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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Track 1 = British man of war
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Song TitleBritish man of war
Roud No.372
Collected FromMills, James
LocationSouth Cerney
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative TitleWar with China
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 2 - Gloucestershire: Williams, A: MS collection No Gl 145
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 8th April,1916,p 3, Part 26, No. 7
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

Twas down in yonder meadows I carelessly did stray,
There I beheld a lady fair with some young sailor gay,
He said - "My lovely Susan, I soon must leave the shore,
And cross the briny ocean in a British Man o' War."

Verse 2

Pretty Susan fell a-weeping - "Young sailor," she did say,
"How can you be so venturesome, to throw your life away;
When I am twenty one I shall receive my store,
Jolly sailor, do not venture in a British Man o' War."

Verse 3

"Oh, Susan, lovely Susan, the truth to you I'll tell,
The British flag's insulted, old England knows it well;
I may be crowned with laurels, so, like a jolly tar,
I will face the wars of China in a British Man o' War."

Verse 4

"Oh, sailor, do not venture to face the proud Chinese,
For they will prove more treacherous than any Portuguese,
All by some deadly dagger you may receive a scar,
So turn your inclination from a British Man o' War."

Verse 5

"Oh, Susan, lovely Susan, the time will quickly pass,
Now come down to the ferry house and take a parting glass;
My shipmate is there waiting to row me from the shore,
And it's for old England's glory in a British Man o' War."

Verse 6

The sailor took his handkerchief and cut it fair in two -
"Oh, Susan, keep one half for me, and I'll do the same for you;
Though bullets may surround me, and cannons loudly roar,
I will fight for fame and Susan in a British Man o' War."
Print Song Lyrics
Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS: 'The date of this is probably that of the expedition to China in 1839. We are familiar with the style of the piece and also with its circumstances. It would be interesting to know how many ballads have been composed upon this and similar subjects. Words obtained of James Mills, South Cerney.'

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.



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