“Captain Coulston”


Captain Coulston's ship sails for America (carrying Irish emigrants?). She is overtaken by pirates. Following a desperate fight, Coulston and crew defeat the pirate; his wife shoots the pirate chief. They take the pirate ship to America as a prize


Early versions of this song, such as Sam Henry's, make no mention of emigration; this may have been a later addition.

All versions seem to reveal a not-very-smart pirate: He demands the passengers give up their valuables, and then he'll sink them. In such a context, what choice was there but to fight? - RBW

Cross references


  • Bodleian, 2806 b.10(58), "Captain Colston", H. Such (London), 1863-1885; also Firth b.26(492), Firth c.12(62), Harding B 11(534), Harding B 19(95), 2806 c.15(193), "Captain Colston"; Firth b.25(41/42), "Captain Colston" or "The Pirate Ship"


  • O. J. Abbott, "Captain Coldstein" (on Abbott1)
  • Brigid Tunney, "Captain Colston" (on IRTunneyFamily01)
  • Paddy Tunney, "Captain Coulson" (on Voice12)


  1. SHenry H562, pp. 113-114, "Captain Coulston" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Ranson, pp. 78-79, "Captain Coulston" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. McBride 15, "Captain Colster" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Roud #1695
  6. BI, HHH562


Alternate titles: “Captain Colstein”; “Captain Colston”; “Captain Coulson”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1886 (broadside, Bodleian 2806 b.10(58))
Found in: Ireland Canada(Ont)