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Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold

[ Roud 553 ; Master title: Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold ; Laws N17 ; G/D 1:176 ; Ballad Index LN17 ; Bodleian Roud 553 ; Wiltshire 272 , 747 ; DT CAROSAIL ; trad.]

Colm O Lochlainn: More Irish Street Ballads John Morrish: The Folk Handbook Frank Purslow: The Foggy Dew Steve Roud: Julia Bishop: The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs Ken Stubbs: The Life of a Man

Joe Heaney sang Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold in a recording made by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger in their home in Beckenham in 1964. It was published in 2000 on his Topic anthology CD The Road From Connemara.

Sarah Makem sang Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold in a recording made by Bill Leader in her home in Keady, Co. Armagh in 1967. This was published a year later on her Topic LP Mrs Sarah Makem: Ulster Ballad Singer. She also sang it on the 1994 Saydisc CD anthology Sea Songs and Shanties. Sean O’Boyle commented in the former album’s sleeve notes:

Folksingers all over the world have a special affection for songs that tell how love breaks down the barriers between rich and poor. Sarah Makem’s song tells of a rich nobleman’s daughter who elopes with a poor sailor, even though she knows that

In sailors there’s no great dependence
For they leave their true lovers behind.

Caroline serves for three and a half years on the same ship as her young sailor, and returns to gain her father’s permission to marry.

Sarah Makem’s song should be compared with Colm Ó Lochlainn’s broadsheet version (More Irish Street Ballads, No. 39, Dublin, 1965). The comparison will show the interesting interweaving of verses, the omission and addition of lines, the inversion of stanzas, and general reshaping of songs that always occurs in transmission by oral tradition.

Roy Harris sang Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold on his 1975 Topic album Champions of Folly. A.L. Lloyd commented in the liner notes:

Another ballad of the favourite class-conscious theme of the 18th century—in which the rich girl falls in love with the poor sailor and, despite her parents, rigs herself out like a sailor, follows her love, and eventually marries him. It was a favourite broadside song in the 1840s and later, particularly in the neighbourhood of Durham and Newcastle, and it has turned up in sundry places from Hampshire to Aberdeen. Roy Harris heard in “on an Archive tape sung by Brian Gales.” The tune is related to that used for the coal-mining ballad of The Gresford Disaster.

Walter Pardon sang Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold in a recording made by Mike Yates on 24 June 1978. This was published in 1983 on his LP of “song and music from Knapton in Norfolk”, Bright Golden Store.

Linda Adams sang Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold in 1978 on Paul Adams and her Fellside album Among the Old Familiar Mountains. fhis track was also included in on the Jolly Jack & Friends CD of shanties and songs of the sea, Rolling Down to Old Maui. The liner notes commented:

Rich girl falls in love with humble sailor with resulting family disapproval. She dresses as a man and follows her true love. There is a happy ending which is by no means usual in folksong. This version comes from a 19th century broadsheet published by William Robertson of Wigton, Cumbria, with a tune given to Linda by singer, Roy Harris.

Kelly Oliver sang Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold on her 2018 CD Botany Bay. She noted:

Collected by Lucy Broadwood in Hertfordshire, 1898. Alternate lyrics taken from The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs.

A story of a woman prepared to give up her family and all her wealth for the love of her sailor. Thankfully for her, it doesn’t come to that. Her father decides he likes William, so he gives the pair his blessing.


Joe Heaney sings Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold

It’s of a nobleman’s daughter,
So handsome and comely was she.
Her father possessed a large fortune
Of forty-five thousand in gold.
He had but one only daughter,
Caroline was her name we are told.
One day from her drawing-room window,
She espied a young sailor bold.

His cheeks were as red as the roses,
His eyes was as black as the jet.
Caroline took her departure,
Went out and young William she met.
She said, “I’m a nobleman’s daughter,
Possessing some thousands in gold,
I’ll forsake my father and mother
And wed with the young sailor bold.”

She dressed herself up like a sailor
In her jacket and trousers so blue.
Three years and a half on the ocean
She spent with her young sailor bold.
Three time her true love got shipwrecked;
Each time to him she proved true.
Her duty she did as a sailor
In her jacket and trousers of blue.

Her father he wept and lamented,
The tears from his eyes often rolled.
Until they arrived safely in Galway,
Caroline and her young sailor bold.
Caroline came home to her father
In her jacket and trousers so blue,
Saying, “Father, dear father, forgive me,
I own that I have troubled you.”

“Oh father, dear father, forgive me,
Deprive me of silver and gold,
But grant me my request, I’m contented
To wed with my young sailor bold.”

Her father embraced young William
And dressed him in sweet unity,
Saying, “Your life will be spared until morning,
Together and married you’ll be.”
They got married and Caroline’s portion
of forty-five thousand in gold.
And now they live happy together
Caroline and her young sailor bold.