> Cyril Tawney > Songs > Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake

[ Roud V18747 ; trad.]

Roy Palmer included Sir Francis Drake; or Eighty-Eight in his book The Oxford Book of Sea Songs and its expanded edition Boxing the Compass, where he noted:

The ballad looks back at the Armada, possibly from the time of James I. Some of the details have become blurred, though the picture of victory remains clear enough.

Cyril Tawney sang Sir Francis Drake on his 1970 Argo album A Mayflower Garland. He commented in his sleeve notes:

I have lost count of the number of times some producer or researcher has asked me if there is “a folk song about Drake of the Armada”. Whether or not the peasantry of England ever sang the praises of Sir Francis in centuries past we do not know, but nothing has survived in oral tradition. In fact, with the exception of Nelson, Wolfe and Marlborough, the English ‘folk’ seem to have been strangely indifferent to their ‘official’ heroes. However, some songs referring to Drake have survived in manuscript form, and this is one of them.

John Faulkner and Terry Yarnell sang Sir Francis Drake on the Critics Group's 1971 Argo album As We Were A-Sailing. The album's sleeve notes commented:

The jubilant and derisive tone of this amusing commentary on the defeat of Spain's “invincible armada” might mislead one into thinking it was written immediately after the event. The opening line, however, proves that this was not the case. The earliest printed version of the song is in Armstrong's Banquet of Jests (1646).

Tom and Barbara Brown sang Sir Francis Drake in a set together with The Bold Privateer on their 2002 CD Prevailing Winds. According to Tom Brown on Mudcat, it is “from The Oxford Song Book, Vol. 2 (1931) where it is credited as taken from the Fitzwilliam Viginal Book c.1612”. And they commented in their liner notes:

Sir Francis Drake comes from a broadside and records an early attempt to form the EU. Barnstaple and Bideford sent several ships between them to join Drake at Plymouth to face the Armada—but to this day they still argue as to which sent how many!

Lyrics

Sir Francis Drake in Boxing the Compass Cyril Tawney sings Sir Francis Drake

In eighty-eight, ere I was born,
As I can well remember,
In August was a fleet prepared,
The month before September.

In eighty-eight, ere I was born,
As I can well remember,
In August was a fleet prepared,
The month before September.

Spain, with Biscayne, Portugal,
Toledo and Granado,
All these did meet and make a fleet,
And called it the Armado.

Spain, with Biscayne, Portugal,
Toledo and Granado,
All these did meet and made a fleet,
And called it the Armado.

Where they had got provision,
As mustard, peas and bacon,
Some say two ships were full of whips,
But I think they were mistaken.

There was a little man of Spain
That shot well in a gun, a,
Don Pedro hight, as good a knight
As the Knight of the Sun, a.

There was a little man of Spain
That shot well in a gun, a,
Don Pedro hight, as good a knight
As any of the Sun, a.

King Philip made him admiral
And chargèd him to stay, a
But to destroy both man and boy
And then to run away, a.

King Philip made him admiral
And charg'd him not to stay, a
But to destroy both man and boy
And then to run away, a.

The King of Spain did fret amain,
And to do yet more harm, a
He sent along, to make him strong,
The famous Prince of Parma.

The King of Spain did fret amain,
And to do yet more harm, a
He sent along, to make him strong,
The famous Prince of Parma.

When they had sailed along the seas
And anchored upon Dover,
Our Englishmen did board them then
And cast the Spaniards over.

When they had sailed along the seas
And anchored upon Dover,
Our Englishmen did board them then
And cast the Spaniards over.

Our Queen was then at Tilbury,
What could you more desire, a?
For whose sweet sake Sir Francis Drake
Did set them all on fire, a.

Our Queen was then at Tilbury,
What could you more desire, a?
For whose sweet sake Sir Francis Drake
Did set them all on fire, a.

Away they ran by sea and land,
So well one man slew three score-a,
And had not they all run away,
O my soul, we'd had killed more-a.

But let them look about themselves,
For if they come again, a,
They shall be served with that same sauce
As they were, I know when, a.

Then let them neither brag nor boast,
For if they come again-a,
Let them take heed they do not speed,
As they did they know when-a.

Tom and Barbara Brown sing Sir Francis Drake

In eighty-eight, ere I was born,
Or I can well remember,
In August was a fleet prepared,
A hundred ships in number.

Proud Spain, with Biscayne, Portugal,
Toledo and Granado,
All these did meet and made one fleet,
And called it the Armado.

Their men were young, munitions strong
To do to us more harm, a,
They thought it mete to join their fleet
All with the Prince of Parma.

Their navy was well victualled
With bully beef and bacon,
Some say two ships were full of whips,
But I think they were mistaken.

They sailed round about our shores
And so came into Dover,
Our English lads did board them there
And threw the rascals over.

The Queen was then at Tilbury,
What more could we desire, a?
So Francis Drake, for her sweet sake,
He set them all on fire, a.

So let them look unto themselves
If they should come again, a,
They shall be serv'd as they were then
Ere ever I was born, a.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread DTStudy:Sir Francis Drake / Eighty-Eight.