> Martyn Wyndham-Read > Songs > The Female Rambling Sailor

The Female Rambling Sailor

[ Roud 17784 ; AFS 102 ; Ballad Index DTrmbsl3 ; Bodleian Roud 17784 ; trad.]

Catherine Peatey sang The Female Rambling Sailor, as collected by Bob Michell and Norm O'Connor in 1959, on the 1963 Wattle record of field recordings, Australian Traditional Singers and Musicians in Victoria.

Dave and Toni Arthur sang Female Rambling Sailor in 1967 on their Transatlantic album Morning Stands on Tiptoe.

Shayna Karlin sang The Female Rambling Sailor on the 1968 album Soldiers and Sailors (Folksingers of Australia Volume 2). The album's notes commented:

Dr. Edgar Waters says of this song: The story of a girl dressing as a man and serving as a sailor in the navy is certainly not an uncommon one in English broadside ballads of the 18th and 19th Centuries. But although this ballad of the Female Rambling Sailor is on a familiar enough theme, I have not been able to trace it in the broadside ballads. It seems sufficiently clear from the style of the ballad that it is English and of 18th or early 19th Century origin. The melody also appears to be English and is of rather an interesting and unusual construction. This version of the song was collected by R. Michell and N. O'Connor from Mrs. Catherine Peatey of Brunswick, Victoria in 1959.

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang The Female Rambling Sailor in 1973 on his Argo album Harry the Hawker Is Dead, and in 2004 on the Fellside anthology Song Links: A Celebration of English Traditional Songs and Their Australians Variants. Paul Adams commented in the latter's album's liner notes:

The version of this song here by Martyn Wyndham-Read was, like his version of The Bonny Bunch of Roses, learnt from Mrs Catherine Peatey, and recorded, like that song, by Bob Michell and Norm O'Connor in 1959. There are many English broadside prints of The Female Rambling Sailor, but it would seem that the only version of the song ever recorded from oral tradition anywhere was this version from Mrs Peatey. This is remarkable enough, but as the note on the Australian version of The Bonny Bunch of Roses mentions, Mrs Peatey was born into a German-Australian family.

There is, then, no direct match for this song recorded from the English oral tradition. John Kirkpatrick's version of The Female Sailor Bold is as perhaps as good a match as any.

Sally Barker sang The Female Rambling Sailor on her 1992 Hypertension album Beating the Drum.

Danny Spooner sang The Female Rambling Sailor on his 2002 CD Launch Out on the Deep. He noted:

That women often dressed as men and went to sea is not only a fantasy of sailors, it is also well documented. This glorious song was recorded in Australia by Norm O'Connor from a Mrs Catherine Peatey and I learned it from the singing of a friend, Shayna Karlin, in the 1970s.

Tony and Steve Haynes sang Female Ramblin' Sailor in 2013 on their CD Special Brew.

Pete Wood sang The Female Rambling Sailor in 2014 on his CD Young Eswin.

Lyrics

Martyn Wyndham-Read sings The Female Rambling Sailor

Come all you maids, both near and far, come listen to my ditty,
'Twas near Gravesend there lived a maid, she was both fair and pretty.
Her true love he was pressed away and drowned in some foreign sea
Which caused this fair maid for to say, “I'll be a rambling sailor.”

With jacket blue and trousers white she was a sailor neat and tight.
The sea it was the heart's delight of the female rambling sailor.
When o the seas the storms did rage she was ready at her station,
She was as calm as calm could be, She loved her occupation.

And when the ship lay calmed at sea she charmed the sailors with her tongue,
She walked the decks and sweetly sang, the female rambling sailor.
From stem to stern she freely goes, she braves all dangers, fearing foes,
But soon you shall hear of the overthrow of the female rambling sailor.

From stem to stern she freely went where oft times she'd been many
Her hand did slip and down she fell, she calmly bade this world farewell.
When her snow white breasts in sight they came, it appeared to be a female's frame.
Rebecca Young it was the name of the female rambling sailor.

On the River Thames she's known real well, few sailors there could her excel,
One tear let fall and then farewell to the female rambling sailor.

So come all you maidens near and far who listen to my story.
Her body's anchored in the ground, let's hope her soul's in glory.
May the willows wave around her grave and around the laurels planted,
May the roses sweet grow at the feet of the one who was undaunted.

Sally Barker sings The Female Rambling Sailor

Come all you maids both near and far and listen to my ditty.
'Twas near Gravesend there lived a maid, she was both neat and pretty.

Her true love he was pressed away and drowned in some foreign sea
Which caused this fair maid for to say, “I'll be a rambling sailor.”

In her jacket blue and trousers white just like a sailor neat and tight,
The sea it was the heart's delight of the female rambling sailor.

From stem to stern she freely goes, she braves all dangers, fears no foes,
But soon you shall hear of the overthrow of the female rambling sailor.

No never did her courage fail, 'twas stormy winds and wintry gales
This fair maiden did prevail, this female rambling sailor.

From stem to stern she freely went where oft times she'd been many,
Her hand did slip and down she fell, she calmly bade this world farewell.

When her lily-white breast in view it came it appeared to be a female's frame.
Rebecca Young it was the name of the female rambling sailor.

May the willows wave around her grave and round the laurels planted,
May the roses sweet bloom at the feet of the one who was undaunted.

Come all you maids both near and far and listen to my story.
Her body's anchored in the deep, let's hope her soul's in glory.

On the River Thames she's known so well, no man there could her excel,
One tear let fall as the last farewell to the female rambling sailor.

In her jacket blue and trousers white just like a sailor neat and tight,
The sea it was the heart's delight of the female rambling sailor.

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