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Royal Oak/Turkish Man of War/Cpt Mansfield's Fight

DigiTrad:
THE 23RD OF FEBRUARY
THE ROYAL OAK


Related threads:
Lyr Req: The 24th of February (7)
Lyr Req: The fourteenth day of February (18)
Lyr Add: 25th of February. (7)
The Royal Oak: storm damage (19)
Penguin: The Royal Oak (1)


Rank 31 Mar 11 - 02:16 PM
Rank 02 Apr 11 - 02:17 PM
JeffB 02 Apr 11 - 03:30 PM
JeffB 02 Apr 11 - 03:45 PM
Rank 02 Apr 11 - 04:02 PM
Rank 02 Apr 11 - 04:27 PM
JeffB 02 Apr 11 - 05:11 PM
Rank 02 Apr 11 - 05:37 PM
Gurney 02 Apr 11 - 10:34 PM
JeffB 03 Apr 11 - 07:42 AM
Les from Hull 03 Apr 11 - 09:14 AM
Les from Hull 03 Apr 11 - 09:21 AM
JeffB 03 Apr 11 - 11:47 AM
Steve Gardham 03 Apr 11 - 04:50 PM
JeffB 04 Apr 11 - 08:54 AM
Les from Hull 04 Apr 11 - 01:59 PM
Gurney 04 Apr 11 - 05:28 PM
JeffB 04 Apr 11 - 06:09 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Apr 11 - 06:09 PM
JeffB 04 Apr 11 - 06:15 PM
JeffB 04 Apr 11 - 06:16 PM
JeffB 04 Apr 11 - 06:22 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 04 Apr 11 - 08:13 PM
Joe Offer 05 Apr 11 - 02:52 AM
Joe Offer 05 Apr 11 - 03:18 AM
Artful Codger 05 Apr 11 - 03:20 AM
Joe Offer 05 Apr 11 - 03:32 AM
Les from Hull 05 Apr 11 - 10:07 AM
JeffB 05 Apr 11 - 10:07 AM
JeffB 05 Apr 11 - 10:15 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Apr 11 - 06:18 PM
JeffB 06 Apr 11 - 09:41 AM
Joe Offer 06 Apr 11 - 03:22 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Apr 11 - 06:19 PM
Rank 07 Apr 11 - 03:40 PM
Joe Offer 07 Apr 11 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,leeneia 07 Apr 11 - 04:17 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Apr 11 - 04:40 PM
JeffB 08 Apr 11 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,JeffB 12 Apr 11 - 09:11 AM
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Subject: Origins: The 23rd of February
From: Rank
Date: 31 Mar 11 - 02:16 PM

This song is in the DT. It concerns a battle between English ships and Turkish men of war.I haven't been able to find any information on this song. Is it recent, or is there a broadside out there somewhere?

I've also heard the song sung with the title: The Turkish man of war and starting 'Twas on the twenty fourth of March me lads.

The Turkish ships don't sound very Turkish i.e. The Green Pea, The Rose and Crown and The Harp and Lyre.


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Subject: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Rank
Date: 02 Apr 11 - 02:17 PM

There is a song in the DT called The 23rd of February about a British sea battle with Turkish men of war. I have heard the song called Turkish man of war and with a first line of 'Twas on the twenty fourth of March me lads, so there may be other titles dates etc.. I don't know if this is a recent song or if it relates to an actual event. Some of the Turkish ship names look a bit un-turkish e.g. The Green Pea, The Rose and Crown and The Harp and Lyre.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 02 Apr 11 - 03:30 PM

My version goes like this :-

1        On the twenty-fourth of February the weather being clear
        we spied ten sail of Turkish men-o-war belonging to Algeer.


ch        To me ri-fol-lether-o ri-fol-lether-o ri-fol-lether-o day
                        Fother-didle-di fother-diddle-di
        To me ri-fol-lether-o ri-fol-lether-o ri-fol-lether-o day


2        "Pull down your colours you English dogs, pull 'em down do not refuse.
         Pull down your colours you English dogs or your precious lives you'll lose."


3        Our captain being a valiant man and well-bespoken he,
       "Oh we'll not die like dogs," he said, "But we'll fight them manfully."


4        The first that came to our ship's side it was a pink so clear,
       commanded by a big pasha and belonging to Algeer.


5        And the next that came to our ship's side it was the "Rose and Crown"
       but we fired into her one hard broadside and quickly sent her down.


