. Simpson does not even mention "Captain Ward", "Dansekar," or "The King's Gone to Bulloign"; Child barely recognizes "Captain Ward" as anything more than archival text; & Bronson follows suit. They may have a point. There is little evdence that "Captain Ward" hass been sung at all during the past 3 centuries.

Of Dansekar he says: "A cohort of Captain Ward, he was hanged at Tunis in 1611 two years after the ballad was first printed. The text is notable for it's catalogue of English vessals captured, which, given the journalistic nature of broadsides, may be regarde as faily accurate".

Of the "Captain Ward & the Rainbow, Frank also says that "CH Firth. an astute naval historian, suggests that the "Rainbow" ballad may be a "ledgendary version" of the actual Britishnaval expedition to the Barbary Coast commanded be Captain William Rainborow in 1637, which resulted in the rescue from slavery of "300 or 400 Englishmen' - hence the transformed name Rainbow & the confusion with Ward's notorious earlier career on the adjacent North African coast".
"Only the "Rainbow" has been recovered from tradition & several tunes are associated with it. Early broadsides consulted bt Bell, Child, Euing & Firth call for something called Captain Ward, which cannot be the same tune as for the older ballad ("Captain Ward") in fact it "remains unidentified" (Bronson IV:363) "& does not appear to have survived" (Simpson, 720n). Thius is an odd melody composed by George Frederick Handel that was exploited on the London stage in two of John Gay's musical plays, "The What D'ye Call It: A Tragi-Comi-Pastoral Farce" (1715) and "The Beggar's Opera" (1728); it also "appeared in a host of musical miscellanies" & furnished the melody for "Sir John Barleycorn" & "The dying Virgin's Farewell," among other ballads 9719f). Thus, "'Twas when tha seas were roaring" [Tune A} (Tune A, Twas when the seas were roaring" by Handle, per Simpson, 720 is the tune given in Frank's book as the tune for "Rainbow")mat be the the most authentic antiquarian tune that survives for "Captain Ward & the Rainbow".

For a more complete text see Frank's book.

Hope this sheds a little more light on these songs.