“The Bold Privateer”


(Johnny) tells (Polly) that he must go to sea. She begs him to stay safe at home. (He points out that her friends dislike him and her brothers threaten him. He offers to exchange rings with her), and promises to return and marry her if his life is spared


Some versions of this are so mixed with "Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy" that they might almost be one song. But there are sufficient distinct versions that I think they must be considered separate songs.

The Sam Henry text contains an interesting reference, "The French they are treacherous, right very well you know, Did they not kill their own poor king not so very long ago?" Presumably this refers to the execution of Louis XVI in 1793, though there are other possibilities, including Louis's son Louis XVII, who died in 1795, some say by poison.

Huntington placed his version of "Our Captain Calls All Hands (Fighting for Strangers)" here, and early editions of the Index did the same, but while there is some similarity in theme, they are certainly separate songs. - RBW

Cross references


  • Tom Brandon, "The Bold Privateer" (on Ontario1)
  • Robert Cinnamond, "The Wild Privateer" (on IRRCinnamond03)


  1. Laws O32, "The Bold Privateer"
  2. Randolph 233, "The Union Volunteer" (1 text, 1 tune, with a "Union Volunteer" substituted for the "Bold Privateer" but no other substantial changes)
  3. Eddy 79, "The Bold Privateer" (1 text)
  4. SharpAp 138, "The Bold Privateer" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. SHenry H514, pp. 297-298, "The Bold Privateer" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Roud #1000
  8. BI, LO32


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1918 (Cecil Sharp collection); +1891 (Kidson, _Traditional Tunes_)
Keywords: sea farewell
Found in: US(Ap,MW,SE) Britain(England(North)) Ireland Canada(Ont)