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Origins: The Smuggler's Boy

Joe Offer 08 Jun 20 - 09:29 PM
GUEST 09 Jun 20 - 01:40 AM
Reinhard 09 Jun 20 - 02:05 AM
Reinhard 09 Jun 20 - 02:07 AM
Reinhard 09 Jun 20 - 02:39 AM
GUEST,Singerdave 09 Jun 20 - 12:09 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Jun 20 - 02:37 PM
Richard Mellish 10 Jun 20 - 02:44 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Smuggler's Boy
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 20 - 09:29 PM

Somebody sang this at the Mudcat singaround today. It needs more exploration.

The Smuggler's Boy
Bob Roberts


On one cloudy morning abroad I did roam,
Where the sea breaketh white on the beaches with foam.
When I heard a poor boy who in sorrow did weep,
Crying, "Alas my poor father lies out in the deep."

"My father and mother so happy did dwell
In a trim little cottage by the River Orwell,
But me father would venture out on the salt sea

For a keg of good brandy from the land of the free."

"From Holland we steered but the tempest did roar,
And the lightning flashed round us when far from the shore.
The mast and the rigging were thrown to the wave,
And with them went father to a watery grave."

"So I jumped overboard in the wild raging main,
For to save my poor father, but all was in vain.
I clasped his cold form but quite lifeless was he,
And swept from my arms he sank down in the sea."

"Then I clung to a plank and was soon washed ashore,
With the sad news to tell them that he was no more.
When she heard it poor mother of grief she did die,
And all alone left me—so pity poor I."

"But a lady of fortune she heard me complain,
And she gave me shelter from wind and from rain.
She said "I've no child for all that I've tried,
So this poor smuggler boy in my bosom shall bide."

I have recorded other versions from a Suffolk
singer and from Harry Cox in Norfolk as well

as from a gipsy child from Kent. Ashton
published a version in 'More Street Ballads' in
1888.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Smuggler's Boy
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jun 20 - 01:40 AM

As sung by Walter Pardon on his Musical Traditions CD (plus short note from that CD):

The Poor Smuggler's Boy (Roud 618)

One cloudy cold morning abroad I did steer
By the wide rolling ocean so deep and so fair
I met a poor boy, who in sorrow did weep
"Alas, my poor father was lost in the deep."

"Mast, sails and rigging, all sunk in the wave
And found, with poor father, a watery grave.
I jumped from the wreck and clasped him to me
But his form it was lifeless - sank into the sea."

"I clung to a plank and swam for the shore
Bad news for poor Mother, dear Father no more.
She died broken-hearted, nor heeded the moan
Of the poor smuggler's boy left to wander alone."

A fine wealthy lady who heard him complain
Took him in for shelter from the cold and the rain
"I will care for this orphan, 'til the day that I die
No more shall he wander with his sad lonely cry."

The lady did die - he the Master became
She left everything in her will to his name
And she kept her promise 'til the day she did die
To care for the orphan with this sad lonely cry.

"Poor Father did venture, all on that salt sea
With a cask of good whiskey to the land of the free.
The lightning did flash and the thunder did roar
Our ship it was wrecked while far off from the shore."
"Oh pity, I crave - won't you give me employ
Alone I must wander" cries the poor smuggler's boy.
A song unknown outside England, it would seem.

Roud has 30 references, but only 7 recorded singers, of whom only Angela Brazil was from outside East Anglia. It is also soon to be heard on the forthcoming Smith Family CD from Musical Traditions (MT CD 307), sung by Jabez 'Biggun' Smith in The Fisherman Bar at Beachley Ferry, Gloucestershire, 3 January, 1967, recorded by Peter Shepheard. Biggun called it Our Ship Lost its Rigging.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Smuggler's Boy
From: Reinhard
Date: 09 Jun 20 - 02:05 AM

The Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Poor Smuggler's Boy, The


DESCRIPTION: Singer meets a boy who is mourning his father. The father was a smuggler; caught in a storm, their ship was wrecked and his father drowned. The boy has clung to a plank and been swept ashore. A rich lady hears his complaint and adopts him
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1888 (Ashton)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Singer, walking the beach on a stormy day, meets a boy who is mourning his father. The father was a smuggler who would, "venture out on the salt sea/For a keg of good brandy from the land of the free" (Holland). Caught in a storm, the ship has been wrecked and his father has drowned, despite the boy's efforts to save him. The boy has clung to a plank and been swept ashore. A rich lady hears his complaint, and adopts him
KEYWORDS: grief crime death drowning storm wreck father orphan
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
RoudBishop #140, "The Poor Smuggler's Boy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud #618
RECORDINGS:
Bob Roberts, "The Smuggler's Boy" (on LastDays)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Fisherman's Boy" [Laws Q29] (plot)
cf. "The Soldier's Poor Little Boy" [Laws Q28] (plot)
cf. "The Farmer's Boy" [Laws Q30] (plot)
cf. "The Fisherman's Girl" (plot)
File: RcTSmBy


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Smuggler's Boy
From: Reinhard
Date: 09 Jun 20 - 02:07 AM

