Robbie T. Hutchison. [William Hollander; The Flying Cloud] SA1974.11.13 – SA1974.12.1
For two other very similar but shorter versions recorded in Whalsay – by Grace Anderson and William Hutchison (Creadieknowe) – scroll down below past Robbie’s text.
There are around 80 different versions of this ‘Come all ye’ ballad listed in the Roud index (no. 1802) where they are mostly given the title The Flying Cloud. However, this has nothing to do with the famous American record-breaking clipper of the same name. The song’s origin is a mystery and the American folklorist Horace Beck reported:
”No one knows its origin, its dates, or the identity of any of the characters concerned. Collectors greet it with more mixed emotions than any other song. Shay refers to it as,
‘A song which probably had some popularity in the dives alongshore, but it was not sung aboard ship.’ On the other hand, Rickaby maintained that at one time the ability to sing this song through was a prerequisite to being allowed to work in the Michigan lumber camps. Varied, also, are the opinions as to the age of the piece; they range from some time fairly early in the nineteenth century up to the twentieth century. ” (see Journal of American Folklore, vol 66, 1953).
Robbie’s version is as complete and well put together as any other. He learned it from his uncle, able-seaman Peter Hutchison, and mentioned that several other Whalsay men knew this ballad.
My name is Edward Anderson as you may understand,
In Waterford where I was born in Erin’s lovely land;
My father reared me tenderly in fear of god-like ways
Never thinking that I’d live to die ‘neath Cuba’s sunny skies.
My father bound me to a trade in Waterford’s fair town;
He bound me to a cooper by the name of William Brown;
I served my master faithfully for eighteen months or more
Then shipped on board the Ocean Queen for Valparaiso shore
While lyin’ in Valparaiso I met in with Captain Moore,
Commander of The Flying Cloud sailing out for Baltimore.
It was with him that I did agree on a slave voyage for to go
To the burning plains of Cuba where the sugar canes does grow.
Oh we soon tossed o’er the ragin’ seas and landed safe on shore.
Five hundred of those poor men from the native homes we tore;
We dragged them up upon our deck and tossed them down below
For eighteen inches to the man was all that we could stow.
We weighed our anchor, put to sea, our cargo was of slaves.
Been better for those poor men had they been in their graves,
For a plague and fever came on board swept half of them away,
So we dragged their bodies up on deck and strewed them in the sea.
[continued on the next tape]
Then after some days sailing we reached the Virginian shore
And we sold them to a planter to be slaves for evermore;
To plough up rice and sugar fields beneath the blazing sun;
To toil away their wretched lives before their race was run.
Then when our money was all spent we came on board again
And Captain Moore called us on deck and said to us, his men,
“There’s gold in plenty to be had out on the Spanish Main,
My boys if you’ll with me agree I’ll show you how it’s gained.”
We all agreed except five young men who wanted for to land
And two of them was Boston men an’ two from Newfoundland.
The other one was an Irishman belongin’ to Tramore.
Oh how I wish I’d joined those men and stayed with them on shore.
Her sails was white as the drifted snow on them there was no speck
And seventy-five brass mounted guns she carried on her deck.
Her great long gun between her spars an’ swivelled it did go
And her magazines of shot and shell was stored away below.
Oh we sank an’ plundered many ships down on the Spanish Main
An’ many a mother’s son we killed beneath our blazing guns,
Until a Spanish man-of-war, our dungeon, hove in view,
An’ he fired a shot across our bows, a signal to heave to.
To this we gave no answer but steered before the wind
Till a chain shot struck our mizzen mast and we fell fast behind.
Then we cleared our decks for action as she ranged up alongside
An’ soon upon our quarter-deck there flowed a crimson tide.
We fought till Captain Moore was dead an’ seventy of his men.
Then a round shot set our ship on fire, we were forced to surrender then;
Then we were taken prisoner and into prison cast,
Were tried and found guilty, we were to be hung at last.
So farewell, farewell, sweet Waterford and the girl I love so dear.
Her voice like music, low and sweet I never more shall hear
No more I’ll kiss her rosy lips, nor press her lilywhite hand
For on the gallows I must die by law of the Spanish land.
Grace Anderson SA1974.07.8
Grace sang just six and a half verses before the tape ran out.
William Hutchison (Creadieknowe) SA1972.100.3
This was a somewhat hesitant performance and Willie was clearly not satisfied with it enough to continue for long.
My name is Edward Anderson as you may understand;
In Waterford where I was born in Erin’s lovely land,
My parents reared me tenderly in fear of god-like ways
Never thinking I would live to scorn [?] ‘neath Cuba’s sunny skies.
My father bound me to a trade in Waterford’s fair town;
He bound me to a cooper by the name of Willem Brown;
I served my master faithfully in eighteen months or more,
Then I shipped on board of the Ocean Queen for Valaparaiso shore
While lyin’ in Valaparaiso I met in with Captain Moore,
Commander of The Flying Cloud sailing out of Baltimore;
It was then I did with him agree on a slaving voyage for to go
To the burning plains of Cuba where the sugar canes did grow.
We soon tossed o’er the ragin’ seas an’ landed safe on shore;
Five hundred of those wretched slaves from their native home we tore;
We dragged them up upon our deck and thrust them down below,
For eighteen inches to each man was all that we could stow….
Breaks off and laughs: “I’ll need to learn the words before I…”