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Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter

DigiTrad:
PRETTY POLLY (2)
THE CRUEL SHIP'S CARPENTER
THE GHOST SONG
THE SHIP'S CARPENTER


Related threads:
Lyr Req:Pretty Polly (from The Dillards) (8)
pretty polly - Cruel Ship's Carpenter? (14)
Lyr Req: Pretty Polly? (26)
Lyr/Chords Req: Pretty Polly (Stanley Brothers) (14)
Lyr/Chords Add: Pretty Polly (5)
Lyr Req: Pretty Polly / lost verse (19)
Lyr Add: Pretty Polly (#311) (2)
Lyr Req: Little Molly / Pretty Polly / etc. (5)
Info Req: Polly's Love (Waterson-Carthy) (6)


GUEST 13 Apr 04 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,MMario 13 Apr 04 - 10:49 AM
GUEST 13 Apr 04 - 11:50 PM
Richie 24 Mar 16 - 09:50 PM
Richie 24 Mar 16 - 10:09 PM
Reinhard 25 Mar 16 - 04:22 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Mar 16 - 05:04 AM
GUEST 25 Mar 16 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,Blandiver (Astray) 25 Mar 16 - 06:56 AM
GUEST 25 Mar 16 - 07:12 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Mar 16 - 08:28 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 16 - 08:55 AM
Jim Brown 25 Mar 16 - 08:57 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Mar 16 - 09:06 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 16 - 09:33 AM
Jim Brown 25 Mar 16 - 10:12 AM
Steve Gardham 25 Mar 16 - 12:25 PM
Jim Brown 25 Mar 16 - 03:51 PM
Richie 25 Mar 16 - 03:55 PM
Richard Mellish 25 Mar 16 - 05:24 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Mar 16 - 05:29 PM
Richie 25 Mar 16 - 11:47 PM
Richie 26 Mar 16 - 12:22 AM
Jim Brown 26 Mar 16 - 05:15 AM
Richie 26 Mar 16 - 02:56 PM
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Jim Brown 26 Mar 16 - 04:21 PM
Richard Mellish 26 Mar 16 - 05:25 PM
Richie 26 Mar 16 - 07:31 PM
Richie 26 Mar 16 - 07:41 PM
Richie 26 Mar 16 - 08:14 PM
Richie 26 Mar 16 - 11:56 PM
Richie 27 Mar 16 - 02:22 PM
Jim Brown 27 Mar 16 - 04:43 PM
Jim Brown 27 Mar 16 - 05:16 PM
Richie 27 Mar 16 - 10:02 PM
Richie 28 Mar 16 - 09:59 AM
Richie 28 Mar 16 - 10:07 AM
Richie 28 Mar 16 - 10:19 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Mar 16 - 11:07 AM
Richie 28 Mar 16 - 11:14 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Mar 16 - 11:16 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Mar 16 - 11:31 AM
Richie 28 Mar 16 - 12:55 PM
Richie 28 Mar 16 - 01:13 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Mar 16 - 02:19 PM
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Gutcher 12 Apr 16 - 11:16 AM
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Gutcher 12 Apr 16 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,SteveG 12 Apr 16 - 03:39 PM
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Jim Brown 12 Apr 16 - 05:14 PM
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GUEST,Brian Peters 12 Apr 16 - 06:39 PM
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Subject: Tune Req: Gosport Tragedy
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 04 - 10:33 AM

I know that the melody comes from Peggy's Gone Over the Sea, have the recordings of Pretty Polly, lyrics listed for Gosport, Carpenter, and Polly, but have yet to find a recording of Gosport Tragedy? Does anyone know of any collections that if can be found in or anywhere on the Internet it can be sampled? Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Gosport Tragedy
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 13 Apr 04 - 10:49 AM

Bruce Olsen posted in a previous thread that he had the tune in ABC on his site. (users.erols.com/olsonw)

I wasn't able to find any audio files.


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Subject: RE: Tune Req: Gosport Tragedy
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 04 - 11:50 PM

Thanks for the info. I will give it a look:)


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Subject: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 09:50 PM

Hi,

This ballad has some threads but has not been explored in detail. I want to examine the ballad and its associated ballads: Cruel Ship's Carpenter and Pretty Polly.

My first question involves the broadside dated 1776 recently posted here:
https://blogs.brown.edu/libnews/tag/american-antiquarian-society/

There's not much information but clearly this predates all US printed versions by a number of years. I can't read the printer or where it was sold. Anyone have any information?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 10:09 PM

Hi,

I've been working on the Child ballads and have put nearly all the North American versions on my site. Yesterday I started a
More English & Scottish Popular Ballads section which will provide information about ballads not covered by Child.

I've started with:

1. Gosport Tragedy (The Cruel Ship's Carpenter; Pretty Polly)
   link: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/1-the-cruel-ships-carpenter-pretty-polly.aspx
2. The Drowsy Sleeper (Awake, Awake; Silver Dagger)

If anyone has suggestions for ballads to be covered outside the Child opus- let me know.

I'm curious about Fowler's article SFLQ. He associates the ballad broadsides to a historical event, even naming the ship carpenter John Billson, who joined the Bedford (moored at Gosport) in that post on May 1, 1723, and remained there till his death on-board in September 1726.

Fowler found a crewman named Charles Stewart who was aboard the vessel at the same time.

Does anyone think that this ballad was based on these actual events?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Reinhard
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 04:22 AM

If anyone has suggestions for ballads to be covered outside the Child opus- let me know.

A.L. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl's Great British Ballads Not Included in the Child Collection come to my mind.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 05:04 AM

See also ch 1 of Matthew Hodgart's The Ballads {Hutchinson 1950}. He lists "Still Growing", "Lang a-Growing" &c, as his #1 omission.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 06:36 AM

"Does anyone think that this ballad was based on these actual events?"
It is always dangerous to try to pin down these songs and ballads to actual events.
The fact that localities and names have been tacked on to them in their journey through the oral tradition has more to do with the ownership afforded to them by singers and communities than it has to actual events - a case in point being the ubiquitous 'Trees they Grow So High', often somewhat pretentiously named 'Young Craighton'.
The subject of the ballad was an issue long before the Craighton events and it is inconceivable that people were not making songs about it.
Wish I had a pound for each time I've been told by an Irish singer that one of their ballads (of Scots or English origin) "happened a few miles from here, or over in Galway", or wherever.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: GUEST,Blandiver (Astray)
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 06:56 AM

Anti-mimesis?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 07:12 AM

"Anti-mimesis?"
Just looked that up Jack (not particularly proud that I had to)
Not sure what point you're making.
I certainly believe art rec-creates aspects of life and applies to to the artist's own experience, but not necessarily accurately; rather it takes specific points and generalises them
We had an odd experience with an octogenarian singer years ago who sang us a song and, when he finished said - "That's a true song".
When we asked him where it took place he looked puzzled and said, "Do you think it really happened?".
Tom's "truth" didn't mean what we thought it did.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 08:28 AM

"happened a few miles from here, or over in Galway", or wherever.
Jim Carroll

.,,.

Another example from Hodgart's The Ballads, which I cited above at 0504, p139:-

'One old man told the collector [Dorothy Scarborough]: "The Seven Sleepers was a true song. It happened way back yonder in Mutton Hollow. I was there myself. Somebody got killed over the girl. I was there soon after it happened. Another man was after the girl and one man shot him."'

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 08:55 AM

This is one of my favourite "factual explanations" of a ballad, from Robert Chambers' 'Account of the Gypsies', Chambers' Miscellany 1847
Jim Carroll

One of the earliest anecdotes of the Scottish gipsies is that of "Johnnie Faa, the Gipsy Laddie," who eloped with the lady of the Earl of Cassilis. This story rests on tradition, and on an old ballad ; the facts, so far as they can be gathered, are thus related in the " Picture of Scotland." " John, the sixth Earl of Cassilis, a stern Covenanter, of whom it is recorded by Bishop Burnet that he would never permit his language to be understood but in its direct sense, obtained to wife Lady Jean Hamilton, a daughter of Thomas, first Earl of Haddington, who had raised himself from the Scottish bar to a peerage, and the best fortune of his time. The match seems to have been dictated by policy; and it is not likely that Lady Jean herself had much to say in the bargain. On the contrary, says report, she had been previously beloved by a gallant young knight, a Sir John Paa of Dunbar, who had perhaps seen her at her father's seat of Tyningham, which is not more than three miles from that town. When several years were gone, and Lady Cassilis had brought her husband three children, this passion led to a dreadful catastrophe. Her youthful lover, seizing an opportunity when the Earl of Cassilis was attending the Assembly of Divines at AVestminster, came to Cassilis Castle, a massive old tower, on the banks of the Doon. He was dis¬guised as a gipsy, and attended by a band of these desperate out¬casts. The countess consented to elope with her lover. Ere they had proceeded very far, however, the earl came home, and immediately set out in pursuit. Accompanied by a band which put resistance out of the question, he overtook them, and captured the whole party at a ford over the Doon, still called the ' Gipsies' Steps,' a few miles from the castle. He brought them back to Cassilis, and there hanged all the gipsies, including the hapless Sir John, upon ' the Dule Tree,' a splendid and most umbrageous-plane, which yet flourishes on a mound, in front of the castle gate, and which was his gallows in ordinary, as the name testi¬fies—


'And we were fifteen weel-made men,
Although we were na bonnie;
And we were a' put down for ane—
A fair young wanton lady.'

The countess was taken by her husband to a window in front of the castle, and there compelled to survey the dreadful scene—to see, one after another, fifteen gallant men put to death—and at last to witness the dying agonies of him who had first been dear to her. The particular room in the stately old house where the unhappy lady endured this horrible torture, is still called ' The Countess's Room.' After undergoing a short confinement in that apartment, the house belonging to the family at Maybole was fitted up for her reception, by the addition of a fine projecting-staircase, upon which were carved heads, representing those of her lover and his band; and she was removed thither, and con¬fined for the rest of her life—the earl, in the meantime, marry¬ing another wife. One of her daughters was afterwards married to the celebrated Gilbert Burnet. The effigies of the gipsies on the staircase at Maybole are very minute ; the head of Johnnie Faa himself is distinct from the rest, large, and more lachrymose in the expression of the features." Such is the story; but whether the hero, who is here called Sir John Faa of Dunbar, was himself of gipsy blood, as the ballad bears, and as tradition asserts, or whether he was merely in such intimacy with the gipsies as to-obtain their aid in the adventure, cannot be decisively ascertained. It may be mentioned, however, that the colony of gipsies long established in Yetholm, in Roxburghshire, always claimed to be of the same stock with the Faws or Falls, a family of respectability settled in East-Lothian, and of which the hero of the ballad may have been a scion, holding- some rank in Scottish society, and yet keeping up a connexion with his outcast kindred.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 08:57 AM

> "The Seven Sleepers was a true song."

Seeing that anecdote right quoted after Jim Carroll's makes we wonder if Dorothy Scarborough's old man maybe meant "a true song" in the same sense as Jim's octogenarian. Might he have had a subtler sense of how art imitates life than Scarborough (or perhaps Hodgart)gave him credit for?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 09:06 AM

Not with the "I was there myself" addition, I would think, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 09:33 AM

We spent a long time talking to singers about how they related to their songs - Walter Pardon was one of the most forthcoming in talking about he involved himself in his songs.
He once pointed out of his window to the field opposite and said, "The Pretty Ploughboy used to plough in that field, over there".
He was far too intelligent a man to believe that was the case, but that was how he envisioned the song when he sang it.
He spoke about his 'Van Dieman's Land', probably his longest song; he said, "It's a long old song, but it was a long old journey".
Since I've come back to singing after a few decades of not doing so, I've come to realise that this level of involvement is a perfect way of making the songs work for you (once you've got the technical side sorted out, of course), though there is always a danger of losing control of the song emotionally when you become too involved (lachrimosity seems to be a feature of old-age).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 10:12 AM

> Not with the "I was there myself" addition, I would think.

Unless he meant that the song was true to life, because he had witnessed something similar. But indeed probably not.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 12:25 PM

A whole series of printers were printing at the Bible and Harp in the 17th century. This one looks to be about 1700 but that could be 20 years either way.

From 1650 to 86 John Clarke a well-known printer was there and then John Lock c1688-9. The Bible and Harp was in West Smithfield but I can't decipher what it says at the end of the imprint.

Sold at the Bible and Harp in C----'s, Myton?????? There will be other copies on the internet. ave you tried the English Ballad site at Santa Barbra Uni.?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 03:51 PM

The Santa Barbara site lists five copies, with facsimiles of four of them, but none of them are an exact match to the American Antiquarian Society one that Richie links too

Two of them look identical, with no mention of the tune, no imprint (unless it has been cropped off), and an illustration showing some men in a rowing boat. A third (British Library, Roxburghe collection) has the same rowing-boat illustration but also names the tune as "PEGGY'S gone over Sea" (as in the broadside Richie links too) and says it is "Printed and Sold at the Printing-Office in Bow Church-Yard, London". The fourth also mentions the tune, but has different illustrations, one of a ship and the other of a murder scene (it looks like a woman strangling a young girl, rather than anything like the murder in the ballad). It has the same Bow Church-Yard imprint. There is no facsimile of the fifth, but according to the citation, it names the tune as "Peg and the Soldier; Peggy's Gone Over Sea with the Soldier" and has no imprint.

The citations on the Santa for the Roxburghe one and one of the two identical ones gives dates as "1728-1763?", but doesn't explain why. (I wonder if 1728 is based on accepting David Fowler's conclusion that the events the ballad is based on took place in 1726, or is it something to do with the Bow Church-Yard imprint?)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 03:55 PM

Hi,

Thanks Steve I couldn't read the bottom of the Gosport broadside either- you came close. I assumed it was printed in the US- they give a few stanzas.

Thanks everyone for your replies- Professor David Fowler's article is quoted extensively here: http://www.planetslade.com/pretty-polly04.html

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 05:24 PM

> If anyone has suggestions for ballads to be covered outside the Child opus- let me know.

To those already suggested I would add The Three Butchers, Roud 17. I started a thread about that one some while ago.

See also Ballads not included in Child .

> I'm curious about Fowler's article SFLQ. He associates the ballad broadsides to a historical event, even naming the ship carpenter John Billson, who joined the Bedford (moored at Gosport) in that post on May 1, 1723, and remained there till his death on-board in September 1726.

> Fowler found a crewman named Charles Stewart who was aboard the vessel at the same time.

> Does anyone think that this ballad was based on these actual events?

I haven't read Fowler's article but I have read this discussion of it, which I do find convincing; even allowing for the way that tales can grow in the telling, and elements can migrate from one story or ballad to another.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 05:29 PM

Actually, on 2nd recollections, I was wrong above at 0504 about which Hodgart thought had best claim outside Child. It was The Bitter Withy, in fact -- tho Bonny Boy Young But A-Growing which I cited was also included.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 11:47 PM

Hi,

There are two well established broadsides; Gosport Tragedy and also shortened "Polly's Love."

I'm not sure of Buchan's version in Gleanings (1825) but it doesn't seem traditional- and no extra stanzas :)

Henry Burstow's version is the "Polly' Love" text. Did Chritie publish a trad version?

Other trad British version?

It seems to me the traditional versions should point to the ur-ballad.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 12:22 AM

Hi,

The following version collected by Sharp (his B version in EFSSA) from Jeff (Thomas Jefferson) Stockton in Flag Pond Tennessee on Sept. 4, 1916. Sharp had just moved further in the mountains after a rewarding few weeks in Madison County, NC. Jeff Stockton was born January 12, 1859 to Samuel Stockton (3-18-1828 to 2-9-1894) and Elizabeth Horne Stockton (d. 12-4-1904). Jeff's grandfather Davis Stockton was born in Virginia. It is reasonable to assume that his ballad was brought to the Virginia colony sometime in the 1700s and was taken into the mountains by the early 1800s. I'm suggesting that this version of the ballad could pre-date the 1750 broadside. At least it's unlikely a print version could have been used. Stockton's version is one of the rare versions from Appalachia that uses elements of the full ballad, as found in Gosport Tragedy broadside.

B. The Cruel Ship's Carpenter- Sung by Mr. T. JEFF STOCKTON at Flag Pond, Tenn., Sept. 4, 1916; Hexatonic. Mode 4, b (with sharpened 7th).

1. In London sweet city a fair damsel did dwell,
Her wealth and her beauty no tongue could I tell.
She was courted by sail or for to be his dear,
And him to his trade was a ship's carpenter.

2 He says: My Miss Mary, if you will agree,
If you will consent and go along with me,
I will ease you from trouble or sorrow and fear,
If you will but marry a ship's carpenter.

3 Through 'braces and kisses they parted that night,
She started next morning for to meet him by light.
He led her through ditches and valleys so deep,
Till at length this fair damsel begin for to weep.

4 She says: My sweet William, you've led me astray
On purpose my innocent life to betray.
He says: My Miss Mary, you have guessed right,
For I was digging your grave all last night.
She turned her head and her grave she there spied,
Saying: Is this the bright bed for which me you've provide?

5 O pardon, sweet William, and spare me my life.
Let me go distressed if I can't be your wife.
For pardon sweet William is the worst of all men,
For the Heavens will reward you when I am dead and gone."

6 No time for to weep nor no time for to stand.
He instantly taken his knife in his hand.
Into her bright body his knife he there stole,
And the blood from her body like a fountain did flow.

7 He covered her all up, straight home he returned,
Left no one to mourn but the small birds alone,
And pled forth the paymount for to plough the whole sea.

8 The captain then summoned his whole-y ship crew.
He said: My brave boys, I'm afraid some of you
Have murdered some damsel before we came away,
That will cause us to be hate upon the whole sea.

9 And he that did do it the truth he'll deny.
We'll hang with God in yon gallows so high;
But he that confess it his life we'll not take,
But we'll leave him on the very next island we'll meet.

10 Poor William, poor William then fell to his knees,
The blood in his veins with horror did freeze.
And no one did see it but this wicked wretch,
And he went distracted and died that same night.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 05:15 AM

> At least it's unlikely a print version could have been used.

Why is it unlikely? Mr Stockton's version looks to me as if it derives fairly closely, via oral transmission, from the 18th C. print version. Stanzs 8 and 9 and the extra two lines at the end of stanza 4 are new (at least new in relation to the 18th C. version -- do they appear anywhere else?). Otherwise most of the differences are the sort of minor variations that could be expected if the song had been in oral tradition for some time (including the change of location from Gosport to the more familiar London). There are two incoherent lines, which look as if they represent mishearings of lines that make perfect sense in the broadside: „For pardon sweet William is the worst of all men" could easily come from "O perjurd creature! the worst of all men!", and "And pled forth the paymount for to plough the whole sea" suggests the sounds of "Bedford", "lay out at Portsmouth", and "bound for the sea" in the equivalent couplet in the broadside. Otherwise the biggest departures I can see (apart from those in stanzas 4, 8, and 9, of course) are in the last two lines of stanza 10, but I also notice that these fail to rhyme, as if someone along the way has been trying to reconstruct lines in the broadside version that they half remembered and hasn't quite succeeded.

In particular the meaningless "pled forth" in stanza 7, points to this version deriving from one that mentioned the Bedford at this point, which means it was either the text as we have it on the various C18 broadsides or something very similar, not an earlier version song from before the time that the Bedford and Charles Stewart entered the story.

Of course that doesn't mean that there wasn't an earlier version independent of the broadside, just that I don't think Mr Stockton's version is evidence of it.

On the other hand, even assuming, for the moment, that the ballad was,as Fowler argues written by someone who had heard of an event concerning the Bedford in 1726, I would agree that it's most likely that the story would have been influenced by recollections of other ballads and stories of murder and supernatural revenge by the time it got into print - in fact that would most likely have been happening while it was still just shipboard gossip, if that's how it started.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 02:56 PM

Ty Jim for your comments.
"
This can be another which came first; the chicken or the egg? Which would be: the broadside or the ballad. In the case of the popular "Lord Thomas" broadside there was one stanza not found in tradition, otherwise most were the same ballad versions. Clearly the broadside was based on the traditional ballad and a stanza was added.

My point is simply that The Gosport Tragedy broadside was probably taken from tradition and changed. It seems more plausible that Stockton's version came for the traditional ballad which was captured, possibly changed and printed circa 1750.

Since Stockton's kin were in Virginia before the broadside was published it seems that his ancestors learned the ballad in England but not from the broadside. This is just conjecture since certainly the ballad could have been learned in the late 1700s and brought over- then a Stockton ancestor could have learned it in Virginia- or Stockton could have learned it at Flag Pond from a neighbor. We don't know.

We do know that at least another Sharp informant (version Q) knew the Gosport version and that it has been found in several other areas.

This one is from Maryland and "Gosport City" has been changed to:

Gospels of Libby

In the Gospels of Libby a fair damsel did dwell;
For wit and for beauty, there was none could excel;
A young man who courted her to be his dear,
And him by his trade was a ship's carpenter.

2. Her blushes more sweet than the roses in June
To answer, "Sweet William, to wed I'm too young;
I will offer to venture, and therefore to bear
That I cannot marry a ship's carpenter.

3. "For in times of war, you see they will go
And leave wives and children oppressed with woe;
And the prettiest of women that ever was born, "
When she gets married, her beauty's all gone."

4. "Well, if you will meet me when tomorrow comes,
License shall be got and all things shall be done";
With the sweetest of kisses they parted that night;
"She went the next morning to meet him by light.

5. He said, "My charming Mary, you must go
with me, Before we get married, a friend for to see";
He led her through groves and through valleys so deep;
At last charming Mary began for to weep.

6. "I fancy, sweet William, you're leading me astray
A purpose my innocent life to betray";
"This is true, and what more can yousay,
Teh grave being dug and the spade standing by,"

7. "Is that my bride's bed and this I shall have?"
"This is your bride's bed and there you shall lie,
For I've been this long night a-digging your grave";
Poor harmless creature when she heard him say so
The tears down her cheeks like a fountain did flow.

8. Her hands white as lilies for sorrow she rung,
Crying for mercy and "What have I done?
O spare my sweet infant, lest my soul be astray;
Must I in my bloom so be hurried away?"

9. There's no time to dispute and no time to stand;
He quickly took a sharp knife in his hand;
He pierced her fair breast while the blood it did flow
And into her grave her fair body did throw.

10. He covered her up and returned to his home,
Left nothing at the grave but the small birds to mourn;
And on board of Benford, he entered straight away,
His full intentions bound out for the sea.

11. Charlie Stuart, being a young man with courage so bold,
That night as he was going down in the dark hole,
He espied this fair damsel; unto him she appeared,
And she in her arms held a baby so fair.

12. Being merry in drink, he went to her embrace,
The charms of her lovely and beautiful face,
When to his surprisement she vanished away;
He went to the captain without more delay,

13. "There is a ghost appeared in the dead of the night,
And all our brave sailors are terribly afright;
Our men has done murder and if this be true,
Our ship's in great danger if to sea she will go."

14. William declared and avowed that nothing he knew,
But straight from the captain he offered to go;
That night as William in his cabin did lie,
The voice of his true love was heard for to cry.

15. "Rise up prodigious Willie so soon you shall hear
The voice of your true love that loved you so dear";
"O yonder stands Mary and where shall I run?
Pray somebody save me or I'll be undone."

16. She shrieked and she vanished; she screamed and she cried;
The flashes of lightning flew from her eyes;
She put all the ship crew in a terrible fright,
And raving distracted William died that night.

17. In groves of Hamilton where valleys are deep,
Her body was found where so many do sleep;
She in her arms held a baby so fair,
And in Gospel churchyard, they buried her there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 03:08 PM

Here are the two other versions collected by Sharp that I believe are bases on the longer ballad (similar to Gosport broadside). I'll check Sharp's MS to see if there is additional text.

Q. The Cruel Ship's Carpenter- Sung by Mr. CLINTON FITZGERALD at Royal Orchard, Afton, Va., April 28, 1918
Hexatonic (no 7th).

In sea-port of late a fair damsel did dwell,
For wit and for beauty few her did excel;
She was courted by William for to be his dear,
And he by his trade was ship's carpenter.


U. The Cruel Ship's Carpenter- Sung by Mr. K. FREEMAN
at Marion, N. C, Sept. 3, 1918

There lived a mason who lived by trade,
He had for his daughter a beautiful maid,
For wit and for beauty there was none to compare,
For her old sweetheart was ship's carpenter.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 04:21 PM

Hi, Richie,
Thanks for posting this text too. Where does it come from? I've just been looking in Campbell and Sharp's "English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians", which has Jeff Stockton's versions and four others, going up to "Version E" – well short of "Q".
   
Well, as far as chicken and egg goes, I guess the ballad had to be there before the broadside - you can't print a song until there's a song to print. The question is just how long and how much happened to it before it was printed. Was it written for the press, maybe by someone who had been having a few drinks with Charles Stewart, and printed straight away, or was it already circulating in some form before the broadside printers got hold of it? And if it was already circulating, had it started from an incident involving Gosport, the Bedford, and Charles Stewart in 1726, or were these specific names added to an existing song to make it sound more convincing?

Short of a definitely pre-1726 manuscript or printed version turning up, I don't see that there can ever be a definite answer to these questions.If there was something common to a lot of traditional versions on both sides of the Atlantic but not found in broadsides, like that stanza you pointed out in "Lord Thomas", then that might point to a tradition independent of print, but is there anything like that?

In the meantime, a broadside text inspired by the events on the Bedford as unearthed by David Fowler looks a likely enough starting point to me (though probably with a junior carpenter as the murderer rather than poor John Billson, as Paul Slade argues at the end of the article you mentioned earlier). But what I find most interesting is what broadside writers and singers have done with it since then – paring the original 34 stanzas down to a few essential and powerful lines in "Pretty Polly", adding the avenging ghost that tears the murderer in three in the English versions…

By the way, have you come across this recording of the long ballad performed by a traditional singer in Orkney in the '60s? http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/63592/1


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 05:25 PM

> In the case of the popular "Lord Thomas" broadside there was one stanza not found in tradition, otherwise most were the same ballad versions. Clearly the broadside was based on the traditional ballad and a stanza was added.

