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A note to Three Score and Ten

DigiTrad:
THREE SCORE AND TEN


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Three Score and Ten (71)
(origins) Origins: Threescore and Ten (55)
3 Score and 10 -Grave found in Hull (23)
3 score & 10; How big was Grimsby Town? (12)
Chord Req: Three Score and Ten (7)
Three Score and Ten - What event? (13)


Wolfgang Hell 06 Mar 98 - 07:09 AM
Songster Bob 06 Mar 98 - 04:03 PM
John Nolan 06 Mar 98 - 05:32 PM
Wolfgang Hell 10 Mar 98 - 04:17 AM
Wolfgang 12 Mar 98 - 04:53 AM
jojofolkagogo 10 Aug 06 - 10:56 AM
MMario 10 Aug 06 - 10:58 AM
Big Al Whittle 10 Aug 06 - 12:15 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Aug 06 - 12:23 PM
s&r 10 Aug 06 - 12:55 PM
Bill D 10 Aug 06 - 01:27 PM
bill\sables 10 Aug 06 - 04:27 PM
Big Al Whittle 10 Aug 06 - 04:45 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 06 - 04:55 PM
GUEST 10 Aug 06 - 06:03 PM
stallion 10 Aug 06 - 07:16 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Aug 06 - 07:37 PM
Big Al Whittle 11 Aug 06 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,IanG 02 Sep 07 - 07:15 PM
Barry Finn 02 Sep 07 - 08:28 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Sep 07 - 09:04 PM
Barry Finn 02 Sep 07 - 11:07 PM
Betsy 03 Sep 07 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,redmax 03 Sep 07 - 05:16 AM
Betsy 03 Sep 07 - 05:58 AM
Rumncoke 03 Sep 07 - 06:06 AM
The Sandman 03 Sep 07 - 08:32 AM
Wolfgang 03 Sep 07 - 08:58 AM
Santa 03 Sep 07 - 09:59 AM
SINSULL 03 Sep 07 - 10:05 AM
Herga Kitty 03 Sep 07 - 12:49 PM
SINSULL 03 Sep 07 - 12:56 PM
Herga Kitty 03 Sep 07 - 01:43 PM
Richard Bridge 03 Sep 07 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 03 Sep 07 - 02:36 PM
Santa 03 Sep 07 - 02:46 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Sep 07 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,Mikefule 03 Sep 07 - 03:31 PM
the button 03 Sep 07 - 06:11 PM
GUEST,padgett 04 Sep 07 - 05:50 AM
Mysha 12 Nov 07 - 05:15 PM
Bert 12 Nov 07 - 05:26 PM
theleveller 13 Nov 07 - 03:58 AM
Mysha 13 Nov 07 - 12:02 PM
Bert 13 Nov 07 - 12:38 PM
Barry Finn 13 Nov 07 - 01:00 PM
Mysha 13 Nov 07 - 01:59 PM
Dave the Gnome 13 Nov 07 - 02:19 PM
Wolfgang 13 Nov 07 - 02:41 PM
JennieG 14 Nov 07 - 01:23 AM
theleveller 14 Nov 07 - 06:54 AM
Waddon Pete 14 Nov 07 - 08:09 AM
theleveller 14 Nov 07 - 08:36 AM
Mysha 14 Nov 07 - 01:28 PM
Waddon Pete 14 Nov 07 - 04:11 PM
Mysha 14 Nov 07 - 05:33 PM
theleveller 15 Nov 07 - 06:29 AM
GUEST,Betsy 17 Nov 09 - 08:35 PM
Dead Horse 17 Nov 09 - 08:47 PM
breezy 18 Nov 09 - 04:05 AM
Steve Gardham 18 Nov 09 - 05:34 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Nov 09 - 06:40 PM
Rozza 19 Dec 10 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,SteveG 19 Dec 10 - 05:58 PM
Rozza 21 Dec 10 - 06:42 AM
gnomad 03 Nov 11 - 06:43 AM
GUEST,Don Wise 03 Nov 11 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,SteveG 03 Nov 11 - 02:32 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 03 Nov 11 - 03:19 PM
GUEST,Al Kicks 11 Apr 12 - 11:09 AM
catspaw49 11 Apr 12 - 12:04 PM
Leadfingers 11 Apr 12 - 01:07 PM
Steve Gardham 11 Apr 12 - 04:05 PM
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Subject: A note on Three Score and Ten
From: Wolfgang Hell
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 07:09 AM

