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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitleCaptain Brooks and his gallant crew
Roud No.963
Collected FromRoberts, Edwin
LocationLiddington
CountyGloucestershire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative TitleChesapeake and the Shannon
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 2 - Gloucestershire: Williams, A: MS collection No Gl 138
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 1st January, 1916, p 2, Part 12, No. 6
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

On the twenty ninth of May, my Boys, off Boston Light we lay,
Watching the bold American while at anchor she lay,
The Chesapeake lay in harbour, a frigate stout and fine,
Four hundred and fifty was our crew and our guns were forty nine.

Verse 2

Now Captain Brooks commanded us, a challenge he did write,
To ask the bold Americans if they would come out to fight,
Our captain says - "Brave Lawrence, it is not for enmity,
But it is to prove to all the world that Britain rules the sea."

Verse 3

Now the challenge was accepted, the Americans they came down,
But never a finer frigate, belonged to the British Crown,
We brought her into action, and the true old British plan,
Not fire a gun till all was well, and then the fight began.

Verse 4

It was broadside for broadside which caused a tremendous roar,
Like thunder it did rattle along that sacred shore,
Oh, the dreadful fire it lasted for three quarters of an hour,
The enemy's ship bore down on us, and their yards were locked with ours.

Verse 5

Then our Captain went to the ship's side to see how she did lie,
And he perceived the enemy's men all from their guns did fly,
"All hands to board her now", he cried, "the victory is sure.
Come bear a hand, my gallant boys, and the prize we'll soon secure."

Verse 6

Then like lions we rushed on board and fought them hand to hand,
And though they did outnumber us they could not us withstand,
They fought in desperation, disorder and dismayed,
And then a few minutes after, they were forced to give way.

Verse 7

Our Captain and five lieutenants and fifty of our crew,
Were killed in that short action, one hundred wounded, too;
The news we told to Halifax, our Captain buried there,
And the remainder of his ship's company his honourship did wear.

Verse 8

So, come all you true born Englishmen, that wear the jackets blue,
Come, drink a health to Captain Brooks and all his gallant crew,
That fought those bold Americans, boys, and laid their courage low,
That fought those bold Americans, boys, and laid their courage low.
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms: 'An old sea song, description of a fight between the British frigate 'Shannon' and the American frigate 'Chesapeake' at the time of the American War of Independence [actually the War of 1812 - CDW]. The incident also gave rise to another song, one verse and the chorus of which I give below.

Williams, Alfred: WGS: 'An old sea song, descriptive of a fight between the British frigate 'Shannon' and the American frigate 'Chesapeake' at the time of the American War of Independence [actually the War of 1812 - CDW]. The incident also gave rise to another song, one verse and the chorus of which I give below.

Verse 1

The Chesapeake so bold, out of Boston, I am told,
Came to take a British frigate neat and handy O!
The people of the port came out to see the sport,
With their music playing Yankee doodle dandy O!

Chorus

Yankee doodle, Yankee doodle dandy O!
The people of the port came out to see the sport,
With their music playing Yankee doodle dandy O!

It will be seen that our version is more nearly in line with the folk ballad. I obtained the piece of Edward Roberts, Siddington, Gloucestershire, and he learnt it of an old sailor, who took part in the bombardment of Alexandria.'

Note 2

In Verse 1 Line 1 the original text read:

Off Boston Light we stood my boys, on the twenty ninth of May

In Verse 3 Line 3 the original text read:

Was not fire a gun till all was well, and then the fight began.

In Verse 5 Line 1 the original text read:

Our Captain went to the ship's side to see how she did lie,

In Verse 6 Line 1 the original text read:

Like lions then we rushed on board and fought them hand to hand,

In Verse 8 Line 1 the original text read:

Come all you true born Englishmen, that wear the jackets blue,

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.

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