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Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come

DigiTrad:
SOON MAY THE WELLERMAN COME


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Covid / Wellerman Shanties (2)
Review: Soon May the Kerryman Come- check it out (9)


GUEST,CJB 19 Nov 22 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,CJB 19 Nov 22 - 01:38 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Nov 22 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,CJB 17 Nov 22 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,CJB 17 Nov 22 - 03:10 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Nov 22 - 10:38 AM
GUEST 17 Nov 22 - 03:10 AM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 16 Nov 22 - 06:24 PM
GUEST,CJB 16 Nov 22 - 06:06 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Nov 22 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,A.M. 16 Nov 22 - 08:47 AM
Jack Campin 16 Nov 22 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 15 Nov 22 - 06:28 PM
Sandra in Sydney 15 Nov 22 - 05:10 PM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 15 Nov 22 - 05:08 PM
GerryM 15 Nov 22 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,CJB 15 Nov 22 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,CJB 15 Nov 22 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,CJB 15 Nov 22 - 03:31 PM
GUEST 15 Nov 22 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,CJB 15 Nov 22 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,Wm 15 Nov 22 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 15 Nov 22 - 10:47 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Nov 22 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,CJB 15 Nov 22 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 15 Nov 22 - 07:05 AM
GUEST,CJB 15 Nov 22 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,CJB 15 Nov 22 - 04:30 AM
GUEST,CJB 15 Nov 22 - 04:18 AM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 14 Nov 22 - 01:49 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Nov 22 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 14 Nov 22 - 06:08 AM
GUEST 13 Nov 22 - 10:45 PM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 13 Nov 22 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,Mike Harding 13 Nov 22 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 13 Nov 22 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,CJB 13 Nov 22 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 06 Nov 22 - 01:11 PM
Gibb Sahib 31 Oct 22 - 11:16 PM
Chris Maltby 30 Oct 22 - 02:46 AM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 29 Oct 22 - 04:23 PM
GUEST,Robert B. Waltz 29 Oct 22 - 04:18 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Oct 22 - 04:04 PM
Reinhard 29 Oct 22 - 10:06 AM
GUEST 29 Oct 22 - 09:08 AM
Sandra in Sydney 26 Jan 22 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,henryp 26 Jan 22 - 09:53 AM
Sandra in Sydney 26 Jan 22 - 08:51 AM
Gibb Sahib 20 May 21 - 12:44 AM
Steve Gardham 19 May 21 - 08:58 AM
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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 19 Nov 22 - 02:09 PM

"Whaling in early New Zealand", by A W Reed, 1960. ca 1959-1960]

https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22785769

https://natlib.govt.nz/items?i[collection_any_id]=501881&i[-category]=Groups

List of illustrations:
According to the publication, the scenes depicted are:
1. Whalers in the Pacific
2. Different kinds of whales
3. Why whales are hunted
4. Catching and rendering down at sea
5. Life on a whaler
6. The first callers at New Zealand
7. Jacky Guard catches whales from off shore
8. A day at Jacky Guard's whaling station
9. Early shore whalers and the Maoris
10. More about the shore whalers
11. The whaler at home
12. The value of their catches
13. The harpoon gun
14. Modern whaling
15. Whaling at Tory Channel today


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 19 Nov 22 - 01:38 PM

Thread creep - sorry - from PapersPast …

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers?items_per_page=25&query=Weller+whaling&snippet=true&sort_by=byDA.rev

====


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 22 - 04:45 PM

Wellers get plenty of mention and on South Island there is a Wellers Rock.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 17 Nov 22 - 03:12 PM

The search above was at Google Books for “New Zealand weller whaling”


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 17 Nov 22 - 03:10 PM

Sorry it was me again. My iPhone doesn’t create Clickys very well.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 22 - 10:38 AM

Nice one. Very interesting read. No price other than for an e-copy.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Nov 22 - 03:10 AM

Try

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=-CxTgZJ-CZEC&pg=PA64&dq=New+Zealand+whaling+weller&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&source=gb_m

====


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 16 Nov 22 - 06:24 PM

GUEST.CJB wrote: Searching Google Books for such as "wellerman, sketches, whaling, zealand" does not bring up anything useful. Bearing in mind that Google Books claims to have scanned just about every English book in the world this is surprising.

Trust me, they aren't even close to having scanned everything. I have hundreds of books (at least) that they haven't scanned. :-p

But they might have scanned it and it wouldn't show you anything, if it's not a publicly available book -- or just if it scanned "wellerman" as "Weller man." Which is perfectly reasonable, since the wellerman is a Weller man. I've been hunting for stuff about the Weller Brothers, without finding anything that looks promising.