I'm not sure what you're saying here. That there are collected versions very similar to a broadside except that the broadside has one more verse? While it is of course possible that a printer picked up an existing ballad and added a verse, personally I find it much more plausible that a printed version passed into tradition and one verse was either forgotten or left out deliberately.

> Since Stockton's kin were in Virginia before the broadside was published it seems that his ancestors learned the ballad in England but not from the broadside.

While that is possible, again I find it more plausible that the ballad crossed the sea later. There was plenty of time for it to do so between the broadside being printed in the 1700s and Sharp collecting from Stockton in the early 1900s.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 07:31 PM

Hi,

To clarify my statement about the Lord Thomas broadside:

The North American versions are similar to Child D, the traditional English version, as reflected by the broadside, which is titled "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor" and dates back to the c.1670s.

Child says, "The English version of this ballad, 'Lord Thomas and Fair Ellinor,' given, with alterations, in Percy's Reliques, III, 82, 1765,[1] is a broadside of Charles the Second's time, printed for I. Clarke, W. Thackeray, and T. Passenger, and licensed by L'Estrange, who was censor from 1663 to 1685. This copy has become traditional in Scotland and Ireland."

Child D, the English broadside, did not enter tradition in Scotland, Ireland, England or The United States for that matter. We know this because stanza 4 of the broadside is rarely found in tradition. The broadside was taken by a printer from tradition and stanza 4 was either added or it was peculiar to that version.

If the US versions were based on the broadside, stanza 4 would have shown up- it didn't.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 07:41 PM

Hi,

In regards to the the second point--If the broadside versions crossed the Atlantic to America later- why didn't they show up in the British Isles? Where are the traditional versions of Gosport Tragedy from Scott, Motherwell and the collectors? Only Buchan published a version which looks to be directly from print.

It would be hard for the Stockton ancestors (or whoever brought the ballad) to bring a ballad over that was not current.

Could it be that the Gosport ballad died out in the Bristish Isles and the shortened later broadside "Polly's Love" entered tradition where it was collect in in the late 1800s and early 1900s?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 08:14 PM

Hi,

Besides Sharp's A-U in EFSSA, 1932 edition there are over a dozen MS versions from the US most, unfortunately, are just single stanzas. The few full texts are ordinary and of the shortened US variety which is not "Polly's Love".

Some US versions have the carpenter's ship sink a la "House Carpenter" and many have the "debt to the devil" ending. One version recognizes that pretty Polly is pregnant.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 26 Mar 16 - 11:56 PM

Hi,

Here is the end of a characteristic Appalachian version by Knott County ballad singer Hilliard Smith, 1910, from an Olive Dame Campbell MS:

12 The ship setting[sitting] ready
All on sea side
He swore by maker
He'd sail on the other side.

13. All on whilst he was sailing
The ship she sprang a leak
And away to bottom
Sweet William he sank.

14. There he met with Pretty Polly
All in the goes of blood
In her lily white arms
An infant of mine.

15. Such screaming and hallowing
It all passed away,
A debt to the devil
He surely had to pay.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 27 Mar 16 - 02:22 PM

Here's a version from the Brown Collection, Volume 2, 1952 that I assume was taken from print, then reworked circa 1939 by Jame York (version B). Footnotes are from a Brown editor. York's MS is in the Abrams Collection online. This ballad was not investigated by Brown editors and York's and Webb's recordings are not available. Why not?

A. 'The Gosport Tragedy.' Contributed by Miss Pearl Webb of Pineda, Avery county, [NC] in 1921 or 1922. It has the appearance of having been copied from print; see under version B.

1. In Gosport of late a young damsel did dwell;
For wit and for beauty few did her excel.
A young man did court her for to be his dear,
And he by his trade was a ship carpenter.

2 He said, 'Dearest Mary, if you will agree
And give your consent for to marry me,
Your love it can cure one of sorrow and care.
Consent then to wed with a ship carpenter.'

3 With blushes as charming as roses in June,
She answered, 'Sweet William, to wed I'm too young;
For young men are fickle, I see very plain,
If a maiden is kind they soon her disdain.'

4 'Why, charming sweet Mary, how can you say so?
Thy beauty, the heavens to which I would go,
If there I find channel when I chance for to steer
I then will cast anchor and stay with my dear.

5 'I never will be cloyed[1] with the charms of my love;
My heart is as true as the sweet turtle dove,
And what I now crave is to wed with my dear,
For when we are married no danger I'll fear,'

6 'The state of a virgin, sweet William, I prize,
For marriage brings trouble and sorrow likewise.
I'm afraid for to venture for fear,[2]
I will never wed with a ship carpenter.'

7 But yet it was in vain she strove to deny,
For he by his cunning soon made her comply;
And by base deception he did her betray,
In sin's hellish paths he did her betray.

8 Then when this young damsel with child did prove
She quickly sent the tidings to her faithful love,
Who swore by the heavens he would prove true
And said, 'I'll marry no damsel but you.'

9 Things passed on a while. At length we did[3] hear
His ship must be sailing, for sea he must steer;
Which grieved this poor damsel and wounded her heart
To think with her true love she so suddenly must part.

10 Cried she, 'Dearest William, ere you go to sea
Remember the vows you've made unto me.
If at home you don't tarry I never can rest,
How can you then leave me with sorrow distressed?'

11. With tender embraces they parted that night
And promised to meet the next morning at light;
When William said, 'Mary, you must go with me.
Before we are married, our friends for to see.'

12. Then he led her through groves and valleys so deep.
At length this young damsel began for to weep,
Saying, 'William, I fear you have led me astray
On purpose my innocent life to betray.'

13. Said he, 'You have guessed right, and earth can't you save.
For the whole of last night I've been digging your grave.'
When poor ruined Mary did hear him say so
The tears from her eyes like a fountain did flow.[5]

14 A grave with a spade lying near did she see,
Which caused this young damsel to weep bitterly.
'Oh. perjurer William, the worst of mankind,
Is this the bride's bed I expected to find?'

15 Her hands white as lilies in sorrow she wrung,
Imploring for mercy, cries 'What have I done
To you, dearest William so comely and fair?
Will you murder your true love who loves you so dear?'

16 Said he, 'There's no time disputing to stand.'
Then instantly taking a knife in his hand
He pierced her fair breast when[6] the blood it did flow
And into the grave her fair body did throw.

17 He covered the grave and quick hastened home.
Leaving none but small birds her sad fate to bemoan.
On board ship he entered without more delay
And set sail from Plymouth to plow the salt sea.

18 A young man, a steward, of courage most bold,
One night happened late to go into the hold,
When a beautiful damsel to him did appear
And in her arms she held an infant most fair.

19 Being wary, with quickness he went to embrace.
Transplanted with joy at beholding her face ;
But when to his amazement she banished away,
Which he told the captain without more delay.[6]

20 The captain soon summoned the jovial ship crew
And said: 'My brave fellows, I fear some of you
Have murdered some damsel ere he came away.
Whose injured ghost now haunts you on the sea.

21 'Whoever you be, if the truth you deny.
When found out you'll be hung on the gallows so high;
But he who confesses his life we'll not take
But leave him upon the first island we make.'

22 Then William entreatingly fell on his knees,
The blood in his veins with horror did freeze;
He cried, cried 'Murder! What have I done?[7]
God help me, I pray ; my poor soul is undone.

23 'Poor injured ghost, thy full pardon I crave,
For soon I must follow you down to the grave.'
None else but this wretch beheld that sad sight,
And raving distracted he died that same night.

24 Then when her sad parents these tidings did hear
They sent out to search for their daughter so dear.
Near the town of Southampton in a valley most deep
Her body was found, which caused many to weep.

25 In Gosport's Green her body now lies,
And we hope that soul is with God in the skies.
Then let this sad tale be a warning to all
Who would dare a poor innocent maid to enthrall.

Footnotes:

[1] The manuscript has here "coyed," as does also our B text in the same place. But it seems clear that "cloyed" is meant.
[2] The B text has "therefore for fear," improving the sense and the versification and probably representing the original print.
[3] B has here "do," which seems better.

[4] Here the A text is better than the B, which runs:

Said he, 'You have guessed right.
For the whole of last night
I've spent digging your grave.'
When poor innocent Mary did hear him say so
The tears from her eyes like a fountain did flow.

[5] B has the same reading. I do not know what the reading should be. [then then blood]

[6] B corrects at least one of the errors in this stanza, perhaps two, but leaves it still unconstruable:

Being Mary, with liking he went to embrace,
Transported with joy at beholding her face,
But when to his amazement she banished away,
Which he told the captain without more delay.

[7] B improves this a little:

He cried, 'Cruel maiden, what have I done?'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 27 Mar 16 - 04:43 PM

Hi Richie,

The long version sung by Pearl Webb that you have just posted looks quite similar to the one recorded from Ethel Findlater in Orkney - including the stanza where captain proposes to leave the murderer on an island if he confesses (as in Jeff Stockton's version too, but unlike the 18th century broadside text) and a number of other details.

There are three recordings of Ethel Findlater singing the ballad on different occasions on the Tobar an Dualchais website. The clearest is http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/64318/3 from 1969, but in the other two she also gives some information about how she got the text of the ballad in a manuscript book from a friend, and the tune from her mother-in-law.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 27 Mar 16 - 05:16 PM

PS. It looks as if the main departures from the old broadside text that are shared by the Stockton, Webb, and Findlater versions can be accounted for if their common source is the Forget-Me-Not Songster version of 1844. I've just checked it on your site. Should have done that earlier.

(It's not really surprising that an American version should turn up in Orkney, given its role in the past as a stopping point for ships going in various directions.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 27 Mar 16 - 10:02 PM

Ty for your posts Jim, good point about the Forget-Me-Not Songster stanza which is the same text published by Deming in Boston c. 1835.

This may be the only ballad where the principle character dies from being "distracted." I guess that's something like texting while you're driving :)

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 09:59 AM

Hi,

One of the areas this ballad was found is Maritime Canada. Newfoundland, much like thee Appalachians, was a remote area where ballads could be passed down in their original form for over a hundred and fifty years.

Not that this version has elements of the early "Gosport" braodside, the newer 'Polly's Love" broadside and even the stanza from the New York Forget-Me-Not songster:

Whoever you be, if the truth you deny,
When found out you'll be hung on the gallows so high;
But he who confesses his life we'll not take
But leave him upon the first island we make.

-------

THE CRUEL SHIP'S CARPENTER, OR, THE GOSPORT TRAGEDY
Sung by Miss Jemima Hincock at King's Cove, Bonavista Bay, 23rd September 1929; collected Karpeles.

One morning, one morning, just before it was day,
Young Willie instantly strolled out on his way,
Saying: Rise, pretty Polly, and come along with me,
And before we get married our friends we'll go see.

He led her over hills and through valleys so steep
Which caused pretty Polly to sigh, and to weep,
Saying: O dearest Willie, you'll lead me astray,
And perhaps my poor innocent life to betray.

It's true, love, it's true, it's true what you say,
For this livelong night I will be digging your, grave.
So they walked along together till the grave she did spy,
Which caused pretty Polly to sigh and to cry.

O pardon, O pardon, O pardon my life,
For I will not covet for to be your wife;
I'll run this world over for to set you free,
If you will but pardon my baby and me.

No pardon, no pardon, no time for to stand,
He instantly taken a knife in his hand.
He pierced her tender bosom while her heart's blood did flow
And into the cold grave her body did throw.

He covered her over so safe and so sound,
Not thinking this murder would ever be found.
Set sail on his own ship and ploughed the world around,
Not thinking this murder would ever be found.

And young Charlie Steward with courage so bold
One night while he's watching throughout the ship's hold,
A beautiful damsel unto him did appear
And held in her arms a baby so dear.

Our captain he summons our jolly ship's crew,
Saying: Now, my gay fellows, I fear one of you
Have murdered some fair one before we came away
And now she is haunting us here on the way.

Up speaks young Willie: I'm sure it's not me,
Up speaks another: I'm sure it's not me,
Up speaks another: I'm sure it's not me,
And those was the discussion through the ship's company.

Whoever he may be if the truth he'll deny
I'll hang him out on the yardarm so high,
And if he'll confess it his life I'll not take
I'll land him safe out on the first island I make.

O Willie was coming from the captain with speed,
He met with this fair one which caused his heart to bleed.
She ripped him, she stripped him, she tore him in three
Because he had murdered her baby and she.

She turned to the captain, those words she did say:
Since,I have taken your murderer away
With the heavens' protection you and all agree
And send you safe homeward to your own country.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 10:07 AM

Here's another version from Newfoundland collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1960 from Joshua Osborne:

The Ship's Carpenter (Kenneth Peacock)
(Pretty Polly)

In Dorseter city, in Dorseter square,
There lived a fair damsel I vow and declare,
A young man came courting her for to be his dear,
And he by his trade being a ship's carpenter.

It was early one morning oh long before day,
He came to his Polly those words he did say:
"Come arise, pretty Polly-O, and come along with me,
Before we get married our friends for to see."

He led her through bushes and valleys so deep,
Till at length pretty Polly began for to weep,
Saying, "Billy, oh Billy-o, you're leading me astray,
Your purpose my innocent life to betray."

"It's true, it's true, those words you do say,
For all this long night I've been digging your grave,
There's a grave lying open and a spade standing by,
Oh it's into the grave that your body shall lie."

"Come pardon, come pardon, come pardon my life,
And I'll never covet for to be thy wife,
Though sail the world 'round for to set you free,
If you will but pardon my baby and me."

"No pardon, no pardon, there's no time to stand!"
For instantly taking a knife in his hand,
He stuck her, he stabbed her till the blood from her flowed,
And into the grave her fair body he throwed.

Oh, he covered her over so neat and secure,
Not thinking this murder would be found he was sure,
Went on board of his ship for to sail the world 'round,,
Not thinking this murder would ever be found.

Now we had a brave steward of courage so bold,
One night happened late to go in the ship's hold,
When a beautiful damsel to him did appear,
And she in her arms held an infant so dear.

Being merry with liquor for to go embrace,
The transport of joy he beheld in her face
'Twas then in an instant she vanished away -
He then told our captain without more delay.

Our captain he summoned the ship's noble crew,
Saying, "Now, my brave boys, I'm afraid one of you
Have murdered some damsel 'fore we came away,
Her trouble goes 'gainst us now 'ere on the sea.

"Well now if he's here the truth he'll deny,
When found out shall hang on our yard-arm so high,
But if he confesses his life we won't take,
But land him all on the first island we meet."

Oh then up speaks a sailor saying, " 'Deed it's not me."
And up spoke another, the same he did say,
When up jumps young Billy-o saying, " 'Deed it's not me!"
And this they all said through the ship's company.

As Billy was returning from the captain with speed,
He met his dear Polly which made his heart bleed;
She ripped him, she stripped him, she tore him in three,
Because he had murdered her baby and she.

"Now your trouble's all over," this ghost she did say,
"For since I have taken your murder away,
May the heavens protect you that you all may agree,
And bring you safe home to your own countery."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 10:19 AM

Hi,

The third extant Newfoundland version was collected by MacEdward Leach in the early 1950s may be heard online:
http://www.mun.ca/folklore/leach/songs/NFLD2/13-01_51.htm

There is a consistent form to all three Newfoundland versions.

Pretty Polly- as performed by Din Dobbin of St.Vincent's   

(Beginning of song missing)

_________ before we get married our friends to go see

He led her through roads and through valleys so neat
Which caused pretty Polly to sigh and to weep
Sayin' Willie dear Willie you lead me astray
Perhaps my poor innocent life to betray

It's true yes true it's true what you say
For this whole long night l have been digging a grave
She walked straight along til her grave she did spy
Which caused Pretty Polly to weep and to cry

Oh pardon please pardon oh pardon she cried
For l will not covet for to be your bride
I'll roam this wide world o'er for to set you free
If you only will pardon this baby and me

No pardon no pardon no time for to stand
He instantly taking a knife in his hand
He pierced her dear breast while her heart's blood did flow
Which caused him to that cold grave her body he threw

He covered her over well safe and so sound
Not thinking this murder would ever be found
On board of the Bedford he entered straightway
His lofty ship lay in Portsmouth bound out on the sea

Charlie Stewart was our bosun a seaman so bold
One night it was late he walked aft to the hold
When a beautiful damsel to him did appear
And she bore in her arms a baby most dear

He bein' merry in liquor he thought to embrace
Wit' transports of j'y which he held in his face
She frew a one side and then vanished away
He made haste to our Captain he made no delay

Our Captain soon summonsed our jolly ships crew
And said my dear sailors l fear one of you
Have murdered some fair one before ye came 'way
And now she is haunting us here on the sea

Then up speaks young Willie I'm sure it ain't me
And up speaks another I'm sure it ain't me
And up speaks another indeed it ain't me
Till discourse it went through the whole ship's company

Whoever it may be it's the truth he'll deny
I'll hang him out here on the yardarm so high
But if he confesses his life we won't save
But I'll land him all on the first Island I'll make

Young Willie he quickly fell on his knees
The blood in his face did immediately freeze
God help me God help me for what l have done
God help me l fear my poor soul it's undone

Young Willie he rushed to the cabin with speed
He met this pretty fair maid which made his heart bleed
She ripped him she stripped him she tore him in three
Because he had murdered her baby and she

Turning round to the crew these words she did say
Now since l have taken this murder away
Good luck may attend you and you all agree
And send you safe home to your own counteree


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 11:07 AM

Richie,
I'm almost certain that broadside date is wrong. The style and imprint are much earlier than 1776. 1676 would be much more in keeping. It is obviously printed in London and if it predates 1726 that's Fowler's theory out of the window. Would it be a lot of bother for you to get someone to decipher fully the imprint? I could then try to give a more precise date on it.

The imprint states as far as I can see 'Sold at the Bible and Harp/Heart in ............. Many printing houses in the 17thc were attached to inns and the imprints 'at the Bible and .......' are very common then. Not so common after 1700. However as a rough guide white letter had almost taken over from black letter by 1700. Unfortunately this can only be used as a rough guide and white letter was being used even early in the 17thc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 11:14 AM

Hi,

Let's look at a few versions from Nova Scotia. The first was published in 1919 then again in 1928 by Mackenzie. Again there are elements found in the 1844 songster, the name Mary, the spelling "ere" and "In sin's hellish path he led her astray" etc. Does it seem this version was learned directly from print?

"The Gaspard Tragedy." From the singing of Mrs. Margaret Curry, Tatamagouche, Colchester County (first printed, Quest, pp. 55-58, 1919).

1 In Gaspard of late a young damsel did dwell,
For wit and for beauty few did her excel.
A young man did court her for to be his dear,
And he by his trade was a ship carpenter.

2 He said, "Dearest Mary, if you will agree
And give your consent, dear, to marry me,
Your love it can cure me of sorrow and care;
Consent then to wed with a ship carpenter."

3 With blushes as charming as roses in bloom
She answered, "Dear William, to wed I'm too young,
For young men are fickle, I see very plain;
If a maiden is kind, her they quickly disdain."

4 "My charming sweet Mary, how can you say so?
Thy beauty is the heaven to which I would go.
And if there I find channel if I chance for to steer,
I there will cast anchor and stay with my dear."

5 But yet 't was in vain she strove to deny,
For he by his cunning soon made her comply,
And by base deceptions he did her betray;
In sin's hellish path he led her astray.

6 Now when this young damsel with child she did prove,
She soon sent her tidings to her faithless love,
Who swore by the heavens that he would prove true,
And said, "I will marry no damsel but you."

7 Things passed on a while. At length we do hear
His ship was a sailing, for sea he must steer,
which pained this poor damsel and wounded her heart,
To think with her true love she must part.

8 Cried she, "Dearest Will, ere you go to sea
Remember the vows you have made unto me.
If at home you don't tarry I never can rest;
Oh, how can you leave me with sorrows oppressed?"

9 With tender expressions he to her did say,
"I'll marry my Mary ere I go to sea,
And if that to-morrow my love can ride down,
The ring I can buy our fond union to crown.,,

ro With tender embraces they parted that night
And promised to meet the next morning at light.
William said, "Mary, you must go with me
Before we are married our friends for to see."

11 He led her through groves and valleys so deep.
At length this young damsel began for to weep,
Crying, "Willie, I fear you will lead me astray
On purpose my innocent life to betray."

12 He said, "You've guessed right. All earth can't you save,
For the whole of last night I was digging your grave."
When poor Mary did hear him say so,
The tears from her eyes like a fountain did flow.

13 "Oh, pity my infant! Oh, spare my poor life!
Let me live full of shame if I can't be your wife.
Oh, take not my life lest my soul you betray,
And you to perdition be hurried away."

14 "There is no time disputing to stand,"
But instantly taking a knife in his hand,
He pierced her fair breast, whence the blood it did flow,
And into the grave her fair body did throw.

15 He covered her body and quick hastened home,
Left nothing but the small birds her fate for to moan,
On board ship he entered without more delay,
And set sail for Plymouth to plough the salt sea.

16 A young man named Stuart, of courage most bold,
One night happened late for to go in the hold,
Where a beautiful damsel to him did appear,
And she in her arms held an infant most dear.

17 Being merry with liquor he went to embrace,
Transported with joy at beholding her face,
When to his amazement she vanished away,
Which he told to the captain without more delay.

18 The captain soon summoned his jovial ship's crew,
And said, "My brave fellows, I'm afraid some of you
Have murdered some damsel ere you came away,
Whose injured ghost now haunts on the sea."

19 "Whoever you be, if the truth you deny,
When found out you'll be hanged on the yard so high;
But he who confesses, his life we'1I not take,
But leave him on the first island we make."

20 Then William immediately fell to his knees.
The blood in his veins quick with horror did freeze.
He cried, "Cruel murderer, what have I done!
God help me, I fear my poor soul is undone."

21 "Poor injured ghost, your full pardon I crave,
For soon must I follow you down to the grave!"
No one else but this poor wretch beheld this sad sight,
And raving distracted he died that same night.

22 How when her sad parents these tidings did hear
Soon searched for the body of their daughter so dear.
In the town of Southampton in a valley so deep
Her body was found, which caused many to weep.

23 In Gaspard's green churchyard her ashes now lie,
And we hope that her soul is with God in the sky.
So let this sad tale be a warning to all
Who dare a young innocent maid to enthrall.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 11:16 AM

Another ballad often mentioned in the non-Child ballad category is 'Bramble Briar/Bruton Town' Roud 18, Laws M32. The story of course as Belden and Gilchrist have pointed out goes back at least to the Decameron. However I have demonstrated that the ballad need not be any older than c1750 (See my articles on Mustrad). Then again there is a strong likelihood that many Child Ballads aren't even as old as this. Another good case for inclusion on your site is that 2 American versions are by far the fullest versions extant, and one is the earliest extant.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 11:31 AM

Richie,
I'd bet my bottom dollar that version hasn't seen much oral tradition. Far too fancy and too much stilted diction.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 12:55 PM

Hi,

This Nova Scotia version was collected by Creighton from Mr. Thomas Young, the postman at West Petpeswick circa 1933.

The Ship's Carpenter [A]- sung by Thomas Young, Petpeswick, NS c. 1933
Creighton's footnotes.

1. In Gosper of late a fair damsel did dwell,
For wit and for beauty few did her excel,
A young man he wanted her be his dear
And he by his trade was a ship's carpenter.

2. He says, "Dearest Mary, if you will agree
To give your consent for to marry me,
Your love it can cure me of sorrow and care,
Consent then to wed with a ship's carpenter."

3. All blushing and smiling like roses in June,
She says, "Dearest Willie, to wed I'm too young,
For young men are frickly[l], I see very plain
When a young maid is kind they will soon her disdain."

4. But still, it was in vain she strove to deny,
When he by his cunning soon made her comply
By boles his absence he did her betray,
Through the silvery hills part he did lead her astray.

5. For when this fair damsel she was overproved,
She soon sent these tidings to her faithless love,
Who swore by the heavens that he would prove true,
Says, "I will marry no damsel but you."

6. Things passed on a while till at length she did hear
His ship must be sailing; for sea he must steer;
It grieved this fair damsel, and wounded her heart
To think with her true love she so sudden must part.

7 She says, "Dearest Willie, you are going to sea,
Remember the vows that you've made unto me,
If at home you don't tarry I never can rest,
Oh, don't go and leave me in sorrow oppressed."

8 So with tender embraces to her he did say,
"I'll marry my Mary before I go away,
And if it's to-morrow, my dear we will ride down,
The ring for to buy, our union to crown."

9. With tender embraces they parted that night
And promised to meet it's morning at light,
"O say dearest Mary, you must go with me
Before we get married some friends for to see."

10. He led her through groves and valleys so deep,
At length this fair damsel began for to weep,
Saying, "I fear dearest Willie you've led me astray,
On purpose my innocent life to betray."

11 You've guessed what was right; all on earth can't you save,
For all of last night I was digging your grave."
Oh, poor ruin-ed Mary, when she heard him so,
Tears from her eyes like fountains did flow.

12. Grave with the spade. standing by she did see
Which caused that fair damsel to weep bitterly,
"Perjur-ed Willie thou worst of mankind,
Is this the brides bed I expected to find?"

13. "Oh, pity my infant and spare my sweet life;
Let me in shame if I can't be your wife,
Take not my life on your soul to betray,
And to the purgatory[2] be hurried away."

14. "There is no time for parting, and no time to stand,"
Instantly taking a knife in his hand
Pierced her sweet breast, and the blood it did flow,
Into the grave her fair body did throw.

15. He covered her up, and then hastened home,
Left none but the small birds her sad fate to mourn,
He then he took a ship without more delay
And sailed out for Plymouth to sail the salt sea.

16. A young man named Stewart with courage so bold,
Happening when late to go to the hold,
A beautiful damsel to him did appear,
And into her arms held an infant most dear.

17. Being merry with liquor he thought to embrace,
Transported with joy at beholding her face,
And to his amazement she vanished away
Which he told to our captain without more delay.

18. Our captain then summoned our jovial ship's crew,
Saving, "My dear fellows I'm afraid some of you
Have murdered a damsel before you came away,
Whose injur-ed ghost haunts you here on the sea.

19. "Any of you if the truth do deny,
When found out will hang on the yard arm so high,
And he that confesses, his life we won't take'
But land him unto the first island we make."

