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Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?

DigiTrad:
HANDSOME MOLLY
LOVING HANNAH


Related threads:
Lyr Req: parody of Loving Hannah? (8)
Lyr Req: Handsome Molly (41)
Chords Req: Loving Hannah (26)
Lyr Req: Loving Hannah (sung by Jean Ritchie) (10)
(origins) Origin: Courting is a Pleasure (3)


Ross Campbell 22 Oct 08 - 11:39 PM
MartinRyan 23 Oct 08 - 04:30 AM
Ernest 23 Oct 08 - 07:20 AM
Ross Campbell 23 Oct 08 - 12:09 PM
peregrina 23 Oct 08 - 12:26 PM
Ross Campbell 23 Oct 08 - 01:44 PM
peregrina 23 Oct 08 - 02:14 PM
Ernest 23 Oct 08 - 02:33 PM
Ross Campbell 23 Oct 08 - 02:42 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Oct 08 - 07:03 PM
MartinRyan 23 Oct 08 - 07:21 PM
Charley Noble 23 Oct 08 - 07:36 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Oct 08 - 08:42 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Oct 08 - 10:41 PM
Charley Noble 24 Oct 08 - 09:13 AM
Charley Noble 24 Oct 08 - 09:40 AM
Steve Gardham 24 Oct 08 - 10:32 AM
Charley Noble 25 Oct 08 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Sandy Paton 26 Oct 08 - 12:33 AM
Ross Campbell 26 Oct 08 - 02:41 AM
Steve Gardham 26 Oct 08 - 10:32 AM
GUEST 13 Aug 16 - 08:16 AM
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Subject: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 22 Oct 08 - 11:39 PM

I,ve just been watching a programme on BBC2 (UK), 2.15-3.15am Thurs 23rd October:

Thames Shipwrecks: A Race Against Time
Part two of two. Maritime archaeologist Frank Pope and historian and TV presenter Tessa Dunlop unearth the stories behind seven shipwrecks in the river Thames, from one of the last great sailing ships of the Empire to the iconic Thames Barge that supplied Victorian Britain.

One of the wrecks they investigated was a "Bawley Boat", the Thames Estuary version of the small fishing smacks common all round the coast of Britain. Google produced a couple of definitions - one referred to a Bawley Bay near Gravesend which may have given the name - another suggested the name derived from the boilers which were latterly used to boil (or "bawl" in local dialect) the shrimp so that they could be sold directly on landing the catch.

Many years ago Jean Ritchie (kytrad) kindly repeated the words for her family's song "Loving Hannah" for me while I scribbled them down. The last verse I had this way:-

"Oh, I wish I was in London, or some other seaport town
I'd set my foot on a barley boat, and I'd sail the seas all around"

I always wondered about the "barley boat" line, as grain boats crossing the Atlantic would normally carry wheat. Barley for malting for the whisky distillery industry grows readily in the UK climate and would not usually need to be imported.

My question is this:- could the Thames "Bawley boat" be the "barley boat" of the song?

The reference to London as the seaport town of choice for the wounded lover has proximity in its favour.It's easy to imagine that the "Bawley" reference might quickly lose its meaning away from there, to be replaced by something that seemed to make sense to the singer.

Against: I believe the song has not been collected in its entirety in the British Isles. (Some floating verses occur in other songs, and "Handsome Molly" has similarities). Although now well known in England, Scotland and Ireland, I think the versions you would hear in song sessions all derive from Jean Ritchie herself. While in Britain on a Fulbright scholarship (1952-3), she recorded "Loving Hannah" at Abbey Road studios along with some other songs. They were issued on 78s. Elizabeth Cronin loved the song and soon adopted it into her repertoire, from where it may have percolated down to younger singers such as Mary Black.

I've just checked Jean Ritchie's corrected version of "Loving Hannah"
here:- thread.cfm?threadid=85261#1596770
and note that she has "bally boat" (possibly pronounced "bawl" rather than "bahl"?)

It's getting late (early?) I'll sign off before I confuse myself even further!

Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 04:30 AM

It's a more plausible explanation of a puzzle than many you'll find around here!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Ernest
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 07:20 AM

Sailing the seas (in other songs that use the phrase such as "Handsome Molly": world?) around in what you describe as "a small fishing smack" (probably not suited for the high seas) doesn`t sound that plausible to me....

Unfortunately I don`t have a better idea/explanation...

Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 12:09 PM

That was one thought that occured to me, Ernest. However, although small, these boats were considered very seaworthy, they could be handled in seas that would give larger vessels problems, and their movements would not be restricted to the Thames estuary. Google reveals that in World War Two a large number of Bawley boats joined the flotilla of small craft that assisted in the Evacuation of Dunkirk (maybe forty or fifty miles across the English Channel?) Here in Fleetwood, Morecambe Bay prawners would be the regional equivalent of Bawley boats. In their day they could readily manage a trip to the Isle of Man or even Ireland. And if you think the Irish Sea might be relatively sheltered, check out the fate of the Riverdance in February of this year:-
http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/photo831691.htm
(After fruitless attempts to refloat her, the vessel was cut up on the sands. Demolition is almost completed).

Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: peregrina
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 12:26 PM

fascinating explanation


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 01:44 PM

Thanks, Peregrina.
I've been singing "barley boat" instead of "bally boat" for some time (no idea how long), an unconscious change which still left me unconvinced that I had the right word. Indeed, the last time I sang "Loving Hannah", Fleetwood Folk Club's Ron Baxter asked about the term. As an ex-Merchant Navy man who knows his history, he couldn't figure out where a "barley boat" might have been going. I couldn't offer a satisfactory explanation, so when I heard the expression "Bawley boat" on the Thames Shipwrecks programme, I sat up and paid attention! A little investigation provided the information above.

A few more Google finds:-

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.

Bawley Boat (A).

A small fishing-smack used on the coasts of Kent and Essex, about the mouth of the Thames and Medway. Bawleys are generally about 40 feet long, 13 feet beam, 5 feet draught, and from 15 to 20 tons measurement. They differ in rig from a cutter in having no booms to the mainsail, which is, consequently, easily brailed up when working the trawl nets. They are half-decked, with a wet well to keep fish alive.

There's one for sale here (the last Bawley boat to be built, 1981).


And a Youtube video of a reconstruction project, making a rudder for a Bawley boat with a couple of pictures of the complete vessel (the "Doris" of Leigh).

Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: peregrina
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 02:14 PM

More still, wow. well, I'm convinced and reading about this kind of sleuthing is a treasure of mudcat...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Ernest
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 02:33 PM

Just found a copy of the song from "Sing Out!" Vol. 41 #3 where it says "bonny boat".

Also that Jean Ritchie learned the complete words from her fathers cousin "Grandpa Isom" Ritchie in the early 40s.


Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 02:42 PM

There's still the question of how a Bawley boat would get from the Thames to Kentucky without leaving any trace of the song at the English end of the journey. Although I guess there are many songs found in the USA, Canada, Australia and elsewhere which owe their continued existence to the emigrants who carried them over. Jean Ritchie reckons the song goes back in her family the best part of two hundred years.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 07:03 PM

Curious:
The song isn't in Jean's 'Appalachian Songs' and her version printed in Lomax's FS of North America doesn't have this verse.
Curiouser:
The song's not that scarce, particularly in Ireland. Sam Henry published 2 versions.
Curiouser and curiouser:
This type of lyric piece describing parting is particularly prone to attracting floaters or commonplaces which is what has happened here.
Other American versions which have similar verses are:

I wish I was in some sea-port,
Or in some sea-port town;
I set my foot on sea board
And sail this ocean round.   Mellinger Henry, FS from the S Highlands.

I wish I was in London
Or some other seaport town
I'd set myself on a steamship
And sail the ocean round.   Songs from Sing Out 11.

The only thing this side that comes near is the traveller verse

I wish I was in old Ireland
Lyin' on the grass,
With a prayer-book upon my lap
And upon my breast a cross.

Though I haven't seen a broadside version yet I'd put money on the origin being a Belfast broadside.

As for 'barley' I'd try looking for a Northern Irish or American origin. 'Bully boat' is a common expression. 'Bally' is a common Irish place name prefix, etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 07:21 PM

DOn't see the Irish "bally" (baile - home, place, town) being much help here. bullybonny have more general appeal, I reckon.

Ask John Moulden re the Belfast hypothesis?

Reagrds


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 07:36 PM

Ross-

I'm thinking that the term "bally" is commonly used in West Indies shanties, such as the rowing shanty "Hell of a Wedding on the Congo River":

Who do you think do the music for them?
Way, hey! Hey, me bully boys!
De bally band an' de drum fish playing,
Way, hey! Hey, me bully boys!

