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Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?

GUEST,Mr Kimbo 27 Mar 12 - 07:13 PM
bubblyrat 28 Mar 12 - 04:21 AM
MartinRyan 28 Mar 12 - 04:31 AM
MGM·Lion 28 Mar 12 - 05:04 AM
MartinRyan 28 Mar 12 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 28 Mar 12 - 08:21 AM
MartinRyan 28 Mar 12 - 09:03 AM
RTim 28 Mar 12 - 09:09 AM
MartinRyan 28 Mar 12 - 09:32 AM
bubblyrat 28 Mar 12 - 09:37 AM
bubblyrat 28 Mar 12 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 28 Mar 12 - 11:16 AM
RTim 28 Mar 12 - 12:18 PM
Paul Burke 28 Mar 12 - 02:36 PM
RTim 28 Mar 12 - 02:50 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Mar 12 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 28 Mar 12 - 05:09 PM
RTim 28 Mar 12 - 05:14 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Mar 12 - 05:22 PM
MartinRyan 28 Mar 12 - 06:39 PM
Paul Burke 29 Mar 12 - 02:04 AM
Steve Gardham 29 Mar 12 - 10:26 AM
Steve Gardham 29 Mar 12 - 10:57 AM
Steve Gardham 29 Mar 12 - 11:39 AM
Teribus 29 Mar 12 - 12:51 PM
MGM·Lion 29 Mar 12 - 01:38 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Mar 12 - 03:54 PM
Teribus 29 Mar 12 - 05:54 PM
Paul Burke 30 Mar 12 - 02:01 AM
Steve Gardham 30 Mar 12 - 02:49 PM
GUEST 31 Mar 12 - 03:59 PM
Les from Hull 31 Mar 12 - 04:39 PM
Steve Gardham 31 Mar 12 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,Kevin Mayes in New Zealand 19 Jun 13 - 06:03 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Jun 13 - 06:20 AM
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Subject: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: GUEST,Mr Kimbo
Date: 27 Mar 12 - 07:13 PM

Just been enjoying the Coppers singing the Warlike Seamen. Does anyone know who the Irish Captain in the song, Somerville was, or what action the song is based on? Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 04:21 AM

In the Royal Navy , it is customary to name buildings alphabetically ,after famous Naval Captains and Admirals , for example ; A ,B ,C,D E buildings or blocks would be personalised into
Anson, Blake, Cunningham, Drake , Exmouth , Frobisher, Grenville ,Hawke,Jervis (no "I" !) Keyes, Lister (or Lambe), Mountbatten , and .......well, you can guess who "N" Block is named after ! Which brings us , eventually, to "S" ; Somerville !
               James Fownes Somerville 1882-1949 joined the Royal Navy as a Cadet in 1897 and became a specialist in the early science of radio communications. As a Lieutenant in WW1 , he won the Distinguished Service Order ( DSO) at Gallipoli . After various appointments and promotions,he commanded, as a Rear Admiral, the British Mediterranean Fleet Destroyers in 1936-38,participating in protection duties during Spanish Civil War .He was retired on medical grounds in 1939, but recalled with the outbreak of WW2 .
                  After helping to organise the Dunkirk evacuation,he was given command of the Task Force that destroyed the French fleet at Mers-El-Kebir in 1940.Later involvements included the sinking of Germany's " Bismark " ,and the famous "Malta Convoys" .He then became Commander-in-Chief Eastern Fleet ,and was involved in operations against the Japanese. During 1944-45, he served in Washington DC. Promoted to Admiral Of The Fleet in 1945, he retired the same year and died in Somerset in 1949 .
             Of course, there was another famous naval Somerville, namely Henry Boyle Townshend Somerville, who joined the Royal Navy in 1877, and was a Vice-Admiral by 1919.However, he appears to have been far less bellicose than James, spending most of his service on Hydrographic Surveying and as a Director of Naval Intelligence ; an early model for James Bond's "M" !! After retiring ,he returned home to Castletownshend , his home in Cork , Ireland, but was murdered by the IRA in 1936 , apparently for encouraging Irishmen to join the Royal Navy.He is unlikely, therefore ,to be the subject of the song, IMHO .