20. On that our young Willie he fell on his knees,
The blood in his veins with quick horror did freeze,
"Murder, cruel murder, what have I done!
God help me, I'm feared my soul is undone."

2L And none else but that poor wretch beheld the sad fate,
And raving and distracted he died that same night.

1. fickle?
2. penitentiary?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 01:13 PM

Hi,

OK Steve, The Bramble Briar is in- :) what about "The Wedding of the Frog and the Mouse"? Is that even considered a ballad?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 02:19 PM

Frog and Mouse certainly very old and has gone through many rewrites and purposes. Okay it tells a story but I doubt if anyone nowadays would consider it a ballad in any of its forms. Mostly considered as a nursery song or play-party song for the last 2 centuries. Would split up easily into 4 or 5 tune/chorus types.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 02:27 PM

I eat my words. Had a closer look at the broadside using a magnifying glass and it could say 'Bible and Heart, Church St. Salem.' If that is right I'd say it's the earliest American broadside I've ever seen even if it is 1720s. I suppose if a London printer went across towards the end of the 17thc taking his stock, type and press with him, it's quite possible he was printing still in the 1720s using older materials and style. I'll try to investigate further but if it is American you're probably better placed anyway.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 03:01 PM

A little more info by Googling.

Looking at the Evans Early American Imprint Collection I can find no reference to items printed in Salem before 1750, but many early pieces were printed in Boston and sold in Salem as we see with our example.

However by 1800 Thomas C Cushing was printing at the Bible and Heart in Salem.

There was also an imprint 'Printed and Sold at the Bible & Heart in Cornhill, Boston' in 1776. So there was a B&H in Boston and in Salem. My guess would be that our broadside was printed at Boston in the 1720s and sold at Salem, and this outlet eventually acquired its own printing press by 1800.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 05:08 PM

Here's Creighton B from Nova Scotia pre 1950.

The Ship's Carpenter [B] - Sung by Mrs. Charles Kenny, Roman Valley.

1. In far York City, in fair London town
There once lived a damsel whose name was Miss Brown,
A young man he courted long for to be his bride
And him by his trade was a ship's carpenter.

2. Early one morning before it was day
He went to pretty Polly and this he did say,
"Arise pretty Polly and come along with me
Before we'll get married our friends to go see."

3. He led her through mountains and through valleys that was long
Till at length this fair one began for to mourn,
"Oh Jimmie, dearest Jimmie, you are leading me astray
On purpose my innocent life to betray."

4. "It is very true now love what you do say
For I have been digging your grave all last night,"
The grave it lay open, and she standing by,
Which caused this fair one to sigh and to cry.

5. "Oh Jimmie, dear Jimmie, I thought you were mine,
Is this the bride's bed I expected to find?
I'll go and leave this countree all for to set you free,
So pardon my innocent infant and me."

6. "No pardon, no pardon, no pardon," says he,
With this a sharp knife he took in his hand,
He pierced her fair body whilst the blood did down fall
And into her grave her fair body he bore.

7. He covered her over and started for home,
Left none but those small birds her friends for to mourn,
On board of a ship without more delay
And he set sail from Plymouth without more delay.

8. A young man named Stewart with courage so bold
He happened one night for to go down below,
A handsome young damsel before him did appear
And into her arms held an infant so dear.

9. Being early with liquor he went to embrace,
Transported by her charms to behold her strange face,
But to his amazement she then vanished away
Which he told to the captain without more delay.

10. The captain he called all his jolly ship's crew,
"I fear my brave fellows, I feat some of you
Have murdered a damsel before you came on board,
For our ship she is in mourning and cannot sail on."

11. Up comes a sailor and he said it was not him,
Up comes another and he swore bitterlee,
Up comes young Jimmie, and this he did say,
"I vow and declare sir it was not me."

12. Returning from his captain, returning in speed,
He met with pretty Polly which made his heart bleed
She tore him and she dragged him and she tore him in three
For the purpose of murdering her innocently.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 05:13 PM

Steve,

The broadside by the American Antiquarian Society says 1776 so I hope that helps.

TY for reading the printer (location) Salem, MA-- it couldn't make it out.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 05:24 PM

These dates are often out or typos. The style, if you compare it with other printings on the Santa Barbara site, is much earlier than 1776, 1720s I could live with.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 06:12 PM

Creighton D is also based on the Gosport broadside; Creighton C is a different ballad. I have two other Canadian version but they are not from the coast. In the version in Songs of the Miramichi her ghost appears to Willie after he boards the ship and sails for Bermuda. Willie was accused of the murder by the Captain and sentenced to die.

Fowke collected a version in 1962 from Leo Spencer:

The Ship's Carpenter

'Twas in Lisburgh of late a fair damsel did dwell;
Her wit and her beauty no one could e'er tell.
She was loved by a fair one who called her his dear
And he by his trade was a ship's carpenteer.

He says, 'Molly, lovely Molly, if you will agree
And give your consent, love, for to marry me.
Your love it would cure me from all sorrow and care
If you will agree to wed a ship's carpenter.'

'Twas changing and blushing like a rose in full bloom
'To marry you,' Willie, you know I'm too young.
I'm afraid for to venture before I prepare;
I never will marry a ship's carpenter.'

Her talk was in vain as he straight took denial,
And he by his coming soon made her reply.
'Twas by her exception he led her astray;
O'er high hills and pathways he did her betray.

Things passed on for awhile till at length we did hear
A ship must be sailing all o'er the salt sea.
It grieved this fair damsel and wounded her heart-
To think from her darling how soon must she part.

She says, 'Willie, lovely Willie' are you going on sea?
Remember those vows that you once made to me.
If at home you don't tarry I can find no rest,
Oh how can You leave your poor darling at last ?'

With tender expression those words he did say:
'I will marry you, Molly, before I go away.
If it be tomorrow, and you will come down,
A ring I will buy you worth one hundred pound.'

With tender expression they parted that night;
They promised to meet the next morning by light.
Says Willie to Molly, 'You must come with me
And before we are married my friends for to see.'

He led her through pathways, o'er hills that were steep
Till this pretty fair one began for to weep,
Saying, 'False-hearted Willie, you've led me astray,
Purpose my innocent life to betray.'

He says, 'You have guessed right; on earth can't you see
For all of last night I've been digging your grave.'
When innocent Molly she heard him say so,
Tears from her eyes like a fountain did flow.

'Twas a grave with a spade lying there she did spy
Which caused her to sigh and to weep bitterly.
O false-hearted Willie, you're the worst of mankind.
Is this the bride's bed I expected to find?

'Tis pity my infant and spare me my life;
Let me live full of shame if I can't be your wife.
Take not my life, for my soul you'll betray
And you (to perdition) soon hurried away.'

There's no time to be waiting, disputing to stand.
He instantly taking a knife in his hand,
He pierced her bosom and the blood down did flow,
And into the grave her poor body he throwed.

He covered her over and then hurried home,
Leaving none but the small birds her fate to be known.
He then sailed on board without more delay;
He sad sailed for Plowmount far o'er the salt sea.

'Twas a young man named Stewart with courage so brave,
The night it was dark as he went to the wave.
A beauty fair damsel to him did appear,
She held in her arrums an infant most dear.

Being merry with liquor, he ran to embrace,
Transported with joy at her beautiful face,
But by his amazement she vanished away.
He told to the captain without more delay.

The captain soon summoned his jolly ship's crew.
'Oh my brave young fellows, I fear some of you
Has murdered that fair one and then come with me;
Her poor spirit haunts you all o'er the salt sea.'

Then false-hearted Willie he fell to his knees
And the blood in his veins all like horror did freeze,
Crying, 'Monster, oh lover, oh what have I done?
God help me, I fear my poor soul is undone.'

'You poor injured fair one, your pardon I crave;
How soon must I follow you down to the grave!
There's none but you, fair one, to see that sad sight.'
And by her distraction he died the same night.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 06:14 PM

Steve,

I'll call them tomorrow and try and get the info on the broadside they posted which they dated 1776.

TY

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 10:34 PM

Hi,

I'm including Creighton D which is based on the full Gosport ballad. It too has the Forget-Me-Not Songster stanza:

7. "He who don't confess his life we'll destroy
And he shall be hung on the yardarm so high,
But he who confesses his life we'll not take
But we'll land him on the first island we make."

The Ship's Carpenter [D] - Sung by Mrs. R. W. Duncan, Dartmouth, NS.
Melody collected by Nina Finn

1. Says William to Mary Will you come along with me
Before we get married our friends for to see,
He led her through groves and through valleys so deep
At last this young damsel began for to weep.

2. She says, "My dear William you have led me astray,
Because my poor innocent life to betray,
O pity my infant and spare my poor life,
Let me live full of shame if I Can't be your wife."

3. Her grave with a spade lying near did she see
Which caused her to weep and to cry bitterlee,
Then instantly taking a knife in his hand
He pierced her fair breast whence the blood it did flow
And in the deep river her body did throw.

4. He buried the body and then returned home
Leaving none but the small birds her fate to bemoan,
On board ship he entered without more delay
And he set sail for Plymouth to plough the salt sea.

5. That night as the man having courage most bold
One night being late to go down in the hold,
When a beautiful damsel to him did appear,
And into her arms held an infant most dear.

6. When to his amazement she vanished away
Which he told to the captain without more delay,
The captain soon summoned the jovial ship's crew,
"I'm afraid my brave fellows, I'm afraid one of you
Have murdered some damsel e'er you came away
Whose now injured ghost haunts you now on the sea."

7. "He who don't confess his life we'll destroy
And he shall be hung on the yardarm so high,
But he who confesses his life we'll not take
But we'll land him on the first island we make."

8. Now Willie immediately fell on his knees
And the blood in his veins with horror did freeze
And behold that poor fellow beheld a sad state
And raving distracted he died that same night.

9. When her poor parents they came for to hear
They then searched the body of their daughter fair,
Near the town of Southampton in a valley so deep
They found her poor body that caused many to weep.

10. In St. Sullie's churchyard her ashes now lies,
I hope her poor soul is with God in the skies,
Come all you poor maidens, here's a warning to all
That dare a poor innocent maid to enthrall.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 11:07 PM

Here's another US version that's based on the full Gosport ballad. It's from Folksongs of Florida; Morris, 1950. When Polly's ghost later appears to Sweet William, "he went distracted and died that same night."

"The Ship Carpenter." Text communicated by Miss Inez Parrish, Trenton, who took it down from the singing her mother Mrs. J. H. Parrish.

"Oh will you consent, love, oh will you agree,
Oh will you consent, love, for to marry me,
I will free you from sorrow, great trouble, and care,
If you will only wed with the ship carpenter."

He led her over hills and valleys so steep
Until pretty Polly began for to weep;
"It's William, sweet William, you are the worst of all men,
The Lord will reward you for what you have done.

"Oh pity your infant and spare its poor life,
And let me go distracted and not be your wife."
"It's Polly, pretty Polly, it's now for you to stand,"
And quickly he taken his knife in his hand.

He led her a little farther and what was she to spy?
There was a grave dug and a spade lying by;
He pierced her to the heart and her heart blood did flow,
And under the ground her fair body he throwed.

He covered her up and straightway rerurned home,
Leaving none but the small birds to weep and to mourn,
. . . .
. . . .

Straightway to Belford this young man did steer,
And there he dropped anchor and stayed for three years
When the captain said, "some of us have murdered;
And if it be so, the ship's in great danger on the ocean to go."

Sweet William lay sleeping at his chamber so dear,
When the voice of his true love came in to his ear,
"Oh wake, Sweet William, awake and draw near,
To the voice of your true love who loved you so dear."

"Oh yonder prerty polly, oh yonder she stands,
with her ring all on her fingers and her lily-white hands;
Oh yonder pretty Polly, oh yonder she stands,
with her ring all on her finger and her babe in her arms."

There was none but sweet William who saw that great sight,
And he went distracted and died that same night;
There was none but sweet William who saw that great sight,
And he went distracted and died that same night.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 08:58 AM

Steve,

Ashley from the American Antiquarian Society responded:

The broadside that you reference has an estimated date of 1776-1805, as the Bible and Heart in Boston was the sign of T & J Fleet from 1776-1797 and John & Thomas Fleet from 1797-1805. This information is taken from the AAS catalog record at http://catalog.mwa.org/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=509056. The imprint reads: "Sold at the Bible and Heart in Cornhill, Boston."

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 10:04 AM

Hi,

I've transcribed the text of the Fleet broadside dated 1776-1805. Other than the quotation marks for dialogue (which I added from Roxburghe) it is exactly as printed. There are some very minor differences between this broadside and the 1750 broadside published by Roxburghe- none worth mentioning.

Gosport Tragedy
Or The
Perjured Ship-Carpenter

Tune: Peggy's Gone over Sea

IN Gosport of late there a damsel did dwell,
For wit and for beauty did many excel;
A young man did court her to be his dear,
And he by his trade was a ship-carpenter.

He said, "Oh! dear Molly, if you will agree,
And will consent to marry me;
My love you will ease me of sorrow and care,
If you will but wed a ship-carpenter."

With blushes more charming than roses in June.
She answer'd Sweet William, "To wed I'm too young.
Young men are so fickle I see very plain,
If a maid is not coy they will her disdain."

"They flatter and swear their[her] charms they adore,
When gain'd their[her] consent, they care for no more;
The handsomest creature that ever was born,
When man has enjoy'd, he will hold in scorn."

"My charming Molly what makes you say so?
Thy beauty's the haven [heaven] to which I would go.
So into that country I chance for to steer
I there will cast anchor, and stay with my dear."

"I ne'er shall be cloy'd with the charms of my love,
My love is as true as the turtle-dove;
And all [that] I crave is to wed with my dear,
And when thou art mine no danger I fear."

"The life of a virgin, sweet William, I prize,
For marriage brings sorrows and troubles likewise;
I am loath to venture, and therefore forbear,
For I will not wed a ship-carpenter."

"For in the time of war to the sea you must go,
And leave wife and children in sorrow and woe.
The seas they are perilous, therefore forbear,
For I will not wed with a ship-carpenter."

But yet all in vain, she his suit did deny,
Though he still did press her to make her comply;
At length with his cunning he did her betray,
And to lewd desire he led her away.

But when with child this young woman were,
The tidings she instantly sent to her dear;
And by the good heaven he swore to be true,
Saying, "I will wed no other but you."

They passed on [their time], till at length we[he] hears,
The king wants sailors to the sea he repairs,
Which grieved the damsel unto the heart,
To think she so soon with her lover must part.

She said, "My dear William e'er thou go'st to sea,
Remember the vows that thou madest to me;
But if you forsake me I never shall rest,
Oh! why dost thou leave me with sorrow opprest?"

Then with kind embraces to her he did say,
"I'll wed thee, dear Molly, e'er I go away;
And if to-morrow to me thou dost come,
A licence I'll buy, and it shall be done."

So with kind embraces he parted that night,
She wen[t] to meet him in the morning light;
He said, "Dear charmer thou must go with me,
Before we are wedded, a friend to see."

He led her through valleys and groves so deep,
At length this maiden began for to weep;
Saying, "William, I fancy thou leadst me astray,
On purpose my innocent life to betray."

He said, "That is true, and none you can save,
For I all this night have been digging a grave;"
Poor innocent soul, when she heard him say so,
Her eyes like a fountain began for to flow.

"O perjur'd creature! the worst of all men,
Heaven reward thee when I'm dead and gone:
O pity the infant, and spare my life,
Let me go distress'd if I'm not thy wife."

Her hands white as lillies in sorrow she wrung,
Beseeching for mercy, saying, "What have I done
To you my dear William, what makes you severe,
For to murder one that loves you so dear?"

He said, "Here's no time disputing to stand,"
And instantly taking the knife in his hand;
He pierced her body till the blood it did flow,
Then into the grave her body did throw.

He cover'd her body, then home he did run,
Leaving none but birds her death to mourn;
On board the Bedford he enter'd straitway,
Which lay at Portsmouth outward bound for the sea.

For carpenter's mate he was enter'd we hear,
Fitted for his voyage away he did steer;
But as in his cabin one night he did lie,
The voice of his sweetheart he heard to cry.

"O perjur'd villain, awake now and hear,
The voice of your love, that lov'd you so dear;
This ship out of Portsmouth never shall go,
Till I am revenged for this overthrow."

She afterward vanished with shrieks and cries,
Flashes of lightning did part from her eyes;
Which put the ships crew into great fear,
None saw the ghost, but the voice they did hear.

Charles Stuart, a man of courage so bold,
One night was going into the hold,
A beautiful creature to him did appear,
And she had in her arms a daughter most fair.

The charms of this so glorious a face,
Being merry in drink, he goes to embrace:
But to his surprise it vanish'd away,
So he went to the captain without more delay,

And told him the story, which when he did hear,
The captain said, "Some of my men I do fear
Have done some murder, and if it be so,
Our ship in great danger to the sea must go."

One at a time then his merry men all,
Into his cabin he straitway did call;
And said, "My lads the news I do hear
Doth much surprise me with sorrow and fear."

"This ghost which appear'd in the dead of the night
Which all my seaman so sadly did fright;
I fear has been wrong'd by some of my crew,
And therefore the person I fain would know."

Then William affrighted did tremble with fear
And began by the powers above to swear;
He nothing at all of the matter did know,
And unto the captain he went to go.

Unto his surprize his truelove he sees,
With that he immediately fell on his knees:
And said, "Here's my true love! where shall I run?
O save me, or else I am surely undone."

Now he the murder confessed out of hand,
And said, "Before me my Molly doth stand,
Sweet injur'd ghost thy pardon I crave,
And soon I will seek thee in the silent grave."

No one but this wretch did see this sad sight,
Then raving distracted he dy'd in the night:
As soon as her parents these tidings did hear
They sought for the body of their daughter dear.

Near a place call'd Southampton in a valley deep,
The body was found, while many did weep
At the fall of the damsel and her daughter dear,
In Gosport church they bury'd her there.

"I hope that this may be a warning to all,
Young men how innocent maids they enthral:
Young men be constant and true to your love,
Then a blessing indeed will attend you above."

FINIS

Sold at the Bible and Heart in Cornhill, Boston


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 10:40 AM

Wow, that's really spooky that I read it as Church St, Salem, not a million miles away, when I'd originally thought it likely to be a London imprint. Is it still possible that the Bible and Heart was selling broadsides at an earlier date? With the above info we don't know if the Fleets were stationers or printers or both. I'll see if I can find out more now we have a name and definite address.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 10:52 AM

Okay more Googling brings up publishing dates for the Fleets at the Bible and Heart as 1746 to 1807 and this is just from surviving pieces. I got this from the Open Library site.
Thomas Fleet's dates are 1732 to 97.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 02:24 PM

Here's some info about the Fleet's from The History of Printing in America: With a Biography of Printers, Volume 1:

Thomas Fleet, Jr., & John Fleet. They were brothers, and having learned from their father the art of printing, succeeded him in business at his house in Cornhill, in 1758. I mention them together, because they commenced printing in partnership, and continued in connection until separated by death. They carried on the publication of The Boston Evening Post until the commencement of the revolutionary war; when they suspended the publication of that newspaper, and it was never after resumed. The impartiality with which the paper was conducted, in those most critical times, the authenticity of its news, and the judicious selections of its publishers, gained them great and deserved reputation.

Both brothers were born in Boston. Their father gave them a good school education; they were correct printers, very attentive to their concerns, punctual in their dealings, good citizens, and much respected. They printed several works in octavo, and some volumes in duodecimo, on their own account; and some in connection with other printers. Their shop was always supplied with smaller articles for the benefit of their sisters, who were never married.

They remained in Boston during the siege; and, afterward, revived the publication of the Massachusetts Register, which originated with Mein and Fleming some years before, and had been continued by Mills and Hicks. Thomas died a bachelor, March 2, 1797, aged sixty-five years. John was married; he died March 18, 1806, aged seventy-one, and left several children; one of whom, by the name of Thomas, was a printer in Boston at the same house in which his grandfather began the The Boston Evening Post[1].


1. Ann Fleet, the daughter of John, and the last of the name, died in Boston, July, 1860, aged 89. The estate of Thomas Fleet Sen., at the northerly corner of Washington and Water streets, which he purchased in 1744, and from which the Etening Post was issued for upwards of thirty years, still remained in the hands of his descendants In 1860, although they had discontinued the business of printing in 1808.— Boston Transcript. Thomas Fleet Sen. was the putative compiler of Mother Goose's Melodies, which he first published In 1719. Among the entries of marriages in the City Registry, under date of June 8,1715, is that of Thomas Fleet to Elizabeth Goose, and the idea of the collection is said to have arisen from hearing his mother-in-law repeat nursery rhymes to his1 children. It was characteristic of the man to make such a collection; and the first book of the kind known to have been printed in this country bears his imprint, and the title of Songs for the Nursery, or Mother Ooose's Melodies for Children. The name of Goose is now extinct in Boston, bat monuments remaining in the Granary burial ground in that city mark tho family resting place.— M.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 03:37 PM

This is the Leonard Deming broadside text (Boston, c. 1835) which was reproduced in the 1844 Forget-Me-Not Songster (NY). Notice how Molly's name changes to Mary after the 4th stanza. Stuart's name has been changed to Stewart. Some other identifiers include the last stanza- which now begins: "In Gosport's green church yard" and this stanza (24th) which has been added:

    Whoever you be, if the truth you deny,
    When found out, you'll be hung at the yard arm so high
    But he who confesses, his life we'll not take,
    But leave him upon the first island we make.

This is nearly identical to Mackenzie's Nova Scotia text which means a print version of this is likely the source of that version.

    Richie

The Gosport Tragedy,

    Shewing how a young damsel was seduced by a ship-carpenter, who led her into a lonesome wood, and there destroyed her—how her ghost haunted him at sea, and he died distracted.

    IN Gosport of late a young damsel did dwell,
    For wit and for beauty few did her excel;
    A young man did court her for to be his dear,
    And he by his trade was a ship carpenter.

    He said, dearest Molly, if you will agree,
    And give your consent dear for to marry me,
    Your love it can cure me of sorrow and care,
    Consent then to wed with a ship carpenter.

    With blushes as charming as roses in June,
    She answered, dear William to wed I'm too young
    For young men are fickle, I see very plain,
    If a maiden is kind they are quickly disdain.

    My charming sweet Molly how can you say so?
    Thy beauty's the heaven to which I would go;
    If there I find channel when I chance for to steer,
    I then will cast anchor and stay with my dear.

    I ne'er will be cloyd with the charms of my love,
    My heart is as true as the sweet turtle dove,
    And what I now crave is to wed with my dear,
    For when we are married no danger I'll fear.

    The state of a virgin sweet William I prize,
    For marriage brings sorrow and trouble likewise;
    I'm afraid for to venture, therefore forbear,
    I never will marry with a ship carpenter,

    But yet 'twas in vain that she strove to deny,
    For he by his cunning soon made her comply;
    And by base deception he did her betray,
    In sin's hellish paths he led her astray.

    But when this young damsel with child she did prove,
    She quick sent the tidings to her faithless love;
    Who swore by the heavens that he would prove true,
    And said I will marry no damsel but you.

    Things pass'd on a while, but at length we do hear,
    His ship must be sailing, for sea he must steer,
    Which griev'd this poor damsel, wounded her heart
    To think with her lover she so sudden must part.

    Cry'd she, dearest William, ere you go to sea,
    Remember the vows you have made unto me,
    If at home you don't tarry I never can rest,
    Then how can you leave me with sorrow oppress'd?

    With tender expressions to her he did say,
    I'll marry my Mary ere I go to sea;
    And if that to morrow my love will ride down,
    The ring I can buy our fond union to crown.

    With tender embraces they parted the night,
    And promised to meet the next morning by light;
    When William said—- Mary you must go with me,
    Before we are maried, our friends for to see.

    He led her through groves and vallies so deep,
    At length the young damsel began for to weep,
    Crying, William I fear you will lead me astray,
    On purpose my innocent life to betray.

    He said you've guess'd right all earth cant you save
    For the whole of last night I've been digging your grave
    When poor ruin'd Mary did hear him say so,
    The tears from her eyes like a fountain did flow.

    A grave with a spade lying near she did see,
    Which caused her to sigh and to weep bitterly,
    O! perjury William, the worst of mankind,
    Is this the bride's bed, I expected to find?

    O! pity my infant and spare my poor life,
    Let me live full of shame if I can't be your wife,
    O! take not my life least my soul you betray,
    And you to perdition be hurried away.

    Her hands, white as lillies, in sorrow she wrung,
    Imploring for mercy, crying, what have I done,
    To you dearest William, so comely and fair,
    Will you murder your true love, that lov'd you so dear

    He said this is no time disputing to stand,
    Then instantly taking a knife in his hand,
    He pierc'd her fair breast, whence the blood it did flew
    And into the grave her fair body did throw.

    He cover'd the body and quick hastend home,
    Leaving none but the small birds her state to bemoan,
    On board ship he enter'd without more delay,
    And set sail from Plymouth to plough the salt sea.

    A young man nam'd Stewart, of courage most bold,
    One night happen'd late to go into the hold,
    Where a beautiful damsel to him did appear,
    And she in her arms, held an infant most fair.

    Being merry with liquor he went to embrace,
    Transported with joy at beholding her face;
    When to his amazement she vanished away,
    Which he told the captain without more delay.

    The captain soon summoned the jovial ship's crew,
    And said, my brave fellows, I fear some of you
    Have murdered some damsel ere you came away,
    Whose injured ghost haunts you now on the sea.

    Whoever you be, if the truth you deny,[2]
    When found out, you'll be hung at the yard arm so high
    But he who confesses, his life we'll not take,
    But leave him upon the first island we make.

    Then William immediately fell on his knees,
    The blood in his veins quick with horror did freeze;
    He cried, cruel murder! oh! what have I done?
    God help me, I feat my poor soul is undone!

    Poor injured ghost your full pardon I crave,
    For soon I must follow you down to the grave.
    None else but this poor wretch beheld this sad sight,
    And raving distracted, he died the same night.

    Now when her sad parents these tidings did hear,
    They search'd for the body of their daughter so dear,
    Near the town of Southampton, in valley most deep,
    The body was found, which caused many to weep.