I had always thought that "Three Score and Ten" was traditional in the sense that no author was known anymore; and "traditional" is the label given to this song on many of its recordings. I was quite surprised to find recently (source: R. Palmer, The Oxford Book of Seasongs) a note giving an author for the lyrics and telling the tale of how this song became "traditional" and, in that process, lost the correct dating of the disaster. Here's the note from Palmer in full length with a few corrections from another source:
    'In Memoriam of the poor Fishermen who lost their lives in the Dreadful Gale from Grimsby and Hull, Feb. 8 & 9, 1889' is the title of a broadside produced by a Grimsby [other source: Whitby] fisherman, William Delf [other source: Delph], to raise funds for the bereaved families. It lists eight lost vessels, the last two from Hull: Eton, John Wintringham, Sea Searcher, Sir Fred. Roberts, British Workman, Kitten, Harold, Adventure, and Olive Branch. In addition the names of some of the lost sailors are given, and there is a poem in eight stanzas. This passed into oral tradition, and in so doing lost six verses and aquired a new one (the last, in which an error of date occurs), together with a chorus and a tune. The oral version was noted from a master mariner, Mr. J. Pearson of Filey, in 1957, and has subsequently, with some further small variations, become well known in folk-song clubs.
Isn't that a fine story illustrating the transition from a song(poem?)writers work to a folksong?
Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Songster Bob
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 04:03 PM

Does the original have the line "From Yarmouth down to Scarborough"? Because some lively debate has gone on about that, given that it's not usually considered "down" to go from the one to the other. I read somewhere, in fact, that the original town was Earmouth, in Scotland, which, in dialect, gets a "Y" initial sound, as in "Yearmouth," and the vowel as well gets changed, so that "Earmouth" *sounds* like "Yarmouth."

Can anyone confirm or rebut this suggestion?


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: John Nolan
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 05:32 PM

The nearest thing to Earmouth in Scotland that I know, Songster Bob, is Eyemouth, a fishing village (pop c. 2,500) in Berwickshire. In the local accent it's called approx. "Highmooth" by some. Then, in N. Northumberland, there Learmouth, pronounced Layahmooth, locally. But Earmouth, hmm? Could it be near Nozanthroat?


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Wolfgang Hell
Date: 10 Mar 98 - 04:17 AM

here's a copy from an old thread relevant to this thread:


Subject: RE: Eyemouth disaster (Lyr. req.) From: Pete M Date: 29-Sep-97 - 05:52 AM

I can add nothing about the original request I'm afraid. but I can throw some light on the point about "Three score and ten" by Ferrera. Scarborough is indeed north of Yarmouth, but in interpreting traditional folk songs you need to know a bit about the millieu in whivch they were created, The prevailing winds, currents and tidal streams of the East coast of Britain mean that going North is the "Downhill" direction, usually running with the wind on the port quarter, whilst going South meant beating into the wind. Hence amongst the sea farers the reference was always to going "down to the North".

However, I recollect hearing up to Scarborough from the singing of the McKenna Brothers. I'll relisten tonight.
Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Wolfgang
Date: 12 Mar 98 - 04:53 AM

I listened (looked) at the four recorded versions and three printed versions I have. All of them have Yarmouth and Scarborough. Nearly all of them have "down", only M.Pollard, Ballads and Broadsides, has "up".
Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: jojofolkagogo
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 10:56 AM

Well I always sing "from yarmouth TOWN " since it is UP and not Down to scarborough !

If it dont make sence, CHANGE IT

Jo-Jo


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: MMario
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 10:58 AM

jo-jo; as explained above, Scarborough is DOWN from Yarmouth - in the terms of the fishermen and sailors.    Just as Maine in the US is DOWN from Massachusetts, though UP on the maps.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 12:15 PM

really really hate that song.....

it is to folksinging what Kes and timothy Winters are to English teaching


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 12:23 PM

Who?


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: s&r
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 12:55 PM

I'm with Town

Stu


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 01:27 PM

That's a strange song to 'hate'...Most folks I know think it is pretty well done and of historical interest.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: bill\sables
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 04:27 PM

I always heard the song as "From Yarmouth round to Scarborough." Another line in the song which always brings debate is
"They longed to fight the bitter night" which I translated as
"They long defied the bitter night"


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 04:45 PM

well I think its lugubrious in the extreme. by the time the fishing craft and trawlers are fighting with the bitter swell for the second time, I'm mentally machine gunning the rubber dinghies. And theres still a way to go.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 04:55 PM

They long did fight the bitter night


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 06:03 PM

It's ROUND to Scarborough. Billy


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: stallion
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 07:16 PM

I learned it from the singing of "Ralph Mc" Mell (he used to sing streets of london every week)and Mac at the Scarborough folk club, The West Riding Pub, in the late 60's, it was definately "down" then !!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 10 Aug 06 - 07:37 PM

The chorus wasn't in the original broadside (the text of which is quoted in another thread on the same subject; see links above). We have it only from the set recorded by Nigel and Mary Hudleston, from "Jack Pearson and men" at Filey (no date, but given elsewhere as 1957), and this is the one that was popularised by the Watersons and from which, so far as I can tell, all other Revival variants derive.

