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The Wellerman

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 13706 ; anon.]

Soon May the Wellerman Come is a New Zealand whaling song.

Weller Bros, of Sydney, Australia, were the major shore-whaling company in southern New Zealand in the 1830s and 40s. They had stations at Otakau (Dunedin), Tautuku, Bluff (and others). Over the years they had several ships, which serviced these stations, most notable, being the Magnet and Joseph Weller.

The “Wellerman” referred to is the boat/skipper bringing supplies to the stations, and taking away the oil accumulated since the last visit.

The Norfolk Broads sang The Wellerman on their 2017 CD In the Valley of the Flowers. This video shows them at the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival on 10 September 2017:


The Norfolk Broads sing The Wellerman

There was a ship that put to sea,
And the name of the ship was the Billy at Tea
The wind came up, her bow dipped down,
Blow, my bully boys, blow.

Chorus (after each verse):
Soon may the Wellerman come
And bring us sugar and tea and rum.
One day, when the tonguin' is done,
We'll take our leave and go.

She had not been two weeks from shore
When down on her a right whale bore.
The captain called all hands and swore
He'd take that whale in tow.

Before the boat had hit the water
The whale's tail came up and caught her.
All hands to the side, harpooned and fought her,
She dived down below.

A line we dropped all in pursuit
She raised her tail, a last salute.
But the harpoon lodged there's no dispute
She dived down below.

For six long days and six long nights
She drove us south with all her might,
Until we were too tired to fight,
Then we let her go.

The line was cut, the whale was freed;
The Captain's mind was not on greed.
He belonged to the sailor's creed
And he let that whale go.


See also Soon May the Wellerman Come on the New Zealand Folksong website