and just had another thought (Why does that always heppen - hit the submit button and something else occurs to you??? Ah Well...)
I think I am right in saying that shanties were allowed on merchantmen. If the merchant fleet were used in transporting armies during times of great need because the RN vessels were all involved in sea battles then could the merchant seamen have used the shanties to either praise or lampoon their 'cargo'?
There is probably no real answer as Charlie said before but it makes more interesting reading than some of the thread we have had of late;-)
Keep it up, you mudcat posters, keep it up...