The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #171329   Message #4143526
Posted By: Reinhard
06-Jun-22 - 05:26 PM
Thread Name: Lyr ADD: Fisher Lads of Whitby
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Fisher Lads of Whitby
Roud V37024
from Roy Palmer: Boxing the Compass, #68, p.164

My love he was a fisher lad and when he came on shore
He always steered to me to greet me at the door,
For he knew I loved him well, as anyone could see,
And oh but I was fain when he came a-courting to me.

It was one lovely morning, one morning in May,
He took me in his boat to sail out on the bay;
Then he told me of his love as he sat by my side,
And he said that in a month he would make me his bride.

That very afternoon a man-of-war came in the bay,
And the pressgang came along and took my lad away;
Put irons on his hands and irons on his feet,
And they carried him aboard to fight in the fleet.

My father often talks of the perils of the main
And my mother says she hopes he will come back again;
But I know he never will, for in my dreams I see
His body lying low at the bottom of the sea.

The ships come sailing in and the ships they sail away,
And the sailors sing their merry songs out on the bay;
But for me, my heart is breaking, and I only wish to be
Lying low with my lover deep down in the sea.

When the house is all still and everyone asleep
I sit upon my bed and bitterly I weep;
And I think of my lover away down in the sea,
For he never, never more will come again to me.

Note: fain] glad

This Whitby girl’s view of the pressgang is paralleled in Mrs Gaskell’s novel, Sylvia's Lovers (1863), which is set during the French Wars in the same town.

Bill Price sang The Fisher Lads of Whitby with slightly different words on his 1972 Folk Legacy album The Fine Old Yorkshire Gentleman. He noted:

"During the closing years of the 18th century the pressgang was fearful reality. The north-east coast of Yorkshire, with its hardy mariners, was a rich field from which to gather victims for the bloody French Wars."