And, remember, Weller Brothers worked in Australia, too; we can't be too fixated on New Zealand.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 16 Nov 22 - 06:06 PM

Searching Google Books for such as "wellerman, sketches, whaling, zealand" does not bring up anything useful. Bearing in mind that Google Books claims to have scanned just about every English book in the world this is surprising.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Nov 22 - 04:41 PM

Love this sort of detective work. Like Bob I'm usually doing this on much older songs, but this one is just as intriguing. I think we're all singing from the same sheet but it would be good to nail it.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,A.M.
Date: 16 Nov 22 - 08:47 AM

I'm the GUEST who originally bumped this thread at the end of October. I'm excited to see some movement here and curious as to whether anyone in NZ will actively proceed to obtain the Reed book. I see it is exclusively in New Zealand libraries and NSW, except for a single copy in Hawai'i. I can attempt to request it from Hawaii, but only if there is no one in New Zealand right now willing to walk down the road to their local library to look at a copy. My own guess is that something resembling a chorus, perhaps a "tonguing" song, appears in Reed's book and that everything else was Colquhoun: Lightning Tree, Golden Vanity, Outward Bound, and Blow Boys Blow.

I'm looking into this now, and I can only link "sugar and tea and rum" to a single shipment in the Weller era, on the Sydney Packet, which arrived on 7 April 1834. As the linked teara.govt.nz site explains, while the Wellers were making some profit in the Sydney market (such as it was), they were forced to pay tariffs in London due to New Zealand being considered sovereign Maori land at the time, and were already wrapping up their whaling business by 1835. Were they really whaling long enough to have songs written in their honor? I am somewhat bemused that despite the flood of instant history lessons on New Zealand whaling, this does not seem to have been mentioned before.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Nov 22 - 08:41 AM

That dictionary entry from 1995 doesn't give a dated citation so it doesn't add anything to the other sources quoted here (which are quite likely where they got it).

One person who will have known a lot about early onshore whaling in NZ is the writer Ian Wedde - it's the central historical focus of his novel Symmes Hole written in 1984. He mentions that he got a lot of his background from unpublished manuscripts in the national library in Wellington, things nobody had looked at before. I get the impression he feels he's well and truly through with that but it can't hurt to ask if anyone in Wellington knows him.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 06:28 PM

Sandra in Sydney wrote, in part (quoting Wikipedia): In the 1950s and 1960s A. H. & A. W. Reed issued a number of bestsellers, including books by Barry Crump, and became New Zealand's foremost educational publisher.[5] In the late 1960s the firm was the largest publisher in Australasia[1] and changed its name to A. H. & A. W. Reed Ltd.[8] In the 1970s Reed had its head office in Wellington and branches in Auckland, Christchurch, Sydney and London.[9] The firm published many popular non-fiction books that "celebrated a distinctly New Zealand way of life",[1] including works in the fields of "back-country tales, books on sport, gardening, cooking and crafts" and illustrated books of "natural history and books of landscape photographs and painting".[5] Books on Maori topics were one of Reed's specialities.

A bit of an "ahem" here, not directed at anyone in particular.

One of the books published by Reed was the second edition of Song of a Young Country. Based on the above, it appears they did not attempt to retain it; the third edition is by Steele Roberts.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 05:10 PM

From: GUEST,CJB - PM
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 03:14 PM ... A H Reed is well known publisher. Are they still trading? ...

from Wikipedia - Reed Publishing ... The Reed firm was founded in Dunedin, New Zealand, in 1907 by Alfred Hamish Reed and his wife Isabel as a mail-order Sunday school supply business that became called Sunday School Supply Stores.[2] In 1925 Reed's nephew Alexander Wyclif (Clif) Reed joined the firm.[3] In 1932 Clif opened a branch in Wellington.[4] Also in 1932 the firm expanded into publishing, an activity that grew quickly, taking advantage of the shortage of imported books during World War II.[5] In 1934 the firm, called A. H. Reed, adopted the imprint A. H. & A. W. Reed.[6] In 1941 the firm became a limited liability company as A. H. Reed Ltd.[7]

In the 1950s and 1960s A. H. & A. W. Reed issued a number of bestsellers, including books by Barry Crump, and became New Zealand's foremost educational publisher.[5] In the late 1960s the firm was the largest publisher in Australasia[1] and changed its name to A. H. & A. W. Reed Ltd.[8] In the 1970s Reed had its head office in Wellington and branches in Auckland, Christchurch, Sydney and London.[9] The firm published many popular non-fiction books that "celebrated a distinctly New Zealand way of life",[1] including works in the fields of "back-country tales, books on sport, gardening, cooking and crafts" and illustrated books of "natural history and books of landscape photographs and painting".[5] Books on Maori topics were one of Reed's specialities.