    In Gosport's green church yard her ashes now lie,
    And we hope that her soul is with God in the skies;
    Then let this sad tale be a warning to all,
    Who dare a poor innocent maid to enthral!

    AN Assortment of SONGS, second to none in the City, may be found at L. DEMING'S, corner of Merchants Row and Market Square.

    Sold Wholesale and Retail by Leonard Deming, No. 1, Market Square, corner of Merchant's Row, Boston.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 04:51 PM

Okay so we know Thomas Snr was publishing in Boston in 1719. What we need to know now is, was that at the Bible and Heart, or even was someone selling printed stuff at the Bible and Heart from an early period. The Deming version need not be directly related to the earlier printing at all. There could easily be a century between them, plenty of time for oral tradition to have intervened or even other printed versions, or even several 'improving' hacks.

When we see imprints on London sheets of the 17thc that state the likes of 'printed and sold at the Bible and Harp' we tend to think of it being attached to an inn, but I suppose what it really means is that was the company's sign.

What is perhaps remarkable is that there has been no attempt to localise the ballad in more than a century, the Deming version still has all of the place names intact. This is usually indicative of a strong print tradition rather than an oral one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 07:34 PM

Hi,

This version can be heard online: https://www.loc.gov/item/afcnye000035 It's in two parts- the link to the second part is on the bottom right corner.

Cruel Ship's Carpenter --Sung by captain Pearl R. Nye, (1872-1950) on November 3, 1937. Recorded Lomax. My quick transcription (please proof).

IN London's fair city a fair damsel did dwell,
Her wealth and her beauty no tongue could thy tell;
She was courted by a sailor for to be his dear,
And him to his trade was a ship carpenter.

He says, "My Miss Mary, if you will agree,
And give your consent to go along me,
Your love it can cure me of sorrow and fear,
If you will but marry a ship carpenter."

Through 'braces and kisses they parted that night,
She started next morning for to meet him by light;
He led her through ditches and valleys so deep,
Till at length this fair damsel began for to weep.

She says, "My Sweet William you've led me astray
On purpose my innocent life to betray,
He says, "My Miss Mary you have guessed it right
for I was digging your grave all last night."

She turned her head and, her grave there she spied,
Saying, "Is this the bright bed for me you provide,
O pardon [me] Sweet William and spare me my life
Let me be distress-ed if I can't be your wife."

For pardon Sweet William is the worst of all men
Heaven will reward you, when I'm dead and gone;
No time for to weep no nor time for to stand,
He instantly taking his knife in his hand.

Into her fair body, his knife then did go,
And the blood from her body like a fountain did flow,
He covered her all up and homeward returned
Left no one to mourn but the small birds alone.

The captain soon summoned the whole of his crew,
He said, "My brave boys, I fear some of you
Have murdered some damsel before we came 'way,
That will cause us to hate upon the whole sea.

And he that did do it, the truth he'll deny,
We'll hang him on yon gallows oh so high
But he who confesses, then his life we'll not take,
But to leave him on the next island we make.

Poor William, poor William then fell to his knees
The blood in his veins with sorrow did freeze
And no one did see it, but his wicked eye,
And he went distracted and died the same night.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 07:52 PM

Steve,

The Fleet broadside is obviously a copy of an earlier broadside, probably the Roxburghe (c. 1750). There are only a few words that vary and a few corrected spellings. One change is:

She afterward vanished with shrieks and cries,
Flashes of lightning did part [dart] from her eyes;

Fleet had "part" instead of "dart" and dart seems to be better. There are no quotations in Fleet and who knows exactly how accurate the Roxburghe transcription is.

Thomas Sr. has several lengthy biographies which I chose not to copy here.

The Deming broadside of 1835 is considerably different and introduces new material that was either traditional or manufactured by the printer. This new material makes it easy to identify versions that have the material- however, if the material was traditional -- it predates the 1835 printing. If the new material was recreated then traditional versions that follow were based on the Deming broadside or the Forget-Me-Not Songster (same text).

This new material is found in the last version I posted from Captain Nye who traveled on the Ohio River in the early 1900s.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 08:03 PM

Hi,

As pointed out by Cox in 1925 there were other early printings that perhaps Deming copied since he didn't copy the Fleet broadside:

"The Gosport Tragedy" was printed in the United States as a chapbook (at Philadelphia?) in 1816, and again (at Philadelphia) in 1829 (Harvard College Library, 25276, 43, 81). It occurs also in The New American Song Book (Philadelphia, 1817), p.69. [Folk-Songs of the South]

I do not have access to these but I can check with the Antiquarian Society- but that's a long shot,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 29 Mar 16 - 10:31 PM

Hi,

Since we've examined several versions based on the two Gosport Tragedy broadsides here's one based on the third broadside, a shortened broadside usually titled "Polly's Love". This is the source of many of the British versions. This version is from Michigan. It starts off as though it's a cowboy version :)


    Pretty Polly - Sung by Fred Carriere, (1875-1954) of Champion, MI, on October 10, 1938, recorded by Alan Lomax, melody "Sweet Betsy from Pike."


It was in old western [city], in old westernshore
There lived a young damsel so handsome and fair
She was courted by a young man who called her his dear
And was know by his trade as a ship's carpenter.

The king wanted seamen to go about [the] sea
What caused his young damsel to sob and to say,
"Oh William, oh William don't you go on sea,
For don't you remember what you told to me."

Early in the morning she thought it was day
He called upon her and those words he did say,
"Come Polly come Polly, come along with me,
Before we get married our friends for to see."

He lead her through mountains and valleys so deep,
What caused this young damsel to sob and to weep,
She sobbed and she wept those words she did say,
"I'm afraid to my heart you have led me astray."

" 'Tis true 'tis true," young William did say,
"For many long nights I've been digging your grave,"
When she saw her grave open and a spade lying by,
She wrung her poor hands and most bitterly cried,

"Oh pardon, oh pardon," pretty Polly did say,
I live no longer than to become your wife,
I'll sail this world 'round and set you quite free
If you only will pardon my sweet babe and me."

"No pardon, no pardon, there is no time to stand,
And for these times he drew a knife to hand,
He pierced her through the heart till her life blood did flow,
And into her grave her sweet body did throw.

He covered her over so snug and secure,
So no one would find her he thought he'd made sure;
He jumped up on board ship to sail this world round,
Before this young murder would ever be found.

He had not sailed for all but a day
Till the captain came up and these words he did say,
There's a murder on deck boys and the deed has been done
And the ship must be haunted and cannot sail on.

Up stepped a sailor who says it's not me,
Up stepped another and [the] same they did say,
Up stepped young William who stamped till he swore,
And he said it's not me I vow and declare.

As he was returning from the captain with speed
He met pretty Polly which made his heart bleed
She ripped him and tore him, she ripped him in three,
And this is for the murder of my sweet babe and me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 04:48 AM

> The Deming broadside of 1835 is considerably different and introduces new material that was either traditional or manufactured by the printer.

Certainly there's new material in the Deming text. Most obvious, as you say, are the two stanzas in which the captain confronts the crew and says the murder will be hanged if he doesn't confess and left on an island if he does. But there are others, including the two lines in which Molly/Mary sees a grave with a spade beside it, and the line "Is this the bride's bed I expected to find", both of which are echoed in later oral versions. It seems safe to say that any oral version that includes any of these elements has either been influenced by the Deming text or shares with it a common source in which these additions had already been introduced.

Equally interesting, I think, is what Deming omits. There are nine whole stanzas (4, 8, 21-23, 26-29) and several individual lines in the Roxburghe text that have no equivalent in Deming. Smaller but significant omissions are the dropping of Charles Stuart's first name (becoming "a young man named Stewart") and of the name of the Bedford. It seems most unlikely that these names, once dropped, would reappear in the ballad out of nothing, so it seems safe to say that any oral version in which they occur must derive at least partly from the old broadside version (and not just from the Deming / Forget-me-not Songster version).

There are also a number of significant differences compared with the parallel lines in the older broadside; for example "and to lewd desire", "He said that is true", and "Let me go distress'd" in the older text become "in sin's hellish paths", "He said you've guessed right", and "Let me live full of shame" in Deming. And references to the original Royal Navy context are removed: "The king wants sailors" becomes "His ship must be sailing", and Portsmouth is changed to Plymouth. The presence of one or other of these in an oral version would also be a good pointer to its being derived (at least partly) from the older broadside text or from the Deming one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 04:54 AM

PS. Richie, I've drawn up a table with the Roxburghe and Deming texts in parallel, marking the bits that appear in one and not the other or are significantly different between them. I can't post it here, but I'll e-mail it to you if it would be helpful.

Also, having done this, I realize that I was wrong in my interpretation of "And pled forth the paymount for to plough the whole sea" in Jeff Stockton's version. It looks much more likely to come from "And set sail for Plymouth, to plow the salt sea" in the Deming text than from the older broadside lines about the Bedford and Portsmouth.

On the other hand, Stockton's version doesn't all derive from the Deming / Forget-me-not Songster text. His stanza 5: "O pardon, sweet William, and spare me my life. / Let me go distressed if I can't be your wife. / For pardon sweet William is the worst of all men, /For the Heavens will reward you when I am dead and gone." contains details from stanza 17 of the older broadside that are not in the Deming version – although a line from the equivalent stanza in the Deming version, "Is this the bride's bed I expected to find", turns up (with "bright bed") in Stockton's stanza 4. So Stockton's version can't be traced just to the Deming text or to the older broadside text: it contains elements specific to each of them. I wonder how often this happens in the other oral versions – and also what it means for tracing how the song evolved.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 10:32 AM

Hi,

This traditional version from Kentucky has elements of "Gosport" at least enough to show the connection.

"Pretty Polly" Addie Graham, born before 1900 in Kentucky, from recording, Been A Long Time Traveling.

In London city I used to dwell
In London city I used to dwell
In London city I used to dwell
I left Pretty polly I loved so well.

I talked to pretty Polly one whole long night
I left the next morning before daylight.

Sweet William, Sweet william you're leading me astray
I am a poor girl, my body to betray.

I led her o'er hills and valleys so deep
At length Pretty Polly began to weep.

Oh now we are here no time to stand,
And since [1] I've taken my knife in my hand

I stobbed her to the heart, the blood it did flow,
And into the grave Pretty Polly did go.

I threw some dust over her, turned to go home
Left nothing but the birds to mourn.

Went on a piece farther, saw I hadn't done right
Went raving distracted and died the same night.

1. usually "Instantly" perhaps folk process here

-------

Concerning Mike Watterson's recording- is it taken from Paddy McCluskey's "Young Willie" or is it a similar version?

Does anyone have access to William Christie's version in Traditional Airs Volume 2, circa 1889 ?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 12:10 PM

William Christie's Traditional Ballad Airs can be downloaded from the website of the School of Celtic and Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University: http://www.ed.ac.uk/literatures-languages-cultures/celtic-scottish-studies/research-publications/research/internal-projects/trad

The Gosport Tragedy is at pp. 98 and 99 of vol. 2. Only the first six stanzas are given:

IN Gosport of late a young damsel did dwell,
For wit and for beauty did many excel,
A young man did court her for to be his dear,
And he by his trade was a ship carpenter. A young man, &c.

He said, " My dear Molly, if you will agree,
And now will consent, love, for to marry me,
Your love it will ease me of sorrow and care,
If you will but marry a ship carpenter." Your love, &c

"The life of a virgin, sweet William, I prize ;
For marriage brings sorrow and trouble likewise;
I'm loth for to venture, and therefore forbear,
For I will not marry a ship carpenter." I'm loth, &c.

This pass'd on a while, at length we do hear,
The king wanted sailors, to sea he must steer;
Which griev'd the young damsel indeed to the heart,
To think that with William she now soon must part. Which griev'd, &c.

She said, "My dear William, ere you go to sea,
Remember the vows which you made unto me;
And if you now leave me, I ne'er shall have rest,
Oh, why will you leave me with sorrow oppress'd !" And if, &c.

The kindest expressions to her he did say,
"I'll marry my Molly ere I go away;
And if that to me to-morrow you'll come,
The priest shall be brought, love, and all shall be done." And if, &c.

This is from Buchan's version (as indeed Christie says in his note to the song), with "kindest expressions" rather than the Roxburghe version's "kind embraces" (compare the "tender expressions" in the Deming version) and the line about bringing the priest instead of "A licence I'll buy, and it shall be done" (different also from "The ring I can buy, our fond union to crown" in Deming). The air on p. 98 is described as "from the singing of Jamie Coul, Port Gordon". According to the note, when he sang the whole ballad and people said: "Jamie, that's a lang sang!" he would reply: "I wouldna care sae muckle for the lenth o't gin it werena sae wicious cruel on the woice."

It says on page 99 that there is another version of the air in the appendix, but there doesn't seem to be.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 01:45 PM

Hi,

I'm posting this last version of Gosport from North America which comes from Carrie Grover of Gorham, Maine whose family versions date back at least to the mid-1800s. Carrie Spinney (Grover) was born in 1879 in Black River, Nova Scotia. She moved to Maine when she was 12.

The spelling of "ere" is same as in the Deming broadside/ Forget-Me not songster which makes me think a print version may have been used to supplement her text. Cf 1844 Songster; Brown A and B; and especially Mackenzie (Nova Scotia version).

Gosport Tragedy- As sung by Carrie Grover of Gorham, Maine. "A Heritage of Songs" 1973.

In Gosport of late, a young damsel did dwell
For wit and for beauty, few could her excel
A young man did court her for to be his dear,
And he by his trade was a ship's carpenter.

He said, "Dearest Mary, if you will agree,
And give your consent dear for to marry me;
Your love, dear, can cure me of sorrow and care,
Consent then to wed with a ship carpenter."

With blushes as charming as roses in bloom,
She said, "Dearest William, to wed I'm too young;
For young men are fickle, I see very plain;
If a maid is kind, her they quickly disdain."

"My charming Mary, how can you say so?
Your beauty is the haven to which I would go,
And if I find channel when I chance for to steer,
I there will cast anchor and stay with my dear."

It was all in vain that she strove to deny,
For he, by his cunning, soon made her comply;
And by his base deception he did her betray,
And in sin's hellish path he did lead her astray.

Now when this[1] young damsel with child she did prove,
She soon sent the tidings to her faithless love,
He swore by the heavens that he would prove true,
And said "I will marry no damsel but you."

At length these sad tidings she came for to hear,
His ship is a-sailing, for sea he must steer,
Which pained this poor damsel and wounded her heart
To think with her true love so soon she must part.

She said, "Dearest Willie 'ere you go to sea,
Remember the vows you have made unto me,
If you go and leave me, I never can find rest,
Oh, how can you leave me with sorrow oppressed?"

With tender embraces he to her did say,
"I'll marry my true love 'ere I go to sea,
And on the morrow my love I can ride down,
The ring I can buy our fond union to crown."

With tender embraces they parted the night,
And promised to meet the next morning at light;
William said, "Dearest Mary you must now go with me,
Before we are married, our friends for to see.

He led her o'er hills and through hollows so deep,
Till at length this fair damsel began for to weep;
"Oh Willie, I fear you have led me astray,
On purpose my innocent life to betray."

He said, "You've guessed right, for no power can you save,
For 'twas only last night I was digging your grave."
When poor wretched Mary did hear him say so,
The tears from her eyes like a fountain did flow.

Then down on her knees Mary to him did say,
"Oh take not my life lest my soul you betray.
Oh pity my infant, and spare my poor life;
Let me live full of shame if I can't be your wife."

"Oh there is no time thus disputing to stand,"
And taking his sharp cruel knife in his hand,
He pierced her fair breast whence the blood it did flow,
And into the grave her fair body did throw.

He covered her body and quick hastened home,
And left nothing but the small birds her fate for to mourn.
He returned to the ship without any delay,
And set sail for Plymouth to plow the salt sea.

One night to the captain this fair maid did appear
And she in her arms held an infant most dear.
"Oh help me, oh help me," she to him did say.
Then to his amazement she vanished away.

The captain then summoned his jovial ship's crew
And said, "My brave fellows, I fear some of you
Have murdered some damsel ere you came away
Whose injured ghost haunts you all on the salt sea."

Then poor, frightened Willie he fell on his knees
The blood in his veins seemed with horror to freeze.
It's "Oh cruel monster, and what have I done?
God help me, I fear my poor soul is undone.

Oh poor, injured Mary, your forgiveness I crave,
For soon must I follow you down to the grave."
No one but this poor wretch beheld the sad sight,
And, raving distracted, he died the next night.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 01:47 PM

Slightly off topic but important all the same. Such an early printing of a traditional ballad in America is new to me, if we put a rough date of say 1750 on it, which seems reasonable. This begs the question how much more material of a similar nature is/was extant? If anywhere in North America was likely to come up with such material one would immediately think of Boston, but maybe there were other outlets as well. The only early broadside ballads I've seen printed in America are political ones relating to the War of Independence.

I have an ulterior motive here apart from the general interest: The earliest/fullest versions of Bramble Briar were found in America, (Thompson) the earliest in New England. Could it be there was a version printed in New England? Do printers' catalogues exist, like those of the Diceys?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 01:59 PM

Jim,
Many many thanks once again for sending me those articles/papers. They are full of the most exciting information and they give great encouragement to my own researches. Andersen, Pettitt, Mary Ellen Brown, Sigi Rieuwerts, Paula McDowell, they should be compulsory reading for all scholars of ballad history. Unfortunately not being attached to a University they do not fall into my pocket easily.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 09:01 PM

Steve,

I use Worthington Chauncey Ford. "Broadsides, Ballads &c. Printed in Massachusetts, 1639-1800," (1922), it's online (google books)

Another book is Guide to the Study of United States Imprints, Volume 1
by George Thomas Tanselle; which is partially available (preview- google books).

Both the Harvard Library and Antiquarian Society are accessible via email and telephone.

I've had trouble getting some books and MS copies from libraries here. Many of master thesis with collections of folks songs are not available unless you visit the library where it's housed. The same is true with many collections of ballads and songs in MS form.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 30 Mar 16 - 09:16 PM

Several "Pretty Polly" Kentucky versions begin "In London city I used to dwell" and end "Went raving distracted and died the same night" but do not "Ship's carpenter" or her ghost.

Several versions though are complete US versions - Steve - you mentioned Pettit and I assume you are referring to Katherine Pettit, who published the first Hindman collected ballads in the Journal of American Folklore in 1907 (via Kirttedge). Here's the A version which does mention her ghost in an ending similar to but different than the "Polly's Love" broadside of c. 1820:

A. Pretty Polly; Hindman, KY pre1907; collected by Katherine Pettit

1. "O where is Pretty Polly?"
"O yonder she stands,
Gold rings upon her fingers,
Her lily-white hands."

2. "O Polly, O Polly,
Polly," said he,
"Let's take a little walk
Before married we be."

3. "O William, O William,
I don't want to go;
Your people is all against it,
And this you will know."

4. He led her over high hills,
And hollows so steep,
At length pretty Polly
Began to weep.

5. "O William, O William,
O William," says she,
" I fear your intention
Is for to murder me."

6. "Polly, O Polly,
You have guessed about right;
I was digging your grave
The best part of last night."

7. They went on a little farther,
And she began to shy;
She saw her grave dug
And the spade a-sitting by.

8. She threw her arms around his neck,
Saying, "I am in no fear;
How can you kill a poor girl
That loves you so dear?"

9. "O Polly, O Polly,
We have no time to stand."
He drew his revolver
All out in his hand.

10. He shot her through the heart,
Which caused the blood to flow,
And into her grave
Her fair body he did throw.

11. He threw her in the grave;
Straightways he did run,
Left no one to weep
But them small birds to mourn.

12. The ship sitting ready
All on the sea-side,
He swore by his Maker
He'd sail the other side.

13. All on whilst he was sailing,
The ship she sprang a leak,
And away to the bottom
Sweet William he sank.

14. There he met with pretty Polly,
All in the gores of blood,
In her lily-white arms
An infant of mine.

15. Such screaming and hallowing,
It all passed away;
A debt to the devil,
He surely had to pay.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 05:32 AM

Steve, You're most welcome. I'm glad to be of help if I can.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 11:18 AM

The US Appalachian versions known as "Pretty Polly" are based on theses stanza of the 1750 and 1776 Gosport Tragedy broadsides:

So with kind embraces he parted that night,
She went to meet him in the morning light;
He said, "Dear charmer thou must go with me,
Before we are wedded, a friend to see."

He led her through valleys and groves so deep,
At length this maiden began for to weep;
Saying, "William, I fancy thou leadst me astray,
On purpose my innocent life to betray."

He said, "That is true, and none you can save,
For I all this night have been digging a grave."
Poor innocent soul! when she heard him say so,
Her eyes like a fountain began for to flow.

[This next stanza about her child is usually missing]

Her hands white as lillies in sorrow she wrung,
Beseeching for mercy, saying, "What have I done
To you my dear William, what makes you severe?
For to murder one that loves you so dear."

He said, "Here's no time disputing to stand,"
And instantly taking the knife in his hand;
He pierced her body till the blood it did flow,
Then into the grave her body did throw.

He cover'd her body, then home he did run,
Leaving none but birds her death to mourn;

Additional text themes come from the broadsides, other sources and the "boarding a ship which sinks" theme may have been adapted from The House Carpenter.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 12:33 PM

Hi,

This is a standard Kentucky version from Cari Norris who learned it from her grandmother Lily Mae Ledford. Here's the version on youtube with images of my painting- Cari played banjo and I played guitar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV8fnwYm58I

Lily Mae also recorded a version with The Coon Creek Girls.

Pretty Polly- learned from Lily Mae Ledford by her grandaughter Cary Norris. The banjo is Lily Mae's from the 1930s.


I used to be a rounder I've been around this town,
I used to be a rounder I've been around this town,
I courted Pretty Polly I've been all around.

Where is Pretty Polly? Oh yonder she stands,
Where is Pretty Polly? Oh yonder she stands,
Diamonds on her finger and her lily white hands

Polly, Pretty Polly come along with me, [bis.]
Before we get married some pleasure to see.

He lead her over hills and valleys so deep,
Then Pretty Polly, she began to weep.

willie, oh willie I'm afraid of your ways
I'm afraid you're going to lead me astray.

Poly, oh Polly your guess is about right,
I dug on your grave the biggest part of last night,

She went a little further and what did she spy,
A new dug grave with a spade lying by.

She threw her arms around him and begged for her life,
Deep into her bosom he plunged the fatal knife.

She fell to the ground and the blood it did flow,
Then into her grave Pretty Polly did go.

He threw the dirt around her and turned to go home,
No one around but the birds to weep and mourn.

A debt to the devil Willie must pay,
For killing Pretty Polly and running away.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 12:34 PM

Richie, the Pettitt I was referring to was Tom Pettitt, who with Flemming G. Andersen in JAFL in 1979 totally swept the board with David Buchan's silly oral-formulaic composition theory using Mrs Brown's ballads.

Andersen's 'Commonplace and Creativity' is well worth getting hold of, dealing with what we more commonly here refer to as floating verses (commonplaces/formulaic poetry). This is an area that needs much more study in the Child Ballads. I personally think those sophisticated people who were making up and editing ballads in the 18th and early 19th centuries were passing these freely from one ballad to another in order to make their compositions/re-compositions look more traditional.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 01:16 PM

OK,

The Pettit version I posted was from Hilliard Smith of Kentucky and a MS version was given to Campbell in 1910. In 1917 Sharp collected the same version (his C). Smith sang the ballad two ways- with two endings (see Sharp MS).

The Coon Creek version is here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8ZCQmD2m0Q

The Coon Creek Girls formed in the mid- 1930s in Renfro Valley (as a radio group) and were sisters Lily May and Rosie Ledford (from Powell County, Kentucky) along with Esther "Violet" Koehler (from Indiana) and Evelyn "Daisey" Lange (from Ohio).

After listening to both I have a correction:

"Gold, diamonds on her fingers and her lily white hands"

It's sung fast so. . .

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 02:10 PM

Hi,

I'm looking for some traditional British versions. This one is based on Polly's Love, and is the possible source of the Mike Waterson version (anyone know?).

YOUNG WILLIE (THE CRUEL SHIP'S CARPENTER)
Sung by Paddy McCluskey, Clough Mills, Co. Antrim.
5th August, 1953. Recorded by Peter Kennedy and Sean O'Boyle.

1. Fair ones are shining on foreign earth and town.
There lived a young damsel, her name was Miss Brown
She courted young Willie her darling to be
His trade's name and steady a ship's carpenter had been.

2. Early one morning, before it was day
A voice came to the window and unto her did say,
"Rise I up, lovely Mary, and come along with me
Before you get married our friends we must see."

3. He led her through fields and through valleys so deep
Till at length lovely Mary begin for to I weep
Saying: "Willie, lovely I Willie you have led me all wrong (astray)
Through fields and through valleys my life for to betray."

4. "It's just the truth you say me; it's just the truth you say
For late, late last night I was digging your grave
Your grave that is open and a spade standing by
And into the grave your fair body must go (lie).

5. He stobbed her, he stobbed her till the red blood did flow
And into the grave her fair body did throw.
He hobbed her so neatly and he hobbed her so sound
Expecting this murder would never be found.

6. Early one I morning before it broke day
Up came the captain and thus he did say,
"There's I murder on shipboard has lately been done
Our good ship's in mourning and cannot sail on."

7. Up came a sailor: "Indeed, sir not I."
Up (came another: "Indeed, sir not I."
But up came young Willie to damn, curse and swear,
"Indeed, sir, not I, sir, I vow and declare."

8. As Willie was going and turning around
He met lovely Mary she I was dressed in brown.
She catched him, she catched him, she tore him in three,
Saying "That's for the murder of baby and me."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 02:18 PM

Richie,
If you haven't already got a copy, among the extracts Jim sent me was Barre Toelken's 1967 study 'An Oral Canon for the Child Ballads: Construction and Application' which looks at the 135 Child Ballads found in reliable oral tradition. He uses principally, Coffin, Bronson and Keith as his sources to decide which ballads merit being accepted as folklore. If Jim hasn't got his copy to hand I can easily scan mine and send it. I think you would find it very useful.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 31 Mar 16 - 07:23 PM

Hi Steve,

Toelken's article is on my site here:
http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/1an-oral-canon-for-the-child-ballads.aspx

TY

I'm going to put a few traditional British versions on- this is based on the broadside Polly's Love. It's from the Henry Hammond Manuscript Collection (HAM/2/1/25).