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 04:31 AM

Thanks for that, bubblyrat. I used to teach sailing in Baltimore, a few miles from Castletownshend and remember visiting the graveyard there - which contains several RN officers, none below the rank of Captain!

Regards

p.s. The Cork Sommerville is, of course, the family of the co-author of The Irish RM books.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 05:04 AM

But I don't think any of these could be the Irish Captain of the Coppers'"Warlike Seamen" song, in which the engagement obviously occurred in the days of sail ("The first broadside we gave to them, It caused them to wonder; Their mainmast and its rigging too Came rattling down like thunder") ~ against a "lofty Frenchman", so presumably Napoleonic.

Another puzzle in the song is that Somerville's ship is The 'Nottingham' in the first verse ("I'll tell you of a fight, my boys, on board the Nottingham"), but The 'London' later on (They asked from whence we came; Our answer was 'from Liverpool, and London is our name'.")

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 05:20 AM

MtheGM

Agreed. I have a memory of reading an account of the ancestors of the Cork family - with a number of high-ranking RN and British Army officers - but have no idea if a plausible link can be made.

The varying name of the ship is also a moot point, of course. Again, I thought I had seen an analysis on the Musical Traditions website - but can't find it now!

Better start again at Roud and the Ballad Index...

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 08:21 AM

Martin, are you getting confused with an article that I wrote for Musical Traditions on "The Weymouth Frigate"? There were various naval ships called "Weymouth" and I tried to sort out which one was the subject of the song.
Must say that I agree with MGM that the song's Somerville almost certainly pre-dates the person mentioned by bubblyrat, though I cannot offer any suggestions as to who Somerville could be.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 09:03 AM

You might well be right, Mike! With my ragbag of a mind, I'd probably have eventually pulled the right bit of thread...

It has always struck me as being a bit too coincidental that this Somerville should be Irish. The other famous Irish family at that sort of level in the Royal Navy was the Pakenhams (Lord Longford etc.). The eccentric streak they somethimes displayed in modern times goes back a long way!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: RTim
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 09:09 AM

The following passage can be found at the link below.
Whether it is the "Irish" Capt. Somerville of song mentioned - who knows?

Tim Radford

http://www.oocities.org/grace280.geo/ballyshannon.html


In 1837 the traffic of the port of Ballyshannon is given on a "Map of Ireland to accompany the Report of the Railway Commissioners showing the relative quantities of traffic in different directions. By Henry D. Harnes, L'Royal Engineers 1837." Exports amounted to 1,800 tons valued at £11,000 and Imports were 2,500 tons and valued at £9,600. On August, 9th, 1838 the Liberator, a shortlived Ballyshannon newspaper reports the Ballyshannon ship news. The John and Thomas under Captain Iver arrived from Memel on the Baltic Sea with timber and the the Margaret under Captain Ewing departed for Liverpool in ballast i.e. without cargo. It goes on to tell of the voyage of the Blanch of Donegal under Captain O'Brien which sailed for Quebec on the 28th day of May and arrived on the 27th of June. The passengers were all well and in excellent spirits. The voyage was so pleasant that only a few people were even seasick. It adds, "This is the quickest passage ever made by any vessel leaving this port and proves the combined qualities and abilities of the vessel and her company." On July 9th the above paper underlines one of the failings of Ballyshannon port; the lack of outgoing cargoes. The following arrivals were reported all carrying coal:- The Favourite under Capt. Davis from Ayr, the Catherine under Capt Robb from Glasgow and the Alexander under Captain Somerville from the same port plus the Patrick under Captain Davis from Swansea. The Rapid under Captain Greenwald was another arrival with timber from Memel. All this was inward cargo and the Vintage under Captain Frazer departed for Mullaghmore under ballast as did the Favourite bound for Donegal.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 09:32 AM

The Somervilles I'm thinking off would never have touched coal! ;>)>

Came across one reference to an earlier Somerville RN:
-------------------
Vice Admiral Philip Horatio Townsend Somerville RN married on 1 May 1849 Mary Stewart (who died on 1 June 1895), daughter of David Maitland M'Gill Crichton of Rankeilour, Co Fife, and died on 12 May 1881 leaving three sons.