Pearson sang "down", if we are to believe the Hudleston transcription and the Waterson's understanding of the recording; and there is no obvious reason why we shouldn't. That doesn't mean that "town" is necessarily wrong (and it does make sense) but it does mean that nobody can say that "town" or even "round" is correct; those readings are interesting, but no more than guesswork and speculation.

Interestingly, the editors of Songs of the Ridings comment that "It seems that the tune is a highly corrupted 'Jingle Bells', which dates from the 1830s."

Now there's a thought. Listening to it with that in mind, I rather think I believe them.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Aug 06 - 07:27 AM

possibly they travelled down south from Yarmouth to Scarboro, hoping to miss the bad weather......via the Isle of Wight.

I mean......seriously!

I think what gives the lie to it, isn't the faullty navigation. Where would folksongs be if you dismissed them on grounds of Geography - The land of California, Sweet Home Chicago possibly.   

Fishing people by and large are optimists - you couldn't do the job otherwise. yes the working conditions are shitty. yes people get killed doing it - the safety standards are unquantifiable.....

But if you felt as pissed off as most people sound, singing this song, you'd be slashing your wrists rather than setting out to sea.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,IanG
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 07:15 PM

Seems to me that whether the direction is up or down, whether they longed to fight, long did fight or long defied and whether people love the song or hate it, there can be no doubt that it has succeeded magnificently in keeping the storm in question in peoples minds. The superb information in these discussions has succeeded in telling a lot of people the date of the storm, the names of the fishing craft and the name of the writer. I think its a grat song and remember learning it with six others in the back of an old box shaped Austin on the way back from the folk club at teh Blue Bell in Hull in 1967


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Barry Finn
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 08:28 PM

I was also wondering about the tune after being at a session last week where someone sang "My (or 'The') Lovely Rose Of Clare" which bares a striking resemblance to the tune used for "3 Score & 10" & where there were slight differences it was still in harmony though it had no chorus just a repeating refrain. I have no idea of the age of "My (or 'The') Lovely Rose Of Clare".
About the "Down", I believe the "Down" as I've always seen it in print (Roy Palmer has it as "From Yarmouth 'Down' to Scarborough", see below) & heard it, referes to sailing downwind, doesn't matter if it's up on a chart or north if it's downwind it's down as far as a sailor's concerned.

I believe we've done this before, from the Oxford Book of Sea Songs by Roy Palmer (p.274-275).

"'In Memoriam of the poor fishermen who lost their lives in the Dreadful Gale from Grimsby & Hull, Feb. 8&9, 1889' is the title of a broadside produced by a Grimsby fisherman, WIlliam Deld, to raise funds for the bereaved families. It lists 8 lost vessels, the last 2 from Hull: Eton, John Wintringham, Sea Searcher, Sir Fred, Brittish Workmann, Kitten, Harold, Adventure & Olive Branch. I addition the names of some of the lost sailors are given, & there is a poem in 8 stanzas. This past into oral tradition, & in so doing lost 6 verses & aquired a new one (the last, in which an error of date occurs), together with a chorus & a tune. The oral version was noted from a master mariner, Mr. J. Pearson of Filey, in 1957, and has subsequently, with some further small veriations, become well known in folk-song clubs."

Barry


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 09:04 PM

Well, yes; in the first post of this very thread.

Chris Ball's 'Lovely Rose of Clare' does indeed bear a striking melodic resemblance to 'Three Score and Ten'. Whether the imitation was deliberate or unconscious, I wouldn't know.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Barry Finn
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 11:07 PM

Thanks Malcolm, now I know where that comes from, was wondering.

Barry


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Betsy
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 03:54 AM

I understand a freak tidal wave hit the East coast of England in the late 1800's. The East Coast is not noted for such things.
Yarmouth is almost certainly South of Scarborough, but ill informed singers have found it much easier to sing Yarmouth "down" to Scarborough instead of the correct "up to" Scarborough. Maybe synoymous ? with another well known song "won't you come down to Yarmouth town "


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,redmax
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 05:16 AM

Malcolm said "if we are to believe the Hudleston transcription". It's probably worth noting that Songs from the Ridings is riddled with errors, as the transcriptions were entrusted to a pair of chaps who did a rather poor job. Some of the song words are clearly wrong


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Betsy
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 05:58 AM

No matter redmax - a great song and definitely a good chorus


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Rumncoke
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 06:06 AM

This is one of the first folk songs I heard in a pub - I certainly heard it in Barnsley in the late 60s - upstairs at the King George.

