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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
Richie 26 Mar 16 - 03:08 PM
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
Steve Gardham 28 Mar 16 - 02:27 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Mar 16 - 03:01 PM
Richie 28 Mar 16 - 05:08 PM
Richie 28 Mar 16 - 05:13 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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