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Come all you jolly seamen that loves to hear the drum,
I will tell you of a robber that on the seas did roam;
Some say his name is Captain Ward and it plainly does appear,
There hasn't been such a hero, boys, found out this hundred year.

Our king he built a gallant ship, a ship of noble fame,
She is called the saucy "Rainbow" if you must know her name,
Our ship she is well-rigged and fitted out for sea,
With eleven hundred seamen to keep her company.

We sailed round and round, my boys, where this great robber lay,
"Where is the master of your ship?" the gallant "Rainbow" cried,
"Lo, here am I," says Captain Ward, "my name I'll never deny,
And if you are one of the King's ships you're welcome to pass by."

"If you've any resolution your skill all for to try
You and I will have a battle before we do pass by."
"With all my heart," says Captain Ward, "I value you not a pin,
Although you show your brass without, I am good steel within."

So at eight o'clock in the morning the battle did begin,
And so it did continue till eight o'clock again.
"Fight on, fight on," says Captain Ward, "your sport well pleases me,
And if you fight for a month or more, your master I will be.

I never robbed an English ship nor ship of noble fame,
Nor yet the blackguard Dutchman that sails all on the main;
Go home, go home and tell your King, And tell him this from me,
That if he reigns King over all the land, it's I'll reign King at sea."

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Source: Purslow, F, 1968, The Wanton Seed, EFDS Publications, London

Frank Purslow's notes are given below:

Gardiner H.241 - Isaac Hobbes of Micheldever. The text slightly augmented from Gardiner H.613 - Stephen Phillimore, Andover. This ballad is numbered 287 in Professor Child's "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads" and seems to have originally appeared early in the 17th century. The above text is a version of a later broadside, probably from the press of "Johnnie" Pitts of Seven Dials. Captain John Ward, a native of Kent, had a short career as a pirate for about 4 years from 1604 after inducing the crew of the ship he was serving in to turn pirate under his command. What his eventual fate was no-one seems to know. The early broadside relates that he sent a message to King James I asking for his pardon and offering 30 tons of gold as a ransom for his men and himself. The King replied that he could not trust a man who had already decieved the kings of France and Spain and sent the "Rainbow" to subdue him. It is extremely doubtful - in fact impossible taking the time factor into account - for this ship to have been built specially as the second verse seems to suggest (the original broadside says "The king provided a ship worthy of fame"); it was most probably the same "Rainbow" that went with Drake to Cadiz in 1587. I have had to amend bar 5 of the tune as Chas. Gambin, who noted the tune, Appearently forgot what time he was writing in as the notes are written at twice their value, taking two bars. The singer repeated the last two lines of each verse as a 'chorus'. This seems to be a practice still carried on by country singers to-day when a song is being sung in public.

Roud: 224 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Child: 287

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