The line is From Yarmouth down to Scarborough in my book, because that is what was sung when I heard it back then.

I sing 'Went out to fight that bitter night and battle with the swell.' thats in the book too.

Having done a bit of sailing in coastal waters, and also on the Norfolk Broads, I can tell you that with the wind, tide or current with you there is definitely the impression of going downhill. With the wind abaft the beam on a calm sea the bow is actually pressed down, and running goose winged into an opposing sea can be a touch interesting for the steersman.

(the prayer 'Oh God don't let her gybe. Oh God please let her bows lift on the next wave. Oh God send my relief early' is appropriate for these occasions. The last line is often omitted in anything over a Force Five but can be replaced by several 'Oh Christ!!!'s depending on the time between waves. There might be no Atheists in trenches but most of those who venture out in small ships know Psalm 107 23 even if they have never read it.)

With the elements against you it is an uphill struggle to make any progress.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 08:32 AM

Ithought it was William Delf not deld, the year as I understood it was february 1886.
here is a fourth verse.,which I think is good,This was passed on to me by Peter Purves
Methinks I hear the skipper say come lads come shorten sail ,
for the sky to all appearances looks like an approaching gale..
Me thinks I see them yet again and the midnight hour is past
Their tiny crafts a battling there against the icy blast.
Imo,It doesnt matter if you sing,long defied, long did fight,however the meaning is altered if you sing long to fight,personally I dont think any seaman longs to fight the possibility of death.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Wolfgang
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 08:58 AM

Mar 2nd 1889 The full results of the fearful gale of the 9th ult upon the GRIMSBY Fishing Fleet are now becoming known. Of the safety of seven of the missing smacks all hope as been abandoned These vessels are, BRITISH WORKMAN, ETON, SIR FREDRICK, ROBERT'S KITTEN, SEA SEARCHER, JOHN WINTRINGHAM and HAROLD. The total number of lives lost could reach between 70 and 80. This calamity in a single port is one of the most appaling on record.

from:

Shipping February-March 1889


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Santa
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 09:59 AM

I remember it as "down" from the sixties, for what that's worth. I also remember a singer in Blackpool Club, mid seventies, introducing it as a Yorkshire song. I was sitting between two lads from Grimsby, who put him right very quickly!

I would offer one piece of evidence, not directly relevant perhaps but indicative. On British railways, the down platform was always away from London. So heading North (as from Yarmouth to Scarborough) would be going "down". The point, perhaps, is that geographical "south" is not always "down", despite that being the way they print the maps. That's just a misapprehension of the chairborne.

I think the true reason lies in the sailing conditions, but I've no direct evidence.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: SINSULL
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 10:05 AM

Alright. I'll admit it. In one of my ditzier moments, upon hearing Three Score and Ten for the first time, I tried to find Grimsby on a map of Maine. Yarmouth is north; Scarborough is south; but no Grimsby.

Well..Gordon Bok was singing it so it made sense at the moment.
SINS


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 12:49 PM

Brian Dawson sang this in a singaround at Sidmouth, and (because he is so well versed in the traditions of Lincolnshire) I listened very carefully to his chorus - he sang "long defied", which I thought made sense. But when I talked to him afterwards he said that the William Delf version was "longed to fight", but he thought "long defied" made more sense!

Kitty


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: SINSULL
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 12:56 PM

Long did fight
that bitter night
Their battle with the swell

works too.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 01:43 PM

I've also heard it as

Long did fight
that bitter night
and battled with the swell

Kitty


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 02:05 PM

I too sing that verse that you cite as a fourth, Cap'n, but in my mind it seems like a later addition. I have no evidence for that, but it fels like it.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 02:36 PM

I like this song a bunch. It too is one of the early songs in my rep and I sing still. Gordon Bok does a great version of it. His low voice makes it sound like a lament.

I learned it as "From Yarmouth Town to Scarborough..." I always viewed this song as a news report. A rhyming headline and following newspaper report telling a story of national interest from the local point of view.

It needn't be any more than that.

Don


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Santa
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 02:46 PM

It is a lament. The poen was originally sold to make money for the widows and orphans, as I understand.