In the 1970s the firm faced growing problems of shrinking markets and increased competition.[5] It was sold to Associated Book Publishers (ABP) in 1983[10] and, with Methuen Publishing also part of ABP, became "Reed Methuen".[11] In 1987 it became Octopus Publishing (NZ) and published under the Heinemann Reed imprint[12] from 1988.[13] In 1992 British firm Reed International (UK) took over Octopus and the New Zealand company was renamed "Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd".[12][13] In 2006 it won the Thorpe Bowker Award for Outstanding Achievement in New Zealand Book Publishing.[14] In 2007 it changed its name to "Raupo Publishing (NZ)".[15] Raupo is Maori for bulrush (Typha orientalis), a type of reed. Raupo is currently an imprint of the Penguin Group.[16] ...


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 05:08 PM

GUEST.CJB wrote: More details - also it appears to be a book for children, so likely to be in a school library.

This would explain the book that Tommy W. saw, but it doesn't solve the mystery of the song -- in particular, the tune, and Colquhoun's part in it. Were the poem just a poem from the 1950s or 1960s, we wouldn't be having this discussion. :-) If "Wellerman" is an actual song known to Frank Woods in 1969/1970 (note the conditional), then we have to explain where he got it.

One possibility would be that the Reed book is a republication of an older book, or uses an older book, say from the 1920s. One might wildly speculate that a teacher found "Wellerman" in this 1920s book, decided it would be a good teaching tool, and set a melody to it. It happened enough in the United States. Had it happened in America, the tune would likely have been "Yankee Doodle." But New Zealand would use different tunes. Still, this would explain both the existence of a tune and its relative rarity.

Note that I do not advance this theory seriously. It still doesn't explain the similarity of the tune to "The Lightning Tree." We really need to find the source book, whatever it is, and see what its source was.

Either that, or call up the ghost of Colquhoun and find a truth serum that works on ghosts. :-)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GerryM
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 03:53 PM

"Worldcat lists copies of Reed at the State Library of New South Whales in Sydney, Australia...." A very appropriate typo for the subject under discussion!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 03:50 PM

Clicky


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 03:43 PM

More details - also it appears to be a book for children, so likely to be in a school library.

https://natlib-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/primo-explore/fulldisplay?vid=NLNZ&docid=NLNZ_ALMA21250492230002836&context=L&search_scope=NLNZ

BOOK

Whaling in early New Zealand / by A.W. Reed ; illustrations by Conrad Frieboe.
A. W Reed (Alexander Wyclif), 1908-1979
Wellington N.Z. : Reed, 1960

Whaling in early New Zealand / by A.W. Reed ; illustrations by Conrad Frieboe.
Available at National Library of New Zealand Wellington, National Children's Collection (send request) (639.2 REE ) and other locations

====


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 03:31 PM

Oops - Guest is me.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 03:30 PM

Here’s the reference to the book …

https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22618171

Scroll down

Frieboe, Conrad, d 1989 :[Life on a whaler. ca 1959-1960]

https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23099643?search%5Bi%5D%5Bsubject_authority_id%5D=-1437&search%5Bpath%5D=items

Date: 1959 - 1960 From: Frieboe, Conrad, d 1989 :[Original drawings for "Whaling in early New Zealand", by A W Reed, 1960. ca 1959-1960] Ref: A-407-007 Description: Illustration shows the occupants of a rowing boat in the foreground, being lashed by the tail of a whale they have harpooned. In the distance is their sailin...

====

Frieboe, Conrad, d 1989 :[Catching and rendering down at sea. ca 1959-1960]

https://natlib.govt.nz/records/23221847?search%5Bi%5D%5Bsubject_authority_id%5D=-1437&search%5Bpath%5D=items

Date: 1959 - 1960 From: Frieboe, Conrad, d 1989 :[Original drawings for "Whaling in early New Zealand", by A W Reed, 1960. ca 1959-1960] Ref: A-407-006 Description: Illustration shows whalers on the deck of a whaling ship, handling whale carcasses and pouring melted whale oil into moulds. The illustration was made in pre...

====


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 03:14 PM

Why the Reed tome came up in a search list was because it was mentioned that it included sketches. But typically I can’t regenerate that search. But a keyword is ‘sketch.’ Also really old books can be ruled out, they would not have been found in a school library. A H Reed is well known publisher. Are they still trading?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Wm
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 12:14 PM

Apart from nine New Zealand copies, Worldcat lists copies of Reed at the State Library of New South Whales in Sydney, Australia, and University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, Hawaii.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 10:47 AM

Steve Gardham wrote: It's just that the thread has now gone beyond that point and the answers appear to lie in A W Reed's book which is mentioned in a few places online and exists in some NZ libraries, as one would expect. However, Bob and I can't find a copy for sale anywhere.

