Bold Princess Royal

Louis Killen: On Autumn Harvest ah003.
Old Songs & Bothy Ballads: For Friendship and for Harmony

Live from the Fife Traditional Singing Festival May 2005.

Of all the pirate ballads, this one, in which crime emphatically does not pay, is perhaps the best known. The song has enjoyed wide popularity on both sides of the Atlantic (GD 1.47; Roud 528; Laws K19). In England it has been recorded in sea-faring communities right down the east coast from Yorkshire to Sussex and East Anglian singers are particularly fond of it. This version is close to the first of three versions in the Greig Duncan collection in both tune and text.

1: On the fourteenth of February we sailed from the land,
On the bold Princess Royal bound for Newfoundland;
We had forty brave seamen in the ship's company,
And it's boldlye from the eastward to the westward sailed we.
We had forty brave seamen in the ship's company,
And it's boldlye from the eastward to the westward sailed we.

2: Now we had not been sailing scarce days two or three,
When the man on our masthead strange sails he did see;
She come bearing down on us for to see what we were,
And it's under her mizzen black colours she wore.

3: "Oh Lord," cries our captain, "what shall us do now?
Here comes a bold pirate for to rob us I know."
"O no," cries the first mate, "that never shall be so,
We'll pull out our reef boys and away from him we'll go."

4: Well this old, bold pirate he hove alongside,
With a loudspeaking trumpet, "Whence come you?" he cried;
Our captain being up, me boys, he answered him so,
"Oh we come from fair London and we're bound for Saint John."

5: Then clew up your forsails and draw your ship to,
For I have a long letter for to send home by you;
Oh I'll not clew up my forsails nor draw my ship to,
That'll be in some harbour, not alongside of you.

6: Well he chased us to the eastward all of that livelong day,
And he chased us to the westward for he couldn't get nowhere;
And he fir├Ęd shots after us but none could prevail,
And the bold Princess Royal soon showed him her tail.

7: "Oh Lord," cries our captain, "now the pirate is gone,
"Get yous down to your grog, boys, get yous down every one;
Get yous down to your grog, me boys, and be of good cheer,
While the bold Princess has sea-room, brave boys, never fear."
Get yous down to your grog, me boys, and be of good cheer,
While the bold Princess has sea-room, brave boys, never fear."
c p 2006 Autumn Harvest
www.springthyme.co.uk