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Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)

RTim 02 Oct 14 - 12:09 PM
RTim 02 Oct 14 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,Rahere 02 Oct 14 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,# 02 Oct 14 - 03:23 PM
RTim 02 Oct 14 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,# 02 Oct 14 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,# 02 Oct 14 - 05:47 PM
Steve Gardham 02 Oct 14 - 06:06 PM
RTim 02 Oct 14 - 07:18 PM
GUEST 02 Oct 14 - 09:10 PM
LadyJean 03 Oct 14 - 01:03 AM
GUEST,Rahere 03 Oct 14 - 06:23 AM
doc.tom 03 Oct 14 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Rahere 03 Oct 14 - 03:12 PM
Matthew Edwards 03 Oct 14 - 03:37 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Oct 14 - 04:33 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Oct 14 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Rahere 03 Oct 14 - 05:41 PM
GUEST 05 Oct 14 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Rahere 05 Oct 14 - 03:54 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Oct 14 - 05:23 PM
Les from Hull 05 Oct 14 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,# 06 Oct 14 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,Rahere 06 Oct 14 - 06:30 PM
Les from Hull 07 Oct 14 - 01:38 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Oct 14 - 02:41 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: RTim
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 12:09 PM

This song seems to have only been collected twice.

In 1936 it was recorded by the BBC and can be found on The Voice of the People CD
- Vol. 16 - You Lazy Lot of Bone Shakers - Track 9.
Here it is performed by "Mummers", who it seems, from other research, were from West Lulworth in Dorset

The Quaker – West Lulworth Mummers 1936.

Come all you bold fellows wherever you may be
That has got a mind to cross the salt sea.

We'll go on board The Quaker and soon you will find
Our ship she is well rigged and sails like the wind.

Our ship's sealed up like waxwork in every degree
Our ship she is well rigged and fitted for the sea.

We're five hundred and fifty bright seamen so bold
And, by those blooming French dogs, we'll never be controlled.

We fought them for hours, till they could no longer stay
While big guns and small guns sweetly did play.

Till the dead lay on our decks, boys, most grievous* to complain
And the blood rushed through the scuppers like showers of rain.

So now the war is over and homeward we do steer
Unto our wives and sweethearts and the girls we love so dear.

And this is my good health, boys, to the girl that shall prove true
Likewise unto Lord Nelson, the best of all our crew.

* My word - CD only has ***** in the words.

It was also collected as -
The Quaker and her crew – Roud 23086
by Sabine Baring-Gould from W. Horne, Plympton
14th December 1994
The tunes for both versions are different, but Horne's words are very similar to those above.

Peter Robson, of Dorset, in his paper - Songs in Dorset Mummers Plays, states that it is likely that the battle was - The Battle of Ronlay c. 1801

I have searched everywhere without finding either the Battle, the place or the existence of the Naval vessel The Quaker.

Does anyone else know anything about this song and or Battle or Ship?

Tim Radford (Woods Hole, USA)


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: RTim
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 12:20 PM

It seems the song was actually collected from Horne by F.W. Bussell and sent to Baring-Gould and this version does NOT mention Lord Nelson, but "The Quaker and her crew."

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 12:59 PM

Don't forget that many ships had pet nicknames assigned by the crew. The quirk here is that the Quakers are pacifists, which leads one to begin to focus on the leaders of the Spithead/Nore mutiny of 1797. I'm thinking along the lines of looking for the origins of Herman Melville's Billy Budd: was there something now forgotten?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,#
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 03:23 PM

Has anyone ever heard of the Battle of Ronlay?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: RTim
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 03:46 PM

It does not seem to exist!! and I can find no place in the World with the name.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,#
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 03:52 PM

Same here, Tim. This is mucho strange.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,#
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 05:47 PM

I've just sent an email which I hope produces results.

The Quaker was a big ship: 550 men. I cannot believe it shows up nowhere--unless of course as Rahere said, it's a nickname.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 06:06 PM

On the Indiana Ballad List Bob Waltzer suggested it's a corruption of 'Conqueror' which had about 570 men. This is one of those generic RN names that was used over a long period but there was at least one Ship of the Line of that name during the Napoleonic Wars.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: RTim
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 07:18 PM

To keep every one up to date.

I have been told that there are other sources for this song, ie:
Eliza Hutchings of Somerset (Sharp Mss)
Harriet Young of Somerset (Sharp Mss)

Both have a Roud No, of 3093, which is correct, and Steve Roud is changing the reference for the version in Baring-Gould, ie. 23086 is WRONG.