To be clear, Reed's book is a possibility, but no more. Searching LibraryThing, I find half a dozen books which, based on topic and date, appear to be possibilities. By far the most popular, based on LibraryThing ownership statistics, is Robert McNab's The Old Whaling Days. Happily, that is on Google Books. But I didn't find "Wellerman" in a quick search. (Not quite proof, but I'm almost certain it's not in there.) That leaves five possibilities. All appear to be equally (un)popular (one copy of each). Reed's is one of the five. It is hard to find. So I am starting with L. S. Rickard, The whaling trade in old New Zealand, and New Zealand Journal 1842-1844 of John B. Williams Salem MA, because I could get those. :-) If they aren't it, then I keep looking for Reed and the others.

It does look as if Reed is a better possibility than the others on my list. And neither of them appears to be available outside New Zealand. As Steve says, somebody who is in New Zealand could probably do this better than I can. :-)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 09:45 AM

The Oldsalt blog is certainly interesting regarding NZ whaling history and the Maori involvement, and for info on 'tonguing', but we are more interested here in where the song came from. It's not muddying any water. It's just that the thread has now gone beyond that point and the answers appear to lie in A W Reed's book which is mentioned in a few places online and exists in some NZ libraries, as one would expect. However, Bob and I can't find a copy for sale anywhere.

Perhaps we need the assistance of a NZ Catter?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 08:40 AM

But such websites might have a reference to said missing tome; and I find the links interesting to understand the whole subject if whaling and that some authors have deliberately ignored the influence of Maori extended families. It is these missing influences which bring alive the whole aspect of whaling whether shore or ship based.

https://teara.govt.nz/en/1966/weller-brothers-edward-george-and-joseph

====


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 07:05 AM

GUEST.CJB wrote: Or is this a muddying the waters of subsequent research?

More a case of it not really being the issue. There is some detail in that article that isn't in either the second or third edition of Song of a Young Country, but it looks rather speculative. The information about shore whaling is not really relevant. We know what "Soon May the Wellerman Come" is: it's a Flying Dutchman motif applied to shore whaling. It has some shore whaling terminology, but nothing that couldn't be written by an informed person ashore. There is no particular reason to locate it in New Zealand as opposed to Australia.

What interests me, at least, is its age and origin, and whether it is truly traditional. I want to find the book that supposedly contained it; I'm also interested in the source of Colquhoun's tune, since we know that he sometimes "reconstructed" tunes.

So I want to see the book that had the text, and I want to know the source of the version in the book -- and I want to see how it compares to the version in Song of a Young Country.

I have sources on shore whaling. :-)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 05:10 AM

More than you ever wanted to know about New Zealand shore whaling ….

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00223344.2017.1366820

====


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 04:30 AM

Somewhat of a definitive explanation …

http://www.oldsaltblog.com/2021/02/the-wellerman-the-cross-cultural-whaling-history-of-new-zealand/

Or is this a muddying the waters of subsequent research?

====


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 15 Nov 22 - 04:18 AM

The Reed book was found from Google by searching for “prints New Zealand whaling wellerman” or something like that. Mike says it was in a book of sketches - that’s a moot point. And if it came from a library (school library?) it has to be of an age when it’s been finally discarded as libraries do. There’s quite a few books that come up on Google Books listings. Whilst these are dated in the 2000s they appear to be modern facsimiles of earlier books. I think Google Books is the key. BTW the Charles W Morgan whaler visited New Zealand. I wonder if the folk at Mystic know about ‘Wellerman.’


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 14 Nov 22 - 01:49 PM

Steve Gardham wrote: I think we have the actual story now, but as Bob says it would be nice to have the original to knock it dead. Thanks a million, Mike!

I agree, both in the belief and in the thanks -- but I do want to prove it. Apart from finding the book, I'd like to see if that text matches the Song of a Young Country text. And we also have the mystery of exactly what "Frank Wood" of Wairoa had to do with all of this.

I've now added something listed (probably slightly incorrectly) as
New Zealand Journal 1842-1844 of John B. Williams Salem MA American Whaling
to my books to search. Still haven't found an accessible copy of the Reed book.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Nov 22 - 12:46 PM

I think we have the actual story now, but as Bob says it would be nice to have the original to knock it dead. Thanks a million, Mike! Hope you're jogging along nicely. Mother-in-law, Eileen Sherburn at Goole, sends her regards.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 14 Nov 22 - 06:08 AM

Maybe "Whaling in early New Zealand", by A W Reed, 1960.

I'm working on it. It is not Robert McNab, The old whaling days: A history of Southern New Zealand from 1830 to 1840. I am awaiting L. S. Rickard, The Whaling Trade in Old New Zealand, 1965. If that isn't it, I'll try for the Reed -- I haven't located it yet. Thanks for the suggestion.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Nov 22 - 10:45 PM

Maybe "Whaling in early New Zealand", by A W Reed, 1960.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 13 Nov 22 - 05:24 PM

From Mike Harding: On the recording, 'Soon May The Wellerman Come' was sung by Tommy Wood. In response to the world-wide interest and in preparation for a radio programme on New Zealand folk I contacted Tommy. From the source....

