#00877
The Sealers' Ball (Kenneth Peacock) video
#1368: YouTube video by dshorock ©2008
~ Used with permission ~

Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
Aboard a vessel, aboard a vessel;
Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
A-peltin' the puppy swiles, sir.

Sure when we took 'em to the wharf,
We got six dollars and a half;
And when we took 'em to the store,
We got a dollar more, sir.

Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
Aboard a vessel, aboard a vessel;
Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
A-peltin' the puppy swiles, sir.

We wrote a letter the next day,
And we posted it without delay;
And we sent it off to Jimmy Baird,
For a couple of gallons o' rum, sir.

Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
Aboard a vessel, aboard a vessel;
Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
A-peltin' the puppy swiles, sir.

Now Saturday evenin' after tea,
A couple of gallons they came to we;
We took 'em down without bein' seen,
As far as Georgie Wall, sir.

Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
Aboard a vessel, aboard a vessel;
Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
A-peltin' the puppy swiles, sir.

Now Saturday evenin' you can see,
A couple of girls they came to we;
And an elegant time was had by all,
Till earlye in the mornin'!

Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
Aboard a vessel, aboard a vessel;
Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
A-peltin' the puppy swiles, sir.

Now a little disturbance then arose,
When everyone was picking their beaux;
When everyone had picked his own,
John Barke he had ne'er a one.

Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
Aboard a vessel, aboard a vessel;
Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
A-peltin' the puppy swiles, sir.

Jack Barke goes up to Jim McGee,
"Now what's ye doin along wi' she?
She used to go along wi' me,
And she'll do the same this marnin'."

Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
Aboard a vessel, aboard a vessel;
Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
A-peltin' the puppy swiles, sir.

So Jack and Jim get in a clinch,
And ne'er o' them would budge an inch;
And when the clinch broke up they found,
The lady she'd a-gone, sir.

Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
Aboard a vessel, aboard a vessel;
Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
A-peltin' the puppy swiles, sir.

Now all young men take lesson o' this,
And never go fightin' about a miss;
'Cause all you'll do is start a big laugh,
And the lady she'll be gone, sir.

Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
Aboard a vessel, aboard a vessel;
Be ye much of a hand aboard a vessel,
A-peltin' the puppy swiles, sir.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland song ....####
Collected in 1962 from Tom Morry of Ferryland, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, pp.94-95, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

The video above features a live performance of a variant by Crowd Of Bold Sharemen at the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in Bannerman Park, St John's, NL, from their album (A Crowd Of Bold Sharemen, trk#1, 2002, SingSong, Inc, St John's, NL, produced by Jim Payne and Fergus O'Byrne and recorded at AudioLab Studios, St John's, NL).

A variant was collected in 1951 from Tom Cornelly possibly of St Shott's, NL, and published as Much Of A Hand in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

GEST notes: Since Tom Cornelly's name is so similar to Tom Cornealy's, it is possible this song was collected from Tom Cornealy of Halifax, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, who Helen Creighton described as an informative old shellback (a sailor who has crossed the equator by boat) who claimed to have composed the marine ballad Captain Conrod in 1883, and also sang The Schooner Mary Anne and several shanties for her. This may also be true since no record of Tom Cornelly can be found in St Shott's.

A variant was also collected as The Sealer's Ball by Shannon Ryan and Larry Small, editors, and published in Haulin' Rope & Gaff: Songs And Poetry In The History Of The Newfoundland Seal Fishery, pp.123-124, by Breakwater Books, St John's, NL, 1978.

Kenneth Peacock noted that Tom Morry said he learned this song from a man on the south coast, although it probably originated in the northeast where "swiling" is more common. "Pelting the puppy swiles" means skinning the young seals. The men involved used their proceeds to order rum from James Baird & Company of St John's and then proceeded to have an "elegant time".



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