Or perhaps was - what you are doing in treating it as a news report is just the folk process in action.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 02:55 PM

The assumption that going North should mean going up and going South should mean going down is pretty unsustainable, when you think of it. And it isn't in fact sustained in normal usage.

For example, in Harlow we'd never talk about "going down to London".
................................

Anyone feel like giving a link to the original broadside words from 1889? I don't mean because they should be considered sacrosanct - original broadsides almost invariably get improved in oral transmission - but it'd be interesting to read them.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,Mikefule
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 03:31 PM

I'm with "down" as in "down wind" because that makes perfect sense, and most mariners wouldn't read charts and have any preconception about up and down in terms of north and south.

Even today, if you ask someone to draw you a map of how to get to the pub, shops etc., they don't make a special point of putting north at the top.

The version I've always "heard" is:

It's three score and ten boys and men were lost from Grimsby town
From Yarmouth down to Scarborough many hundreds more were drowned
Their herring boats, their trawlers, their fishing smacks as well
They **learned to fight** that bitter night
And battled with the swell."


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: the button
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 06:11 PM

Another interesting feature of this song is that the tune fits the words of the verses of Pinball Wizard. I was first alerted to this when I found myself singing "From Soho down to Brighton, he must have played them all" instead of "From Yarmouth..."


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 05:50 AM

Yes very interesting

I am familiar with all the difficulties in this song having heard it first as one contributor said in Barnsley at The King George and Civic fcs

Jim Potter was the man in the 1960s and he has recently come back from Whitby ff, Jim is 78 y.o.

Now I don't know where he got it from but probably the Watersons who got it from Hudleston's SOTR which has been pointed out has some 'mondegreens', even so it is a fine song and yes there is another verse as pointed out not sung very often

I dont think it really matters whether it is Up or Down it is a fine song nonetheless

The SOTR Hudleston do indeed carry a set of words and The Yorkshire Post recorded said Jim Potter with me John Greaves Ray Black and Steve Gardham whilst we were there ~ there is an online video of us currently as well as an article in last Saturdays YP

I have SOTR which are available from me and are of excellent academic interest. It is always difficult to work out certain words from recordings as you will appreciate and those working on this "telephone book " of songs [not us] did a good if not perfect job of it

The Yorkshire Garland Web site will have this song sung by Jim and "Three Score and Ten" folk group which has Brian Senior and Ivan Robinson in the chorus, words lyrics provenance notes by Steve Gardham, music notation and a midi with many others

Web site is in place but we are currently putting all the information on will be 80 songs by next May (should be)so not public yet [free download for non commercial use] eventually

Ray Padgett (at work retiring in 3 weeks!)


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten (Some notes.)
From: Mysha
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 05:15 PM

Hi,

Down: The translation from north to down or up has never made much sense to me, but: Couldn't "down" simply be the direction away from the speaker?

Month: The October's night doesn't seem to fit the text at all. Night doesn't bring a sight; it's dark. It's the first light of the new day that we curse for revealing the disaster that occured during the preceding night. But what wording for dawn or light can be misheard as "October's Night"?

Poem: What some people find so irritating is the poetic image, I think. The "me-thinks"-es make the build-up more sinister. See the original poem, imagining them at first happily going about their fishery business. It makes the disaster unavoidable, as we can't stop the song before it the storm strikes: The first person telling us about it has already witnessed the whole event, so there's nothing we can do. We can only watch helplessly as the ships fight the storm and eventually go under.
I wonder if the whole poem would go well as a song.

                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Bert
Date: 12 Nov 07 - 05:26 PM

They're along to fight the bitter night - maybe.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: theleveller
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 03:58 AM

On the east coast of Yorkshire, where I was born and bred, and especially in Flamborough, the 'Great Storm' always meant the one that ocurred in February 1871 when 30 ships and boats and 70 lives were lost. Grimbsby was especially hard hit and the Bridlington lifeboat saved 16 lives before being overwhelmed. I've always thought of Three Score and Ten, which I've been singing since I first heard the Watersons perform it in the mid 1960s, referred to this storm but somehow the month was wrong. There were other big storms, in 1894 and 1899 but not on the scale of the Great Storm. Maybe the song is just a combination of all of these rather than the reference to a single event.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Mysha
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 12:02 PM

Hi theleveller,

In this thread, you'll find the original poem, and its dedication. The dedication refers to 8/9 february 1889, and the poem does not include the verse about October.
As there's no October in the original, the reference to that month can probably be ignored for the dating. The origin might be the Great Storm of '71, if the poet intended to stress that '89 was another blow, but if the poem was written for the occasion, it would seem more likely to me that he would have written about the '89 storm itself. That's something to consider, though. Are you still in the area; would you be able to find information on how many lives really were lost in which storm?
(Just before posting, I realised the "Thursday" mentioned in the text can help dating as well, as it means the night of the storm must have been that between Friday and Saturday. The dates of 8/9 february 1889 fit, but the dates of the Great Gale, 9/10 february 1871 are actually thursday and friday. So, 1889 does indeed seem more likely.)