Thank you for this! If nothing else, it explains the curiosity that the tune on the recording does not match the tune in Song of a Young Country: Wood and Colquhoun started with a sketch of a tune, but Wood made it major and Colquhoun Dorian.

I'd looked casually for books on New Zealand whaling, but shipping made it prohibitive for books I'd be buying on speculation. Now I may have to try harder. :-)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Mike Harding
Date: 13 Nov 22 - 04:46 PM

Hello from New Zealand with my experience of 'Soon May the Wellerman Come'. The 1972 'New Zealand Folksongs: Song of a Young Country' LP and songbook were the first accessible collection of songs of early European contact, immigration and settlement for young musicians like myself to call on. For Neil Colquhoun it was the culmination of fifteen years of researching, recording, radio programmes and concerts all featuring New Zealand folksong.   
On the recording, 'Soon May The Wellerman Come' was sung by Tommy Wood. In response to the world-wide interest and in preparation for a radio programme on New Zealand folk I contacted Tommy. From the source... 'From memory I came across the poem in a book on NZ sailors and as a folk singer in those days was collecting songs to sing at the clubs. I had mentioned it to Neil Colquhoun, then a fellow club member, who knew about it and hummed a rough guide to the tune. It became my song at the time, singing it at various clubs around until finally singing it on the album 'Songs of a Young Country'...unfortunately I have not got the book anymore. All I can remember was stories connected to whaling, exploring NZ and immigration ships, containing personal letters of life on board these ships, including poems...black and white sketches of ships, sailors etc...it was fairly old then [late 1960s?]! My late wife Margaret was a librarian and she brought it home after it had been removed off the shelves...The Wellerman was an actual poem in the book but not quite in rhyme I had to adjust some of the words to fit the tune that Neil and I managed to put together..'.

There's the mission. Find the book that 'Soon May the Wellerman Come' came from.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 13 Nov 22 - 10:59 AM

GUEST.CJB: I wonder if they know the term ‘tounguers.’

If you are referring to the New Zealand whalers, the term was known in New Zealand. Elizabeth & Harry Orsman, The New Zealand Dictionary, second edition, New House Publishers, Auckland, 1995, p. 294 (note the spelling):

tonguer 1. (whaling) Hist. One who, for his work of cutting in whales or abandoned whale carcasses or parts of them, receives the oil of the tongue (also of other parts) in payment.

The second definition is for workers in a "freezing works."

In an interesting sidelight on the question of origins, neither of my dictionaries of Australian English include the term, although that might be because they consider it generic English.

On the flip side: Song of a Young Country has another song, "Come All You Tonguers." This was first printed by Bailey & Roth. And the source was... John Leebrick, the source of "Davy Lowston."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,CJB
Date: 13 Nov 22 - 10:02 AM

Maybe not thread creep - the Charles W Morgan is an old whaler built around 1840. She sailed the world including around Cape Horn. and despatched thousands of whales in her time. She is still afloat., the very last of the 19th c. whalers.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_W._Morgan_(ship)

Of the thousand or so whale men who sailed on her it is recorded that some came from New Zealand.

She’s currently at the Mystic Seaport Maritime Museum in Conn., USA.

I wonder if they know the term ‘tounguers.’


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 06 Nov 22 - 01:11 PM

This probably would feel a lot more relevant if Mudcat hadn't gone down, I don't know, about sixteen seconds before I finished writing it. :-)

Realize that I'm not arguing for or against anything here. I do not claim that "Wellerman" is or is not traditional, nor any of the other songs discussed. I'm just arguing possibilities. At this point, we cannot know its history; Colquhoun is several years dead, and had memory problems before that; unless another version turns up, the trail is cold beyond recovery. (And if a new version did turn up today, we'd have to worry about it being tainted.)

Incidentally, if anyone thinks I'm new to this discussion, look at who contributed "Wellerman" to the Digital Tradition, decades ago. :-) And I learned the song orally, not from a recording, and from someone who had learned it orally, in New Zealand in the Seventies, although he had Song of a Young Country to refer to and probably took the words from it. Granted, I didn't know much about the song then, as the DT notes will show....

But to make a position statement: having probably studied New Zealand songs more than anyone alive outside the nation itself, there is only one New Zealand song that I am certain is traditional -- "Bright Fine Gold" -- and even it has some non-traditional verses floating around.

