> Folk Music > Songs > Jack the Sailor

Jack the Sailor

[ Roud 1454 ; Master title: Jack the Sailor ; Ballad Index VWP064 ; trad.]

The Constant Lovers The Cruel Wars Folk Songs collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams Vaughan Williams in Norfolk Volume 2

Derek & Dorothy Elliott learned Jack the Sailor from Frank Kidson’s book English Peasant Songs (1929). They sang it in 1972 on their eponymous Trailer album, Derek & Dorothy Elliott.

Chris Foster sang Jack the Sailor on his 1977 album Layers.


Derek & Dorothy Elliott sing Jack the Sailor

As I walked out one morning fair,
One morning as I was a-walking
I there beheld a lady fair
All with her father talking.
She said, “My true love’s come ashore –
He’s the only lad I do adore;
And I will go aboard today
To meet my handsome sailor.”

“Here’s five hundred guineas bright,
Five hundred more I’ll give you.
But if you wed against my will
A farthing I’ll not leave you
Besides, my dear, you are too young
And sailors have a flattering tongue
So quite my presence and begone
If you wed with Jack the Sailor.”

Then in came Jack, the roving tar
“Where is my lovely Nancy?
I am now safe returned to thee,
My heart’s delight and fancy.”
Five hundred guineas in bright gold
Upon the table down he told,
And swept them in her apron fold.
“Take that from Jack the Sailor!”

The father he stood in amaze
To see bold Jack so clever.
“Well done, my hearty sailor boy
... that you shall have her.
As you have parted with your store,
And you each other do adore,
My daughter shall have three times more
To wed with Jack the Sailor.”

Chris Foster sings Jack the Sailor

Well, as I walked out one May morning
By the seaside as I was a-walking
’Twas there I saw a pretty maid
Along with her father talking.
She said, “Thy true love is come on shore,
The only lad that you do adore –
But all of these fellows I’d have you give o’er
Not to wed with a tarry sailor.”

Then up jumps Jack as nimble as a bee,
Saying, “Where is me true love Nancy?
She is the girl that I do adore,
And the only girl I fancy.
I’ve ofttimes been where the stormy winds do blow
I’ve ofttimes faced a daring foe.
So you must answer yes or no:
If you will wed with Jack a tarry sailor?”

“Do you think that I’ve come a-courting you
With all of me pockets empty?
Oh, no,” says Jack, “you need not fear:
I’ve got gold and silver plenty.”
Then into her apron Jack he told
Five hundred guineas all in bright gold,
All into her lap he throwed it bold,
Saying, “Take that and wed a tarry sailor!”

Well the old man he stood behind Jack’s back.
Oh, he stood like one amazed.
The old man he stood behind Jack’s back,
And over him he gazed.
“Since thou has saved all thy store,
And you each other do adore;
I’ll give thee twice as much and more” –
For Jack, he’s a clever tarry sailor.

And the old man he cries, “Me dear you shall have,
Since all of my gold it has won her.
’Tis the breaking of our happy home,
So stick to her and love her.”
Said Jack, “No fear.” The girl wipes a tear,
And her father and her mother they embrace her.
“With the man that I love I would rather go away
All along with me clever tarry sailor.”

So drink, boys, drink, and pass the grog about!
For tonight we shall be merry.
I’ve the gold and silver and jewels so bright
Me wife she is most drunk and tight
And I shall sleep with her tonight
Oh and I’ll behave meself like a sailor.


Thanks to Garry Gillard.