click to play

Boney was a war-rye-or,
(Chorus: Way-aye-yah!)
A war-rye-or, a ter-rye-or,
(Chrus: Jonny Franswor!)

Boney beat the Prussians,
The Osstrye-ans an' the Rooshye-ans.

Boney went to school in France,
He learnt to make the Rooshians dance.

Oh, Boney marched to Moscow,
Lost his army in the snow.

Boney wuz a Frenchyman,
But Boney had to turn again.

He wuz sent to Elba,
Wisht he'd niver bin there.

He whacked the Proosians squarely,
He beat the English nearly.

We licked him in Trafalgar's Bay,
Carried his main topm'st away.

'Twas on the Plains of Waterloo,
He met the boy who put 'm through.

He met the Duke of Wellington,
An' then his downfall wuz begun.

The long-nosed Dook he put him through,
He put 'im through at Waterloo.

Boney went a-cru-sye-in,
Aboard the Billy Ruf-fye-an.

They sent him into exile,
He died on St Helena's Isle.

Boney was a war-rye-or,
He rorty, snorty, war-rye-or.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Hugill, Stan, (1969), Shanties and Sailors Songs, London, Herbert Jenkins

Stan Hugill wrote:

As well as being a halyard shanty, Boney was occasionally used as a sheet or short-haul song. Obviously it was born during or shortly after the Napoleonic Wars. Some think it was based on the French seamen's hauling song Jen Fran├?┬žois de Nantes, but I rather fancy the reverse occurred. In the hands of most shantymen its narrative was a fairly historical one, although some singers did have Boney crossing the Rockies. This was one shanty in which the common shore folk-song style of pronouncing all short "i" sounds as "eye" was rather overdone by some singers. The "Franswor" in the refrains is, of course, the French name "Fran├?┬žois." In the twelfth verse, the "billy Ruffian" is the sailor pronounciation of of the British man-o'-war Bellerophon which took Napolean as a prisoner to St Helena. Boney is one of the very few shanties which, as far as I know, has no obscene version.

The fifth verse contains a ratherly deeply hidden sailor quip. A "Frenchman" or a "frenchyman" is the term given to an underhand turn put in a rope when coiling up a fall. German sailors call this method of coiling "putting in an Englander." In both cases the member of the race named is thought to be underhanded by the user.

Roud: 485 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

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