British Man-O'-War (Kenny Family)
See also: British Man-O-War (Peacock)
midi1   alt: midi2

It was down by Cults Garden
for pleasure I did stray,
'Twas there I spied a comely maid
talking to her sailor gay,
Saying, "Susie, my love Susie,
I am going to leave the shore,
For to cross the briny ocean
on a British man-o'-war."

Then Susie fell a weeping,
these words I heard her say,
"You needn't be so foolish
as to throw yourself away,
When at the age of twenty-one
I will receive my store,
So change your inclination
from a British man-o'-war."

"O, Susie, lovely Susie,
the truth to you I'll tell,
The British flag is insulted
and old England knows it well,
You may be crowned with laurels
or some other jolly tar,
But I'll face the walls of China
on a British man-o'-war."

"O, my love Willie,
don't face those bold Chinese,
For they will prove so treacherous,
as any Portuguese,
And by some sword or dagger
you may receive a scar,
Jolly sailor, do not venture
on a British man-o'-war."

"O Susie, lovely, Susie,
the time has come at last,
For to go down to yonder pub
and drink a parting glass,
My shipmates, they are waiting
to row me from the shore,
For to cross the briny ocean
on a British man-o'-war."

Willie took out his handkerchief,
he tore it straight in two,
Saying, "Half of this I'll keep myself,
and the other I'll give to you,
When bellows they surround me
and the cannons loudly roar,
Then I'll fight for England's glory
on a British man-o'-war."

A few more words were spoken
and then they both shook hands,
The sailors gently manned their oars
and quickly rowed from land,
And Willie waved his handkerchief
till they were far from shore,
Saying, "Farewell, my lovely Susie,
from a British man-o'-war."

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, British Man-Of-War, published by the Poet's Box in Overgate, Dundee, Scotland, probably after 1850, and archived in the Word On The Street digital library of the National Library of Scotland, Shelfmark: L.C.Fol.70(139). Also a variant of a 19th-century British broadside ballad, British Man-Of-War, published and sold by by Robert Rankin, 38, Bottle-bank, Gateshead, sometime after 1850, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmarks: Harding B 11(463) and Firth b.26(180) ....####

This variant was collected from the singing of the Kenny Family from Kitchuses, NL.

A variant was also collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1952 from Henry James (Harry) Curtis [1895-1963] of Joe Batt's Arm, NL, and published as British Man-O-War in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, pp.181-182, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

¹ The earliest known publication of this song was in 1847 (Journal of William Histed of the Cortes).
² Most sources agree the references to China refer to the Chinese-British War or Opium Wars (1839-1842); however, Kenneth Peacock noted that the events referred to in this ballad possibly go back to the years following 1838 when Britain seized the island of Hong Kong, which became a Crown Colony in 1841 [Actual date was May of 1843 with the ratification of the Treaty of Nanjing].


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