Some background is useful here, perhaps. When the New Zealand Folklore Society was getting organized in the Sixties, it was being built by people like Bailey and Roth and Colquhoun and Garland and Frank Fyte. None of them were folklorists, and only Fyte seems to have been much of a scholar. They didn't have much in the way of models; sure, there were good folklore societies elsewhere in the world, but it was expensive to import people -- or even books.

As a result, they seem to have operated largely on the "It must be a folk song, I've never heard a horse singing it" model. (Garland in particular seems to have had trouble distinguishing traditional from merely non-commercial.)

I would add that I do not consider the fact that "Wellerman" at some points seems to be almost a pastiche can be counted against it -- if anything, it's an argument for traditional status; that's how a lot of songs get started!

Some additional things to point to:

I've already said that I think we have to treat "Davy Lowston" and "Wellerman" together, and I stand by it. That's of some significance, because if Colquhoun (or Garland, or anyone else) wrote "Davy Lowston" and didn't claim it, it was expensive for him. Unlike "Wellerman," "Davy" doesn't suffer any issues about using a commercial tune; if it's based on anything, it's a modified version of "Sam Hall." And it was recorded by Graham Wilson on his album "Billy on the Boil."

Which matters. When my parents travelled to New Zealand in the early Eighties, they were (at my request) seeking to bring back New Zealand folk recordings. They came back with the "Song of a Young Country" LPs, an unremarkable disc of the Canterbury Bush Orchestra, and the Wilson recording. This was not an obvious choice, since "Davy" is the only (allegedly) traditional song on it. But all the New Zealand folkies said they had to have that album. (They were right, too -- great album. "The Gin and Raspberry," "Down a Country Road I Know," and "The Stable Lad" are classics of New Zealand pop folk.) From what I can tell, it's still considered the standard New Zealand pop folk collection. If Colquhoun had been able to put in a claim to authorship of "Davy," he would have earned non-trivial royalties. (Not huge, but non-trivial.) But he didn't.

Another thought: Remember the collection data on "Wellerman." 1969-1970, in Wairoa. We're not talking about some small island off Antarctica that you can only get to once a month, and only in summer. It's a couple of hours' drive from Auckland. Anybody could go and check up on Frank Woods any time they wanted to. Indeed, there must have been a temptation to see if they could get anything else out of him! If I'm going to make up an informant, I'd make up a Leebrick, not a Woods -- Woods was too easy to check on!

None of which is proof of anything, of course. Which is why I don't have an opinion. All I have is a long list of doubts. :-)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 31 Oct 22 - 11:16 PM

Thanks for the insight, Robert!

I'm certainly not wedded to the idea of Colquhoun, specifically, being the creator. Phil Garland sounds like a fine idea.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Chris Maltby
Date: 30 Oct 22 - 02:46 AM

Another possibility for the "tonguing" reference is in the timber/lumber part of the Weller supply business. Cutting logs and finishing the wood into boards would involve cutting tongues and grooves as the last part of the work. The visit of the Weller company ship to a timber camp would be just as eagerly awaited.

The Wellerman song may be a pastiche of an older timber-getters chorus and new verses, possible originating with D H Rogers or Colquhoun himself. It seems likely to remain a mystery.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 29 Oct 22 - 04:23 PM

A follow-up to my own comment on Phil Garland and Bert Lloyd-esque productions. Since people have been pointing out that parts of "Wellerman" look like mash-ups of folk lines, consider Garland's "Banks of the Waikato." It's "Banks of the Condamine," or at least one of those "Men's Clothing I'll Put On" type songs, rewritten for a New Zealand context and with Garland's own tune. Garland admitted to that one. But who says he admitted to all such things?

I should also note that Garland wrote only the tune, not the words, to "The Stable Lad." But he saw the potential in Peter Cape's lyrics and made it the great song it is.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Robert B. Waltz
Date: 29 Oct 22 - 04:18 PM

Since I've been cited in this thread, I guess it's my duty to add some information. :-) I wish I had noticed it before; it might have saved people some work. This is just a grab bag of notes on things I saw in the thread.

First off, note that although almost all discussion here is of the SECOND edition of Song of a Young Country, there is now a third edition, much expanded -- and with much better source information.

At least, there is USUALLY better information. But that for "Soon May the Wellerman Come," it says only that it was taken from Frank Woods, of Wairoa, 1969-1970. Hence the Ballad Index date.

The song was clearly popular at New Zealand Folk Festivals in the 1970s. Unlike every recording I've ever heard in the 2020s boom, I learned the melody correctly, EXACTLY as found in the book, c. 1982 -- from Larry Carpenter, in Richfield, Minnesota, who had learned it in New Zealand at pop folk events in the mid-1970s. This of course doesn't prove much, except that someone actually studied the sheet music and sang it correctly, and that it passed through two hands (Carpenter's source and Carpenter) without alteration.

