The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #84540   Message #2956780
Posted By: Lighter
02-Aug-10 - 12:55 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Boney Was a Warrior (chantey)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Boney Was a Warrior (chantey)
The earliest unquestionable reference I can find to "Boney" is from 1868, but in 1888 a writer asserted that it had been a "favourite capstan song forty years ago in Green's India fleet began as follows:

        Old Boney was a warrior,
                Yo-ho, my lads, yo-ho;
        He beat the Rooshians,
                Yo-ho, yo-ho.

The writer wanted to "find out the rest of it, and, if possible, the tune." That suggests the likelihood that the quoted fragment was heard second-hand. The dating to the time of the Gold Rush is perfectly plausible - though unconfirmed.

If "He" is changed to "Boney" the words will fit the familiar tune with just a little musical adjustment. A forty-year-old memory, however, is not always perfectly reliable. (Trust me on that one, whippersnappers.)