The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4291 Message #23150
Posted By: Wolfgang Hell
06-Mar-98 - 07:09 AM
Thread Name: A note to Three Score and Ten
Subject: A note on Three Score and Ten
I had always thought that "Three Score and Ten" was traditional in the sense that no author was known anymore; and "traditional" is the label given to this song on many of its recordings. I was quite surprised to find recently (source: R. Palmer, The Oxford Book of Seasongs) a note giving an author for the lyrics and telling the tale of how this song became "traditional" and, in that process, lost the correct dating of the disaster. Here's the note from Palmer in full length with a few corrections from another source:
'In Memoriam of the poor Fishermen who lost their lives in the Dreadful Gale from Grimsby and Hull, Feb. 8 & 9, 1889' is the title of a broadside produced by a Grimsby [other source: Whitby] fisherman, William Delf [other source: Delph], to raise funds for the bereaved families. It lists eight lost vessels, the last two from Hull: Eton, John Wintringham, Sea Searcher, Sir Fred. Roberts, British Workman, Kitten, Harold, Adventure, and Olive Branch. In addition the names of some of the lost sailors are given, and there is a poem in eight stanzas. This passed into oral tradition, and in so doing lost six verses and aquired a new one (the last, in which an error of date occurs), together with a chorus and a tune. The oral version was noted from a master mariner, Mr. J. Pearson of Filey, in 1957, and has subsequently, with some further small variations, become well known in folk-song clubs. Isn't that a fine story illustrating the transition from a song(poem?)writers work to a folksong?