The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #2902458
Posted By: Charley Noble
07-May-10 - 09:12 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties

"There's no real evidence that "A-Rovin'" itself is unusually old..."

That's an interesting thought, given the conventional belief on the part of the folk music community. But let's re-examine the evidence.

My family certainly sang that song from 1940 on, as did our friends in Long Island.

I'll see what I can dig up.

With regard to literary references:

In the Fireside Book of Folk Songs, © 1947, it's described as "one of the oldest of the capstan shanties; originally a shore song, p. 168. Cecil Sharp collected a shore version called "We'll Go No More a-Cruising" as cited by Hugill in his discussion of the origins of the song in Shanties of the Seven Seas, p. 44. Frank Shay traces the song back to 1608 to Thomas Heywood in his play The Rape of Lucrece in An American Sailor's Treasury, © 1948, p. 86. It appears to be John Masefield who first mentions in Sailor's Garland, © 1906, p. 323, the connection with The Rape of Lucrece. Capt. Whall in Sea Songs and Shanties also mentions the connection with The Rape of Lucrece, p. © 1910, p. 61, as does Joanne Colcord in Songs of American Sailormen, © 1938, p. 28, and Frederick Pease Harlow in Chanteying aboard American Ships, © 1962, p. 51. Frank Bullen doesn't mention the song at all, nor does C. Fox Smith.

Charley Noble