“The Big Five-Gallon Jar”


Jack Jennings, a boarding-master, and his wife Caroline are expert at finding sailors. Should the supply ever dry up, they haul out their "big five-gallon jars" of liquor and use that to round up sailors.

Supplemental text

Big Five-Gallon Jar, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From William Main Doerflinger, Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman,
revised edition (1972), p. 111. From the singing of Captain Henry
E. Burke of Toronto, as influenced by a manuscript copy.

In Liverpool there liv'd a man -- Jack Jennings was his name --
And in the days of square-rigged sail he played the shanghai game.
His wife's name was Caroline, sailors knew from near and far;
And when she played the shanghai game she used his big stone jar.

  In the old Virginia lowlands, lowlands low,
  In the old Virginia lowlands low!

(portions of 3 additional stanzas)


According to Doerflinger, Jack Jennings was a real proprietor of a grog shop in Liverpool, Nova Scotia around 1890. - RBW

See a similar but [distinct] broadside, LOCSinging, sb20267b, "Larry Maher's Big Five-Gallon Jar," H. De Marsan (New York), 1861-1864. Maher operates out of New York City "But when you wake next morning, you'll be far outside the bar, Removed away to Liverpool"; the tune is "Irish Jaunting Car"

Broadside LOCSinging sb20267b: H. De Marsan dating per _Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song_ by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS


  1. Doerflinger, p. 111, "The Big Five-Gallon Jar" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Smith/Hatt, pp. 16-17, "The Big Five Gallon Jar" (1 text)
  3. Hugill, pp. 60-61, "Larry Marr," "The Five-Gallon Jar" (2 texts, 2 tunes) [AbrEd, pp. 56-57]
  4. ST Doe111 (Partial)
  5. Roud #9412
  6. BI, Doe111


Alternate titles: “Sound the Jubilee”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1940 (Smith/Hatt)
Found in: Canada(Mar)