-------------------------------------------

The Townsend became Townshend and was incoporated into the name of the village.

Regards

p.s. Source of that quote is: http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~townsend/tree/record.php?ref=506


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 09:37 AM

There was a Captain Somerville of the steamship "Durham" , also known as Michael RYAN ( the man,not the ship !) ; not that that helps much, but it's jolly interesting , wouldn't you agree ? I shall keep searching.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 10:13 AM

I have now ascertained that an American privateer,the"General Armstrong", was involved in an action, in the harbour of Horta , in The Azores , in September 1814, with a British squadron, under the command of Captain Robert Lloyd,of the 74-gun "Plantagenet" . Another ship of this squadron was the 38-gun frigate "Rota" , captured at Copenhagen , and now under the command of Catain Philip Somerville . Eureka ?? I'll investigate further,but it looks promising !


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 11:16 AM

Don't forget that names can, and often do, change in the oral tradition. I always think of the song that Edith Fowke collected as "Sir Charles Lapier", which turned out to be about General Sir Charles Napier (1782 - 1853).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: RTim
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 12:18 PM

Following on from Mike Yates's note:
I took a quick troll through the Roud Index for this song - Roud 690, and found
several different names for the said Captain.
From Hampshire, via Dr. Gardiner, there are versions By James Blooming and Richard Hall where he is called "Summerswell".
From the Collinson Manuscript we have a "Summersville", and also Collinson has the Copper family version were he suggests the name is "Daffodill" !!!

Take your pick which it was. By the way, there was also a Somerville mentioned who was under Nelson's command.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 02:36 PM

From memory:

Come all you warlike seamen that to the seas belong,
I'll tell you of a fight my boys, on board the Nottingham.
It's of an Irish captain, his name was Somerville,
With courage bold he did control, he played his part full well.

Now was there a Captain Somerville, Summerville, Sunny Bill or whatever that was in charge of the HMS Nottingham?

Was the captain's name right, but the ship's name wrong- or vice versa?

Or was the whole thing made up by a penny-a-line balladeer?

And why does the ship's name and home port change half way through?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: RTim
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 02:50 PM

HMS Nottingham - see below:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Nottingham

Also see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Nottingham_(1703)

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 03:43 PM

Somerville is Sumarez in the 1746 original and his ship is indeed The Nottingham. You'll probably pick all this up in Tim's links. I'm sure there's another thread revealing all this somewhere. Phil Sumarez wrote the original ballad himself which later morphed into 'The Dolphin, Lion Man of War, Warlike Seamen, The Wasp and a host of other imitations. There was a TV programme on him about 6 months ago.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 05:09 PM

C'mon chaps, anything you can add to this is absolutely wonderful. In the dim an' distant past I recall someone giving us chapter and verse on this, but for the life of me I can't remember who...or where!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: RTim
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 05:14 PM

So - to complete the whole thing - Here is the web page with details on Suamerez!!

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Saumarez,_Philip_(DNB00)

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 05:22 PM

Like many of our brave captains of the 18th century Phil was from the Channel Islands, Guernsey I think, and the hall is still there and in fact his descendants still live there. If I remember rightly they still have a ms of the original song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 06:39 PM

Saumarez turns up in some of Patrick O'Brian's novels as a "blue light Admiral" i.e. bible-thumper, IIRC.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 02:04 AM

So we have the Nottingham, with Captain Saumarez, who was not Irish.
We have Captains Somerville who may of may not have saiiled on Nottinghams.