6        Oh three we sunk and three we burned and three we chased away,
       and one we brought to Bristol Town to show we'd won the day.


7        So if anyone should then enquire as to our captain's name,
        Captain Merrifield he was called, from Bristol Town he came.

I made this note to go with it :-

This is a typical member of the "Royal Oak" family of songs. A pink is a fast-sailing flat-bottomed Mediterranean craft with narrow stern. The "Rose and Crown" could conceivably refer to the star and crescent device on an Islamic flag. Songs of this period describe any Muslim as Turk or Moor without any national distinction.

Songs of this sort could derive from an action on 29th December 1669 in which a squadron under Admiral Kempthorne defeated a flotilla of seven Algerian craft.

Hope that helps.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 02 Apr 11 - 03:45 PM

Looking again at the DT I notice that both The 23rd of February and The Twenty-fourth of February I just gave are both in the DT with these titles, i.e. one with a number and one written, which is a bit confusing as they are a long way apart on the list. I think songs would be easier to find if leading "the" and "a" were omitted from titles as well.

I should have added to Rank - the names of the "Turkish" ships is immaterial and I wouldn't expect them to be authentic. If they had names painted on the sides like European ships they would have been in Arabic script which would have been unreadable to a British sailor, and in any case unpronounceable if he could read them. Your Jack Tar might have made up a name based on a flag the ship was flying, or just thought of something off the top of his head.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Rank
Date: 02 Apr 11 - 04:02 PM

Thanks JeffB. Something to follow up. It took me a while to find the 23rd of February when I was looking for the twenty fourth of March.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Rank
Date: 02 Apr 11 - 04:27 PM

The Wikipedia entry for the 1669 battle refers to a painting of the battle (or possibly a 1681 battle) which has a ballad inscribed containing the following lines:

Two we burnt, and two we sank, and two did run away;
But one we carried to Leghorn Roads to show we'd won the day.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 02 Apr 11 - 05:11 PM

Hi Rank, can you give a reference for that Wiki article on the battle please? Couldn't find it, and although it might not have anything to do with the song it would be interesting to see.

I suppose "Leghorn Roads" would be the approach to Genoa. Don't know anything about Adm. Kempthorne, except that he is mentioned by Samuel Pepys.

There are a couple of similar songs I've heard, such as "Capt. Mansfield's Fight", which has a ccompletely different tune.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Rank
Date: 02 Apr 11 - 05:37 PM

Hi JeffB

I googled "admiral kempthorne" and the action of 1669 was at the top.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_of_December_1669


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Gurney
Date: 02 Apr 11 - 10:34 PM

The version that I learned from Malcolm Clapp has 'seven sail of Turkish men-o-war,' and another verse on the battle:

The very next ship that come alongside,
it was the Harp and Lyre,
we poured our fire-buckets into her,
she quickly took upon fire!

Suitable numerical mods to the counting verse, and the captain's name changed at a whim, as far as I could tell. Wellfounder, Bellfounder, Carpenter. Pretty much as the version above, otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 03 Apr 11 - 07:42 AM

Search engines can be funny things. I had been googling just "Kempthorne" with no result.

Of course, I'm not going to stick my neck out and say that 23/24th Feruary was in fact composed in honour of J. Kempthorne's battle as it wasn't a unique event. The same Wiki article says that his son Morgan was killed fighting alone against seven Algerian ships, and there was a ballad written in 1590 -

"A Dittye of the fight upon the seas the 4 of June last in the Straytes of Jubraltare between the 'George' and the 'Thomas Bonaventure', and viij Gallies with three Freggates" [Records of Stationers' company]


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Les from Hull
Date: 03 Apr 11 - 09:14 AM

Leghorn is the English name for Livorno (Tuscany, Italy).

There were centuries of battles against Algerine (Algerian) state sponsored pirates and slavers. Although nominally part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, they were effecively independant under the Dey and/or Pasha af Algiers from Barbrarossa


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Les from Hull
Date: 03 Apr 11 - 09:21 AM

sorry Barbarossa onwards. They were sometimes reinforced by European renegades such as Captain Ward. (Captain Ward and the Rainbow - Child 287) This are was the famous Barbary Coast.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 03 Apr 11 - 11:47 AM

Yes Les, stupid of me. I was thinking of Leghorn being in the north where Piedmont is for some reason. Should have looked at a map first.

