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DTStudy: Jack Williams, A boatman by trade

DigiTrad:
JACK WILLIAMS


Chris Amos 09 Aug 04 - 05:37 PM
SINSULL 09 Aug 04 - 05:53 PM
Malcolm Douglas 09 Aug 04 - 06:02 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 04 - 04:02 AM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 04 - 04:16 AM
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Subject: Mudcat Study: Jack Williams, A boatman b
From: Chris Amos
Date: 09 Aug 04 - 05:37 PM

Hi

This is the version from the Digital Tradition, from Nova Scotia, Cecil Sharp collected a version of this song with very similar words but a very different tune from somewhere north of London. I have lost the details can anyone supply the location and singer?



JACK WILLIAMS

I am a boatman by my trade,
Jack Williams is my name;
And by a false deluding girl
I was brought to grief and shame.

In London town where I did dwell
The people did me know;
I fell in love with a handsome girl
That proved my overthrow.

I went a-robbing night and day
To maintain her fair and gay;
And what I got I valued not,
I brought to her straightway.

At length to Newgate I was sent,
Bound down in irons strong,
With a rattling chain around my leg,
And she longed to see it on.

I wrote a letter to my love
Some comfort for to find;
Instead of proving friend to me
She proved to be unkind.

"You robbed and stole to keep me gay;
The truth I don't deny.
You made your bed, young man," said she,
"Down on it you must lie."

'Twas then I stood my trial
And boldly made my plea;
And then I was transported
Far away to Botany Bay.

If ever I do return again,
A solemn vow I'll make
To shun all evil company
For that false woman's sake.

From Ballads and Sea Songs from Nova Scotia, Mackenzie
collected from Richard Hines
DT #572
Laws L17
@infidelity @outlaw @transportation
filename[ JCKWLLM
TUNE FILE: JCKWLLM
CLICK TO PLAY
RG
oct96
This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

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Traditional Ballad Index Entry:

Jack Williams [Laws L17]

DESCRIPTION: Jack Williams, a boatman, meets a fine young girl. He turns to robbery to support her. He is captured and sent to prison; she scorns him, saying "I hate thievish company." He is sentenced (to transportation/execution) (but escapes and vows to avoid women)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1916
KEYWORDS: crime prison trial transportation courting
FOUND IN: US(MW) Britain(England)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Laws L17, "Jack Williams"
Eddy 62, "Jack Williams" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering 136, "Jack Williams" (1 text, 1 tune)
LPound-ABS, 67, pp. 152-153, "Jack Williams" (1 text)
DT 572, JCKWLLM

Roud #1906
File: LL17

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat Study: Jack Williams, A boatman b
From: SINSULL
Date: 09 Aug 04 - 05:53 PM

Don't know this one but "Black Velvet Band" tells a similar story.


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Subject: RE: Mudcat Study: Jack Williams, A boatman b
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 09 Aug 04 - 06:02 PM

Three versions in Sharp's collection: from Harry Richards, Curry Rivel, Somerset, Jan 1907; Elizabeth Smitherd, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, April 11908; Alfred "Butcher" Hoar, Hillingdon, Middlesex, Sept 1913. Alfred Williams found it in the Upper Thames area around the same time.

It appeared on broadsides of the mid 19th century; examples can be seen at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads:

Jack Williams [the boatman / boatswain]

The song had reached America by at least 1835, when it appeared in The Forget Me Not Songster, between The Rambling Soldier and Canada I O.

Laws L17, Roud 1906.


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Subject: ADD Version: Jack Williams
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 04 - 04:02 AM

Here's the text from Louise Pound's American Ballads and Songs (1922, 1950, 1972). Pound says the text is
    From a manuscript book of ballads in the possession of L.C. Wimberly, 1916. Probably of British importation. In another Nebraska text, the place names are changed to "Bowery Street" and "Sing Sing."


Jack Williams

I am a boatman by trade,
Jack Williams is my name,
And by a false deluding girl
Was brought to grief and shame.

On Chatton street I did reside,
Where the people did me know;
I fell in love with a pretty pretty girl,
She proved my overthrow.

I took to robbing night and day,
All to maintain her fine and gay.
What I got I valued not
But I gave to her straightway.

At last to Newgate I was brought,
Bound down in irons strong.
With rattling chains around my legs,
She longed to see me hang.

I wrote a letter to my love
Some comfort for to find.
Instead of proving a friend to me
She proved to me unkind.

And in a scornful manner said
"I hate your company,
And as you have made your bed, young man,
Down on it you may lie."

There is a heaven above us all
And it proved kind to me;
I broke my chains and scaled the walls,
And gained sweet liberty.

Now I am at liberty,
A solemn vow I'll take;
I'll shun all evil company
For that false woman's sake.

    No tune available for this version


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Subject: ADD Version: Jack Williams
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 04 - 04:16 AM

Here's the version from Ballads and Songs of Southern Michigan (Emelyn Elizabeth Gardner and Geraldine Jencks Chickering, 1939). As sung in 1935 by Mr. Otis Evilsizer, Alger, Michigan. Note the ending - very different from the others. (tune available upon request)

Jack Williams

O I am a boatman by my trade,
Jack Williams is my name;
And by a false, deluded girl
I was brought to grief and shame.

I went to robbing by night and day
To maintain her finery;
And all I got, I valued not,
But gave it to her straightway.

Till at last for Newport I was bound,
Bound down in iron strong;
O the rattling chains, they held me fast,
And she longed for to see them on.

O I wrote a letter to my love
Some comfort for to find,
But instead of proving a friend to me,
She proved to me unkind.

**** (missing line)
**** (missing line)
Says she, "Young man, as you made your bed,
So in it you must lie."

O in those lonesome cells I sobbed;
'Twas no more than I deserved,
But it makes my very blood run cold
To think how I've been served.

Come all young men, a warning take;
Never touch a flowing bowl;
'Twill drag you down to hell's dark hole
And ruin your poor soul.


Boy, I'll tell ya, she was some kind of girlfriend. I had an ex-wife kind of like that once....


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