Polly - as sung by Mrs. Gulliver, of Combe Florey, Somerset in May, 1905. Collected by Henry Hammond

1. 'Twas early in the morning by the brink of the day,
He went to this poor girl and this he did say,

2. "Oh! Polly dearest Polly you mus go with me
En before we are married, our friends to see."

3. 'Twas early in the morning by the brink of the day,
He went to this poor girl and led her astray.

4. He led her thro' woods and valleys so deep
which caused this poor girl to sigh and to weep.

5. He led her thro' woods and valleys so deep
which caused this poor girl to sigh and to say,

6. "Oh Willie, dear Willie, you've led me astray,
On purpose my hand and by body to destroy.

7. Oh! Polly, dearest Polly your words it is true
For all this long night I've been digging for you."

8. "For the grave it is open, and the spade's standing by,
On purpose to bury you, to bury you today."


9. Oh! pardon for me," poor Polly she cried
For remember dear William I'm not fit to die."

10. So quick-a-ly he stabbed her, and the blood 'gan to flow [flew][1]
And into this cold grave poor Polly he threw.

11. He covered her up so safe and secure
For thinking the murder would never be found.[2]

12. "There is murder! There is murder has lately been done!
For the ship is in mourning and will not sail on."

13. Then up steeped the captain and up stepped he,
And up stepped young William: "I'll swear it's not me."

14. So quick-a-ly he turned around, then who should he see,
For murdering the baby, the baby and she!

15 She rant him, she strant him, she tore him in three,
Because he had murdered the baby and she.

1, Sung "flew" to rhyme with "threw"
2. Missing the following stanza where he boards the ship


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 04:53 AM

> and is the possible source of the Mike Waterson version

So it says at any rate in the sleeve notes quoted at https://mainlynorfolk.info/peter.bellamy/songs/thecruelshipscarpenter.html.

I guess "Fair ones are shining on foreign earth and town" is a rather splendid mondegreen for the usual "In fair Worcester city and in Worcestershire" (maybe via something like "In fair Worcestershire, in fair Worcester town"?), and once the first line had come to end in "town", "Miss Brown" was introduced to make the next line rhyme. I notice the "town... Miss Brown" rhyme is also in Mrs Kenny's Nova Scotia text that you posted earlier.

I wonder, have the "early one morning" bits in stanzas 2 and 6 been borrowed from "All Jolly Fellows that Follow the Plough"? (I don't mean just by Paddy McCluskey -- they're in the broadside text too.) Or are they just a commonplace? I can't think of other examples.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 12:28 PM

Richie,
When did Mike record 'Young Willie'? A close mate of ours, Jim Eldon, was singing this version in the 60s in Hull. I'm pretty certain it's the McCluskey version. I always loved this version. They probably got it from the 1956 Folk Music Journal of the EFDSS as transcribed by Peter Kennedy and Michael Bell. I'll check out Jim's recording and see who got it from who.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 12:30 PM

I ought to add the folk club we all went to in the 60s in Hull had a full set of the Journals.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 01 Apr 16 - 04:00 PM

Hi,

Here's my quick transcription of the first recorded version by East Kentucky banjo player John Hammond for Gennett, April 8, 1925. He rerecorded it September 17, 1927. When Hammond identifies the location "Maryland town" the first stanza is reminiscent of "Polly's Love", the broadside. The second stanza is unique, a far as I know.

Purty Polly- sung by John Hammond, of Eastern Kentucky, 1925

Banjo intro

1. So [I] went a little bit longer, the city Maryland town,
So [I] went a little bit longer, the city Maryland town,
I met with a lady, her beauty is never found.

2. They call her Purty Polly, her name I knew so well
They call her Purty Polly her name I knew so well
I loved of her body and sent her soul to hell.

3. So where is Purty Polly? Oh yonder she stands, [bis. as before]
With the rings on her fingers, and lily-white hands.

4 Come and go my Purty Polly come go along with me,
Before we get married and pleasure to see.

5. He led her over hills and o'er valleys so deep,
Finally she mistrusted and then began to weep.

6 "Pretty Polly, Pretty Polly, what makes you so sad,
With nothing concerning for you to be so mad?"

7 "Oh Willie, oh Willie I'm 'fraid of your ways,
The way you've been rambling to lead me astray."

8 "Pretty Polly, pretty Polly, your guessing just right,
I dug on your grave six long hours of last night."

9 She threw her arms around him and cried into tears,
"How can you kill a poor girl that loves you so dear?"

10. There's no time for talking, there's no time to stand,
He drew out a weapon, all in his right hand.

11. He stobbed her through the heart and that blood it did flow,
And down in the grave Purty Polly sure did go.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 06:41 AM

Hi,

Jim Brown, I haven't received an email from you. Can you also compare the broadside, "Polly's Love"? I know there are only a few stanzas that correspond.

Nearly all the British traditional versions are based wholly on the c. 1825 broadside "Polly's Love" which mean the "Gosport Tragedy" version was only collected by Christie- who provides no text only reprints Buchan).

This is the only fragment that supports an earlier version. It's taken from Musical Traditions liner notes and shows that it became mixed with "Polly's Love":

The Cruel Ship's Carpenter - fragment sung by George Dunn of Quarry Bank, Staffordshire. (Recorded 3 Dec 1971, by Roy Palmer)

Two brace of kisses I had late last night
To rise up in the morning before it was light
... ... ... ...
... ... ... ...

(missing verses)

"Oh pardon, oh pardon, oh pardon", said she
... ... ... ...
"I'll travel the wide world to set myself free
If you will but pardon my baby and me."

"There's no time for pardon, there's no time to weep
For all the night long I've been digging your grave
Your grave it lies open and the spade is standing by"
Which caused this young damsel to weep and to cry.

Then out of his pocket he pulled out a knife
He plunged it into her heart
And the crimson blood did flow
And into the grave the dead body did go.

(missing verses)

Then up spake the first man, "I'm sure it's not me"
Then up spoke the second man, "I'm sure it's not me"
Then up steps bold William to stamp and to swear
"I'm sure it's not me, sir, I vow and declare."

Between this date, when he first sang it to me, and June 1971 George gradually retrieved more lines from his memory, without recovering the full text. Though he remembered that the final scene took place at sea he did not recall the avenging, ghostly appearance of the wronged woman,

As he did turn from the captain with speed
He met his Polly, which made his heart bleed
She stript him and tore him, she tore him in three
Because that he murdered her baby and she.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 01:52 PM

Hi Richie,
I've incorporated "Polly's Love" in the comparative table, as you suggested, and e-mailed it to you and to Steve.

As you say, most of the British versions seem to come from the Polly's Love broadside. William Christie doesn't say whether what the singer sang was the same as Buchan's version, but he does make it clear that it was an unusually long song, which makes it sound more like the old "Gosport Tragedy" than the 11-stanza "Polly's Love". Also in the North-east of Scotland, I see that "The Gosport Tragedy" is listed in the contents of volume 2 of the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, but I don't have access to the book to see what version of the song and how much of it is there. (Ethel Findlater's version seems to be close to the Deming text, and I guess it could have come from an American source -- I'll try to transcribe it when I have time.)

I don't really see why George Dunn's version would support an earlier version. As far as I can see it all comes from "Polly's Love", apart from the first two lines about "two brace of kisses", which don't obviously belong with the rest, and could easily have been added anytime in the 150-odd years between the printing of the broadside and the time the recording was made.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 02 Apr 16 - 03:03 PM

TY Jim

The chart is great, I've put it on my site here: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/comparative-broadside-chart.aspx but I'm having trouble lining things up. Jim, if you can send in Jpeg one for each page I think it would work better.

You were right about the Dunn version. I'd seen the lines before but they are in US versions:

Through 'braces and kisses they parted that night,
She started next morning for to meet him by light;
[from Cruel Ship's Carpenter --Sung by Captain Pearl R. Nye, (1872-1950) on November 3, 1937. Recorded Lomax]

Now I need to compare the the traditional version to your chart :)

Please transcribe Findlater's version. I only have one edition of Greig/Duncan and it's not in it.

It's safe to say the both of the early broadsides Roxburghe/Deming were not traditional in Britain or else they would have been collected. There are 7 Canadian version of "Gosport" and four or so from the US, including the Nye version which corresponds to Dunn's fragment.

There's a Pretty Polly version Flander's collected from Sulivan in VT and the recording is online here: https://archive.org/details/hhfbc-cyl40 but it's so bad I can't make it out- anyone? It may be a different song.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 01:57 AM

No, I was wrong about the Dunn version. It didn't occur to me that "Two brace of kisses I had late last night / To rise up in the morning before it was light" could ultimately come from "So with kind embraces he parted that night, / She went to meet him in the morning light" in the Roxburghe text (very similar in Deming too), but now you point out how "embraces" could become "'braces", I'm sure it does.

So George Dunn's version could suggest that some of the old Gosport ballad had survived in tradition in England and got reattached to "Polly's Love", but perhaps its more likely that it had been influenced by an American version somewhere along the line of transmission.

I'll get back to you with the chart in .jpg and a transcription of the Findlater version - it might take a day or two.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 10:17 AM

Or more likely there was an interim British broadside which hasn't survived.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 10:18 AM

Many thanks for the comparison, Jim.
Will look at it carefully when I have a bit of free time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 10:43 AM

Here's a quick analysis of the many versions on British broadsides. You might find different ones in the Roud Broadside Index.

The Gosport Tragedy or The Perjured Ship-Carpenter: (34 sts unless otherwise stated.)
Bow Church Yard (Diceys)
Aldermary Church Yard
Johnson, Falkirk
Pitts, London
Besley, Exeter
Various Forget-me-not-Songsters
Robertson, Glasgow (35)
Harward, Tewkesbury (33)

All the rest have 11 sts unless otherwise stated

Polly's Love or The Cruel Ship Carpenter:
Pitts/Catnach/Ryle/Fortey/Hodges, London
Harkness, Preston
W. Ford, Sheffield

Polly's Love:
Hook Brighton

The Cruel Ship's Carpenter:
Just about everybody following on from Pitts/Catnach all over the country.

Ship Carpenter:
Russell, Birmingham
Wm Walker, Newcastle
Wilson, Cambridge

Love and Murder:
Armstrong, Liverpool
Williams, Plymouth
Marshall, Newcastle
Pollock, North Shields
Bloomer, Birmingham

Nancy's Ghost: (10 sts)
Angus, Newcastle


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 10:46 AM

Sorry I missed a couple of useful refs.

Baring Gould in Songs of the West refers to a version in The Rambler's Garland (probably Gosport Tragedy)

And I have a BL copy of 'The Gosford Tragedy or the Perjured Carpenter' with no imprint but dated 1775. It has 17 and a half double sts. There are 2 printings of this in the BL.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 10:53 AM

The most common scenario with popular early to mid 18thc printed ballads is the longer original continued to be printed till about 1800 and the new shortened versions started to creep in with the popularity of slip versions about 1780. Then the 2/3/4 ballads to a sheet became popular in Catnach's time around 1820. This is very much a generalisation and there are exceptions.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 02:10 PM

Hi,

Steve, can you give me an approximate date for the Roxbourghe broadside printed at Bow Church-Yard? Apparently it was either printed by John Cluer, or after he died around 1727 his wife Elizabeth or William Dicey (his imprint c.1730 was: Printed and Sold at Box Church Yard). The date would range between 1720 and 1750 (Epworth.



TY

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 02:29 PM

Sorry about the spelling in last post--- Dicey's imprint: "Printed and sold at Bow church Yard" Roxburghe (Ebsworth) dates it c. 1750.

The reason is if it's printed circa 1720 (as per British Library) then the events of 1726 (Fowler's article) would not have happened yet,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 02:39 PM

Hi Richie,
An approximate date even for these pieces is very difficult with such sparse info. The Dicey Marshall dynasty lasted a long time and I don't yet have a lot of info on their trading details. All I can say for certain at the moment is the Bow Church Yard address precedes the Aldermary Church Yard.

Here are some dates I have found
Wm Dicey at BCY 1740-56
Cluer Dicey at BCY 1756-63
Dicey & Co at ACY 1754-64
Cluer Dicey and Richard Marshall at ACY 1764-70.

All this really tells us is that one or other was at Bow to 1763
and from 1754 Cluer was established at Aldermary.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 03:46 PM

Here's what is says in Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Volume 2:

[John Cluer, who afterwards became a noted music-publisher, first began in Bow Churchyard, Cheapside, with the printing of ballads, about 1700-10. He was directly followed in this line by William Dicey, about 1730; the imprint then merely gave, "Printed and sold in Bow Church Yard."]

Cluer died in 1727 and his wife managed until Dicey came in c. 1730. The question is what is Cluer's imprint? Also would Dicey's imprint suggest "Gosport Tragedy" to be c. 1730?

TY Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 03:57 PM

By the way Elizabeth (Dicey) Cluer was William Dicey's sister so William may have had a hand in the business after John's death c. 1727.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 04:42 PM

Hi, Richie
I'm coming more round to the idea that the story is based as Fowler says. The oldest looking broadside is your Boston one and c1730 seems like a reasonable date now. I very much doubt if the BCY imprints are any earlier than 1740. The style of printing on their sheets always makes me think 1750-1800.

A good hack of around 1730 could easily have heard the story of the murdered girl at Gosport and decided to marry this with the well-known Jonah tales. The writer of Bramble Briar at about the same time did a similar thing with the Isabella story and gave it a local setting in Bridgwater.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 03 Apr 16 - 11:12 PM

Hi,

Steve, thanks for that list of broadsides. I'd be curious to see the one titled: Nancy's Ghost

The Boston Broadside is dated 1776-1805 if you read their response. The Roxburghe is date 1720 by the British Library and 1750 by Ebsworth at Roxburghe.

The date Fowler gives is for the murder is 1726 when Charles Steward is aboard the HMS Bedford (Feb. 11, 1726) docked at Plymouth. Fowler says "The ship's carpenter when Stewart signed up is listed as John Billson, who joined the Bedford in that post on May 1, 1723, and remained there till his death on-board in September 1726."

So the murder would have taken place between Feb. and Sept. of 1726 if you agree with Fowler.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 04:46 AM

Hi Richie,
I've had a good read of Paul Slade's website now and seen the results of both his and David Fowler's thorough researches. Whilst there is a lot of speculation there are also a few good clinchers like the existence of the ship and Stewart's name and the death of Bilston. I think their theories very plausible. I have a lot of respect for David Fowler's work. He does his own research and unlike other so-called scholars doesn't blindly reproduce others' statements. The only regret I have about Fowler is he restricted his researches upto 1800 and didn't go beyond.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 08:43 AM

I haven't read David Fowler's original article, but to go by Paul Slade's summary combined with his fresh information from the archives, the basic idea seems plausible enough. On the other hand I think Paul Slade also has a point in casting doubt on Fowler's identification of the likely murderer as John Billson. His first argument, that the records show that Billson must have been at least in his 40s and the actions in the ballad seem like those of a much younger man, perhaps involves too many presuppositions about someone we know practically nothing about, but I find the second, that the ballad actually says the murderer was "carpenter's mate", more persuasive. Calling any carpenter working on a ship a "ship carpenter" makes sense, but why bother to identify his position more precisely as "carpenter's mate" if he was actually the master carpenter? (Unless, of course, the writer was deliberately making the murderer younger for the sake of the story.)

The main weakness seems to me to be the failure of either David Fowler or Paul Slade to find record of a burial in Gosport that looks like that of the victim, but I'm sure there are plenty of possible explanations for that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 08:56 AM

> Here's a quick analysis of the many versions on British broadsides.

Hi Steve,

Out of the list you posted, the Robertson, Glasgow chapbook made me curious, because of having one more stanza that the usual 34.
I've found it online at the National Library of Scotland. It's dated 1801. The text is very similar to Buchan's version. As I see Buchan also does, it replaces the Roxburghe stanza 17 with two stanzas that look like an intermediate stage towards stanzas 15 and 16 in the Deming Version:

A grave and a spade standing by she did see,
And said, Must this be a bride bed for me?
O perjured creature, the worst of all men!
Heav'n will reward you when I'm dead and gone.

O pity my infant and spare my sweet life,
Let me go distress'd, if I'm not your wife;
O take not my life, lest my soul you betray,
Must I in my youth be thus hurried away.

However it doesn't omit stanza 8 of the Roxburghe version as Buchan does – hence the 35 stanzas.

The NLS site also gives facsimiles of three chapbooks printed by J. Morren, Cowgate, Edinburgh – no date printed but they estimate 1800 (text more or less in the Robertson chapbook, two with stanza 8, one without), and one by M. Randall, Stirling (with stanza 8).

Since the Glasgow chapbook is dated 1801, that seems to push the line about the "spade standing by" back a few decades and to the British Isles.

I'll add this version to my chart. Sorry, Richie, I'll have to keep you waiting a bit longer for the .jpg version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 04:28 PM

Again going by style I've always thought Morren's pieces mostly somewhat earlier than 1800, say about 1780.

I'm not sure how this fits in with your posting at the moment but Peter Buchan was briefly apprenticed to Randall before setting up his own press in Peterhead. Unfortunately very little of what Peter actually printed seems to be extant. For someone who had such an enormous collection of ballads published it has always remained a mystery that he didn't appear to print any of them on his own broadsides, or maybe he did and they somehow disappeared.

Is the Buchan version from Gleanings p46? That's the only Buchan reference I have to a version. Most if not all of the 'Gleanings' pieces were straight off broadsides. The BL version I have seen but not got a copy of was printed in Aberdeen in 1775 as the Gosford Tragedy and this had 17 and a half double stanzas.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 05:46 PM

Hi,

Buchan's version is from Gleanings and is missing stanza 8 of the Roxburghe. I assume that Buchan got his from one of the chapbooks that was missing stanza 8 (thanks Jim for that info).

Also noted is the "spade standing" which now dates 1801 in the UK.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 06:05 PM

Here's more about the printing from Fowler, whose position is that the ballad was printed shortly after the murder in 1726:

"Theoretically the date of our broadside could be after the death of John Cluer, because his widow Elizabeth kept the business going and used the same imprint. Moreover when she then married her late husband's foreman Thomas Cobb in 1731, the latter managed the the Bow Church-Yard Printing Office until 1936 when William Dicey took over the business. William Dicey of course became famous as a ballad publisher, but there is no basis for placing "The Gosport Tragedy" as late as 1736, when William took over. Dicey lists our ballad in his catalogue of 1754 (unique copy in Bodleian Library), but this was very likely a new edition, of which I suspect a copy survives in the Crawford Collection (Bibliotheca Lindesiana no 655)."

Fowler does not mention, however, that Elizabeth Cluer was William Dicey's sister.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 08:25 PM

Hi,

This is a version from Ontario probably learned about 1930 by LaRena Clark from her grandfather Watson whose fatehr came from northern England c. 1800;

"Her maternal great-grandfather, Edward John Watson, came out to
Canada from northern England early in the nineteenth century and marriedMargaret Landau, the child of an Indian woman and a French fur
trader. Their son, LaRena's Grandad Watson, married Annie O'Neill,
the daughter of George O'Neill, an Irish Catholic who was an early
settler in Pefferlaw."

Although there are some glaring inconsistencies in the text it's still based on the an earlier broadside.

"Ship's Carpenter"- From LaRena (LeBarre) Clark's grandfather Watson

1. "O Mary, dear Mary, will you take a walk?
Will you take a walk some friends for to see?
Will you take a walk some friends for to see?
And it's when we return home it's married we'll be.

2. He led her through groves and valleys so deep;
At length this fair damsel began for to weep,
"O Willie, dear Willie, you're leading me astray,
And you're ordering my innocent life to betray.

3. "O Mary, it's true are the words that you spoke.
I spent the whole of last night in digging your grave."
They went a piece farther, and there she did spy
Her grave it was dug and the spade standing by.

4. She wrung her poor hands in grief and she cried,
"You perjuring villain, the worst of mankind!
You perjuring villain, the worst of mankind,
Let me go distracted if I can't be your wife."

5. There was no time to argue her beauty to stun;
He instantly drew a knife in his right hand;
He instantly drew a knife in his right hand,
And it's blood from her bosom so quicklie he drew.

6. He covered her up and he hastened away,
Left nothing but the wild birds her grave to behold;
Left nothing but the wild birds her grave to behold,
And it's he by his trade was a ship's carpenter.

7. Oh, there had been a man in the bar-room that day
Who saw this fair damsel in the cabin so fair,
And she held in her ar-rums an infant most dear,
Which she [he] showed [told] to the Captain without further delay.

8. Oh, the captain he cried, "There's a murder on board,"
And it's they then confessed then his life they would take.
It's they then confessed then his life they would take, And they'd leave him upon the first island they'd meet.

9. Oh, poor perjuring Willie, on his two knees he fell;
"You poor injured ghost, your full pardon I beg,
You poor injured ghost, your full pardon I beg,
And it's soon I will follow you down to your grave."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 05 Apr 16 - 12:05 AM

Hi,

Another one from Canada --this from New Brunswick. Her name is Polly and her ghost appears to Willie instead of Charles Stuart. Lightning bolts flash from her eye, the moralistic ending- clearly this a traditional version similar to the Roxburghe broadside (London, 1720-1750 and Boston c. 1776). Most of the other Canadian ballads more closely resemble the Deming broadside.

THE SHIP'S CARPENTER- From: Songs of the Miramichi
(As sung by George Duplessis of Eel River Bridge, NB in 1950 for the North Shore Construction Company's Collection)

In Grand Lake City a damsel did dwell,
For youth and for beauty there's none could excel,
But a young man he courted her to make her his dear,
And he by his trade was a ship's carpenter.

He courted this fair one by day and by night,
And for to get married was his great delight,
But the king wanted men, to the war he was sent,
They parted to mee-et next morning by light.

"Arise, lovely Polly, and come along with me,
Before we will marry some friends for to see.
He led her through groves and through valleys most deep,
(Whereupon?) this fair damsel began for to weep.

"I'm afraid,lovely Willie, you've led me astray,
purpose my innocent life to betray."
"Oh, yes, lovely Polly, 'tis true what you say,
For the whole of last night I was digging your grave."

And on little further she chanced for to spy,
A grave newly dug and a spade laying by,
Her lily-white hand in agony wrung,
Saying, "To you, lovely Willie, what'er have I done?"

"To you, lovely Willie, so coam-lye and fair,
How can you murder your Polly that loves you so dear?
Oh, pity my infant and take not my life,
Let me live full of shame if I can't be your wife."

"Oh, this is no time disputing to stand,"
When instantly holding a knife in his hand,
It hit her fair bosom till the blood down did flow,
And into the grave her fair body he threw.

And as he covered her over, those words he did say,
'I'll leave you my darling, to moulder away."
On board of a mantle, Oh, quickly sailed he,
To sail to Bermuda far over the sea.

One night in his cabin young Willie did lay,
When the voice of the maiden to him it did say,
"Arise, lovely Willie, arise and behold,
A fair young damsel who you've led astray."

But Willie was a man of courage most bold,
He tried to escape in the very lowest hold.
She appeared to him there all in the great flight
With her babe in her arms like the image of life.

She vanished and went straight up to the sky,
And flashes of lightning came forth from her eye,
Up stepped the young Captain, also with his crew,
"You have murdered your Polly, young Willie, 'tis true."

But Willie was a-maze of this
He said he was guilty of such a sad crime.
He sailed for Bermuda far over the sea,
And Willie was taken and condemned to die.

Now, come all you young heroes, wherever you may be,
I hope you'll take warning from this sad tragedy.

(last three words spoken)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 05 Apr 16 - 02:07 AM

Hi,

I'm going to throw out some possible scenarios for (Ba) the Deming broadside, which was "Sold Wholesale and Retail by Leonard Deming, No. 1, Market Square, corner of Merchant's Row, Boston." about 1835.

The Deming broadside (Ba) is significantly shorter at 27 stanzas to the 34 stanzas of the nearly 100 year earlier Roxburghe broadside (Aa). Not only that, 3 more stanzas of Aa are missing in Bb and in place of theses 3 stanzas is the new text:

15.1 A grave with a spade lying near she did see,
15.2 Which caused her to sigh and weep bitterly;

16.3 Oh! take not my life, lest my soul you betray,
16.4 And you to perdition be hurried away.

22) The captain soon summon'd the jovial ship's crew,
And said, my brave fellows, I fear some of you
Have murder'd some damsel ere you came away
Whose injur'd ghost now haunts you on the sea.

23) Whoever you be, if the truth you deny,
When found out, you'll be hung on the yard be high:
But he who confesses, his life we'll not take,
But leave him on the first island we make.

Who is the source of this new text? And why is this text, especially stanza 23, found in many versions in North America? It seems possible that the older broadside Aa was used for the opening stanzas. We know this because the murdered girl's name is Molly as in the Aa broadside-- then inexplicably changes to Mary. Could it be that an editor took a traditional version of Gosport (with the murdered girl named Mary) and changed the end of older broadside (Aa) but kept the beginning (leaving off stanzas 4 and 8)? How else could stanza 23 of Ba turn up in remote, inaccessible areas such as Nova Scotia and Newfoundland? If this logic follows could it also be possible that the traditional ballad used to change Ba could actually be the older ballad, predating 1726?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 05 Apr 16 - 10:04 AM

Hi,

Let's look at a couple versions and see if we can draw any conclusions. Broadside types will be:

1) Type Aa, the Roxburghe broadside printed between 1720 (British Library) and 1750 (Roxburghe- Ebsworth) by the printer John Cluer (before 1727), or , Elizabeth Cluer (from 1727 when John Cluer died to 1736 when William Dicey, her brother took over) or William Dicey (from 1736 to 1750)

2) Type Ba, The Deming Broadside printed circa 1835 in Boston by the printer Leonard Deming. In some cases the ballad may be associated to both broadsides or a third broadside called,

3) Type Ca, known as "Polly's Love" printed c. 1820 in the British Isles.

