“The Ballad of William Bloat”


William Bloat's wife "got his goat" so he cut her throat. "To finish the fun so well begun He resolved himself to kill" He hangs himself with a sheet. He died but she survives: "for the razor blade was German made But the sheet was Belfast linen"


In an interesting twist, the Clancy Brothers made the (ineffective) razor English rather than German, and the (effective) sheet an Irish product. I am somewhat surprised to find such hostility to Germany from an author who died in 1883; at that time, English relations with Germany were relatively cordial. It was only after Wilhelm II started messing around that they turned bad.

The one thing that occurs to me is that the English royal family itself was German; George I (reigned 1714-1727) and George II (reigned 1727-1760) both spoke German as their primary language, and George III (1760-1820) was the first of the Hannoverian kings to speak English without a German accent; even Victoria (1837-1901) spoke German as her native language. So a slam on Germany, if made before about 1850, could be a dig at the Royal Family.

I was reminded a bit of this controversy in reading a story about George III, found on page 17 of James Dugan's _The Great Mutiny_ (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1965): "Although he had never visited Gerany, as the Elector of Hannover-Braunschweig George believed that everything German was superior to everything British, including discipline and underwear. He wore only German linen, unaware that one suit had been forged in Dublin as a secret joke on a monarch otherwise difficult to link to anything humorous." - RBW


  1. Hammond-Belfast, p. 59, "The Ballad of William Bloat" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. BI, Hamm059


Author: Raymond Calvert (1830-1883) (source: Hammond-Belfast)
Earliest date: 1978 (Hammond-Belfast)
Found in: Ireland