Author Topic: Add: Pretty Nancy


Posted - 13 Oct 02 - 12:04 pm

Pretty Nancy

Text (i)
Pretty Nancy of Yarmouth, my joy and delight,
This is a kind letter I'm going to write
It is to inform you what we undergo
All on the salt sea where the stormy winds blow.

It was early one evening just before it was dark
Our honourable captain kindly show'd us the mark,
'Was something which he had perceiv'd in the sky,
And told us for sure that a storm it was nigh.

With the rolling of thunder we was toss'd about,
Which made many a poor sailor though valiant and stout
A-shaking and a shivering betwixt hope and despair,
One moment down below, boys, anf the next in the air.

Now a ship in distress is a most dismal sight,
Like an army of soldiers just going to fight;
But a soldier can run away from his doom,
While poor sailor must submit to his watery tomb.

It was early next morning just before it was day,
Our honourable captain unto us he did say
"Go down to your grog, boys, be all of good cheer,
For while we have sea room, brave boys, never fear."

Pretty Nancy of Yarmouth, she dwells in our street,
Shw was courted by William who belongs to the fleet,
When the trumpet it sounded, to the wars he must go,
Which fill'd her poor bosom with sorrow and woe.

"Oh Nancy, dear Nancy", these words he did say,
"Our ship it lies anchor'd and I must away"
As he kiss'd her red, rosy cheeks tears from his eyes did fall,
When he bid his dear Nancy adieu and farewell.

"Oh! William, dear William, this will break my heart,
Since you and I, love, for ever must part;
You'ra a-going to those wars love, where loud cannons roar,
Where I never, no never, shall see you any more."

Oh! the stormy winds blow, boys, they make my pillow shake,
It make my room windows for to shiver and quake
God knows where my love lies so far from the shore.
I'll pray for his welfare, what can I do more?

When the sailors are a-sailing they drink a health to their wives,
For they all love their sweethearts as they love their own lives.
Here's a full punch going round, my boys, here's a full glass in hand,
Here's a health to lovely Nancy that I leave on dry land.

Source: The Foggy Dew, Ed Frank Purslow, EFDS, 1974


Tune: Hammond Dt 524/Dt 540. Sam Gregory and Mrs Tuck, Beaminister, Dortset, June 1906
Text(i) Hammond Dt 225. Robert Barratt, Piddletown, Dorset, September 1905
Text(ii) Hammond Dt 180, Hospeh Elliott, Todber, Dorset, September 1905, with additions and amendments from Gardiner Hp 744, Daniel Wigg, Preston Candover, Hants 1907

Database entry is here

The Young Tradition sang another version that is rather less idyllic. From memory, the closing verses are:

Long years then did pass when back he did return
Pretty Nancy was married, had a home of her own
While he was a sailing on the wide restless sea
Pretty Nancy proved faithless and false unto he.

So come all you bold seamen, wherever you may be
And never leave the lass you love for to plough the salt sea
For while you are sailing on the wide ocean blue
They'll prove faithless like Nancy of Yarmouth to you.

Does anyone know the source for that version?

Edited By dmcg - 11/15/2002 3:41:18 PM

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 13 Oct 02 - 08:42 pm

Roud 407

The set recorded by the Young Tradition was "collected in Middlesborough, Yorkshire", according to the sleeve notes. Perhaps the same as the set noted there by Mary and Nigel Hudleston from Arthur Wood some time in the 1960s, and published in their book Songs of the Ridings: The Yorkshire Musical Museum (2001). I don't think that any other traditional version has a similar ending, and I always used to suspect that Bellamy had written that bit himself.

Broadside examples can be seen at Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads as Nancy of Yarmouth and Pretty Nancy of Yarmouth.


Posted - 14 Oct 02 - 11:18 am

Since this is almost always called "Nancy of Yarmouth", won't it confuse things if it's simply titled "Pretty Nancy" in the database. There are, after all, one or two other songs called "Pretty Nancy" or similar.



Posted - 14 Oct 02 - 12:17 pm

Good point. I called it Pretty Nancy because that was the name in the source. I have changed it to "Pretty Nancy (of Yarmouth).

There is an outstanding issue of multiple names for a song that Jon is thinking about. Ideally, I'd like to have this one under "Pretty Nancy (of Yarmouth)" and "Nancy of Yarmouth" but at the moment I don't think we can give it two names.

Jon Freeman

Posted - 15 Oct 02 - 02:38 am

Dave, I'm getting lost but I think that for now, the agreement is to use square brackets for alternative titles. I, as you do, of course realise that there is likely to be a need to improve on this in the future.



Posted - 15 Oct 02 - 12:03 pm

Ok, I've changed the name again!


Posted - 16 Oct 02 - 10:56 am

Just a comment on the fact that the Young Tradition's version is shown as collected from "Middlesbrough, Yorkshire". There's nothing wrong with that. Middlesbrough, though, is my place of birth, so a little local history might be of interest. Middlesbrough barely existed until 1840 or thereabouts. There were a number of small villages, such as Linthorpe, but the essential event was the creation of the ironworks on land purchased in 1840-ish. This led to a great influx of migrant workers (in large part Irish) over the next two decades and then a continuing influx as other sites developed, particular the docks, to the extent that by say, 1880 the proportion of 'locals' was, for practical purposes, insignificant.

To quote some facts from a history of Middlesbrough site:

Middlesbrough was still only a small farm of twenty five people as late as 1801.
By 1851 Middlesbrough's population had grown from 40 people in 1829 to 7,600
By 1860 its population had increased to an incredible 20,000

What this means for this site is that Middlesbrough was a good place to collect songs, because the variety of sources was high, but you really need to pay rather more attention than usual to where the singer was born, not simply that the song was collected in Middlesbrough

Edited By dmcg - 10/16/2002 11:38:15 AM

masato sakurai

Posted - 30 Jan 03 - 04:05 pm

Laws #M38
(Jemmy and Nancy; The Barbadoes Lady)

Malcolm Douglas
Posted - 30 Jan 03 - 07:18 pm

Also Roud 187; often called Jemmy and Nancy, The Yarmouth Tragedy and so on. It's a very different song from the Sea Storm group, but Roud has the Middlesbrough set mentioned earlier listed in that category. If it is the same as that recorded by the Young Tradition, then I'm not sure why.

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z