But my problem with "October's night" is not that it doesn't fit the song, but that it doesn't fit the verse. The Digital Tradition has "October's night brought such a sight" (here). But nights don't bring sights, so although it's poetically as good a fit as you can have without the "Me thinks I" of the other verses, it's a poor choice of words for the meaning. (I guess it proves the Duchess right: "Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves"; it doesn't work the other way round.) Hence I wonder if the person writing the final verse really put it quite like that.

Hm,
Me thinks I see at first grey light, a sight not seen before
Of broken spars and beams and masts a-washing on the shore
I feel the sorrow that was shared by many a heart so brave
As many a fine and hearty lad had found a watery grave
And it's ...

                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Bert
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 12:38 PM

I seem to recall reading a book that mentioned a North Sea Storm in the early 19th Century where 200 boats were lost. But I can't find any reference to it on the net.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Barry Finn
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 01:00 PM

According to Roy Palmer in his "Oxford Book of Sea Songs" the title of the broadside produced by William Delf was the "Dreadful Gale from Grimsby & Hull, Feb 8&9,1889'".
If one checks the past threads (see the top of this page) there you'll find much more info

Barry


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Mysha
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 01:59 PM

Hi Bert,

I don't know of any songs about it, but there was a Wrecker in 1833, I believe, with hundreds of ships lost. Maybe that's the one you're thinking of.
It's quite obvious, though, that to keep a disaster in the collective memory, you need to have a song written about it. Just like the wreck of the Sloop of John B. is one of only a few ships remembered, at least in name, next to a multitude of wrecked ships thave just disappeared, so Three Score and Ten has kept a memory of just one particular storm alive.

                                                                   Mysha


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 02:19 PM

Out of interest the storm surges happened again about a week ago and conditions were ripe for another disaster. The last major such surge was, I believe, 1954 when many lives were lost down the East coast of England. Wonder if the 1889 one was a storm surge? No lives lost this time, as far as I know. Who says modern science doesn't pay?

D.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Wolfgang
Date: 13 Nov 07 - 02:41 PM

United kingdom disasters (not complete I'm sure)

Christmas eve storm of 1811 could be Bert's storm.
1953 was the last big North sea storm: 1,800+ killed in the Netherlands, 300+ in the UK, 300+ (combined) at sea, in Belgium, France and Denmark.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: JennieG
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 01:23 AM

My choir sings this song...and I swear that one of these days I will slip up and sing "and battle with the smell" - fishing boats would pong, I'm sure. I am making light of the storm or the poor souls lost, but much as I try to put it out of my mind I know it will creep back in.

Cheers
JennieG


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 06:54 AM

"Are you still in the area; would you be able to find information on how many lives really were lost in which storm?"

Hi Mysha.

I still live in the East Riding, though not actually on the coast. The lifeboat records say that in the 1871 storm 30 vessels and 70 (three score and ten) lives were lost. That's probably why I put two and two together and got five. I'll try to find out how many were lost in 1899 as I agree this probably sounds more like the storm alluded to. Also, when I can get over to Flamborough, I'll have a look in the graveyard and see if that gives any indication of lives lost there.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:09 AM

Have a look at www.folkinfo.org and you will find details under the song title that will help.

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 08:36 AM

Pete, the extract from the Hull Times is particularly interesting. What is strange is that I have done a quick search in the histories of the lifeboat stations at Scarborough, Flamborough, Bridlington, Spurn and Grimsby and can find no reference to a major incident in 1899. The Great Storm of 1871 is covered in detail and 43 of the bodies were buried in Flamborough churchyard:
(http://www.sprobson.f2s.com/t1871.html). In fact, I can't find any refernce at all to a storm in 1899 in the North Sea. The answer may be that the storm occurred far out at sea, out of range of the lifeboats. Herring craft and trawlers would easily work this far out but how far would fishing smacks go - they usually worked much closer to shore? If my assumtion is correct then 'I think I see them yet again as they leave the land behind' couldn't be true. I would think that the statement that 'many hundreds more were drowned' is also a huge exaggeration. However, if it was written to raise funds, a little elaboration wouldn't harm - or maybe it was just poetic licence. Interesting stuff!