These types will be found at the end of each stanza in brackets [type ]

"Pretty Polly"- as performed by Din Dobbin of St. Vincent's, NL, 1951   

(Beginning of song missing)

_________ before we get married our friends to go see [standard]

He led her through roads and through valleys so neat
Which caused pretty Polly to sigh and to weep
Sayin' Willie dear Willie you lead me astray
Perhaps my poor innocent life to betray [type Ca]

It's true yes true it's true what you say
For this whole long night l have been digging a grave
She walked straight along til her grave she did spy
Which caused Pretty Polly to weep and to cry [type Ca]

Oh pardon please pardon oh pardon she cried
For l will not covet for to be your bride
I'll roam this wide world o'er for to set you free
If you only will pardon this baby and me [type Ca]

No pardon no pardon no time for to stand
He instantly taking a knife in his hand
He pierced her dear breast while her heart's blood did flow
Which caused him to that cold grave her body he threw [type Ca]

He covered her over well safe and so sound
Not thinking this murder would ever be found [type Ca]
On board of the Bedford he entered straightway
His lofty ship lay in Portsmouth bound out on the sea [type Aa]

Charlie Stewart was our bosun a seaman so bold
One night it was late he walked aft to the hold
When a beautiful damsel to him did appear
And she bore in her arms a baby most dear [type Aa]

He bein' merry in liquor he thought to embrace
Wit' transports of joy which he held in his face
She frew a one side and then vanished away
He made haste to our Captain he made no delay [type Ba]

Our Captain soon summonsed our jolly ships crew
And said my dear sailors I fear one of you
Have murdered some fair one before ye came 'way
And now she is haunting us here on the sea [type Ba]

Then up speaks young Willie I'm sure it ain't me
And up speaks another I'm sure it ain't me
And up speaks another indeed it ain't me
Till discourse it went through the whole ship's company [type Ca]

Whoever it may be it's the truth he'll deny
I'll hang him out here on the yardarm so high
But if he confesses his life we won't save
But I'll land him all on the first Island I'll make [type Ba]

Young Willie he quickly fell on his knees
The blood in his face did immediately freeze
God help me God help me for what I have done
God help me I fear my poor soul it's undone [type Ba]

Young Willie he rushed to the cabin with speed
He met this pretty fair maid which made his heart bleed
She ripped him she stripped him she tore him in three
Because he had murdered her baby and she [type Ca]

Turning round to the crew these words she did say
Now since I have taken this murder away
Good luck may attend you and you all agree
And send you safe home to your own counteree [not in broadsides]

We can see that this version, collected in a emote area in Newfoundland, have stanzas from all three broadsides. The name "Pretty Polly" is from type Ca.

What conclusion can we draw from this ballad? Why are there stanzas from three different broadsides in one ballad?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 05 Apr 16 - 10:30 AM

Hi Richie,

I like the idea of the ghost ripping the murderer in three and then turning round to the rest of the crew, as if expecting a round of applause, and wishing them a safe voyage.

Anyway, regarding the versions, to be more exact, it's just stanzas 22 and 23 that are new in Deming (or at least they don't appear in any earlier version that we have looked at in the course of this discussion). Stanzas 15 and 16 are also in Buchan's version and in several Scottish chapbooks of around 1800 (or perhaps earlier if I understand Steve's comment on Morren right). So they were already in circulation in print several decades before the Deming broadside. (Admittedly, Deming 16.4 changes the meaning compared with those earlier texts, where the line refers to the premature death of the victim rather than the damnation of the murderer, but the wording is still similar, and it's easy to see how the Deming line could have evolved out of the other.)

Even if those Scottish chapbooks take us back a couple of decades before 1780, that would still allow plenty of time for the ballad to have circulated and evolved in oral tradition alongside printed texts like the Roxburghe broadside. So I still don't see the need for there to have been an older version of the ballad before 1726.

As for the isolation of Nova Scotia, they still had access to broadside ballads, as W. Roy Mackenzie mentions several times - in fact in one case he suggests that the ballad he is talking about was printed in Nova Scotia (Quest p. 205). The „Gaspard" version he took down from the singing of Mrs. Margaret Curry is the Deming version practically word for word, just with a few stanzas omitted and a handful of very minor changes in wording, no more than you might expect if the singer had learnt it from a broadside or a book and then carried on singing it over a period of time without checking it against the printed text.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Apr 16 - 01:45 PM

Just a few general points I think I made some of earlier. There are very likely many other printings that have not survived or have not yet come to light. Print could move around very quickly as could the oral process, especially with mass migration at these times. We sometimes forget how rapidly print items (and not just cheap print, anthologies as well) can become part of oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 05 Apr 16 - 04:04 PM

> I'd be curious to see the one titled: Nancy's Ghost

You can see it at:
http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static/images/sheets/10000/07531.gif

Here is the text:

NANCY's GHOST

In Gosport of late a young damsel did dwell,
For wit and for beauty none could her excel.
A young man courted and loved her dear,
And he by trade was a ship-carpenter.

He had not long courted till this fair one prov'd kind,
When he sent for his true love to tell her his mind,
He said my dearest Nancy will you go with me,
Before we are married my friends for to see.

He led her thro' groves and valleys so deep,
Till the innocent fair one began for to fret.
I find my dear William you've led me astray.
On purpose my innocent life to betray.

That's true my dear Nancy the truth you've said
For I was up last night digging your grave,
Not far distant the grave's waiting for thee,
And I am resolved thy butcher to be.

O spare my life William, O spare but my life,
Let me run distracted and be not your wife,
Spare my life, least my soul you betray,
Must I in my bloom be hurried away.

He said there's no time for to argue nor stand,
With that a pen-knife he took in his hand,
And he pierced her body till the blood did flow,
And into the grave her fair body did throw.

He covered her up then with the small mould,
And left none to mourn but birds and fowls,
Straight for the water he then took his way.
And entered a ship that was bound for sea.

One night in his cabin he chanced to lye,
The voice of his true love he heard passing by,
Saying, awake false William and hear,
The voice of your true love that lov'd you dear.

O talk not of valour nor courage so bold,
One night as he was going down to the hold,
A beautiful damsel to him did appear,
And she in her arms had a baby most fair.

The she did vanish with shrieks and loud cries,
And flashes of lightning flew from her eyes,
Saying, a ship out of Gosport never shall go,
Till I am revenged for my overthrow.

It looks to me as if someone has been trying to make a shorter song out of what they could remember of a longer version, but not as creatively as the author of "Polly's Love". Lines 5.3 and 5.4 are like the Scottish chapbook texts (some have "in my bloom" as here, and some have "in my youth"). The only lines that I don't think have a parallel in other texts we've looked at are 2.1, 2.2, 4.3 and 4.4.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 09:22 AM

Hi,

As far as Mackenzie's Nova Scotia version, I've found other of his "collected" versions that are also found in the Forget-Me Not songsters that are nearly identical to the Songster texts.

Here is what I call the "standard text" as found in the Roxburge and Deming broadsides that is found partially or wholly with variation in all traditional versions (Pretty Polly/Polly's Love etc.):

Standard Text Type A Roxburghe:

14. So with kind embraces he parted that night,
She went to meet him in the morning light;
He said, "Dear charmer thou must go with me,
Before we are wedded, a friend to see."

15. He led her through valleys and groves so deep,
At length this maiden began for to weep;
Saying, "William, I fancy thou leadst me astray,
On purpose my innocent life to betray."

16 He said, "That is true, and none you can save,
For I all this night have been digging a grave."
Poor innocent soul! when she heard him say so,
Her eyes like a fountain began for to flow.

(This next stanza (17) where she begs for her life is standard but the reference to her child is usually missing. The last two lines of 17 are included except for "infant":
   
    O pity [the infant], and spare my life,
    Let me go distress'd if I'm not thy wife.")

18. Her hands white as lillies in sorrow she wrung,
Beseeching for mercy, saying, "What have I done
To you my dear William, what makes you severe?
For to murder one that loves you so dear."

19. He said, "Here's no time disputing to stand,"
And instantly taking the knife in his hand;
He pierced her body till the blood it did flow,
Then into the grave her body did throw.

20. He cover'd her body, then home he did run,
Leaving none but birds her death to mourn;

Standard Text Type B: The Deming Broadside

12) With tender embraces, they parted that night,
And promised to meet the next morning at light
William said — Mary, you must go with me,
Before we are married, our friends for to see.

13) He led her through groves and valleys so deep
At length this young damsel began for to weep
Crying William, I fear you will lead me astray
On purpose my innocent life to betray.

14) He said you've guess'd right all earth can't you save
For the whole of last night I've been digging your grave,
When poor ruined Mary did hear him say so,
The tears from her eyes like a fountain did flow

15) A grave with a spade lying near she did see,
Which caused her to sigh and weep bitterly;

   (Half of 15 and part of 16 are not standard. The text in brackets should not be part of the standard text)

16) Oh, pity [my infant] and spare my poor life,
Let me live full of shame if I can't be your wife,
Oh! take not my life, lest my soul you betray,
[And you to perdition be hurried away].

17) Her hands white as lilies, in sorrow she wrung,
Imploring for mercy, crying what have I done;
To you dearest William, so comely and fair,
Will you murder your true-love that loved you so dear?

18) He said, this is no time disputing to stand,
Then instantly taking a knife in his hand--
He pierced her fair breast, whence the blood it did flow,
And into the grave her fair body did throw.

19) He cover'd the body, and quick hastened home-
Leaving none but the small birds her fate to bemoan:

(Some standard modified versions have him boarding a ship where he sets sail and the ship sinks- this is not part of the broadside text)

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 06 Apr 16 - 09:04 PM

Hi,

I found a version aversion in "Sitting Out the Winter in the Orkney Islands: Folksong Acquisition in Northern Scotland" by Nancy Cassell McEntire 1990. Does anyone know about this version?

It's based on The Deming Broadside as far as I can tell- here's a bit of it:

In Gosport of Late

1 IN Gosport of late a fair damsel did dwell,
For wit and for beauty few could her excel;
A young man did court her to be his dear,
And he by his trade was a ship-carpenter.

2 With blushes more sweet than roses in June.
She says, "My dear William for To wed I'm too young.
Young men are so fickle I see very plain,
If a maid is not coy they will her disdain."

17 Being merry with liquor, he ran to embrace,
Transported with joy yet beholding her face;
And to his amazement soon vanished away,
Which he ran and told the captain without more delay.

18. The Captain soon summoned his jolly ship's crew, Saying, "I fear my brave fellows that some one of you;
Has murdered a damsel ere' he came away,
Whose innocent ghost now haunts him on sea.

19 "Whoever he be if the truth he confess,
We will land him upon the first island we meet;
But whoever he be if the truth he denies,
He will be hung up on the yard's arm so high."

20 William in horror he fell on his knees,
Saying, "Poor injured ghost thy forgiveness I crave";
Saying, "Poor injured ghost thy forgiveness I crave.
For soon I shall follow thee down to the grave."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 05:48 AM

My first guess would be that this Orkney version was learnt directly or indirectly from Ethel Findlater. There are some differences of wording from her version, but from the sample you give it looks very similar.

The stanzas that that are most suggestive are 19 and 20, where the two singers' versions are identical. In 19, they reverse the order of the two couplets and have a different wording for the couplet about the island, which results in losing the rhyme. And they have "yard's arm" in line 4, instead of what seems to be the more usual "yardarm" (or just "yard" in the Deming text). And in 20, they combine lines from Deming 24 and 25, with repetition of the "poor injured ghost" line.

On the other hand, in stanza 2 this version has "If a maid is not coy they will her disdain", which is the line in the Roxburghe text, while Ethel Findlater has "When a maiden proves kindness they quickly disdain", which is close to Deming. So, once again, things are not so simple.

Any clues in the book?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 02:40 PM

Hi,

That's Finlander's version I used Roxburghe/Deming and then changed some text- I forgot to change that line:

This is what I have so far:

In Gosport of Late

1 In Gosport of late a fair damsel did dwell,
For wit and for beauty few could her excel;
A young man did court her to be his dear,
And he by his trade was a ship-carpenter.

2 With blushes more sweet than roses in June.
She says, "My dear William for To wed I'm too young.
Young men they are fickle I see very plain,
When a maiden proves kindness they quickly disdain."

3. Oh, my charming sweet molly how dare you say so,
For your beauty's the heaven to which I would go;
And if I find channel my ship for to steer,
I then would cast anchor and stay with my dear."

8
And he promised to meet her next morning at light;
But he says, "My dear Molly are we married be,
We must go visit some friends for to see."

9. He led her through hills and through valleys so deep
Till at length this young damsel began for to weep;
She says, "My dear William you have led me astray,
In hopes of my innocent life to betray."

10 "Oh, yes you have guessed right on earth don't you see,
For all the last night I was digging your grave";
A grave and a spade lying near she did see,
Which made this young damsel to weep bitterly.

11 When poor ruined Molly did hear him say so,
The tears from her eyes like a fountain did flow;
Saying, "Treacherous William the worst of mankind,
Is this the bride's bed I expected to find."

12 "Oh, pity my infant and spare me my life,
Let me live in my shame since I can't be your wife;
And don't take my life lest my soul you betray,
And you to perdition would be hurried away.

13 With hands white as lilies in sorrow she wrung,
Imploring for mercy saying, "What have I done;
To you dearest William so comely and fair,
Can you murder your true love that loved you so dear."

14 He says, "There's no time for disputing to stand,"
And he instantly taking a knife in his hand;
He pierced her fair

17 Being merry with liquor, he ran to embrace,
Transported with joy yet beholding her face;
And to his amazement soon vanished away,
Which he ran and told the captain without more delay.

18. The Captain soon summoned his jolly ship's crew,
Saying, "I fear my brave fellows that some one of you;
Has murdered a damsel ere' he came away,
Whose innocent ghost now haunts him on sea.

19 "Whoever he be if the truth he confess,
We will land him upon the first island we meet;
But whoever he be if the truth he denies,
He will be hung up on the yard's arm so high."

20 William in horror he fell on his knees,
Saying, "Poor injured ghost thy forgiveness I crave";
Saying. "Poor injured ghost thy forgiveness I crave.
For soon I shall follow thee down to the grave."

I'll do the rest soon - where did Findlater get her version?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 07 Apr 16 - 03:42 PM

> where did Findlater get her version?

According to the notes on the Tobar an Dualchais website:
"Ethel Findlater learned the words from a [manuscript] book given to her by Violet Harvey, but learned the tune from her mother-in-law; some extra lines were learned from a Mrs Mongano, now in Australia."
See: http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/63592/2
(She lived 1899-1973.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 11 Apr 16 - 10:21 AM

Hi,

An update: The American Antiquarian Society houses an earlier version of The Deming Broadside published in Baltimore between 1810-1819. Although the original source to the Deming text may never be known, traditional versions with text unique to the Deming broadside have been brought to Maritime Canada and Appalachia indicating the source could be a British broadside from the late 1700s which may have disappeared.

Additionally I've organized the traditional text of Gosport here: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/list-of-ballads-variants-of-the-gosport-tragedy.aspx

I am missing the Greig-Duncan version and can't seem to find it. I've looked at the table of contents in Volume 2 and it's not there. If someone could find out the volume or has access and can post text it would help.

                                        GOSPORT VERSIONS

A. British Isles (Title, Location, Informant, Collector, Approximate date; Associated broadside)

   1. "The Gosport Tragedy", no location or informant given; taken from print; Peter Buchan, 1825. Type Aa
   2. "The Gosport Tragedy" Port Gordon; Air by Jamie Coul, William Christie pre1881 [text from Buchan.]
   3. "The Gosport Tragedy" [ ] Greig-Duncan vol. 2, p. 49, no. 201
   4. The Gosport Tragedy," Orkney Island; Ethel Findlater

B. North America (Title, Location, Informant, Collector, Approximate date; Associated broadside)

             B. CANADA

   a. Newfoundland
       1) The Cruel Ship's Carpenter or Gosport Tragedy- King's Cove (NL); J. Hincock; Karpeles; 1929; Types Ba and Ca
       2) Pretty Polly- St. Vincent's (NL); D. Dobbin; Leach; 1951; Types Aa; Ba and Ca
       3) Gosport Tragedy- Seal Cove, White Bay (NL); J. Osborne; Peacock; 1960; Types Ba and Ca

b. Nova Scotia
       1) The Gosport Tragedy Tatamagouche (NS); Mrs. Margaret Curry; Mackenzie 1919 Type Ba
       2) The Ship's Carpenter- West Petpeswick (NS); T. Young; Creighton A; c. 1933;
       3) The Ship's Carpenter- Roman Valley (NS); Mrs. C. Kenny, Creighton B; pre1950; types Ba and Ca
       4) The Ship's Carpenter- Dartmouth (NS); Mrs. R. W. Duncan, Creighton D; pre1950;

   c. Ontario
       1) Ship's Carpenter (ON) LaRena Clark; Fowke; c. 1930
       2) Ship's Carpenter (ON) Leo Spencer; Fowke; 1962

   d. New Brunswick
       1) The Ship's Carpenter- Eel River Bridge (NB); G. Duplessis; Manny and Wilson

          C. UNITED STATES

   a. Maine
       1) The Gosport Tragedy; Carrie Grover

   b. Tennessee
       1) "The Cruel Ship's Carpenter- (TN) J. Stockson; Sharp B, 1916

   c. Ohio
       1) Ship's Carpenter (OH) Captain P. Nye; Lomax REC, 1937

   d. West Virginia
       1) "Young Beeham"- (WV) Cunningham; Cox C, pre1925 Type Aa; other

   e. Florida
       1) "The Ship Carpenter" Trenton (FL) Miss Inez Parrish; Morris; pre1950

   f. Maryland
       1) "Gospels of Libby" (MD) [    ] Carey, pre1970


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 11:07 AM

Hi Richie,

It's interesting to see the different versions listed geographically like this. The first thing that strikes me is how little evidence there is of any singing tradition of the old Gosport ballad in Britain. Buchan's text is the same as that in the Scottish chapbooks of about 25 or more years earlier. Christie's six sample stanzas are from Buchan (but that doesn't mean the singer wasn't singing the same version). Ethel Findlater's is very close to the Deming broadside (or perhaps we should now say the Baltimore broadside), so most likely derived from an American source. You'd think the Gosport ballad must have been popular in the C18 to judge by the number of printings, but perhaps the success of "Polly's Love" drove it out of tradition. It would be interesting to know what the version in the Greig-Duncan collection is like - but my bets would be on its being similar to Buchan and the chapbooks, being in the same part of the country as Buchan and Christie's singer.

Rather than having to assume that Deming-specific elements in the Newfoundland and Nova Scotia versions got there via a now lost British C18 broadside, isn't it plausible enough that they simply indicate the more recent (19th C)circulation of the American version itself there, whether in broadsides or books? The text in Mackenzie is clearly simply the Deming text itself, probably memorized by the singer and slightly modified in her recollection. It's not something independently derived from an earlier version of it. I know other singers don't reproduce the text so closely, but by the time these oral versions were recorded, the Deming version had been around for more than a century, so would have had plenty of time not just to spread in print but also to mix with other versions (like "Polly's Love") in oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Gutcher
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 11:16 AM

Hello Richie
Two from Greig Duncan

[1] THE GOSPORT TRAGEDY
    Willie and Nancy of Yarmouth

    For the death o" their daughter and baby so fair
    In Gosport churchyard and they buried her there.


[2] VILL. THE SHIP"S CARPENTER

{1}   In a kitchen in Portsmouth a fair damsel did dwell
       Who for beauty and grammar none could her excel
       She loved a gay feller whose name it was Vill
       And to his trade was a ship"s carpenter
         sing Dottle dottle dottle chip chip chip
             Turaliday

{2} He led her o"re hills and o"re valleys so deep
       Till at last this poor maiden began for to weep
       O Villiam I doubt you"ve a led me this way
       In order my innocent life to betray
         With your Dottle dottle dottle chip chip chip
             Turaliday

Sorry I cannot type the two tunes


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 02:12 PM

Hello Gutcher,

It's good of you to post these and fill in a gap in the picture.

The two lines in the first one are from the old broadside text. The Roxburghe and other 18th century broadsides have: "At the fall of the damsel and her daughter dear, / In Gosport church they bury'd her there." The Scottish chapbooks and Peter Buchan have variations around "At the fall of a damsel and baby so fair, / And in Gosport church-yard they buried were." or "At the fate of the damsel and baby so fair, / And in Gosport Church-yard they buried her there." Since the Greig-Duncan lines mention the "baby so fair", I would reckon they come from a version of that sort. (They're certainly not from the American Deming version, which doesn't have those lines.)

The second one is from the burlesque version, "Molly the Betrayed or The Fog-Bound Vessel". Maybe the tune makes it funnier, but as far as I can see, apart maybe from the second line, more usually "For grammar or graces none could her excel", pretty much all the humour seems to come from making fun of people who pronounce "w" as "v" (Cockneys?) - though fit for the Aiberdeenshire fowk wad hae lauchit at that is mair nor A can faddom.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Gutcher
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 03:16 PM

Man Jim ye maun be mair gleg o the uptac nor masel gin ye can see ocht o humor in a wheen wee whigmaleeries o screived print.

You can check out the wee dots for yourself on page 49 vol. 2 of the Greig Duncan collection.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 03:39 PM

Much of the humour in these burlesques was in the actual performance. Joe Grimaldi was adept at this type of grotesque humour and Sam Cowell must also have been somewhat later. Much of the humour was derived from exaggerated pathos as in Villikins. Barbara Allen, Lord Lovell, Giles Collins, William Taylor and many others were treated in the same way. Look at any of the many 'comic' songsters of the 18th/19th centuries and you'll wonder what they found funny in them. Tastes do change over time. More recently Harry Lauder was billed as a comic singer but do we find any of his songs funny today?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 03:43 PM

I should also add that quite a few of the burlesque versions soon went back into oral tradition and became serious songs. A good example is 'Ah, my Love's Dead' one of Cowells' burlesques which is nowadays sung regularly in folk clubs as a serious song with those shrimps swimming over her head. This tickles me every time I hear it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 05:14 PM

Thanks, Steve. The text rather falls flat on the printed page, but I suppose a performer with a knack at doing funny voices could have made something of it. In this case, would it be fair to see the burlesque as a kind of last recycling of the old Gosport ballad, squeezing some humour out of a once serious song that was now well out of date, while the "Cruel Ship's Carpenter" took over in the oral tradition as the serious version of the story?

I'd never come across the song with the shrimps before, but I've just found "The Lover's Lament for her Sailor" at the Bodleian broadside ballads site, and followed a handy cross reference there to "The Sorrowful Ladies Complaint" at Santa Barbara. It looks to me as if even the shrimpless 17th C. version was already asking for a burlesque performance -- but as you say, tastes change.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 06:23 PM

I have a copy of the original sheet music somewhere but didn't think to look closely at what it is likely derived from. I'll have a look tomorrow. I just assumed it was a send up of CSC. I don't think it's very early, not before 1840.

Some of these ballads (Lord Lovel, George Collins) appear to be burlesques of something else lost to us. Some are characterised by a brisk and jolly tune. Walpole certainly thought Lord Lovel a burlesque in the 18th century and that's the earliest record of it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 06:36 PM

Had a look at that Massachusettes broadside catalogue on Google Books.
The Fleets were printing at the Heart and Crown from 1731 to 1776 and then they move to the Bible and Heart, but the Bible and Heart was a printing house in 1738 (see item 693) 'Printed and sold at the Bible and Heart in Cornhill, Boston.' Not many printed ballads appear to have survived from the period, though it mentions Fleet purchasing in 1748 a stock of captured Papal Bills the backs of which he used to print ballads on.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 12 Apr 16 - 06:39 PM

I've been finding this discussion of a song I'm very interested in really useful - thanks all. Though trying to follow the thread on a phone on the other side of the world doesn't make it easy to analyse everything as thoroughly as I'd like. I was looking at 'Pretty Polly' from the point of view of Cecil Sharp's Appalachian collection, so was effectively working backwards from the North American versions. I was interested in three features that occur in the texts of most of those:

'Leaving the small birds to weep and to mourn' - retained from the old 'Gosport Tragedy', but not in any of the British 'Polly's Love'-type broadsides, or oral texts.

'A spade standing by' - not in 'Gosport', but unlikely to have been an American interpolation as it's present in nearly all the 'Polly's Love' BSs in England. Jim Brown has now tracked it back to 1801 in Scotland (though of course it might go back further than that). Thanks, Jim.

'You guessed about right' (or similar) - replacing 'he said that is true' in v16 of GT. This seems to be present in many of the US and Nova Scotia texts (though not all), but I've never seen it in a print copy apart from the Forget-me-not / Deming / Baltimore example discussed here. So can we say that is definitely an American addition?

Quite apart from that is the question of how and when the older ballad got shortened to the three-line stanza familiar from bluegrass repertoire. Any ideas, Richie? From what I can remember of Sharp's Appalachian versions there were examples of both types coexisting in the mountains, with some in the old triple-time and some in 4:4.

And then there's the question of how the ballad got to the mountains in the first place: oral tradition amongst British migrants, early American broadside (maybe picked up in Philadelphia by migrants), or a bit of both?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 13 Apr 16 - 03:29 AM

Steve, I've looked at 3 printings of "Molly the Betrayed" at the Bodleian site, all pretty much the same apart from a few words here and there and a few spelling variations. They have the lines:

That night as asleep in his hammock he lay,
He fancied he heard some sperrit for to say,
'Oh, vake up young Villiam and listen to hear,
The woice of your Molly vot lov'd you so dear.

Your ship bound from Portsmouth, it never shall go,
'Till I am reweng'd for my sad overthrow, [...]

which are similar to:

[...] But as in his cabbin one night he did lie,
The voice of his sweetheart he heard to cry.

O perjur'd villain, awake now and hear,
The voice of your love, that lov'd you so dear;
This ship out of Portsmouth never shall go,
Till I am revenged for this overthrow.

Those two stanzas are in the Roxburghe-type text, but not in "The Cruel Ship's Carpenter" (or in the Deming version, for that matter).

