Whall was not your average scholar! I quote from his introduction:
"I was intended for the church, not the sea, and during my early years at Oxford I received a fairly thorough musical training under Sir John Stainer, afterwards organist of St. Paul's Cathedral. Going to sea then in 1861, in the old passenger-carrying East Indiamen, those sailor songs and shanties struck me as worthy of preservation. During my eleven years in those ships, I took down the words and music of these songs as they were actually sung by sailors so that what I present here may be relied upon as the real thing.
Since 1872 I have not heard a shanty or song worth the name. Steam spoilt them...."