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> Eliza Carthy > Songs > Bold Privateer

The Bold Privateer

[ Roud 1000 ; Laws O32 ; Henry H514 ; Ballad Index LO32 ; Bodleian Roud 1000 ; Wiltshire 731 ; trad.]

Peter Bellamy sang The Bold Privateer song on his 1975 LP Tell It Like It Was, accompanying himself on concertina. Another version from Paul Adams' collection of miscellaneous Peter Bellamy tapes was included in 2018 on the Fellside CD reissue of The Maritime Suite. Peter Bellamy noted:

The 1914 anthology The Book of Sussex Verse concluded with a short section of “old Sussex songs”, whence came this short (Napoleonic War?) piece, sans tune, so I provided one.

Eliza Carthy sang Bold Privateer on her 2002 CD, Anglicana. She accompanied herself on fiddle and Tim van Eyken played guitar. She commented in the album notes:

My Dad said he has been meaning to give me this song for about five years. I eventually held him in a savage stranglehold until he gave it up. It comes from a collection by John Broadwood, relative of Lucy. All the songs in the collection come from Surrey and Sussex, and Broadwood swears that they were obtained from genuine country people and peasants.

Jeff Warner sang The Bold Privateer on his 2005 album Jolly Tinker. He commented in his liner notes:

The song has a British beginning, but may well have gone through American minstrelsy before lodging in the southern mountains, where English song collector Cecil Sharp found it in Peaks of Otter, Bedford County, Virginia, in 1918. Jeff Davis found this in Sharp's collection and passed it on to me.

Lyrics

Peter Bellamy sings The Bold Privateer Eliza Carthy sings Bold Privateer

Our boat, it's on a drift
And our ship, it's on the waves
Farewell my dearest jewel
For I can no longer stay

Our boat, she's on a drift
And our ship, she's on the waves
Farewell my dearest jewel
For no longer can I stay

Our ship, she lies awaiting
So fare thee well, my dear
For I must go on board
Of this bold privateer

𝄆 Our ship, she lies awaiting
So fare you well, my dear
For I must go on board
Of this bold privateer 𝄇

Well there's no-one there can tell
What great hazards you must run
So many have been slain
Since the wars they first begun

There's no-one there can tell you
What great hazards you will run
So many have been slain
Since the wars first begun

And such bloody engagements
And dangers they draw near
With the loss of their sweet lives
On this bold privateer

𝄆 Such bloody engagements
And dangers that draw near
With loss of their sweet lives
In this bold privateer 𝄇

So grieve not, my dearest jewel
When I am out of sight
For I must go on board
And right boldly will I fight

Grieve not, my dearest jewel
When I'm out of your sweet sight
For I must go on board
And so boldly I will fight

We will cut down the pride
Of the lofty monseers
We'll soon we'll let him know
She's a bold privateer

𝄆 We'll beat down the pride
Of the lofty monaseer
And soon we'll let them know
She's a bold privateer 𝄇

Well since you are going
May heaven smile on thee
May kind heaven protect you
By the land or by the sea

Then since you are a-going
May heaven kinder be
May kind heaven protect you
By land or by sea

May kind heaven protect you
Wherever you may steer
And send you safe home back again
From this bold privateer

𝄆 May kind heaven protect you
Wherever you may steer
And send you safe home back
From this bold privateer 𝄇

Well the prizes we have taken
They are from France and Spain
And my true love at home
Shall have a good part of the same

The prizes we have taken
Are from France and from Spain
And my true love at home
Will have part of them the same

When the wars they are are over
I'll turn unto my dear
We'll bid adieu foreve
To this bold privateer

𝄆 And when the wars are over
I'll turn unto my dear
And then I'll bid adieu
To this bold privateer 𝄇

Oh, when the wars are over
I'll turn unto my dear
And then I'll bid adieu
To this bold privateer

Notes

“Monaseer” is late 18th / early 19th-century slang for a Frenchman, from “monsieur”. The Dutch were similarly known as “Monheers” (or “butterboxes”!). The English have a habit of genially mangling the pronunciation of their enemies' names - the Indian Prince Sirauj-ad Daula was known to the troops as “Sir Roger Dowler” for example.
[Kim Birley]

Acknowledgements and Links

Transcribed by Reinhard Zierke with help from Kira White and Kim Birley. Thank you!

See also the Digital Tradition study thread Captain Calls All Hands / Bold Privateer at the Mudcat Café.