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Lyr/Chords Req: Poor Parker / Death of Parker

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Origins: The Death of Parker/Poor Parker (9)
Lyr Req: Pity Poor Parker (1797) (12)

Si 30 Aug 00 - 05:29 PM
Malcolm Douglas 30 Aug 00 - 10:01 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 30 Aug 00 - 10:28 PM
Snuffy 31 Aug 00 - 07:57 AM
The Sandman 11 Jul 14 - 03:47 AM
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Subject: Poor Parker
From: Si
Date: 30 Aug 00 - 05:29 PM

I have been trying to find the words and tune for a song I heard performed in London, with concertina accompanyment, about the sad lot of a brave but humble sailor called Parker how is hung after some injustice. Can anyone help me trace this.

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From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 30 Aug 00 - 10:01 PM

This is the version I have:


Ye gods above protect the widow and with pity look down on me;
Help me, help me out of trouble and through this sad calamity.
Parker was a wild young sailor, fortune to him did prove unkind;
Although he was hanged up for mutiny, worse than him was left behind.

Chorus: Farewell Parker, thou bright angel, once thou wast old England's pride;
Although he was hanged up for mutiny, worse than him was left behind.

Young Parker was my lawful husband, my bosom friend whom I loved so dear;
Though doomed by law he was to suffer, I was not allowed to come near.
At length I saw the yellow flag flying, the signal for my true love to die;
The gun was fired which was required, to hang him all on the yardarm so high.

The boatman did his best endeavour to reach the shore without delay
And there I stood waiting just like a mermaid, to carry the corpse of my husband away.
In the dead of night when all was silent and thousands of people lay fast asleep,
Me and my poor maidens beside me into the burying ground did creep.

With trembling hands instead of shovels the mould from his coffin we scratched away
Until we came to the corpse of Parker and carried him off without delay.
A mourning coach stood there a-waiting and off to London we drove with speed
And there we had him most decently buried and a sermon preached over him indeed.

This version was published in The Wanton Seed (EFDS Publications, 1968: ed. Frank Purslow)

It was collected by Dr. Gardiner from Mr Rundle, landlord of the Farmer's Inn, St. Merryn, Wadebridge, Cornwall, in May 1905: the text is augmented from another couple of versions found two years later in Hampshire.

Purslow's notes read:

"In April 1797 the Channel Fleet mutinied at Spithead due to grievances over pay, prize money and shipboard conditions generally. Their demands were met by the government. Shortly afterwards, the North Sea Fleet mutinied at the Nore, making bigger demands still. Richard Parker (1767?-1797) was the leader of this mutiny and proclaimed himself "President of the Floating Republic". The fleet blockaded the Thames and fired on ships. About 15,000 troops were sent against the mutineers, and the ships were bombarded by Tilbury fort. The mutiny collapsed and Parker was hung at the yardarm on 30th June, 1797. The song presumably appeared shortly afterwards. It exists in two versions, one obviously deriving from the other; the story of the exhumation of Parker's body by his widow only appears in one of them and this is most probably the original song; the other one substituting verses describing the widow's distress and hoping that Parker's soul may be shining in Heaven, etc; verses, to judge from the attempts at rhyming, which are the work of a second-rate hack. The song was set to a tune which had been brought back into popularity by its inclusion in The Beggars' Opera, and by having other songs sung to it, notably Charming (or Faithful) Billy. About this time it was also appropriated by Morris musicians and christened Constant Billy. Various Welsh musicians have tried to prove that the tune is really The Ash Grove, but as this tune did not appear in print until 1802 and the Beggars' Opera tune was "old" in 1727, it seems much more likely that both tunes are developments of an older tune. (See Chappell's Popular Music, pp.664/6)."

I shall send a midi of the tune to Alan's Mudcat Midi Site; since the poor man is at present being persecuted with hundreds of the things, it may take some time to appear.

There are some broadside versions at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads: here are some of them:

The Death of Parker Printed between 1797 and 1825 by Angus of Newcastle.

Death of Parker Printer and date unknown.

Death of Parker Printed between 1863 and 1885 by H. Such, 177, Union Street, Boro'. S.E., London.

These versions include the exhumation:

Parker's Widow Printed between between 1820 and 1824 by W. Armstrong of Liverpool.

The Death of Parker Printed by J. Walker of Durham;date unknown. These are large images.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Poor Parker
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 30 Aug 00 - 10:28 PM

Slight correction on tune. "Constant Billey" was in volume III of The Dancing Master, and wasn't very old (at least in print) at the time of The Beggars' Opera, and didn't get its title from later Morris dancers. Why Gay didn't give the tune its known title, I don't know. See file CNTYDAN1 on my website.

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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Poor Parker
From: Snuffy
Date: 31 Aug 00 - 07:57 AM

Where can I find the words for Charming (or Faithful) Billy?

Wassail! V

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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Poor Parker
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 03:47 AM

it is available on cd from my website

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