At one time in the 17th century there was even a pirate band under the command of a Dutchman, Jan Janszoon, which raided Cornwall and based itself on Lundy Island at the entrance to the Bristol Channel. Quite a menace one way and another.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Apr 11 - 04:50 PM

Such songs were written and rewritten time and time again by the broadside hacks rearranging lines here and there and including contemporary ship names, anything that would enhance their saleability.
This particular ballad above is very much of that type. Stanzas 2, 3, 6 and 7 at least can be found in many similar ballads. Someone has already mentioned The Royal Oak family of ballads. As for the date I have just been looking at and comparing 8 versions of a similar ballad and not one of them contains the same date.
If Les is right and the ballad had ancestors going back to the 16th century that's a long period for all sorts of alterations to have taken place. 4 centuries is a long time for a ballad to survive solely in oral tradition so it is very likely there were many different printed versions during the intervening centuries.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 08:54 AM

Yep, I suppose the thing to always keep in mind is that although some songs have historical material of some sort, they are not historical records.

My comment on the 16th century ballad came from another thread discussing, I think, Coast of Barbary.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Les from Hull
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 01:59 PM

I imagine that the ship 'Harp and Lyre' mentioned by Gurney was just a device to get a rhyme for 'fire'. These things happen often in broadsides and other folksongs for a number of reasons - ignorance and false national pride being the main ones. I only get annoyed when people accept these songs as historical documents. (Some of them have come down in a fairly accurate form, though, like the Benbow songs).

Again on the subject of ship's names - captured ships often retained their original name (unless the capturers already had one of that name).

The last two stanzas are significant, and are regularly used in versions of this song. Bristol was not a naval port and had no branch of the Court of Admiralty that was needed to award the prize to Captain Whatsisname (he had so many!). He'd already taken it past Portsmouth and Plymouth! But if you want to sell broadsides in Bristol...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Gurney
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 05:28 PM

Les, I've always assumed that our heros were on a private ship, not a naval vessel, and since the 'Turks' were regarded as pirates, perhaps naval law wouldn't apply. Would Mediterranean ships be much use outside the Straits?
Bristol was a major seaport, of course, particularly concerning the Irish and American trade.

By the way, the variant that I sang, it was 'THE pink, so clear....' another named ship. I don't know if the 'Turks' used Pinks, the vessel.

I'm dredging 20yo memories here. Good, robust song, isn't it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 06:09 PM

Les - your point about Bristol not being a port to award prizes is a very good one which hadn't occurred to me. I have seen versions where Capt. Thingummy goes to Plymouth, however I have a song called "The bold pirate" (a lovely tune incidentally) in which the ship is supposed to be a merchantman out of Bristol and to which they return with their captured prize. While I entirely agree that none of these songs is hard historical fact, a fight like this in the Bristol Channel was not impossible, given the fact that Lundy Island was a pirate base for some years in the 17th century.

I'll post lyrics of the song and "Captain Mansfields Fight" tomorrow if I have time.

And yes Gurney, a cracker of a song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 06:09 PM

Bristol was just as likely a port to take a prize to as any other. Regardless of naval issues. I suppose they'd take it to the nearest friendly port. The ballad I'm researching 'The Bold Pirate' Roud 984, Laws K30, funnily enough consistently features Bristol in both the first and last verse, despite none of the dates correlating. Some of the other statistical info such as numbers on board both vessels and numbers of guns vary somewhat in both English and American versions but Bristol is fully consistent, unlike some other similar ballads in which the ports mentioned do vary a lot. Incidentally no ships or personnel get a mention in this ballad except a later added ship name in one of the American versions.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 06:15 PM

OK, does anyone know for sure what actually happened where a prize was taken by either a merchant or naval ship and the only port they could get her to didn't have an Admiralty Court? I think the situation might have come up in one or another of O'Brien's Jack Aubrey novels (they always seemed to me to be meticulously researched) and I have an idea that there was an Admiralty agent in most ports frequented by British ships, but I'm not sure. Interesting point.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 06:16 PM

PS I'll post my version of "Bold pirate" too.


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Subject: Lyr Add: Captain Mansfield's Fight
From: JeffB
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 06:22 PM

CAPTAIN MANSFIELD'S FIGHT

1        Our goodly ship was loaded deep with anchors three beneath our bows.
        'Twas east-north-east we steered our course and as near the wind as we could go.