That would be my main reason for thinking the burlesque must have started from the old broadside version, rather than from CCS, but it also has new material that doesn't have a close parallel there or in CCS.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Apr 16 - 03:05 PM

I think that's pretty conclusive evidence, Jim. Although Sam Cowell made many of these burlesques famous, some of them must have been around in the early 19th century when he was touring America with his family. Another interesting fact that may be relevant is that J W Ebsworth, the editor of most of the Roxburghe Ballads, was married to Sam's sister.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 14 Apr 16 - 11:54 AM

Brian and all,

I've just put all 39 Sharp/Campbell version on my site: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/us--canada-versions-1-gosport-tragedy.aspx

It include the 18 MS versions. There are two version of Gosport and several that have lines form Gosport in addition to the "standard" text, which is similar to six stanzas in Gosport.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 14 Apr 16 - 12:03 PM

Hi,

I've found a great traditional version of Gosport from West Virginia collected in 1953. I can't seem to get the 8th stanza, which can be viewed on Google Books here but it's snippet view: https://books.google.com/books?id=N7LYAAAAMAAJ&q=%22A+tremble+of+fear%22+pretty+polly&dq=%22A+tremble+of+fear%22+pretty+polly&hl

Pretty Polly (The Cruel Ship's Carpenter) (Note j Contributed by Everett Smith, of Catawba, as sung by S. L. Bunner of Catawba. I have the tune of this, as sung to me by Everett Smith.)

1. It's away down in low land,
Where little Polly did dwell;
For wit and for beauty
There's none could excell.

There's a young man who courted her
All for to be his dear,
And was by trade
Was a ship's carpenter.

2. "Come, pretty Polly,
Come go along with me;
Before we get married,
A friend we will be.* (see?)

He led her through groves
And through valleys so deep,
Till last* this fair damsel (at last?)
Began for to weep.

"Hard-hearted young William,
You have led em astray,
one purpose, my in love* (on purpose my love)
And my life to betray."

3. She saw her grave dug,
And a spade standing by,
Saying, "Is this my bride's bed,
Wherein must I lie?

Hard-hearted young William,
You're worst of all men;
May the heavens award* you (reward?)
When I'm dead and gone.

4. "It's come, pretty Polly,
There's no time to stand;
While immediately taking
A knife in his hand,

He pierced her fair body
Till the heart-blood did flow
And into her grave,
Her fair body did throw.

5. In covering her over,
He turned back again;
Left none but the small birds
Her death to mourn.

Way down that redboat,
He's gone speedily,
And away in Portsmouth
He bound out for the sea.

6. Old Charley Stewart,
Carried so bold,
This beautiful damsel,
He chanced to behold,

This beautiful damsel
Unto him did appear,
And into her arms was
A baby so dear.

7. With screams of loud screeches,
Cried out . . .(in loud cries?)
Till flashes of lightning
Fell down from the skies;

Set the whole ship in
A tremble of fear;
But none saw the ghost,
but A voice they did hear.

8. [missing]


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 14 Apr 16 - 10:13 PM

Hi Brian,

To respond to your queries. The Sharp Campbell texts are two line stanza, the standard 3 line stanza (repeat the 1st line), which is how I learned it and 4 line stanza (repeat the 1st line three times). The three line stanza is similar to standard 12 bar blues form. So in fact the ballad is lengthened fro m the older Gosport version because in the three line stanza there is a repeated line.

Here's a rough take of the three line stanza version I learned in Kentucky:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASJjrxxCNmc

I also played it with Carrie Norris, Lily-Mae Ledford's granddaughter. See my early post on this thread for the you-tube link. It's similar but I learned mine before I played with Carrie.

"Guessed about right" is Appalachian or American. I'm having trouble locating version from New England, but the ballad is very well know in Kentucky, for example.

As far as how it got to the Appalachians we known that, in general, the ballad came to the Virginia colony which established its House of Burgesses in the 1620s. By 1700 a large number of English and Scottish immigrants resided along the James River and by 1720 there were around 100,000. The Hick's family (which married into the Harmon family several times), left the James River and went inland into North Carolina and one son, David settled in Watuaga County before the Revolutionary War. We know the ballad was part of the family because it was sung by Sam Harmon and his daughter (see Melinger Henry B)

B. "Little Mollie." Obtained from Mrs. Mary Tucker, Varnell, Georgia, February, 1929. Mrs. Tucker is the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Harmon, formerly of Cade's Cove, Tennessee.

1. "Little Mollie, little Mollie," said he,
"Will you degree[1], and get married to me?
I have a fair[2] off friend,
That we will go and see."

2. "Sweet Willie, sweet Willie," said she,
"I am afraid I am too young to get married to you."
"Little Mollie, oh, no, you are just right
For I have been digging at your grave all the best part of last night."

3. He led her over valleys and hollows so deep
Till, at last, poor little Mollie, so bitterly she did weep.
He led her up the mountain so high,
Until she came to her grave, and a spade a-laying by.

4. She threw her arms around him with a love hug and a fear.
"How can you kill a poor little girl, who has loved you so dear?"
"I have got no time to tarry, or fool here with you."
He pulled his hand out of his pocket, a sharp knife he drew.

5. He pierced her to the heart, oh! how the blood did flow!
And into her grave her dead body he threw.
He covered her up and went his way home;
Left nothing but the small birds to hear his sad moan.

6. As he was sailing all on his heart's delight,
The ship it was sinking, and nearly out of sight.
Up stepped little Mollie all in a gore of blood,
Saying that "A debt you owe the devil, and now you have it to pay."

1. agree.
2. far.

This version has the ship sinking gore of blood ending found in some extended Appalachian versions. It retains the broadside name "Molly" who visits William as a ghost as he is dying.

It seems to me that his version is early 1800s (guestimation) and retain elements of the broadside. My question is: could this and other version be based on an ur-ballad which was captured by the printed broadsides and reworked?

Certainly Sharp B is similar to or based on Gosport (posted earlier). At least a dozen Appalachian versions have "died distracted" or "too young to marry" which parallel the broadside tests.

It's possible but unlikely that the US print versions from NY, MA and MD traveled down to the Appalachians but that migration did happen.

I also believe that the Deming Broadside may have been derived from an early English broadside (possibly based on the ur-ballad) of the late 1700s which has since disappeared. This is evidenced by stanzas unique to Deming being found in Appalachia and also Nova Scotia.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 04:17 AM

> I've found a great traditional version of Gosport from West Virginia collected in 1953.

Thanks for posting this, Richie. I wonder if someone has the book and can add stanza 8.

On thing I notice about this version is that it doesn't come from the Deming-type text; it looks as if it's from the version in version in the Scottish chapbooks and Buchan (or something very similar). The evidence:

1) It has Portmouth, Charles Stewart (including his first name), and something that looks like a corruption of "on board the Bedford" ("Way down that redboat"). Those on their own might point to the Roxburghe-type text as a source. However:

2) The 8 lines starting "She saw her grave dug" are from the Scottish chapbook version (or something very like it). The Roxburghe-type text doesn't have the line about the grave and spade (and the Deming version arranges the lines differently and doesn't have the "worst of all men" / "dead and gone" rhyme, which the chapbook version keeps from the Roxburghe-type text).

As far as I can see the only other US version you have posted that has similar features pointing to the chapbook/Buchan type rather than the Deming type as a source is the one from Maryland (posted on 26 March).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 09:52 AM

TY Jim,

If I can find a couple words in stanza 8 I can get it using goggle books. Any suggestions? It has to be an exact word.

I'm going to comment on the Appalachian versions in 3/4 time that Brian Peters mentioned. In Appalachia, "Pretty Polly" has been incorporated in a cycle of 3/4 time songs that include stanzas from the Cuckoo, Wagoner's Lad, Rye Whiskey, etc.:

"Pretty Polly" -Recorded in East Bend, NC on September 2, 1944 from Uncle Pat Fry (singer).

The cuckoo is a pretty bird she sails as she flies,
She tells us glad tidings, she tells us no lie[s].

The cuckoo don't holler, but three times a year,
Oh and when she cuckoos, cause you know summer's near.

Pretty Polly, pretty Polly would you think it unkind,
For me to sit by you and tell you my mind.

My mind is to marry and never to part,
For the first time is saw you you wounded my heart.

So my horses are not hungry and they won't eat your hay,
So farewell Pretty Polly, I'll feed on my way.

And if I get tired I'll slow down and cry,
And think of Pretty Polly and wish she was mine.

Other informants (see McDowell, TN) know the ballad only in this format. It was first collected this way by Isabel Rawn in 1914 in Georgia- the MS was given to Olive Dame Campbell and is in the Sharp MS collection.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 11:14 AM

Hi Richie
As I'm sure you know there at least 20 different songs that use the title 'Pretty Polly'. What has the previous posting got to do with CSC? Apologies if I'm losing the thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 03:35 PM

Hi Richie,
My guess was that since stanza 8 can't be the one with Charles Stewart, which came next in the old broadside text but has already been used as stanza 6 here, stanza 8 might be something involving the captain. Searching for "captain", I got this. It's stanza 8 of something and it seems to have the right stanza form, and it fits the story. The only problem is that it belongs to another ballad about a sailor and a ghost:

8. "Oh, Captain, Captain,
Stand my defence,
For yonder comes
The spirit hence.
It'll cause you and all your
Seamen all for to weep,
When you are slumbering
In the deep."

It seems to be from the top of page 59. Would that be a possible match with what you found? I'm afraid it's the best I can do. Without access to the book itself, it's probably impossible to know. How do you know there is a stanza 8, by the way?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Tradsinger
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 04:24 PM

Here's a version collected in 1998 http://glostrad.com/ships-carpenters-mate-the/ with Wiggy Smith at his dramatic best.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 15 Apr 16 - 07:49 PM

Hi,

Jim- I also came up with that stanza but it's of course another song. If you add an 8. to "A voice they did hear." and hit search in snippet view or google books you'll see that there's an 8th stanza- plus it makes sense that there is.

Steve- Yes I know there are lots of version of Pretty Polly that are not CSC- these are a blending of texts from Pretty Polly found in other 3/4 time songs- so they are actually hybrid versions and not other songs about a girl named Pretty Polly. The melody is the other song. So this is not significant but shows the Pretty Polly text crossed over into other 3/4 time songs.

What may be important is the AAB form as a pre-blues format, since obviously Pretty Polly predates the birth of the blues. In Appalachia these are know as "white blues" that are modal, pentatonic with a flat 7 and sometimes minor 3rd (sung). They sometimes shift to a flat 7 chord with a progression something like: I VIIb7 I I VIIb7 I V7 I. Examples include Hustling Gamblers, Little Maggie, and Darling Cory.

TY tradsinger- for that version similar to the text of the broadside "Polly's love" from Wiggy Smith- what a singer!!!

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: GUEST,gutcher
Date: 16 Apr 16 - 02:18 AM

Do the two tunes given with the fragments in the Greig-Duncan collection bear any resemblance to the tunes collected in America/Canada?.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 16 Apr 16 - 04:35 AM

Richie, you're right. I've done some more searching of the snippets, using your method of including the number in the search, and found the stanza that goes before the "Oh captain" one, and it is indeed a different song. Sorry to have introduced a red herring. I was wondering if the singer had slipped from Gosport into "The Sailor and the Ghost", but apparently not. So the real stanza 8 remains a mystery.

Interesting about the pre-blues format. (I was wondering when this discussion would get on to the subject of how the Appalachian "Pretty Polly" took shape.) I only know the "... would you think it unkind,/ For me to sit by you and tell you my mind. / My mind is to marry and never to part,/ For the first time is saw you you wounded my heart" lines from the Stanley Brothers' version of "Pretty Polly". Do you think these were floating verses that were borrowed into "Pretty Polly", or did they start out as part of an earlier version of "Pretty Polly" and get borrowed into Uncle Pat Fry's song?

Gutcher, it would be interesting to know. On the assumption that words might have spread by print or manuscript, while tunes could generally only have spread through personal contact between one singer and another (at least before the days of sound recordings), a comparison of tunes might add to the picture of how the ballad spread and evolved.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Apr 16 - 09:21 AM

I can scan anything in Greig-Duncan and send it to you both if needed.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 16 Apr 16 - 11:21 AM

Hi,

Gutcher- I'd say that the standard US (Appalachain) Pretty Polly melody would have no resemblance to Greig-Duncan- however if Steve emails me a copy I'd like to look at those melodies.

The standard British versions are melodies used from the later broadside (early 1800s) "Polly's Love." The only traditional US version of that I have found is similar to "Sweet Betsy from Pike." Wiggy Smith sings a melody I've not heard and ironically sings of "Sweet Betsy."

The melody of Pretty Polly is sometimes minor "Dorian" and there is one beautiful minor rendering in The Abrams Collection which I'm convinced is very old and represents an early rendering of the ballad. It doesn't have the repeats of the first line:

Listen: http://omeka.library.appstate.edu/files/original/38ef8d25d4b1da33c347916da1dc6cd1.mp3

Pretty Polly- Sung by Mrs. James York on Dec. 7, 1940 at the Bland Hotel in Raleigh, NC. Transcribed R. Matteson 2016.

Come along Pretty Polly and go with me
Before we get married our friends to see.

He led her o'er hills and valleys so deep,
At last this poor damsel began to weep.

Oh William, I'm afraid you are leading me astray,
One purpose my innocent life to betray.

Come on Pretty Polly you guessed it just right
I'm digging your grave the one part of last night

Her lily-white hands in horror she rose
I'm crying for mercy what have I done?

They went a bit further and what did they spy
But a grave newly dug and a spade by the side

She threw her arms 'round him and suffered no fear,
How can you kill a girl who loves you so dear?

Come on Pretty Polly, no time to stand,
He instantly drew his best[1] knife in his hand.

He stabbed her through the heart and the blood it did flow,
And into the grave that poor body did go.

He threw some dirt o'er and turned to go home
Left nothing but the birds to make her sad mourn.

Oh where is Pretty Polly, oh woe is me?
Oh, now I am bound for one part of the sea.

1. own knife?

Jim- I was wondering about the text found also in Pretty Polly that has appeared in a half dozen collected waltz-time versions of Wagoner's Lad; Trouble in Mind; Cuckoo etc. It's clear to me that the Pretty Polly text existed before and was taken into the other songs.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Jim Brown
Date: 16 Apr 16 - 02:30 PM

Steve, thank you. I'd be interested to see the melodies too.

Richie, what made me wonder about the direction of borrowing of those "tell you my mind" lines is that it looks to me as if they fit better in a "Cuckoo"-type song of disappointed love than they do the "Pretty Polly" story. In Uncle Pat Fry's song, the four lines make sense as the words of one person: first he says he wants to tell her his mind, and then he tells her it (and presumably she isn't interested, so he moves on). In "Pretty Polly", he obviously isn't thinking of marriage, but she probably is, so the only way I can make sense of the four lines is to imagine that he says he wants to tell her his mind, and then, without waiting for him to do it, she tells him her mind. It looks if the lines have been forced into a story they didn't originally belong to. But you know better than I do if they are common in versions of "Pretty Polly".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 16 Apr 16 - 06:24 PM

Jim,

There are several standard openings for the US short versions:

1a. I used to be a rambler, I stayed around in town
I used to be a rambler, I stayed around in town
I courted Pretty Polly, her beauty has never been found.

This is from Jim Howard 1937 KY and should be:
I used to be a rambler, I roamed from town to town.

Notice that the final line still relates to the broadside text.

1b. I used to be a rounder I've been around this town,
I used to be a rounder I've been around this town,
I courted Pretty Polly I've been all around.

From Coon Creek Girls, 1938. Same opening but last line has nothing to do with broadside.

2a. Pretty Polly, pretty Polly would you think it unkind,
Pretty Polly, pretty Polly would you think it unkind,
For me to sit by you and tell you my mind.

My mind is to marry and never to part,
My mind is to marry and never to part,
For the first time is saw you you wounded my heart.

This opening which has been incorporated into other in waltz time songs has two stanzas- sometimes the second is missing:

2b. Polly, Pretty Polly, would you think it unkind?
Polly, Pretty Polly, would you think it unkind?
For me to sit down beside you and tell you my mind.
[Jim Howard, 1937 KY has only the first stanza.]

3a. I courted Pretty Polly, one whole live long night
I courted Pretty Polly, one whole live long night
Left the next morning, before it was light

[again Jim Howard, but perhaps most famous by Dock Boggs, 1927]

3b. I talked to pretty Polly one whole long night,
I talked to pretty Polly one whole long night,
I left the next morning before daylight.

["Pretty Polly" Addie Graham, born before 1900 in Kentucky, from recording, Been A Long Time Traveling.]

4a. "O where is Pretty Polly?" "O yonder she stands,
Gold rings upon her fingers, her lily-white hands."

[Pretty Polly; Hindman, KY pre1907; collected from H. Smith by Katherine Pettit]

There are over a dozen versions with 4a. as an opening. Sometimes they are combined as Jim Howard's version has three. 2a. found also crossed over in the waltz time songs is simply: he meets her, wants to marry her because she's wounded his heart- then he takes her "over hills and valleys so deep."

The other 3/4 time songs lack a cohesive theme and subject. By putting this opening (2a.) in Wagoner's Lad at least there is a specific love interest.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Apr 16 - 02:14 PM

Dispatched tunes.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 17 Apr 16 - 02:50 PM

TY Steve for the tunes. Ty everyone for your insights and help with this tread.

I've added the Brown Collection of NC Folklore and Abrams collection to my site 911 versions) and have stated adding more US versions here: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/us--canada-versions-1-gosport-tragedy.aspx

A few observations are found on the main page (headnotes) here: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/1-the-cruel-ships-carpenter-pretty-polly.aspx

The thrust of these observation are posted below (preliminary findings which may change) since they aren't so long. Comments are welcome:

Unless you agree with Fowler[5] that the first Gosport broadside was written around 1726 by a printer[6] from a story about a murder and ghostly visitation witnessed and transmitted by Charles Stewart (also Stuart), the broadsides could likely be based on an ur-ballad[7]. I find it unlikely that Stewart would have met Molly's parents and told them where she is buried and it seems unlikely that he witnessed her ghost and the other supernatural events that take place in the broadside and transmitted them to Cluer in London[8]. Aa certainly does not seem to be taken from tradition, but rather is a printer's elaboration on the ballad story. Bb, is shorter and closer to the likely tradition while Ca has the standard text with a new beginning and ending. Discovering the ur-ballad from the these printed broadsides can be done by studying available traditional versions that are not closely based on print[9].

The nature of the Ur-ballad raises these questions. Was the first print version, Aa London, circa 1720-1750, a wholly original work? Did other printers copy the first printing and subsequent folk singers learned the ballad directly or indirectly from these broadsides? My contention is that Aa was taken from tradition (the ur-ballad) and embellished. The embellishments could include additional stanzas and also the setting and names. As much as Fowler[10] has tried to prove the historical accuracy of the ballad as if it was based on an actual event, I assume that it was more likely that the specific details, which include William, Molly, Charles Stuart, Gosport, Plymouth (Portsmouth) and the HMS Bedford, were added to the ur-ballad by a printer. The ur-ballad does seem to be about a ship carpenter who charms and impregnates his lover while ashore and then before he sets sail, decides to murder her because she is pregnant. This murder would, according to tradition, have placed a curse on the vessel and its crew if the murderer went to sea. The appearance of his lover's ghost and his subsequent confession and death are predicable results of his crime. William dies because he is "raving distracted" which is another clue to understanding the ballad's oral history.

Fortunately there is a body of traditional versions that may be used to understand the underlying traditional ballad. One area of study is the Appalachians. Cecil Sharp and Olive Campbell collected 39 version alone of "The Cruel Ship's Carpenter" between 1916-1918, most of which date back to the 1800s by the informants and through their families date back to the times of their early ancestors settlements in the mountains. Although it may be impossible to pinpoint the exact date this ballad came into an area, like Madison County, NC, it may be assumed that the ballad was brought to the Virginia Colony and was taken by ancestors into the remote mountains, where it remained to be discovered by Sharp between 1916 and 1918. Many of the ballads brought to the Virginia colony were learned there before the Revolutionary War and taken into remote regions such as Flag Pond, TN and Madison County NC before 1800.

Most of the texts are the short Appalachian version which is similarly found in 6 stanzas of the broadside. It's clear that these stanzas are part of the ur-ballad. Only two texts, Sharp B and an MS fragment, are closely related to the Gosport broadsides. The remainder of the texts (and other Appalachian text) when compared show these results:

1. That first stanza of the broadsides is found enough times to assume that it is part of the ur-ballad. In Appalachia the damsel dwells in London and other locations and her beauty is mentioned and sometimes that her lover was a ship's carpenter.

2. That stanza two is usually present though not necessarily as the second stanza in that place. William wants to marry her and asks her to marry.

3. That her response, "I'm too young to marry" is present enough to warrant inclusion in the ur-ballad. Although it is rare, this is found in enough versions to believe it has been transmitted from the British Isles and is not a local variance.

4. That subsequent stanzas in the broadsides (4-13 Roxburghe) that include her sexual submission, her pregnancy, and his call to return to the sea are lacking in Appalachia except in very rare cases. It may be assumed that this may be in part due to taboos of transmission of sexual actions in general.

5. The visitation of Charles Stewart is missing in standard Appalachian version however, Polly's (Molly's) ghost does appear and William does die "raving distracted."

6. That additional stanzas constructed in Appalachia probably from the House Carpenter, where William boards a ship after the murder which sinks can be expected. The boarding of the ship is still in line with the broadside, it's the sinking and going to hell to pay a debt to the devil which is new.

The possibility that the early broadsides captured an existing traditional ballad (ur-ballad) is reasonable. It's also reasonable to assume that the Deming broadside and the "Polly's love" broadside were changed by the addition or subtraction of either new or pre-broadside traditional texts. I also know that some of the texts made by these printers entered tradition and this is proven by collected versions. My conclusion is that the ballad was reworked by a printer, or in this case printers, from a traditional tale about a murder and cosmic retribution upon the murderer for his horrific deed.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 17 Apr 16 - 02:52 PM

Mistake in last post :) I've added the Brown Collection of NC Folklore and Abrams collection to my site (11 versions)

11 versions, not 911 haha!

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 17 Apr 16 - 10:18 PM

Hi,

There's funny story about Lily Mae Ledford told later in her life about Pretty Polly, This is how I remember it.

When Lily Mae was young playing the banjo at home in Red River, Powell County, KY and singing songs her mother told Lily not to play any of those drinking songs, like Wild Bill Jones but she told Lily she could play Pretty Polly.

Lily said, "But Mama that boy killed that poor girl!"

Her Mama said, "Well it was probably cause he was drinkin'."

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Apr 16 - 10:57 AM

Hi Richie
As sometimes happens I don't quite follow your reasoning or agree with it. I concur that you have studied all extant versions which I have not and therefore you will no doubt have insights which I have not.

Having looked at the dates involved I am now more happy to accept Fowler's painstaking research. Also my knowledge of other ballads of the period (Dicey-Marshall material) leads me to believe, like many other ballads of the period, the hacks would find a skeleton of a story from whatever source (and sources are numerous and wide-ranging) and embellish it/spice it up with well-known pieces of folklore/superstitions. I think this is the more likely origin, but that's just my opinion and by all means include it wherever you like.

Very few of the ballad plots of that period are original. They are often taken from folk tales and stories from the continent and then given a local flavour by setting them somewhere real. In this case the bare outlines of the story came to the writer readymade. The hacks often spent their days in taverns by the waterside picking up stories from travellers: pick up a good story, knock up some rapid formulated doggerel, and off to the printers for your next night's drinking money!

Just remind you of an example I gave earlier: Bramble Briar/Bridgwater Merchant is very close to the 17thc English translation of the Isabella story in the Decameron. , (Minus the barmy head in the plantpot episode). I believe it was knocked up in Bristol in the middle of the 18thc and localised, hence Bridgwater.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 18 Apr 16 - 10:06 PM

Ty for your insights Steve. BTW I still didn't get music score, perhaps you don't have my email address correct: Richiematt7@gmail.com

Here's one of the few US version of the Polly's Love broadside circa 1820. It's interesting this predates Broadwood's 1893 collection by a number of years:

PRETTY POLLY-- The text was dictated by Mrs. Salley A. Hubbard of Salt Lake City, Oct. 7, 1946. She said that the "complete song" was sung by John Whittaker at a Fourth of July celebration in Willard before 1870.

1. They mounted on steeds and they rode through the greenwood;
O'er high hills and hollows and valleys they rode,
Like two doves together till a grave they did see,
A grave newly dug and a spade standing by.

2. She said, "William, come pity me, spare my poor life;
Let me live out my shame if I can't be your wife."
"Polly, oh Polly, there's no time to stand."
And instantly taking his knife in his hand,

3. He pierced her fair breast and the blood it did flow,
And into her grave her young body did throw.
He covered her o'ver and soon hastened on,
Left none but the small birds her state to be mourned.

4. He entered on board ship to sail the seas round,
And not until then was the murderer found.
"There's a murderer on board and he cannot be found;
Our ship stands in mourning and we cannot sail on."

5. Up steps one man and says, "It is not me,"
And up steps another and he said the same.
And up steps young William to stomp and to swear,
"It is not me I will vow and declare."

6. As William was hastening from the captain with speed,
He met his poor Polly, which made his heart bleed.
She ripped him, she stripped him, she tore him in three
Because he had murdered her and her baby.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 09:43 AM

I've been through the Sharp versions pretty thoroughly now. After eliminating one that doesn't look like our song, I have 34 versions mostly from Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia, with one each from Tennessee and West Virginia.

There are very distinct regional differences in the way the song was sung. The one known in bluegrass circles as 'Pretty Polly', i.e. the shortened version with stanzas including a repeated first line (mainly twelve-bar AAB but sometimes 16-bar AAAB) is overwhelmingly associated with Kentucky. Some were notated by Sharp in 2/2 and 4/4, some in 3/4. None of the NC examples show that pattern, and nor does Jeff Stockton's from just across the Tennessee line.

The NC versions are almost all in triple time, usually with gapped scales containing a flattened third (i.e. Dorian-ish). There is a recognizable group with melodies resembling that of Mrs Tom Rice (Sharp's A version in EFSSA), examples of which turn up in KY and VA as well as NC. For example, Sharp C (Hilliard Smith) is clearly related to the Rice version both textually and melodically (Mr. Smith, incidentally, was not only a Trustee of Hindman college but also a US senator, no hillbilly he). Then there's a second, smaller group with a modal tune that's related to the Rice one. It's possible to see how the 'bluegrass PP' melody might be related in turn to these. All the NC versions but one have 16 bar stanzas following an ABCD text pattern; none has a first-line repeat.

