“The Bold Princess Royal”


The Princess Royal is overtaken by an unknown ship which tries to come alongside. The captain realizes that the other is a pirate, and safely outruns the other.


Greenleaf/Mansfield names the ship Prince of Royal and refers to a variant that calls the ship Royal Apprentice.

In Ranson's version the usually anonymous pirate announces "This is Kelly, the Pirate"; that is the only mention of the name that gives the version its title.

Yates, Musical Traditions site _Voice of the People suite_ "Notes - Volume 12" - 11.9.02: "Colcord dates this song to the beginning of the American War of Independence." - BS

There were a number of British ships named _Princess Royal_; including a battlecruiser that fought at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 (unlike several of her sister ships, she survived). But the most famous was probably the flagship of the fleet of Admiral John Byron (1723-1786). Byron served in the Caribbean in the late 1770s, with limited results. At the Battle of Grenada, his fleet was mauled by a superior French force, and he ended up fleeing the fight. This, I would guess, is the basis of Colcord's date (though she also mentions the usage of "glass" for an hour, a usage which died out about that time).

If Colcord's guess is accurate, is it possible that this was inspired as some sort of slur on Byron for fleeing the battle? - RBW

Cross references


  • Bodleian, Firth c.12(63), "The Bold Princess Royal," H. Disley (London), 1860-1883; also Firth b.25(136), 2806 b.11(9), Harding B 11(384)[some illegibility], "The Bold Princess Royal"; Firth c.12(65), "The Old Princess Royal, and the Pirate Ship"
  • Murray, Mu23-y4:019, "Bold Princess Royal," unknown, 19C
  • NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(145), "Bold Princess Royal," unknown, c.1870


  • Harry Cox, "The Bold 'Princess Royal'" (on Voice12)
  • Sam Larner, "The Bold Princess Royal" (on SLarner01, SLarner02, HiddenE)
  • Bob Roberts, "The Bold Princess Royal" (on LastDays)


  1. Laws K29, "The Bold Princess Royal"
  2. Doerflinger, pp. 142-143, "The Bold Princess Royal" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  3. Colcord, pp. 148-149, "The Fair Princess Royal" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Hugill, p. 421, "The Princess Royal" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Greenleaf/Mansfield 35, "The Bold Princess Royal" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Peacock, pp. 835-836, "The Bold Princess Royal" (1 texts, 2 tunes)
  7. Leach-Labrador 75, "Bold Princess Royal" (1 text)
  8. Creighton-NovaScotia 53, "Bold Princess Royal" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Creighton-Maritime, p. 153, "The Bold Princess Royal" (1 text, 1 tune)
  10. Ranson, p. 91, "Kelly, the Pirate" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Ives-NewBrunswick, pp. 126-128, "The Bold Prince of Royal" (1 text, 1 tune)
  12. Warner 150, "The Prince Boys" (1 text, 1 tune, incorrectly equated with Laws K39)
  13. BrownII 119, "The Lorena Bold Crew" (1 fragment)
  14. Chappell-FSRA 26, "Buxter's Bold Crew" (1 text, 1 tune)
  15. Copper-SoBreeze, pp. 206-207, "The Bold 'Princess Royal'" (1 text, 1 tune)
  16. DT 410, PRNCROYL*
  17. Roud #528
  18. BI, LK29


Alternate titles: “Buxter's Bold Crew”; “Prince of Royal”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: c.1870 (broadside, NLScotland L.C.Fol.70(145))
Keywords: ship pirate escape
Found in: US(NE,SE) Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England) Ireland