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Mysha
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 01:28 PM

Hi,

Wolfgang and Bert:
1811 wasn't all that dangerous a storm, I think: the direct cause of the diaster was a stubborn captain insisting in bringing his damaged vessel home despite the bad weather, resulting in the loss of nearly hands on board both his ship and the ship towing it, as well as of the ships themselves.

Peter: Thanks for the link, but as as far as I can see, it's the same information that is on Mudcat too, in the links above, and in some cases it's even a direct quote.

theleveller: I think you may have more success looking for "1889", rather than "1899". But having thought it over: I think the three score and ten of 1871 were the lives lost all along the coast and at sea. Three Score And Ten speaks of three score and ten lost for Grimsby alone. One of the reasons the Great Gale of 1871 was documented better might have been the loss of a lifeboat crew - the everpresent dread in any harbour community that those who go out to save the lives of others may lose their own instead. But you're right: The Great Gale ran the ships ashore, which is much more impressive than all these smallcraft battling throught the night unseen.

Smacks, fishing smacks, trawled as well. They were in fact known to come trawling on the Lowlands coasts, as the sandy sea bed here was easier on the nets. I don't know if those came from as far away as Hull, but it does suggest they could well have left the land behind. I don't know about the "many hundreds". I guess it would depend on the number of harbours on the coast. Of course, Grimsby need not have been the place that was hit hardest - it's not like there was an empty chair in every home, after all - it just happened to be the writers home town.
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 04:11 PM

My apologies if this turns up twice! I had it all typed out...pressed the button and it vanished...just like that!

Ho hum....

However....the plot thickens...in the Eyemouth museum there is a large tapestry commemorating the loss of life in the 1881 fishing disaster when 189 local fishermen lost their lives. That happened in October!

Grimsby was the largest fishing port in the world at one point in its history so the "hundreds more were drowned" line, for fatalities along the rest of the coast, probably isn't too far off the mark.

In fishing communities, every disaster hits hard...whether it be one boat or many.

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Mysha
Date: 14 Nov 07 - 05:33 PM

Hi,

My apology for my choice of words. Since we were talking about the "hundreds", I meant to express that, though three score and ten is an enormous loss, Grimsby was quite a large fishery port. The reason for my choice of words was that I'd been reading up on the Moddergat loss.

I seem to recall a snippet about 1889 not being a good year for England. Not only was an Austrian baby born that would set the world aflame in the next century, but England was hit by a mandrowner twice, once in February and once in October. So an alternative explanation might be that the writers of the added parts associated it with the wrong gale of that year.

                                                                   Mysha


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: theleveller
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 06:29 AM

Mysha

Of course, I meant "1889". Dohhhh!

With regard to the "many hundreds" debate, I still think this is an exaggeration. A disaster of that magnitude would have made national news. The main fishing ports along the coast between Scarborough and Grimsby are: Scarborough, Filey, Flamborough, Bridlington, (Hornsea and Withernsea to a lesser extent), Hull, Cleethorpes and Grimsby. There's no record of massive fatalities along the Yorkshire coast – certainly not to the extent of the 1871 storm. Flamborough was a particularly tight-knit fishing community, and certainly until a few years ago, when the Great Storm was referred to, it was 1871. The point I'm making is that I doubt the scale of fatalities that occurred in Grmsby would have been repeated all along the coast.

The loss of seventy from one port is a huge disaster, and this might have been exaggerated even further in the belief that other ports had suffered to the same extent. Just to change the subject slightly, I'd always been under the belief that a huge number of whaling ships were lost from Hull in the 1830s – the height of the industry there – whereas, in fact, the number actually lost was 8.
    Threads combined. Messages below are from a new thread.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 08:35 PM

I dug out the words from DT to print /give to a friend - but I can't ever recall one of the verses which appears there, and the song, as written, seems skew-whiff. Is this a senior moment on my part ?? I feel the verses are mixed-up and the one verse doesn't belong to the original version - the one about the "captain" ??.
Also the verses in the context of the song / story , seem mixed up .
Am I just totally mistaken ?

Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: Three Score and Ten
From: Dead Horse
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 08:47 PM

See above for previous thread.
The point is (I think) not to rely on any one version as gospel.
The folk process has been at work :-)


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: breezy
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 04:05 AM

In some cases its sung

'Went out to fight that bitter night and battle with the swell'

Ray Delf of Padstow may be able to throw some light upon the author of the 3rd vrse

which begins with
'Methinks I see them yet again


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 05:34 PM

Brian Dawson has done a lot of extra research on this and has come up with some astounding facts. The following is off the top of my head as he told me about it about 18 months ago.