Don't make too much of the fact that Neil Colquhoun contributed to Shanties by the Way. It was not his book; he mostly supplied melodies. But it is stuff Bailey and Roth took from old attics, mostly, not field collected material, and it is Bailey and Roth's, not Colquhoun's. Melodies are few and far between. (Actual folk songs are also rare in the book.) "Wellerman" isn't a particularly great song if you omit the tune, and Bailey and Roth didn't look at tunes in choosing items. Hypothetically, if they had had a text of it, they likely wouldn't have printed it -- it's not New Zealand-y enough. Of course, the Frank Wood "collection" was later anyway.

I said in the Ballad Index that Colquhoun usually admitted to the tunes he made up. There is an interesting point here: There are two songs in "Song of a Young Country" that stand out very clearly among the rest as by far the best. One is "Wellerman," the other is "Davy Lowston."

Both are songs that have been found only once. "Davy Lowston" is based on an actual incident, but -- like "Wellerman" -- it was collected only in an unlikely place, from "John Leebrick" in the United States, supposedly in the 1950s. No one has ever managed to locate "Leebrick" -- I even tried census records once, without success (although that may be because he wasn't in the right place at the right time; I could only search a census from much before the alleged collection). The universal failure to locate Leebrick is not proof by any means, but it's indicative.

But here's my interesting question: Why is it that Colquhoun's admitted songs are mostly not very good, but two songs which cannot be traced beyond his collection, "Wellerman" and "Davy Lowston," are quite good? I incline to accept Steve Gardham's comment that Colquhoun was the Bert Lloyd of New Zealand, but if he could produce two such good songs, why didn't he ever do it under his own name?

(Frankly, if I were going to guess that a New Zealand songwriter produced those two, it wouldn't be Colquhoun. It would be Phil Garland, who was also hanging around with Bailey and Roth and that gang, and who, unlike Colquhoun, was a VERY GOOD songwriter. Witness "The Stable Lad" -- as long as you don't witness the Gordon Bok version. :-) Much as I like Bok, he did bad things to that tune. I think Garland could have produced "Wellerman" and "Davy Lowston." Colquhoun -- nah.)

That again isn't proof of anything. It just shows how little we know.

I will comment that I suffered quite a bit going through the New Zealand material in the Ballad Index, and I have all the books involved. There are many mysteries about those books that we haven't gotten into here. I only skimmed this thread, so there may be questions I missed.

Aside: I'll admit that the popularity of "Wellerman" drove me nuts. Forty years I've been singing that song, and nobody cared, and now they all have the tune wrong. :-p


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Oct 22 - 04:04 PM

If it was written c1972 as many of us suppose using the tune of Lightning Tree then 'lazy' is not the word. The writers of most traditional songs did exactly this, patching together bits and pieces from older ballads and utilising existing tunes, and I might add existing themes and formats. Colquhoun was being quite 'astute' here and even though his motives were slightly different he was following in a long-running tradition, or even traditions, those of the broadside writer and those of Bert Lloyd et al.

The only criticism I have of Colquhoun is he didn't put his name to it, if HE wrote it that is. I employ similar methods in my own song writing, and so do many others, but I usually stick my name on the end.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Reinhard
Date: 29 Oct 22 - 10:06 AM

Peter Seeger sang The Golden Vanity on The Almanac Singers' 1941 album Deep Sea Chanteys and Whaling Ballads with the first verse including the phrase 'put (out) to sea':

There was a lofty ship, and she put out to sea
And the name of the ship was the Golden Vanity
And she sailed upon the low and lonesome low
As she sailed upon the lonesome sea

Anyway, the first verse of Wellerman is cobbled together from borrowed phrases, two lines from The Golden Vanity, one line from Outward Bound, and one line from Blow Boys Blow. Very lazy songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Oct 22 - 09:08 AM

Building a little on the link to Come All Tonguers, there's also a link to a variant of The Golden Vanity. Here's Wellerman:

> There once was a ship that put to sea / And the name of that ship was the Billy o’ Tea / The winds blew hard, her bow dipped down / Blow, me bully boys, blow

Here's one version of The Golden Vanity:

> There once was a ship, and she sailed upon the sea, / And the name of the ship was the Golden Vanity / She sailed upon the lowland, lowland, lowland / Sailed upon the lowland sea

The question is, which version of The Golden Vanity is this? I checked Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads and these lyrics vary quite frequently, going back into the 19th century. I'm not sure if this information narrows down the possible dates of composition, unless if we can make a strong argument about when the ballad was likely to hit New Zealand.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 26 Jan 22 - 05:47 PM

thanks, henryp.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/help/questions/listening-outside-the-uk/international

I was sent to their youtube page by a friend to check out one of their songs, The Last Bristolian Pirate - wot fun!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 26 Jan 22 - 09:53 AM

BBC Radio 2 The Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe 19 January 2020

Bristol shanty singers the Longest Johns talk about surfing the recent wave of online shanties, and recording their new album, Smoke & Oakum.

