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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, and 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,
She 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're 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 makes 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.

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

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

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

Roud: 407 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six
Laws: M38

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