The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #56447 Message #883015
Posted By: IanC
05-Feb-03 - 08:27 AM
Thread Name: DTStudy: Captain Ward
Subject: RE: DTStudy: Captain Ward
Lesley Nelson has a good summary of the history of both Captain Ward and the song, with links to some useful documents online.
Here's the text of it.
This ballad was registered circa 1680 by W. Onley in London. It was registered as The Famous Sea-Fight between Captain Ward and the Rainbow. To the tune of Captain Ward. It also appears in a black letter ballad (broadside) in Bagford Ballads (1878) as well as in the Pepys and Roxburghe Manuscripts. Two other ballads of Captain Ward (The Seamen's Song of Captain Ward and The Seamen's Song of Dansekar) were entered in the Stationers' Register on July 3, 1609. The ballad also appears later on stall sheets in Scotland and in America.
This ballad is Child Ballad #287 (Captain Ward, Captain Ward and the Rainbow).
According to Child, John Ward was from Kent and is said to have become an outlaw circa 1604 when he persuaded the crew of a King's ship to turn pirate. Ward's career apparently ended around 1609, when he and his associate Daneskar are referred to as "late famous pirates" (see the first link below).
According to another source Captain Jack Ward was a Feversham fisherman whose career spanned 1603 to 1615 and who was never brought to justice.
The Rainbow was one of Drake's four ships that took part in the expedition in Cadiz in 1587. In a longer version of the ballad (in Child) the King refers to three captains who might have ended Ward's career earlier. They are George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland (1605), Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy (1606) and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex (1601). Clifford and Blount took part in the defeat of the Armada.
There's another song about "The Rainbow" fleeing some pirates, the title of which I forget for the minute but sung from the point of view of the sailors on the vessel. It has the line
"The good ship, The Royal, called Rainbow by name"