23 days left to listen on BBC Sounds.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 26 Jan 22 - 08:51 AM

I've just come across an amazing performance of Wellerman -Wellerman Community Project | The Longest Johns | 6500 Singers!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 May 21 - 12:44 AM

The entry for "Soon May the Wellerman Come" tells us Page 10, words and music (coded "PD") "Public Domain with informant (not necessarily the composer) Frank Woods" and "Earliest published source this collection."

That's great, Walt, thanks!

Your information about the content of the 1972 anthology, then, tells us that the source for "Wellerman" was only given as F. R. Woods (from what you shared with me), without a date. The information about his first name (Frank), the year of meeting (1966 or 1969), and the the tidbit about learning from his uncle seems to have come from elsewhere. Again, I suppose it is oral information shared with some people in the NZ folk revival scene. Because although Dr. Brown, who interviewed Colquhoun, gives us the first name/Frank and the place of meeting (Wairoa), he doesn't give share the uncle part or the date (1966, quite possibly erroneous) as the folksongs.org.nz site does.

Steve,

That makes sense to me. (Though I'm not the one to do it!) The "blow my bully boys blow" part is reminiscent to me of the aroma of newly-composed nautical songs that mix genres, borrowing this CHANTY trope and sticking it into a ballad.

Additionally, I thought the "tonguing" and "billy of tea" parts are suspicious, and here's a wild hypothesis:

There doesn't (yet, to my eyes) appear to be a robust documented usage of this "tonguing" thing. Where else do we see it? Well, in the song that Colquhoun's circle presented numerous times: "Come All Tonguers." That song originally came to them from a batch of whaling songs shared by a guy from the U.S., Leebrick, who in turn had got the batch of songs from the daughter of a whalerman operating near NZ. "Come All You Tonguers" and others in the batch appear to have formed the core of the most ~authentic~ folk songs that Colquhoun's cohort worked with. The song was a key item. My thought is that if C or a friend were to want to pen a new ballad about whaling out of NZ, then they would feel they definitely needed to work in "tonguers."

"Come All You Tonguers" also includes the line, "I am paid in soap and sugar and rum."

I am stabbing out blindly here because I have not done the work to determine whether "tonguing" was a prevalent thing or, as my casual experience suggests, was more rare. On one of my YT videos, Australian chanty-singer Don Brian writes,
"Having looked at many whaling logbooks from this area and searched New Zealand and Australian newspapers, I can find no reference to tonguing as Whaling related activity, although timber workers (also supplied by the Wellerman Ships) use this term in preparing planks..."
Being skeptical of the prevalence of "tonguers" (let alone "tonguing") I feel as though there's a confirmation bias loop: Someone finds "Wellerman" and asks "What's tonguing?" Someone else says, "Tonguing was XYZ because, for example, see this song 'Come All You Tonguers'." Together, the two songs of supposed historical origin make it look as though "tonguing" was this big thing-- so big, in fact that "several NZ whaling songs sing about it"! Tonguing is "confirmed"!

Unless someone can enlighten us to the contrary, that tonguing was a big deal, then I'm inclined to think a modern song -- "Wellerman" -- cribbed from ideas in "Come All You Tonguers."

The hypothetical writer of such a song may also have observed the multiple appearances of "Billy" (billy-can) in a small body of folk songs ascribed to NZ, and thought it would give the nationalistic "NZ flavor" to include "Billy of Tea" in "Wellerman."

I'm not making a strong argument here to prove that someone in the NZ folk revival composed "Wellerman" from whole cloth. I'm just raising the possibility. Given the (apparent) lack of documentation (and resultant ambiguity) on who "Frank R. Woods" was, there is little more than faith and wishful thinking to recommend the idea that Frank Woods was passing on a traditional song. Can't disprove it, but there are good reasons not to believe it.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 May 21 - 08:58 AM

The next thing to do here is perhaps examine the dodgy content in the song. It's obviously intended as a tongue-in-cheek piece. I know that because I write similar tongue-in-cheek pieces based round maritime themes (including whaling) myself. I have done a lot of research using historical documents, literature on the subject, and where available personal recollection (re trawling industry and inland waterways). I suspect Neil was coming from the same place. If you go back to the late 1960s this sort of thing was common and not an issue. Most performers were accepting Bert's refacimentos without question, and brilliant they were too. There wasn't as much pressure to declare how much of a song was your own invention. the boundaries were much more blurred. From a historian's point of view that is to be deplored, but it was what it was. Performance was much more in the ascendant as opposed to truth and scholarship.


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