However, no one as yet has thrown any light on The Battle of Ronlay or where is it.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 09:10 PM

HMS Quaker:
Austin Birch, Captain, HMS Quaker.

Royal Navy Court Martial, 20 December 1689.

Crime: Disobeying an order.

Verdict: Guilty.

Sentence: Dismissed from his employment and imprisoned during HM's pleasure.


Perhaps "Ronlay" was Ramilles? Not a sea battle, but likely to be the source of a half- forgotten memory.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: LadyJean
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 01:03 AM

Having several friends who are Friends, not to mention being from Pennsylania, I find it ironic that a war ship was called The Quaker.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 06:23 AM

If it's that early, it predates the established doctrine of pacifism. The name of the creed could even be a reference to the warship - a Judge nicknamed George Fox a Quaker after he reproached the bench for not trembling before the name of the Lord, about the same time. It could be a reference to a siege gun which, iirc, was nicknamed that.
Ramillies was a land battle, though.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: doc.tom
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 06:30 AM

Ramillies was a ship though!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 03:12 PM

Actually, 550 men wasn't that large for a man-o'-war - HMS Victory, for example, had a crew of around 850. She had around 104 guns, barely tipping the scale as a first-rate, which would have required a minimum crew of four (captain, left and right, powder monkey), plus marines, and sailing crew to handle the ship even in battle. 550 is about the number one might have expected for a 50-gun, which is about the size of a late-Jacobean ship.
The 1801 census shows Portsmouth had a male population of 3148, and of Portsea, 11161. The Navy at that time had 191 ships of the line, 26 50s, 237 frigates and 30 sloops, which must have needed grosso-modo 200 000 men: no wonder when the Navy was paid off in 1815, sailers starving on the roads were commonplace. And equally, no wonder the Press Gang was needed.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 03:37 PM

Gomer Williams book History of the Liverpool Privateers and Letters of Marque, with an Account of the Slave Trade mentions a Liverpool privateer called the Quaker.

"The paper of October 4th, 1781, stated that the Quaker, Captan Evans, had arrived at Newfoundland from Liverpool, with a rebel privateer of 13 guns, which he had captured. Early in 1782 the Quaker took three prizes, and carried them into Antigua, where they sold for £21,000. On his passage to Newfoundland, in the autumn of the same year, this very pugnacious Quaker fell in with a French 44-gun ship, exchanged a broadside with her, and got clear by dint of sailing, after an exciting chase of twelve hours. The Quaker had one boy killed, and another wounded, but received no other damage. In the paper of February 6th, 1783, we read that the Quaker had captured in the West Indies, a brig with a Letter of Marque, from Martinique to France. laden with sugar, coffee, and cocoa, valued at £10,000, and sent her to Tortola."

A later mention of the Quaker comes from 1797 when it was recaptured with 388 slaves on board from a French squadron under Renaud off the Goree.

Gomer Williams book is in Google books; it is a very interesting account of Liverpool shipping, and of the slave trade, but he rarely gives any sources for his information so it is very hard to verify most of his history.

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 04:33 PM

Interesting, Matthew, but a privateer surely couldn't be anything like a ship of the line. A clue here is that she ran from a French 44.
If as Rahere said she would have been at least a 50 she wouldn't have been running from a French 44.

However we have to take account that many maritime ballads in particular were rewritten several times over and that's without even taking oral tradition into account. One ploy by the amateur poets was to take an existing ballad from a previous era and simply change the name of the ship and/or a placename and sell it on to the printer. If Matthew's privateer had been in the news lately the poet wouldn't be too fussy about the size of the vessel and its compliment.

