“Ocean Queen”


Ocean Queen is lost in rough weather in winter on George's Banks. The crew are all drowned. The captain's wife is left alone; "there's fathers, sons, and brothers that drowned in the deep."

Supplemental text

Ocean Queen
  Partial text(s)

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From Helen Creighton, Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia, #136, pp. 297-298.
"Sung by Mr. Ben Henneberry, Devil's Island."

Was in the winter season, all in the frost and snow,
We left our noble harbour and down to Georges go,
Where winds do loudly whistle, blow heavy on our sail,
As we go off a-spouting just like a frightened whale.

(5 additional stanzas)


Although the Northern Shipwrecks Database may have found the original wreck described in this song, there are difficulties. Bruce D. Berman's _Encyclopedia of American Shipwrecks_ (Mariner's Press, 1972) does not list the wreck; neither does Kenneth Hudson & Ann Nicholls, _Tragedy on the High Seas_ (A & W Publhers, 1979), though the latter is not intended to be comprehensive.

What's more William Ratigan's _Great Lakes Shipwrecks & Survivals_ (revised edition, Eerdmans, 1977), pp. 196-198, prints a different song (reportedly by Kate Weaver) about the wreck of a ship named _Ocean Queen_ (which, in this case, perishes by fire). But Ratigan says there was no known disaster involving an _Ocean Queen_. Griffith thinks the ship involved was actually the _G. P. Griffith_, which burned (according to Berman, p. 245) with the loss of 286 lives on June 17, 1850 -- almost the same time as the George's Bank wreck, note. One has to think there is confusion in there somewhere -- though more likely involving Ratigan's song than this one.

Incidentally, the name _Ocean Queen_ seems to have been singularly ill-fated (a mariner might perhaps explain this on the grounds that the name would be an offense to the sea goddess); in addition to the ships listed above, Leonard F. Guttridge, _Mutiny: A History of Naval Insurrection_, (Naval Institute Press, 1992; use the 2002 Berkley edition), p.120fff., tells of a mailship, the _Ocean Queen_, which suffered an attempted mutiny in 1864 -- nearly the only genuine mutiny in American nautical history. - RBW

Historical references

  • Nov 27, 1851 - The Ocean Queen, out of Gloucester, sinks at George's Bank (Northern Shipwrecks Database)


  1. Creighton-NovaScotia 136, "Ocean Queen" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST CrNS136 (Partial)
  3. Roud #1835
  4. BI, CrNS136


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1932 (Creighton-NovaScotia)
Found in: Canada(Mar)