2        We had not sail-ed glasses three nor yet ten leagues from our loading port
        before we spied ten Turkish men-o-war and after us they did resort.

3        "Oh hail oh hail you English dogs, oh hail and strike you sails quickly,
        for you shall go with us this night, and ever after into slavery."

4        Oh then bespoke our captain bold, and a well-bespoken man was he,
        "If you must have my topsails down, come aboard and strike them down for me."

5        To the top, to the top my little cabin-boy, to the main topmast head so high
        and spread abroad St George's flag, for under that we live or die."

6        So to it we went like lions bold as enemies do when they meet;
        we fought from twelve to sun rising and spared not one sail of their fleet.

7        Oh three we burned and three we sunk and the other three they ran away,
        and one we brought to Old England to show that we had won the day.

8        All you that know our gallant ship and want to know our captain's name,
        it is Captain Mansfield of Bristol Town, and the Marigold, a ship of fame.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Captain Mansfield's Fight
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 08:13 PM

Nice lyric, good story. Source?


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Subject: Add Version: Captain Mansfield's Fight
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 02:52 AM

Here's a fragment from Naval Songs & Ballads, published by The Council of the Navy Records Society, 1907-1908

CAPTAIN MANSFIELD'S FIGHT WITH THE TURKES AT SEA.

Our goodly ship was loaded deep,
   with anchors three beneath her bow;
'Twas east-north-east we steer'd our course,
   and as near the wind as we could stow.
We had not sailed glasses three,
   nor yet ten leagues from our loading port,
Before we spyed ten Turkish men-of-war,
   and after us they did resort.

* O hail! O hail! you English dogs,
O hail! and strike your sails quickly,
For you shall go with us this night,
   and ever after into slavery.

O then bespoke our captain bold,
   and a well bespoken man was he,
If you must have my topsails down,
   come on board and strike them for me.


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Subject: ADD Version: Captain Mansfield's Fight
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 03:18 AM

TURKISH MEN-O'-WAR
(The Marigold)


Our goodly ship was loaded deep,
    And anchor weighed to the bow;
Our course we steered it was east sou'east,
    As close to the wind as we could lie.
We had not sailed many miles
    Nor leaved very far our native shore,
Before we spies ten Turkish men-o'-war
    Before the wind down on us bore.

"Come douse your colors, you English dogs,
    And come in under our lee,
For all this night and forevermore
    You'll remain in our slavery.
What is your captain's name and your goodly ship,
    Your ship of fame?"
"Thomas Hare our captain from Bristol came,
    And the Marigold is our ship's name."

"Go aloft, go aloft, my little cabin boy,
    To our maintopsail high,
And it's there you'll spread King George's flag,
    And in under it we will fight and die."
Then at it we went like heroes bold,
    Like enemies when they do meet,
From eight in the evening until eight the next day,
    We remained in our bloody fray.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
'Twas three we sunk and three we burned
    And three like cowards ran away,
And one we towed into fair Bristol town
    To let King George know we had gained the day.

for an English version see "The Royal Oak: or the Marigold" (Surrey), Journal of the Folk-Song Society, v, 167-169

Source: Ballads and Sea-Songs of Newfoundland, by Elizabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield, #42, page 94


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Captain Mansfield's Fight
From: Artful Codger
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 03:20 AM

Sounds like a close relative of "The Royal Oak". See also this recent thread on "Turkish Man of War": http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=136851


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Captain Mansfield's Fight / Royal Oak
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 03:32 AM

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Royal Oak, The

    DESCRIPTION: While sailing on the "Royal Oak", the singer and his fellows spy ten Turkish men-of-war. They sink three, burn three, drive three off, and capture the last, which they drag into Portsmouth harbor. The singer praises their skipper, Capt. Wellfounder.
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1909 (GreigDuncan1 fragment)
    KEYWORDS: fight navy sailor foreigner
    FOUND IN: Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber)) Canada(Newf)
    REFERENCES (6 citations):
    Greig #64, p. 2, ("Two we sunk, and two we brunt") (1 fragment)
    GreigDuncan1 40, "The Marigold" (1 fragment)
    Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, p. 91, "The Royal Oak" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Greenleaf/Mansfield 42, "Turkish Men-o'-War" (1 text)
    Leach-Labrador 56, "The Marigold" (1 text, 1 tune)
    DT, ROYALOAK*