During WWI the Delft family moved from Grimsby to Lowestoft and changed their name to something more English-sounding, because of their perceived or a real threat from locals at their German-sounding name (actually Dutch). Some time soon after this Wm Delft's grandson joined the Lowestoft Fishermen's Choir and took his grandfather's song and altered it so the choir could sing it, adding in the chorus.
Fishermen from different towns and indeed their choirs naturally meet up with each other and so a jump from Lowestoft to Filey is not a great one in terms of passing on sea songs.

Brian actually got this information from one of the family still alive in the Lowestoft area.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 06:40 PM

By the way nearly half of the three score and ten were from Hull. Their gravestone/memorial is in one of the Hull cemeteries and Geoff Lawes who frequently posts here has taken photos.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Rozza
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 05:44 AM

It's an interesting story about the Delf's family move to Lowestoft, but there are some problems with it. William Delf was drowned at 3 o'clock in the morning on the 5th January 1894, whilst engaged as second hand on the trawler "Andrew Marvell" in the North Sea. None of the census returns record that he and his wife Lavinia had any children. On crew records he gives his place of birth as either Beccles or Yarmouth.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 05:58 PM

Ruairidh,
Is it certain this is the same William Delf(t)? We need to check the story with Brian if so. It may not have been grandson.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Rozza
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 06:42 AM

I have lengthy crew records for William Delf as well as Directory entries, and copies of several of his broadsides. He is the only William Delf (no Delft) sailing out of Grimsby during the period.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: gnomad
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 06:43 AM

On the up/down direction question, a snippet gleaned from a colleague a few weeks ago. He was an east coast fisherman (UK) until a few years ago and we now run pleasure trips out of the same port. I'm writing from memory here, so it isn't a direct quote, but it is certainly the sense of what he was saying.

The Tyne and Scotland was always 'down', and the Humber or London way was always 'up'. It sounds wrong if you look at a map, but that's what we said, I don't know why.

I have since confirmed it with another (older) colleague who has spent some 60 years among the small craft up and down the east and south coasts. He too had no explanation, but confirmed the usage as being the same at least as far as the Thames.

Of course these are 20th century references, but it is hard to envisage such customs suddenly having turned 180 degrees without it being noticed. Whoever added the chorus appears to have been familiar with local custom.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 11:12 AM

Sounds like a parallel to the railway usage:- UP to/DOWN from London, irrespective of north/south/east/west.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 02:32 PM

My own take on this is that the only thing that dictates an 'up' and 'down' to seamen in this context would be determined by charts which would have been a luxury to coastal small craft seamen until the 20th century. Also these coastal men spent as much time on estuaries and rivers where 'up' and 'down' is governed not by chart direction but by the river outflow.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 03:19 PM

In central New York the up and down of things along the river had to do with the direction of the current. With the current was down, against the current was up. I apologize if I am going over covered ground.

Down the Humber ....bound.... for the sea. Downstream.

Don


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,Al Kicks
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 11:09 AM

My interest in Three Score & Ten stems from my recent family research. It appears that my great grandfather, Charles, and his brother, George (only 14 years old),left the Eastend of London in the autumn of 1867 to sign on as fishing apprentices in Grimsby. My Great Grandfather survived his first trip to the North Sea in November, however, George sailed at the end of November on the fishing trawler Increase. On the 1st December, it along with eleven other vessels from Grimsby and several from Hull, were lost in an horrendous storm. The only reference to this massive loss appears to be in the Ships Lost records for Grimsby to be found at -

http://www.nelincs.gov.uk/resident/libraries-and-archives/archives--local-and-family-history/free-indexes-topic-guides/

I feel this event must have survived in the "Folk Memory" at the time and probably sowed the seed for the later poem and Broadside.


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 12:04 PM

And with that last post from the Guest above, this thread reached three score and ten......now plus one.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 01:07 PM

And the tune and strucure were borrowed by my friend Kathy . who did an excellnt rewrite for MY three score and tent Birthday


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Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 04:05 PM

Al Kicks,
Sorry to disillusion you but all of Delf's disaster poems were definitely directly related to the events they describe in the 1880s. There is no sign of a rewrite of earlier material, the style of writing maybe.

When I have time I'll check my records. There is a good chance that soe wrote a poem about the disaster you describe. Some were written in Hull. I have some from the 1870s.

BTW the losses will definitely be recorded in the 3 local papers which are available for perusal in the Hull History Centre. Unfortunately I'm snowed under at the moment with projects otherwise I'd have checked for you.


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