And according to the Coppers the ship mysteriously changes name in mid voyage.

Mind you, that sounds back to front- the drift of their thing suggests that the French ship was sailing under British colours.

I had a search for the song as written by Saumarez, without success. Any chance of a repost?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 10:26 AM

Joe,
There must surely be another thread with this on. I remember discussing it at great length. If it doesn't turn up by tomorrow I'll repost it.

I'm sure there's a website with the b***** thing on somewhere as well.
(You can tell I'm not very technical or I'd have linked up the lot by now!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 10:57 AM

Okay, here it is, but if it turns up now I'll be reight narked!

Come all ye jolly seamen, a tough old Tar I am,
I'll sing ye of a fight, my boys, fought in the Nottingham.
'Twas by a brisk young Captain, Phil Saumarez was his name,
And he was bent, with bold intent, old England's foes to tame.

On the 5th day of October, our anchor we did weigh,
And from old Plymouth Sound, my boys, we shaped our course away.
Along the coast of Ireland, our orders were to go,
The seas to cruise, and none refuse, but boldly fight the foe.

We had not been out many days before we chanc'd to spy
A sail all to the westward which drew to us full nigh
She hail'd us loud in French, my boys, and ask'd from whence we came,
'From Plymouth Sound, we've just come round and the Nottingham's our name.'

'Are you a man-of-war,' they said, 'or a privateer maybe?'
'We are a man-of-war,' said we, 'and that you soon shall see.
So haul up smart your courses, and let your ship lie to:
If you stand out, or put about, we'll sink your ship and crew.'

The first broadside we let them have we made the rascals quail:
The next their yards and topmas'es came rattling down like hail.
We drove them from their quarters, their captain frantic grew,
He curs'd our shot, it came so hot, 'Mille diables! Scare bleu!'

We fought them seven glasses when, to add to all their fears,
The shout was raised for 'Boarders!' and we gave three ringing cheers:
Down came her flag, we took her; her name it was the Mars.
The French be damned, they ne'er can stand and fight with British Tars.

Not perhaps as well crafted as some of its antecedents, but at least based on a real incident and written by the captain himself, if a little over-self-congratulatory. It goes perfectly to the stirring 'Dolphin' tune that I know.

It is the original of Roud 690 and those versions that have Somerville/Somerwell as the captain or similar, that is obviously the folk process working and not a deliberate alteration like most of the other versions. It appears that Jon's family version is based on the original of 1746 whereas those that go under the following titles have
most likely been rewritten by broadside hacks, not that they made a bad job of it. I've sung at least one version.

Lord Exmouth
The Dolphin
The Irish captain
Shakings
Liverpool Play
Tha Saucy Dolphin
The Lion Man-o-war
Bold Wasp
The Liverpool Privateers
The Royal Delamore

An American development is 'Bold Daniels'

BTW some of the other ships like the Wasp, the Lion and the Dolphin were real ships at the time their versions were rewritten but the event obviously doesn't apply to them, they're just another example of the printer's hack after an easy shilling.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 11:39 AM

OOps! Missed off the one that is my Master Title. 'The London Man-o-War' should also be in there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Teribus
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 12:51 PM

Additional verse on the manuscript in Sausmarez Manor St. Martins Guernsey

And should you once more enquire our gallant Captains name
He was young Phil Sausmarez from Guernseys isle he came
Commanded the brave Nottingham and beat the cowardly Mars
Let every man stand true to his guns and salute those British Tars