    Roud #951
    ALTERNATE TITLES:
    Turkish Men of War
    NOTES: [Lloyd repeats's Firth's suggestion that] the song is based on "Kempthorne's repulse of the seven Algerine ships, December 29, 1669." - PJS
    Just for the record: I know of no instance of Turkish warships getting close enough to England to be hauled to Portsmouth. - RBW
    While Leach-Labrador calls this "The Marigold," its ship's name is the Martha Jane, with "Captain White from fair Bristow" - BS
    Last updated in version 2.4
    File: VWL091

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibiography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2010 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Les from Hull
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 10:07 AM

JeffB - a prize could be taken to any port, often a nearby one if it had been a 'hot action' and the prize was damaged. It would then be inspected by an 'agent for prizes' who would determine the value of the prize, both the vessel itself and any cargo and/or naval stores. The case would then be taken to the Court of Admiralty in London and a judgement made. Eventually if the prize was 'condemned' (awarded to the captors) it could be sold. Overseas there were Vice-Admiralty Courts at various naval bases. My comments above were related to the fact that home naval bases were likely to have prize agents in residence, although when the country was actually at war there would have been more agents in more ports. Bristol was a popular privateering port and a useful base in wartime.

To be able to use these mechanisms the owner of the vessel had to have been issued a 'Letter of Marque and Reprisal', authorising him to capture enemy vessels, although actions against Barbary corsairs perhaps didn't need these as they were less likely to turn up at an Admiralty Court to challenge the loss of a ship. But naval law will always apply. If not you were a pirate!

Letters of Marque and Reprisal were issued to two classes of vessel. A 'Private Man of War' was built specifically to attack enemy shipping. But any merchant vessel with a few guns for self defence could have a letter of marque in case on a normal trading voyage they came upon an enemy vessel with fewer guns. Or sometimes defending yourself against an enemy was productive, as in the case of some of the songs discussed in this thread.

Gurney - there were particular ship types used in the Mediterranean, but Western European nations used the same vessels as they would use on ocean voyages. To them a pink was a small/medium cargo vessel ship or brig rigged (3 or 2 masts) but with a narrow stern. It was this latter feature that made it a pink. They were better coastal vessels than ocean vessels because of their flat bottom and shallow draught. But there's also a different Mediterranean vessel called a pink!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 10:07 AM

I posted them last night, but you might have missed hem as they slipped ino yesterday's threads straight away.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 10:15 AM

And thanks for your explanation Les. It wasn't on the thread when I logged in a minute ago - time-warp in cyberspace?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 06:18 PM

Not seen Bold Pirate yet. Which collected version is it based on?
I would like more info on the versions used by Eckstorm and Smyth to collate their Maine version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: JeffB
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 09:41 AM

Steve - I posted my versions of 24th Feb and Capt Mansfields Fight on 4th, but Joe is holding on to them until I can give him sources (he says CMF is very close to the one in the Oxford Book of Sea songs). I had them both 2nd hand from friends, so will have to get back to them for the info (if they have it) which might take a week. But if you would like my words and music for Bold Pirate I will happily send them to you by snail-mail if you PM me with a postal address.


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Subject: ADD Version: Captain Mansfield's Fight
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 03:22 PM

Here's the version from the Oxford Books of Sea Songs. Very similar to the lyrics posted by JeffB in the first message, but with significant differences. I contacted JeffB, and he did not know the source of his version.

CAPTAIN MANSFIELD'S FIGHT WITH THE TURKS AT SEA

Our goodly ship was loaded deep,
With anchors three beneath her bow;
'Twas east-north-east we steered our course,
And as near the wind as we could stow.
We had not sailed glasses three,
Nor yet ten leagues from loaden port,
Before we spied ten Turkish men-of-war,
And after us they did resort.

'O hail, O hail, you English dogs.
O hail, and strike your sails quickly,
For you shall go with us this night,
And ever after into slavery.'
O then bespoke the captain bold,
And a well-bespoken man was he:
'If you must have my topsails down,
Come on board and strike them for me.

'To the top, to the top, my merry boatswain,
To the main topmast-head so high,
And see your business you supply.
To the top, to the top, my boatswain's mate,
To the fore topmast-head with speed,
And sling me here the fore topsail yard,
For we never had any more need.

