MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
The Flemings of Torbay
Charles Dawe NFLD 1 Tape 16 Track 1
Flatrock Audio:
Recitation Laws D23

The thrilling tale we heard last week is in our memory yet
Two fishermen from Newfoundland snatched from the jaws of death
Two fine young men born in Torbay went adrift at sea
On the eighteenth day of April from the schooner Jubilee
They left to prosecute the voyage on Grand Bank's stormy shore
Where many a hardy fisherman was never heard of more
For twelve long days in storm and sea those hardy fellows stood
Fatigued footsore and hungry no water or no food
All those long days tossed on the sea while bitter was each night
No friend to speak a kindly word no sall to heave in sight
Exhausted cold and hungry those two poor brothers lay
To gaze on sky and water for twelve long weary days
At last a vessel hove in sight and saw the floating speck
She proved the Jesse Maurice whole laden for Quebec
The wheelsman's well-trained eye espied clear through the misty haze
Those poor exhausted fishermen adrift so many days
The captain then kind-hearted man had just came on the deck
The order gave to hard to port and shape her for the wreck
Two hours or more while wind did roar the Jesse salled around
To see if any tidings of that dory could be found
The crew were stationed on the bow all anxious for to hale
When the captain espied her in the fog abaft on the weather rall
The brave commander right away gave orders for to launch
The jolly boat that hung astern of good old oak so staunch
Two tough old seamen manned the oars when at the word to go
The captain standing in the bows to take the boat in tow
The captain gripped the painter to take her to the barque
While those on board lay still as death their faces cold and dark
A sling was then made fast below in this the men to place
While tender-hearted mariners the work did nobly face
No sign of life was in the men as they were placed in bed
But still the captain held out hope the vital spark now tread
He watched for days and sleepless nights to bring those men around
And on the second day discerned but just a feeble sound
The first to speak was Peter the older of the two
He told the captain who they were, a part of the Jubilee 's crew
And how in April on the bank they chanced to drift away
And lay exposed in the open boat for many a stormy day
The captain then all canvas set and shaped up for Quebec
He took on board the dory and all left of the wreck
He watched those men with mother's care while in their birth's they lay
And saved the lives of those two boys once more to see Torbay
The news was soon dispatched at home the wives and children there
To say the Jesse picked them up and banished every fear
Although they lay in hospital and from their friends far away
Praise God they'll soon return again to gladden sad Torbay
And tell with joy to every boy that's living in that place
The fearful risk our bankers run and danger's have to face
So let us pray for those away saved from their dory's wreck
To heal their wounds they sorely lay in hospital at Quebec
And guard them in their hours of pain to keep a cheerful smile
Snatched from the very jaws of death upon the seas to toil
God bless those seamen true as steel that saved our heroes' lives
The plucky boys that manned the boats that cheered our homes and lives
May Captain Farlane long be spared he nobly done his part
A crown of glory must await that kind and tender heart
Long live the Jesse 's gallant crew also her captain bold
Their names shall be recorded in letters of bright gold
And send them peace and happiness in every port they lay
The plucky boys that saved the lives of the Flemings from Torbay


Sources: Mercer 121 and 341; Laws D23; Leach 198: Murphy; Ryan 31; Peacock 912;  Creighton 1932: 248. Roud 1821.

History: Attributed to Johnny Burke of St. John's who published a broadside with this ballad ca. 1940. The event occurred in May of 1888 (see Halifax Evening Mercury, May 31, 1888).

Text notes: Two young men went adrift in a dory and were rescued by the crew of the coal ship, the Jessie Maurice. They were taken to Quebec, where both men suffered the amputation of their legs.

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