The action fought between HMS Nottingham and the French "Mars" occurred on the 11th October 1746. Philip Sausmaurez was killed in action just over one year later whilst serving in the Channel Fleet under Admiral Hawke. As darkness was falling the Nottingham (60 guns) in company with Eagle (58 guns) and Yarmouth (64 guns) attempted to prevent the escape of the French ships Tonnant (80 guns) and Intrepide (74 guns). Nottingham caught up to the French first and immediately engaged, Sausmarez would fight the Tonnant for an hour before the other British ships joined the action in that hour Philip Sausmarez was killed.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 01:38 PM

Was this part of the Austrian Succession conflict or some other war?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 03:54 PM

Where's 'fromull' when you need him?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Teribus
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 05:54 PM

Most certainly was MtheGM


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 02:01 AM

Well done, it's great to see a good song chased to pinpointable origins for once. But I still wonder about the changes wrought by the folk process and/ or broadside writers. The change of date, from October to June; the change from Plymouth to Spithead; the change from Guernsey to Ireland (mishearing of "island"?), and still that mysterious reference to the London from Liverpool.

Do we actually have a merging of two separate songs here?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 02:49 PM

Whilst what you suggest is always possible, the changing of proper nouns in songs and the changing of dates is very common, both deliberately and due to forgetfulness, to modernise/relocate a text. The texts listed above vary considerably and are only recognisable as being related in some cases because they use the same key lines and phrases or even whole stanzas. The merging of several earlier songs into one new song is also quite common. Cecilia Costello's 'Grey Cock' contains elements of 3 identifiably separate ballads, which doesn't mean that she took these 3 ballads and stuck them together, it means somewhere along the line of evolution this has occurred for whatever reason.

Regarding dates, I can quote ballads that have numerous versions and in every single version the date is different. This one must at least be down mainly to oral tradition if not all oral tradition.

There is also the possibility in there that Phil took stock phrases himself from existing ballads, although I haven't come across these yet.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Mar 12 - 03:59 PM

I don't think you really needed me at all! I can add little to what's been submitted so far. There really was an action between Nottingham and Mars as Teribus says. The Saumarez family (variously de Sausmarez, Sausmarez, Saumarez) were a quite famous Royal Navy family originating from Guernsey. Eventually there would be two destroyer flotilla leaders named HMS Saumarez (one in each World War) when it was the fashion although I assume that the vessels were in fact name for the later Admiral James Saumarez. Captain Phil would probably be called Sausmarez.

Ships sailing under false colours or unidentified: This was pretty normal - there was no need to identify your ship and it was a valid 'ruse de guerre' to hoist someone else's if there would be some advantage. A 60gun ship like Nottingham could perhaps be taken for a large merchant ship, although it would be an umusually large merchantman or privateer. The HMS London of the period would be unmistakable as she was a three-decked line of battle ship. Of course the version mentioning the ship 'London' could have be a privateer - Liverpool sent out many privateers.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 31 Mar 12 - 04:39 PM

That was me above, of course, under false colours or rather with no colours flying. A valid ruse de guerre as I did not open fire!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 Mar 12 - 05:32 PM

Les,
With a name like Ward what else would we expect?

'And under her mizzen strange colours she bore.'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: GUEST,Kevin Mayes in New Zealand
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 06:03 AM

@ Paul Burke
I sing this song. Re. the ship changing names - I believe this comes from a mixing and changing of the words over generations of oral transference, which is a pretty common occurrence lets face it and the Copper collection has plenty of examples of it. I sing:

We had not been many leagues at sea before a ship we spied
she being some lofty Frenchman come bearing down so wide
We hail-ed her in French boys we axed from where she came
her answer was "from Liverpool and London is our name"

The point being that the Frenchman was sailing under a false flag and was caught out by replying in English with a false name and home-port after being hailed in French.

This explains the line in the next verse when Somerville says to the Frenchman:

"come strike your English standard and then you must heave-to".

Hope this makes sense.

Regards , Kev.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Who was Somerville in Warlike Seamen?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 06:20 AM

'Mille diables! Scare bleu!'

Was this how it was rendered, Steve, or a typo? Should clearly read "Sacré bleu".

~M~


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