'To the top, to the top, my little cabin boy,
To the mizen topmast-head so high,
And spread abroad St George's flag,
For by that we live or die.'
O then bespoke our gunner bold,
And a well-bespoken man was he:
'Swab your guns, brave boys, while they're hot,
For powder and ball you shall have free.'

'Keep aluff, keep aluff,' says the master's mate,
'Keep aluff whilst that you may;
We'll fight it out like English boys;
It never shall be said we run away.'
So to it we went like lions bold,
As enemies do when they meet;
From twelve o'clock to sun rising
We spied but one sail of their fleet.

O three we burnt and three we sunk,
And the other three run away;
And one we brought to old England
To show we had won the day.
All you that know our gallant ship
And want to know our captain's name,
It is Captain Mansfield of Bristol town,
And the Marigold a ship of fame.


Notes: In December 1669, Captain John Kempthorne in the warship, Mary Rose, was attacked by seven Algerian vessels, but managed to repulse them, after a fierce action lasting four hours, and make his way to Cadiz. On returning to England, Kempthorne was knighted for his efforts, a signal honour for a 'tarpaulin', an officer who had first risen to command in the merchant navy. He took his son, Morgan, to the ceremony, and Charles II said: 'Bring him up to the sea. We desire more of the breed.' Morgan duly went to sea, and was killed in 1681 when commanding the Kingfisher in a battle with five Algerian ships off Leghorn. Wenceslas Hollar engraved the father's battle, and Van der Velde the son's. It seems likely that the ballad was inspired by the father's battle, and updated for the son's, though no contemporary printing of either has survived. The version given here dates from the eighteenth century, which perhaps explains why the names have been changed. Oral versions from landsmen and sailors of recent times show further variations, but the essential theme of British grit remains.

Source: The Oxford Book of Sea Songs, chosen and edited by Roy Palmer (1986) - #19, page 41.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Apr 11 - 06:19 PM

Thanks for the offer but as it's a fairly scarce song I'll wait and see if it is derived from one of the 8 or so sources I have. Nova Scotia, southern England and Maine, in the main, or even on the main.
The Scottish broadside has 9 stanzas but there are extra stanzas in some of the oral versions so I doubt if the Scottish one is the original.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Rank
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 03:40 PM

Are the dates of 23rd or 24th of February of any significance at all, or did they just appear out of thin air? I notice that Admiral Kempthorne's action was in December. Is there a forgotten battle out there somewhere?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 04:01 PM

Surely, this is the same song as Captain Mansfield's Fight / Royal Oak. If it's the same basic song, even if there are variations in the title, I think it's best to post all versions in the same thread. Concurrent threads on the same subject are confusing. I combined these two threads, and on on the 23rd of February.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 04:17 PM

"Such songs were written and rewritten time and time again by the broadside hacks..."

Steve, thanks for your remarks, which clear up many confusing things about such old songs.

I liked your observation that the Lyre was probably named so because it's a handy rhyme for fire.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Turkish man of war
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Apr 11 - 04:40 PM

I'm with you Joe.
I have a study of the ballad, Roud 2433. There is an 18thc broadside in the Madden Collection of 6 double stanzas, generic title 'A New Song' (Maddening isn't it?)
The ship is The Goldsprit of Plymouth and the captain is Capt. Farmer.

My master title is as the Penguin Book of Folk Songs 'The Royal Oak'.
Other titles include
  • The Marigold
  • Turkish Men of war
  • The Good Luck Ship
  • Captain Mansfield's Fight
  • The Twenty-fourth of February

There are good historical notes on it in Baring Gould's Songs of the West, Nettl's Sing a Song of England, and on associated earlier pieces in Roy Palmer's Oxford Book of Sea Songs.


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Subject: RE: Royal Oak/Turkish Man of War/Cpt Mansfield's Fight
From: JeffB
Date: 08 Apr 11 - 01:28 PM

Hi Rank - Yes, it was very likely just made up. I wouldn't put any reliability on the date as being for an actual battle, nor on the song/s referring to Kempthorne's fight. That's just a possibility, and the likelihood is completely a matter of opinion.


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Subject: RE: Royal Oak/Turkish Man of War/Cpt Mansfield's Fight
From: GUEST,JeffB
Date: 12 Apr 11 - 09:11 AM

My version of "Cpt Mansfield's Fight", posted here on 4th, was a broadside of about 1670. The tune we u2.se is more or less the one Harry Cox sang for "The Good Luck Ship".


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