MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Bound Down to Newfoundland
James Maher NFLD 1 Tape 16A Track 6
Flatrock Audio:
Ballad / illness at sea Laws D22 ("The Schooner Mary Ann")

Ye landsmen that live on the land it's little do ye know
What we poor seamen do endure while stormy winds do blow
We left our homes light-hearted to sail for Newfoundland
On St. Patrick's Day we sailed away in the schooner Mary Ann

The morning star being on the sky we boldly slipped our lines
The Statue of Liberty on New York we soon did leave behind
We spread our canvas to the breeze to take us from the land
As we bore away from our native home bound down to Newfoundland

Now the captain being a smart young lad scarce eighteen years of age
Was married to a loving wife three weeks before we sailed
But little did she ever think as you may understand
That her true love would ne'er return when he'd sailed for Newfoundland

We had not long been sailing when he in his cabin lay
Calling his mate to his bedside those words to him did say,
"I'm taken down with some disease as you may understand
And to you my mate l leave full charge going down to Newfoundland

And lf you'd reach a distant port on the Nova Scotia shore
Give me a decent burial of you I'll ask no more
And when you'll reach New York again my case you will make known
For l am dying sure, twill be a loss to my once happy home

With heavy hearts we crowded sail his orders to obey
We made the land quite early upon that selfsame day
At three o'clock in the evening all by his just command
In harrowed shock our captain died going down to Newfoundland

The doctors came on board of us our case for to make known
Smallpox on board were raging the same to us they told
Twas early the next morning four more were sent on shore
May the Lord have mercy on their souls we'll never see them no more

Out of eight bold youths who left New York but two of them returned
Leaving their wives and sweethearts the loss of them to mourn
If ever I reach New York again I'll look for work on shore
And I'll learn to live a landsmen's life and go to sea no more


Sources:   Mercer 103; Laws D22 "The Schooner Mary Ann"; cf Greenleaf 1968: 317; Peacock, 905.Roud 647.

History: American ballad late 19th century, sometimes attributed to Captain Cale White. Note that the ship's name differs here from the ballad referenced in Mercer and others.                      

Text notes: About a smallpox epidemic at sea. The captain of a ship, Captain Stafford Nelson of The Abilene (see   is unable to reach Halifax and must head to Newfoundland.

Tune notes:An abba form in which the "b" phrase has large melodic leaps. The metre is 4/4.

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