The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #34   Message #4194391
Posted By: Robert B. Waltz
28-Dec-23 - 11:26 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
Regarding "Great Big Sea...."

Given that it really appears that Doyle is the source of all other versions of the song, the idea that it might be a "fix-up" by one of Doyle's sources seems reasonable -- I'm going to add a note to the Ballad Index, crediting you.

It's interesting to note that all of the sources (except Lomax) are Canadian -- and none of them, including Lomax, lists an informant. (Apparently there is a recording somewhere in the Memorial University archives, but one recording doesn't mean much.) It makes sense to suggest that it all goes back to Doyle. And it's an open question whether it went into tradition. (I think it safe to say that "We'll Rant and We'll Roar" did.)

Regarding the number of Doyles in Newfoundland -- I don't have a census, but the name did not stand out to me in the many sealing ship crews I've looked over. The Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador Biography (a book which should be in the hands of every Newfoundland song scholar, not because it's great but because there is no other comparable reference) lists six Doyles. Only two have substantial entries: Gerald S. Doyle himself and businessman John Christopher Doyle. The six entries take about a page and a quarter of the 372 pages of biographies in the book.

By comparison, there are three Keans (sealing captains). There are two Kellands (as in, Otto of "Let Me Fish Off Cape Saint Mary's"). There are nine Winsors (also mostly sealing captains). There are eleven Murphys. There are seven Reids (mostly of the Newfoundland Railroad). There are only four Squireses, but Richard Squires has, I think, the longest biography in the book, twice as long as all the Doyles combined. (No wonder the "red ranting Tory" spent his time "running down Squires on the squid-jiggin' ground" :-). So Doyle is common, but not exceptionally so.