Angela Brazil sang The Poor Smuggler's Boy at Blairgowrie to Peter Kennedy in 1955. This recording was included in the 1960s (as The Smuggler's Child) on the Prestige album Folksongs & Music from the Berryfields of Blair, in 1994 on the Saydisc album of “music of the tinkers, gipsies and other travelling people of England, Scotland and Ireland”, Songs of the Travelling People, and in 2007 on the Brazil Family's Musical Traditions anthology Down By the Old Riverside. Rod Stradling noted in the accompanying booklet:

Songs about orphans wandering the world in search of succour are pretty common, but this is quite a rare example, with only 42 Roud instances, all from the south of England. It appeared in several broadsides, and probably dates from the first third of the 19th century. It may well have been published without a suggested tune, since all the versions I've heard use different ones; Angela employs the Long Lamkin tune here—maybe because her family had been travelling in Scotland for most of her early life. Her final stanza may well be unique.

Angela Brazil sings The Poor Smuggler's Boy

“My father and mother once happy did dwell
In a neat little cottage not far from the shore
My father had to venture his life on the sea.
For a keg of good brandy, he was bound for folly.
The night had been dark and the wind it blew high,
And lightning flashed round us; we was far from the shore.

“Our main mast riggings it blew into the waves,
And causes my father a watery grave.
I jumped overboard in the midst of the sea;
I clapped his cold hands and more lively was he.
I was forced for to leave him sinking in the salt sea.

“I swum to a plank and I gained my shore;
Sad news to my mother, my father's no more.
My mother brokenhearted, with sorrow she died.
For I'm now left to wander,” cried the smuggler's poor boy.
“I will build up a boat, and I'll keep up his trade,
Until it does cause me a watery grave.”


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Smuggler's Boy
From: Reinhard
Date: 09 Jun 20 - 02:39 AM

Jabez 'Biggun' Smith sang My Ship Lost Her Rigging to Peter Shepheard in The Fisherman bar at Beachley Ferry, Gloucestershire, on 3 January 1967. This recording was included in 2000 on the Musical Traditions anthology of Wiggy Smith and other Smith Family members, Band of Gold. Rod Stradling noted in the accompanying booklet:

This is in fact a version of The Poor Smuggler’s Boy […] A song unknown outside England, it would seem. Roud has 32 references, but only 7 other recorded singers, of whom only Angela Brazil was from outside East Anglia.

The tune is basically the same as Wiggy uses for The Deserter and which, when Biggun gets into the extended second verse, you realise is also the same one Margaret Barry uses for Londonderry on the Banks of the Foyle.

Biggun Smith sings My Ship Lost Her Rigging

Oh my ship lost her rigging, got blown to away,
Which it found my father a cold watery grave;
Oh sad news to dear mother, father no more,
I’m left here to wander across the wild moor.

Sure some lady of fortune, she heard me complain,
She took me and sheltered me from the cold winds and rain;
So I well did my duty, I beared her [a] good name,
My missus she died and master I came;
Sure she left me five thousand, both houses and land;
If you’re ever so poor boys you might live to be grand.

No more shall I wander and I’ll sign no employ,
And I’ll tell of misfortune till the day that I’ll die.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Smuggler's Boy
From: GUEST,Singerdave
Date: 09 Jun 20 - 12:09 PM

Can anyone provide the chords to this song by Bob Roberts please.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Smuggler's Boy
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Jun 20 - 02:37 PM

According to Cox there is a Catnach broadside, but it does not feature in Catnach's 1832 catalogue so if Cox is correct that would date it 1832 to 1838. Also printed by: all c1850ish
Bebbington, Manchester,
Such, London,
Disley, London,
Hodges, London
Ford, Chesterfield
Probably more in the Roud broadside index. Use the Roud number not the title.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Smuggler's Boy
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 10 Jun 20 - 02:44 PM

OK, here's how I sing it. I got it from Bob Roberts but may well have folk-processed it somewhat over the last 50-odd years. I call it "Smuggler's Son".

(This is copied and pasted from the words posted by Joe with only very few changes.)

On one cloudy morning abroad I did roam,
Where the sea breaks white on the beaches with foam.
When I heard a poor boy who in sorrow did weep,
Crying, "Alas my poor father lies there in the deep."

"My father and mother so happy did dwell
In a trim little cottage by the River Orwell,
But my father would venture out on the salt sea
For a keg of good brandy from the land of the free."

"From Holland we steered but the tempest did roar,
And the lightning flashed round us when far from the shore.
The mast and the rigging were thrown to the wave,
And with them went father to a watery grave."

"So I jumped overboard in the wild raging main,
To save my poor father, but all was in vain.
I clasped his cold form but quite lifeless was he,
And swept from my arms he sank down in the sea."

"So I clung to a plank and was soon washed ashore,
With the sad news to tell them that he was no more.
When she heard it poor mother of grief she did die,
And all alone left me, so pity poor I."

"But a lady of fortune she heard me complain,
And she gave me shelter from wind and from rain.
She said "I've no child for all that I've tried,
So this poor smuggler boy in my bosom shall bide."

I think it is this song of which I've heard Sam Lee sing a substantially different version; possibly one of the travellers' versions.


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