An excellent example of this process is HMS Nottingham > Wasp > Lion > London > Dolphin (Roud 690) not necessarily in chronological order. There are plenty of other similar examples.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 05:02 PM

Massive apology to Bob Waltz. I confused him with SOE who I think is involved in Mudcat. In another posting to the Ballad List he strengthens his case for 'Conqueror' being what 'Quaker' was corrupted from. She was decisive at Trafalgar giving the all important broadside to 'Bucentaure' Villeneuve's flagship causing him to surrender.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 03 Oct 14 - 05:41 PM

As you say, Steve, there may be several ships conflated here. Let's sort the timeline out:
1689 HMS Quaker would almost certainly have been launched as part of Samuel Pepys Navy Reforms of the 1660s - quite apart from his importance as a diarist in Restoration society, his real work, as Secretary to the Navy, laid the foundations of the Royal Navy ruling the waves. The Navy had taken a big step forwards a hundred years beforehand, standardising its cannons so ammunition could be used in all guns (the Spanish Armada having been outgunned because English ships could rearm in any port whereas they ran out of shot), but its ships were still little improved from the days of the Crusades. The Dutch, on the other hand, had learned design elements, I suspect from the Venetians, which allowed its ships to outsail the English, and Pepys caught up and overtook them. This is the period when Peter the Great, for one, was to be found nicking wheelbarrows in the backstreets of Deptford to get into the arsenal to see how England was building ships.
One of these ships was the 1664 Royal Katherine. In 1702-6 she was rebuilt and renamed HMS Ramillies, after the 1706 battle in Belgium, and again rebuilt in the 1730s, finally meeting her end in a storm near Plymouth in February 1760: this gave rise to the ballad, The Loss of the Ramilies, although it got the date wrong. This gives a sense of scale to the life expectancy of wooden ships, as the use of copper plating and more exotic foreign woods made ships faster, larger and lighter.
Similarly, the ballad give its crew as 500, whereas its book strength was 850: of these, only 21 survived (not 4 as per the ballad). And she was only a second-rater.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 11:35 AM

The only HMS Quaker was a purchased ketch of 78tons builders' measurement, so we can discount her.

A crew of 550 would be about right for a third rate 64 gun ship or an undermanned 74 gun ship. Most RN ships of this period were undermanned, as there were very many ships in service in time of war.

Sea battles between two or three ships weren't called 'the Battle of Something'. They were called actions (usually single-ship actions) and were termed Shannon and Chesapeake or similar.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 03:54 PM

In a way, the line "our ship is well-rigged and sails like the wind" is completely at odds with the crew and heavy guns: the frigate was the former, and the first-rater the latter, and was just too big to sail fast. One or the other may therefore be poetic hyperbole, or is it a borrowing from another tale? If Quaker was a sloop or smaller, it is unlikely she'd have rated a Captain, but a Commander, the rank below. Is this the same Quaker?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 05:23 PM

Tim,
Both of the Sharp versions and the Baring Gould one should now be online in The Full English. Harriet Young's version has the crew as 920 and as you say gives no mention of Nelson.

The most likely scenario here is that it was written by a broadside hack using names current at the time, but probably based largely on an earlier ballad which would take some hunting down. Collections of naval ballads like Firth, Masefield, Ashton might turn something up.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: Les from Hull
Date: 05 Oct 14 - 06:28 PM

I agree Steve. There's not usually any evidence that these songs were written by sailors or even anyone with an intimate knowledge of ships and the sea.

The captain of a ship is the chap in charge (or perhaps a lass, after all this is folk song) regardless of rank. So even a lieutenant in charge of a cutter is referred to as the captain. The rank of someone commanding a rated ship is Post Captain.

Even a purpose-built privateer (or private man-o-war as they preferred to be called) would be unlikely to have a crew exceeding 300, about the same as a smaller frigate. If someone could come up actual events for this song, I'd be more than happy 'cos I love that sort of thing. But I doubt it. Perhaps the Quaker was a Phoebus Frigate!

Oh and Steve, Black Boy sesh tomorrow night?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,#
Date: 06 Oct 14 - 06:16 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 06 Oct 14 - 06:30 PM

I was actually referring to the Guest 02 Oct 14 - 09:10 PM which is the only hard document yet provided - albeit lacking provenance. It refers to him as Captain, not as an honorific, but as his rank before a Court Martial.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: Les from Hull
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 01:38 PM

No it's an honorific. Like I said the Quaker was a 78 ton ketch, so her captain is a lieutenant.

The Navy would never have named a vessel Quaker, but hired and bought-in vessels often kept their existing names, unless there was already a vessel of that name in the Navy. Hence there was a hired cutter that became HMS Black Joke, a name that knowledgeable folkies will recognise as a Cotswold morris tune taken from a certain song that celebrates a particular part of the female anatomy.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Quaker (and her crew)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Oct 14 - 02:41 PM

Sorry, Les.
I intended coming to the session but there was nobody there to prise me out of me shell. Have you found that important memory stick yet?


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