I'm not sure what "bally" means in that context either but evidently it's a positive adjective.

And it may have no relation to a "bally boat."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 08:42 PM

For more on Jean Ritchie's set, see the discussion mentioned earlier: DTStudy: Loving Hannah.

Ordinarily I wouldn't attach much weight to a 'Sing Out' text unless properly provenanced, but Josephine McGill's Folk-Songs of the Kentucky Mountains (1917) is probably the earliest 'Loving Hannah' form we have, noted in 1914, and in it too the stanza runs

If I were on some ocean or in some foreign town
I'd put my foot in a bonny boat and sail the world around.

The 1918 text in Sharp, English Folk Songs From the Southern Appalachians (II, 254) has

I wish I was in London
Or in some seaport town
I'd set my foot on water-ship
And sail the ocean around.

Titled 'The Irish Girl' because it had acquired the opening verses of that song, the heroine is 'handsome Mary'. As 'Handsome Molly', there are four versions at the Max Hunter Collection. The relevant verses are as follows:

I wish I was in London
E'r some little seaport town
I'd set my foot in a steamboat
I'd sail this ocean 'round

I'll set my foot on ship, boys
And sail the ocean 'round
And sail the ocean 'round

I wish I were in London
Or some seaport town
Set my foot in a steamboat
Sail th ocean 'round

Well, I wish I was in London
Or some other seaport town
I'd set my feet on a steamboat
Sail th ocean 'round

Henry, Folk Songs From the Southern Highlands (1938):

I wish I was in some sea-port
Or in some sea-port town
I set my foot on sea-board
And sail this ocean round


There's a further text with tune in the DT: Handsome Molly, but no source of any kind is acknowledged. See also other earlier discussions here (links have now appeared, I see, at the top of the page) which touch on the same questions.

These are the only versions I have to hand that contain the verse; those Irish forms (and their American and Canadian derivatives) that I've seen don't include it. They often have a 'I wish I was in...' line, but it always develops differently: no boat.

Jean Ritchie's 'bally' or 'barley' boat notwithstanding (she was told by her family that it meant 'good', 'fine', 'beautiful' -see thread ), I really think that we're just looking at the ballad-commonplace 'bonny boat'. The 'bawley boat' idea is ingenious (and not impossible; it's been suggested here before, in the thread just mentioned) but unlikely; mainly because it's a local term belonging to an area where no form of the song has ever been found, and because most forms of the song don't contain anything remotely resembling it.

The Bodleian Collection does actually contain a broadside edition of 'Loving Hannah'; but it was printed by The Broadsheet King around 1970; no idea where he got it from. No image is available.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Oct 08 - 10:41 PM

That should have been 'see thread  Loving Hannah (sung by Jean Ritchie)'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 09:13 AM

And the West Indies use of "bally" that is well documented in DEEP THE WATER, SHALLOW THE SHORE by Dr. Roger D. Abrahams?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 09:40 AM

In "Put on the bally shoes and the fly green socks" the socks are beautiful and attractive, according to a research article on Black dialect in the Southern states.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 10:32 AM

Surely that ties it up! Bally = Bonny.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 11:46 AM

refresh?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: GUEST,Sandy Paton
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 12:33 AM

Caroline and I learned "Lovin' Hannah" from Jeannie Robertson and always thought it was Scottish. But when we stayed with Jeannie in Aberdeen in 1958, she told us she had learned the song from Jean Ritchie.
    Of, perhaps, some interest: I collected a version of "Handsome Molly" (although she's not named in the song) from Abe Trivett in Butler, Tennessee. His text for the veerse in question offered:

    I wish I was in London, or some other seaport town;
    I'd step my foot on a bordered ship and sail the ocean 'round.

We assumed the 82-year-old mountain man had simply corrupted "on board a ship," but we so enjoyed the corruption that we have always sung it exactly as he gave it to us.

    Sandy (making a very rare visit to the Mudcat)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 02:41 AM

Youtube - Jean Ritchie sings LOVING HANNAH


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 10:32 AM

Great stuff.
Wonder why she never sang that verse for Lomax in the 50s???? Folk process perhaps.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Loving Hannah - Bawley Boat?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Aug 16 - 08:16 AM

Sorry to hi-jack this fascinating thread but...
Does anybody know or has anyone heard the parody of 'Loving Hannah' which contains, among other phrases, "by the look in her glass eye"!


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