The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2863993
Posted By: John Minear
14-Mar-10 - 01:30 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Summary and Conclusions for "Sally Brown" Part 10

It's amazing to me but I feel like we've really only just begun to do our study of "Sally Brown". My aim with the discussion of this song as been four-fold. First of all I wanted to actually apply my "categories of multiple attestation" to a particular chanty to see what kind of information we might gain from this approach. Second, I wanted to take this opportunity to organize the known sources chronologically so that they are easier to access for a historical study. I deliberately chose a chanty that I already knew would have lots of references in order to do this. Third, I wanted to learn as much as I could about a particular chanty and "Sally Brown" happens to be one of my favorites. And fourth, I really wanted to see if we could construct an historical context that would allow us to make a reasonable claim for placing "Sally Brown" on board of the "Julia Ann" on her voyages of 1853-1854. For me, and I hope for others, this study has been helpful in all four of these ways.

Obviously, to apply this scheme of "categories of multiple attestation" to a particular chanty is a lot of work if it is to be thorough, and for historical purposes it has to be as thorough as possible. I think it is a successful approach in generating a lot of interesting and useful information. And it did serve the purpose of gathering up and arranging the sources in a chronological order, on a number of different levels. Now that that basic piece of work is done, it should be easier to apply them to the next chanty, if one were to choose to pursue this. I have certainly learned a great deal of specific and interesting information about "Sally Brown". I have a much better sense of the historical and geographical spread of this chanty. And of course all of this information raises as many questions as it resolves. And finally, I think that maybe we did move "Sally Brown" a bit closer to the "Julia Ann".

First of all, we know that "Sally" was in both San Francisco and in Sydney, Melbourne, and Newcastle. We have successfully located her on both ends of the trip. However, we can't pinpoint a date for San Francisco until 1884 {Mason}. The dates for Australia might be as early as the 1870's {Pattison & Forbes}, but at least by 1875 {Harlow}. And we might be able to put her back in San Francisco as early as 1869 if we could pin down Maitland's voyages. So we have a potential spread of 1869 to 1875, and a certain spread of 1875 to 1884.

However, the problem with this information is that we don't have any accounts of "Sally" actually making the voyage from San Francisco to Sydney. We just have her showing up in both places independently of each other. We don't exactly know - or do we? - how she got there with Harlow (I've only read his chanty book. Perhaps his other book gives more detail.) But Harlow's return voyage is by way of the Cape of Good Hope and not Cape Horn. We have no information on the voyages of Pattison & Forbes. And with Mason, San Francisco was a destination point, from the east.

We did turn up three whalers who knew the song, but at this point I don't have any information on where they sailed {Baker '58, Cuffee '70's, and Henderson, sometime before 1872). If any of them were in the Pacific whaling areas, this would be important information, especially with regard to Baker.

We also know that "Sally" was probably in India with the East Indiamen sometime between 1861 and 1872 {Whall}, and that she may have made it on out to the Far East as early as 1869 {Maitland}, and certainly by 1875 {Harlow}, and throughout the remainder of the 19th century {Colcord} and on into the 20th century {King & Hugill}. But we still don't know how she arrived in Australia. There is no mention of her on the immigrant ships or the Australian Traders, per se, unless Harlow counts for this. Once again, all of these dates are later than the 1850's.

We can put "Sally" on the Liverpool packets in the 1830's with Marryat and generally up and down the Eastern Seaboard of North America from Nova Scotia to the West Indies and also in the ports of the Gulf of Mexico. These dates range from 1830 {Curtis}, to 1865 {Adams}, to the later 1860's {Harding & Tobago Smith}, to 1869 {Maitland & Bullen}, to 1885 {Tayluer}, to 1889 {Colcord}, to 1902 {King}, and so forth. And we know that ships sailed from all of these areas, as well as England and Australia and Europe and other places to California in the decade of the Gold Rush, from 1849-59. But we can't actually put "Sally" on a single ship going around Cape Horn that I know of at this point! Unless by inference we put her on board of Mason's ship. I have to go back and read his account more carefully. If I recall correctly, she comes on board his ship in San Francisco with another crew.

On the other hand, she seems to have been somewhat well-known and popular in England as early as 1825 and maybe earlier {Wallack}, and she seems to have been well known enough to be referred to as an example by Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, in 1852 in a political speech! And thanks to Marryat, she enjoyed literary popularity throughout the 19th century.

In conclusion, it would seem reasonable to think that "Sally Brown" was probably known and sung on board the ships heading for California during the Gold Rush, and that she was hanging around San Francisco when the "Julia Ann" sailed in 1853. And it seems reasonable to believe that she perhaps made some of the voyages on the "Julia Ann", as a capstan chanty or at the halyards, or perhaps to load and unload coal or grain, but probably not Mormons.

Future research on "Sally Brown" needs to focus on the literature of the Gold Rush. Somewhere above, Charley Noble has provided us with an extensive bibliography on this era. So, Charley, where is that research assistant that I asked you about?