There's also a very disparate category of 8 assorted major / Ionian tunes that don't hang together as a group. Amongst these are two very similar versions from the same part of VA, which appear from their first lines to be survivals of the 'Gosport Tragedy' – unfortunately Sharp and Karpeles didn't notate the words for these, or most of the other variants – and the Jeff Stockton broadside-based version, which is set to a tune unlike all the others. Some of these 'one-off' tunes may be borrowed from different songs, in one case clearly 'Jack O' Diamonds'.

Looking at all of that I'd say that the NC versions represent the older strain. The 12-bar type appears to have been sweeping Kentucky 100 years ago, though the older type was still hanging on there. Interestingly, a lot of those 12-bar versions came from students at Berea, Hindman and Oneida colleges. Was this the hit version of the day that appealed to the kids?

That the earliest commercial recordings of 'Pretty Polly' were by John Hammond and B F Shelton, both from Kentucky, comes as no surprise.

I'm still interested in where those recurring lines about 'gores of blood' and the 'debt to the Devil' came from. I agree that some of those verses about the ship sinking are reminiscent of 'House Carpenter', but I don't know a version of that with a debt to the Devil. Is there a missing print copy that included those stanzas?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 10:04 AM

Those hybrid versions from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia are interesting but not surprising. The mass migration from the British Isles to both provinces took place in the 19th century, up to 100 years after the main Appalachian migration. By that time 'Polly's Love' would have been established in Britain, so presumably the migrants took it with them. Perhaps it then got tangled up with the 'Deming' text from the Forget-me-not songsters?

My belief is that, for all the potential influence of New World printed copies, the songs that were popular in a particular region reflected the heritage of its immigrant population. There are traces of 19th century songster material in the Appalachian collections, but relatively few Forget-me-not songs turned up there. To find the sources of the mountain repertoire we need to look at what was current in England, Scotland and Ulster in the early 18th century. Unfortunately there's very little evidence in terms of oral tradition, so all we have to go on are the earlier broadsides.

Ballads popular in the Appalachians, like 'Barbara Allen', 'Two Sisters', 'House Carpenter' and 'Matty Groves' did exist as broadsides in the appropriate time period. What, though, about 'Young Hunting', 'Hind Horn', 'Earl Brand' or 'Jack Went A-Sailing'? Do we know of any early broadside copies of those?

Hoping Steve G might have something...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 11:34 AM

One more contribution from me.

With reference to the foregoing discussion of burlesques, I thought I'd share with those who haven't seen it this copy of 'The Sailor and the Ghost', the analogous Jonah ballad mentioned above.

Magnificent broadside illustration


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 01:43 PM

The ballads you mention, Brian, should be compared with published versions from the 18th century and the early 19th. Not all of those who emigrated were poor or illiterate. Some of us still have this idea in our heads that it was only the unsophisticated who carried these ballads. That is far from the truth.

3 possibilities other than the usual.
Some emigrants had learnt them from published sources before they emigrated.
Some took the published materials with them.
Some had them posted over after they had settled.

Remember it takes very little time for a ballad to get into oral tradition from print.

The reason why Duncan and Greig were able to collect many Child Ballads is quite a few were heavily influenced by those published in the early 19thc. Some of Peter Buchan's 'eked out' versions for instance.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 02:54 PM

"The ballads you mention, Brian, should be compared with published versions from the 18th century and the early 19th. Not all of those who emigrated were poor or illiterate. Some of us still have this idea in our heads that it was only the unsophisticated who carried these ballads. That is far from the truth."

I realise that - see my comment above regarding Senator Hilliard Smith. However, having read David Hackett Fisher, the impression I have is that the majority of the migrants to the Appalachian backcountry were indeed poor and unsophisiticated.

"3 possibilities other than the usual.
Some emigrants had learnt them from published sources before they emigrated.
Some took the published materials with them.
Some had them posted over after they had settled."


The first is certainly a good possibility - that's why I was asking whether we have any early broadside evidence of those ballads that I mentioned. Point 2 is also possible, though Sharp asked his singers whether they had broadsides and didn't find a single one. Point 3 seems unlikely to have been a significant factor given what we know about the status of most of the migrants.

Yes, of course you can compare the Appalachian ballads with the usual late 18th / early 19th C Scots suspects in Child. My point was that all of those postdated the Appalachian migration, so you're not looking at the raw material. The fact that the mountain people had that large ballad repertoire projects those ballads back into early 18th C Britain. I was just wondering whether there was any direct evidence that I didn't know about. I take it that's a 'no', then?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 03:50 PM

I'm posting the corrections (TY Jim)to the excellent minor version sung by Mrs. York in 1940 which would make an excellent starting point for a ballad cover by someone like the talented Brian Peters.

Pretty Polly (corrected) Sung by Mrs. James York 1940, NC.

Come along Pretty Polly and go with me
Before we get married a friend to see.

He led her o'er hills and valleys so deep,
At last this poor damsel began to weep.

Oh William, I'm fearful you are leading me astray,
One purpose my innocent life to betray.

Come on Pretty Polly you guessed it just right
I was digging your grave the one part of last night

Her lily-white hands in horror she rose
A-crying for mercy: What have I done?

They went a bit further and what did they spy
But a grave ready dug and a spade by the side

She threw her arms 'round him and suffered no fear,
How can you kill a girl who loves you so dear?

Come on Pretty Polly, no time to stand,
He instantly drew a large knife in his hand.

He stabbed her through the heart and the blood it did flow,
And into the grave that poor body did go.

He threw some dust o'er and turned to go home
Left nothing but the birds to make a sad moan.

Oh where is Pretty Polly, oh where is she?
Oh, now I am bound for one part of the sea.

It should be commented that both Mrs York and her husband James were excellent singers, collected ballads locally and in her case, she got version from both her parents.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 03:56 PM

TY Steve for the music, I'll look at it tonight. I also emailed this to you:

I'm trying to better understand the broadside creation especially in regard to this ballad- I realize that there is some speculation. The question is: Can one assume that the broadside was written from an extant traditional ballad? In this case there are three broadsides that are somewhat distinct.

If there is no earlier ballad then how do we explain only parts of the broadside surviving? Why aren't the missing stanzas found in North America? Why are there different broadsides?

If you can post your thoughts on this Steve (or anyone) it would be a great help,

TY

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 04:27 PM

Now that I've read some of the comments by Brian and Steve I'd like to make an observation.

As mentioned earlier in this thread The Lord Thomas broadside was supposed to be the source of the English version of the ballad both in the British Isles and in North America. However stanza 4 of the broadside never showed up in traditional versions- therefore the versions were all from tradition and the broadside was written from tradition but the printer added stanza 4. This is provable.

I'm coming to the opinion that rather than saying "it takes very little time for a ballad to get into oral tradition from print," we should be saying, "the ballad was taken from tradition and captured in print at that moment in time."

Also that "both the traditional (ur-ballad) and the print version helped disseminate the ballad." And that "broadside printers changed and elaborated the ballad text."

The Roxburghe ballad of 1720-1750, in my opinion, sounds like it has been "created from tradition." It does not seem like it comes from the lips of the masses. I'm not doubting that some of it could be based on the events of 1726 as Fowler proposes. I just don't think this is necessarily a historical ballad- obviously Charles Stewart never met Polly's ghost - but I believe it is based on a murder in that area (because of the attached place names)- possibly at that time or earlier.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 06:31 PM

Hi Brian,
I'll try to find time to check the ballads you mention for earlier broadsides, but even if I can't find them that doesn't mean they didn't exist. Regarding the unsophisticated state of the people the ballads were collected from, the earlier generations or influences their predecessors had might well have been much more sophisticated. As for there being no broadsides found by Sharp, that doesn't mean their predecessors didn't have access to them. If they had them with them when they arrived or bought them on the east coast they would be unlikely to survive all the trials of migration.

When you write 'Earl Brand' do you mean Earl Brand or Douglas Tragedy. Child lumped them together but they are 2 distinct ballads, the latter a rewrite of the former in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 06:46 PM

Again, Richie, I'm having problems following you here. How can the lack of a stanza in the American oral versions be proof that the broadside came from oral tradition?

"the ballad was taken from tradition and captured in print at that moment in time." That is known to have happened mostly with material after 1800, but there is nothing to prove that the earliest print version is not the original and current thought is certainly moving towards that idea.

'broadside printers changed and elaborated the ballad text." Yes they did, but more often they shortened rather than elaborated and they were usually altering what was an earlier printed version rather than one from oral tradition.

'The Roxburghe ballad of 1720-1750, in my opinion, sounds like it has been "created from tradition." ' If by 'created from tradition' you mean the writer took traditional material and blended it with a circulating current story, that's highly likely. Also, don't forget, the writers often weren't particularly sophisticated themselves. As you progress from the 17th to the 19th centuries their status was descending all the time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Brian Peters
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 08:09 PM

Richie: carry on flattering me like that and I might even learn the ballad. Mrs York's is certainly a fine version. Thanks for posting it.

Steve: I agree that broadsides so far elusive might very well have existed. Someone at some point has written the 'Hind Horn' ballad based on the medieval epic, just as someone wrote 'Bramble Brair' based on an old tale from Bocaccio. Not sure on the detail of 'Earl Brand' - just going on the title Sharp gave in his book - and having used the title 'Cruel Ship's Carpenter' for all those 'Gosport' descendents, he isn't always reliable.

"their predecessors had might well have been much more sophisticated."

Not so sure about that. The migrants (as I understand it) were mainly from the wild border territories between England, Scotland and Ulster: poor, lawless, feuding, and all the rest. Sophisticated, maybe not.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 19 Apr 16 - 08:57 PM

Hi,

Good news: I want to thank Kevin Fredette and Jo Brown of the WVU library. Kevin sent me an entire copy of the Pretty Polly text housed at the West Virginia History Center ("West Virginia Collection"). Jim Brown got the 8th stanza right from Google books- it just didn't seem right :) Here is the entire version. Pretty Polly's ghost gets mad then she gets even!!! Check out the ending.

Pretty Polly (The Cruel Ship's Carpenter) --Contributed by Everett Smith, of Catawba, as sung by S. L. Bunner of Catawba. I have the tune of this, as sung to me by Everett Smith.)

1. It's away down in low land,
Where little Polly did dwell;
For wit and for beauty
There's none could excell.
There's a young man who courted her
All for to be his dear,
And was by trade
Was a ship's carpenter.

2. "Come, pretty Polly,
Come go along with me;
Before we get married,
A friend we will be*." (see?)
He led her through groves
And through valleys so deep,
Till last* this fair damsel (at last?)
Began for to weep.

"Hard-hearted young William,
You have led em astray,
one purpose, my in love* (on purpose my love)
And my life to betray."

3. She saw her grave dug,
And a spade standing by,
Saying, "Is this my bride's bed,
Wherein must I lie?
Hard-hearted young William,
You're worst of all men;
May the heavens award* you (reward?)
When I'm dead and gone.

4. "It's come, pretty Polly,
There's no time to stand;
While immediately taking
A knife in his hand,
He pierced her fair body
Till the heart-blood did flow
And into her grave,
Her fair body did throw.

5. In covering her over,
He turned back again;
Left none but the small birds
Her death to mourn.
Way down that redboat[1],
He's gone speedily,
And away in Portsmouth
He bound out for the sea.

6. Old Charley Stewart,
Carried so bold,
This beautiful damsel,
He chanced to behold,
This beautiful damsel
Unto him did appear,
And into her arms was
A baby so dear.

7. With screams of loud screeches[2],
Cried out . . .(in loud cries?)
Till flashes of lightning
Fell down from the skies;
Set the whole ship in
A tremble of fear;
But none saw the ghost, but[3]
A voice they did hear.


8. "Oh, Captain, Captain,
Stand my defence,
For yonder comes
The spirit hence.
It'll cause you and all your
Seamen all for to weep,
When you are slumbering
In the deep."

9. "Oh, Captain, Captain,
Can you tell me,
Where such a young
Man may be?"
In St. Island
this young man died
And in St. Island
This young man lies."

10. "Oh, Captain, Captain,
How can you say so,
While he is in
Your ship below?
If you don't go
And bring him hence,
A dreadful storm
I will commence.

11. Down deck the sea
Captain goes,
For to face
The young man* foes. (man's foes?)
She cast her eyes
On him so grim,
Which made him tremble
In every limb.

12. She caught him by the
Cuff of the coat,
And pulled him into
Her little boat.
She sank her boat in
A flame of fire,
Which caused the seamen
To admire.

My Footnotes:

1. Roxburghe broadside: On board the Bedford (Way down [on] the Bedford)
2. Roxburghe broadside: She afterward vanished with shrieks and cries,
                      Flashes of lightning did dart from her eyes;
3. It makes no sense to have "but" on this line.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 03:57 AM

Thanks Richie. That's clearly a hybrid with the 'Sailor and the Ghost' - see the link to the broadside copy I posted yesterday at 11.34. Interesting.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 05:48 PM

TY, for posting the broadside Brian. Here's the transcription of Findlater by Jim Brown. TY Jim. This is similar to the Deming Broadside printed in the US in the early 1800s- perhaps from a missing British broadside of circa 1700.

The Gosport Tragedy
Sung by Ethel Findlater and Elsie Johnston, recorded by Alan Bruford, Dounby, Orkney, 1967
(http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/63592/3;jsessionid=4D0FD6C3DB2D2A0DB3AA4E5A490596FB )

1. In Gosport of late a fair damsel did dwell,
For wit and for beauty few could her excel;
A young man did court her for to be his dear,
And he to his trade was a ship's carpenter.

2. With blushes more sweet than the roses in June.
She says, "My dear William for to wed I'm too young.
For young men they are fickle I can see very plain,
When a maiden proves kindness they quickly disdain."

3. "Oh, my charming sweet Molly, how dare you say so,
Your [1] beauty's the haven to which I would go;
And if I find channel my ship for to steer,
I then would cast anchor and stay with my dear."

4. It was all in vain that she strove to deny
For he by his cunningness he made her comply,
And by false deception he did her betray
And in some hellish pathway he led her astray.

5. As soon as with child this young damsel did prove,
She quickly sent the tidings to her faithless love
Who swore by the heavens that he would prove true,
And he never would marry a damsel but you.

6. Time passed on a while and again we do hear,
His ship must be sailing, for [2] sea he must steer;
Which grieved this poor damsel and wounded her heart,
To think that so soon from her love she must part.

7. With tender affections he to her he did say,
I'll marry my Molly ere I go away;
And if that to-morrow my love will ride down
The ring we will buy, our fair union to crown.

8. With tender embraces, they parted that night,
He [3] promised to meet her next morning at light;
But he says, "My dear Molly ere we married be,
We must go on a visit some friends for to see."

9. He led her through hills and through valleys so deep
Till at length this young damsel began for to weep;
She says, "My dear William, you have led me astray,
In hopes of my innocent life to betray."

10. "Oh, yes, you have guessed right, on earth don't you see,
For all the last night I was digging your grave";
A grave and a spade lying near she did see,
Which made this young damsel to weep bitterly.

11. When poor ruined Molly did hear him say so,
The tears from her eyes like a fountain did flow;
Saying, "Treacherous William, the worst of mankind,
Is this the bride's bed I expected to find?"

12. "Oh, pity my infant and spare me my life,
Let me live in my shame since I can't be your wife;
And don't take my life lest my soul you betray,
And you to perdition would be hurried away.

13. With hands white as lilies in sorrow she wrung,
Imploring for mercy saying, "What have I done
To you dearest William so comely and fair?
Can you murder your true love that loved you so dear?"

14. He says, "There's no time for disputing to stand,"
And he instantly taking a knife in his hand;
He pierced her fair body while the blood it did flow,
And in the cold grave her fair body he threw.

15. He covered it over, and quick hastened on
Leaving none but the little birds her sad fate to bemoan:
On board ship he entered without more delay,
And set sail for Plymouth the very next day.

16. A young man named Stewart, of courage most bold,
Who happened one night to be late in the hold;
When a beautiful damsel to him did appear,
And she in her arms held an infant so dear.

17. Being merry with liquor, he ran to embrace,
Transported with joy at beholding her face;
And to his amazement soon vanished away,
Which he ran and told the captain without more delay.

18. The Captain soon then [4] summoned his jolly ship's crew,
Saying, "I fear, my brave fellows that some one of you
Has murdered a damsel ere he came away,
Whose innocent ghost now haunts you[5] on the sea.

19. "Whoever he be if the truth he confess,
We will land him upon the first island we meet;
But whoever he be if the truth he deny,
He will be hung up on the yard's arm so high."

20. William in horror he fell on his knees,
Saying. "Poor injured ghost thy forgiveness I crave.[6]
For soon I shall follow thee down to the grave."

21. As soon as her parents the sad tidings did hear.
They sought for the body of their daughter so dear;
In the town of Southampton her body now lies,
And I hope that her soul is with God in the sky.

22. And I hope this sad tale will a warning to all
Who dare a young innocent maid to enthrall
In Oxford green churchyard her body was laid
And for a monument [7] there's a stone at her head. [8]

[1] 1969: "For your"
[2] 1969: "to"
[3] 1969: "And he"
[4] 1969: "then" omitted
[5] 1969: "him"
[6] In 1969, this line is repeated, so the tune is complete.
[7] Unclear: sounds more like "monumento" – perhaps "monumental"? Or are the two singers singing different words, perhaps "monument" and "memento"?
[8] In 1969, these last two stanzas are omitted.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 08:35 PM

Hi,

I forgot to add that Findlater's version (above) appears under the title, "In Gosport of Late" in the book, "Sitting Out the Winter in the Orkney Islands: Folksong Acquisition in Northern Scotland" by Nancy Cassell McEntire 1990.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 20 Apr 16 - 09:12 PM

Hi,

The version titled "Pretty Polly" in West Virginia Folklore - Vol. 7, no. 4, pages 57-59 (Summer 1957) as pointed out by Brian Peters is a composite ballad. The end of the ballad (stanza 8 onward) is from "The Sailor and the Ghost" an 1805 British broadside (Harding B10(68), Bodleian Collection) found in the US, Canada, and UK. Other names include "The Sailor's Tragedy," "The Sea Ghost," "The Dreadful Ghost," and "The Ghost So Grim." Here are the corresponding ending stanzas from The Universal Songster, or Museum of Mirth vol. 2, George Routledge and Sons, London, New York.

The Sailor and the Ghost of His Deserted Dearie (excerpt)

10. Down on the deck this young man goes,
And to his captain his mind disclosed;
There is a spirit coming hence,
I pray you, stand in my defense.

11. Upon the deck the captain goes,
And there he spied a fatal ghost;
Ghost, -"Captain," said she, "you must and can
With speed help me to such a man."

12. Capt. - "In St. Helen's this young man died,
And in St. Helen's his body lies."
Ghost, -"Captain," said she, "do not say so,
He is dwelling down in your ship below.

13. "And if you stand up in his defense,
A mighty storm I will send hence;
Will cause your men and you to weep;
And leave you, sleeping, in the deep."

14. Down from the deck this captain goes,
And brought this young man to his foes.
She fixed her eyes on him so grim,
Which made him tremble, ev'ry limb.

15. "It was well known I was a maid,
When first by you I was betrayed;
I am a spirit, come for thou,
You balked me once, But I'll have you now."

16. Then, to preserve both ship and men,
Into the boat they forced him then;
The boat sunk down in a flame of fire,
Which made the sailors all admire.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 21 Apr 16 - 05:38 PM

Hi,

I want to thank everyone for contributing to this thread. Certainly this is starting point. I'm still putting my US/Canadian versions on my site and have over 100. After that I'll post some conclusions. I have new book deal with Mel Bay yesterday for "Country Music: The Early Years" and another book, "Popular child Ballads" so I'll be working on those two books in addition to posting here.

This is "Pretty Polly" from Mountain Ballads for Social Singing by James Watt Raine; Cecil J Sharp; Berea, Ky.: Berea College Press, 1923. The melody is from Sharp's EFFSA, version I. The text is from an unknown source collected by Raine in Kentucky and in stanza 11 it has Pretty Polly returning as a ghost with her baby- a very rare and unique stanza in Appalachia. Here's the ending from stanza 9:


9. The ship was lying ready, all on the sea side,
He swore by his maker, he'd sail the other side.

10. And whilst he was sailing, in full heart's content,
The ship sprung a leak and to the bottom she went.

11. And there was Petty Polly, all in a gore of blood,
In her lily-white arms was an infant of God[1].

12. O William, O William, you've no time to stay,
There's a debt to the devil you're bound to pay.

1. the expression in stanza eleven seems to mean, "I call God to witness, she had an infant in her arms. [Raine's footnote]

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Apr 16 - 05:00 AM

A prosodic and semantic observation —

I always say that one of the glories of the language of folksong is its knack of teetering on the edge of doggerel but never quite tumbling over. But some versions recently posted do not succeed in this.

In particular, the one two posts back, for the sake of the rhyme, confuses,"hence"

which = "away from here"

with its opposite, "hither"

which = "to here" —

Most unfortunate because it contradicts the sense which even near-doggerel should avoid doing.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Apr 16 - 02:38 PM

The line should actually read.
'There is a spirit coming hither,
She's got a little baby with her.'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 Apr 16 - 04:32 AM

Worthy of Ogden Nash, that, Steve!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Apr 16 - 02:56 PM

Oooh, thanks, Brian!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Apr 16 - 07:13 PM

W McGonagall rather than O Nash, I should have said...

LoL


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Apr 16 - 08:49 AM

I'll take either! Percy French?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 30 Jul 16 - 12:56 PM

Hi,

I'm back again, trying to finish Gosport Tragedy.

I'm not sure if I understand the origin of the "Polly's Love" variant found in Aberdeen as well as County Dublin. Joe Éinniú called it, The Dublin Murder Ballad (also "Miss Brown" "Murder of Mary Brown" etc.), and he sang just one stanza:

In Dublin's fair city, in Dublin's fair town
There dwelt a pretty maiden, her name was Mary Brown
She courted a sailor for seven long years
And at the beginning he called her his dear.

If anyone has information about versions and how or when it became attached to the broadside "Can't you love who you please" (usually just the last stanza0 please let me know.

TY

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 30 Jul 16 - 01:04 PM

Hi,

Another Irish (?) version is traditional Irish singer Frank Harte's version from a 1975 recording:

Miss Brown

Oh in Dublin's fair city, in Dublin's fair town,
In Dublin's fair city, there dwelt a Miss Brown.
And she courted a sailor for seven long years,
And from the beginning, he called her his dear.

And one morning very early, all by the break of the day,
He came to her cottage and to her did say:
"Rise up, lovely Mary, and come along with me.
Strange things they will happen; and strange sights things we will see."

Well he took her over mountain;and he took her over dell,
And she heard through the morning the sound of a bell.
All over the ocean, all over the sea,
Ye fair maids of Dublin, take warning from me.

"O sailor, o sailor, come spare me my life,"
When out of his pocket, he drew a sharp knife.
And he ripped her and tore her and cut her in three,
Then he laid his poor Mary underneath a green tree.

Oh green grows the laurel and red grows the rose
And the raven will follow, wherever he goes;
A cloud will hang over this murderer's head
He shall never rest easy now that Mary be dead.

It's easier to see the "Polly's Love" connection and the "green grows" connection in the last stanza,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Jul 16 - 04:30 PM

Hi Richie,
Off the top of my head in the British Isles travellers are particularly noted for stringing together fragments of different ballads into some sort of cohesive narrative. Not all travellers do this and the method is not exclusive to travellers. Early collectors and antiquarians did similar things with much longer ballads.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 01 Aug 16 - 11:05 AM

TY Steve,

According to Jeannie Robertson her version of this ballad variant was learned in Aberdeen about 1918:

To listen: http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/fullrecord/24303/1

Miss Brown of Dublin City- Recorded by Jeannie Robertson; Sept. 1953
Reporters - Hamish Henderson; Jean Ritchie; She recorded it under the title of "The Murder of Thomas Brown in October 1953. It was covered by MacColl as "Miss Brown."

In Dublin's fair city
In Dublin's fair town
In Dublin's fair city
There lived a Miss Brown.

For she courted a sailor
For seven long years,
And from the beginning
He called her his dear.

But one morning very early,
All by the break o' day.
For he came to her window
And to her he did say:

"Rise up bonnie Mary
And come along with me;
For such things they will happen
And such things we will see."

But he took her over mountains
And he took her over dales;
And he left his poor Mary
For to weep and for to wail[1].

"Oh sailor, Oh sailor,
Come spare me my life,"
But out of his pocket,
He drew a pocket knife.

Oh he stabbed her and he ripped her
And he cut her in three
And he buried poor Mary
Underneath a green tree.

1. cry (hard to hear)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Gosport Tragedy/ Cruel Ship's Carpenter
From: Richie
Date: 01 Aug 16 - 11:29 AM

A similar version "The Dublin Murder Ballad" with an extra measure was recorded by Patrick Galvin in his "Irish Street Songs," 1956 (Riverside RLP 12-613 LP). He says, "The song is fairly common in Ireland, but even more so in Scotland." This refers to the Robertson and 1954 Maggie Stewart recordings.

Ed McCurdy's version is taken from that recording and was recorded in 1956 on Electra. McCurdy's version appears in the Jack Horntip Collection (online) without accreditation.

The ballad is based loosely on "Polly's Love" broadside where Polly's ghost rips him tears him and cut's him in three. Here the role is reversed. The first and second stanzas are loosely derived from:

In fair Warwick city in fair Warwickshire
A handsome young damsel oh! lived there
A handsome young man courted her to be his dear
And he was by trade a ship's carpenter.

and these stanzas:

One morning so early before it was day,
He came to his Polly; these words he did say:
Oh, Polly, oh, Polly, you must go with me
Before we are married our friends for to see.

He led her through groves and valleys so steep
Which caused this young damsel to sigh and to weep.
Oh, William, oh, William, you have led me astray
On purpose my innocent life to betray.

The villain is named Thomas Brown by Robertson and his lover is Mary Brown. The first two lines of additional Irish stanza is from "green grows the laurel."

Richie


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