“The Powder Monkey (Soon We'll Be in England Town)”


Jim was powder monkey killed on board Victory. In '98 "we chased the foe right into Bourky Bay" and destroyed their flag ship Orient. Jim was killed by musket "as the fight was just on won." He asks the crew "Give a kiss to dear old mother."

Supplemental text

Powder Monkey, The (Soon We'll Be in England Town)
  Complete text(s)

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Chanty Song

From Helen Creighton, Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia, #57, pp. 115-116.
"Sung by Mr. Richard Hartlan, South-East Passage."

Soon we'll be in England town,
Heave, me lads, heave ho,
To see the king with a golden crown,
Heave, me lads, heave ho,
Heave ho, on we go,
Heave, me lads, heave ho.

Little powder monkey Jim handing up the powder
From the magazine below,
When he got struck with a ball
That laid him so low,
Heave ho, on we go,
Heave, me lads, heave ho.


Creighton-NovaScotia has a verse and chorus as a chanty.

The "powder monkey" job could be handled by women and boys "whose task it was to pass gunpowder up from the magazine to the gunners" (see source for Aboukir Bay, below)

Nelson in Vanguard led the defeat of the French and their flagship L'Orient at Aboukir Bay in the Egyptian campaign in August 1798. (Source: _Nelson and the Nile; Part 3: A victory at Aboukir Bay_ by John Woolford "originally published in Military History Magazine August 1998" per the African History site)

HMS _Victory_, while commissioned in 1778, was not in service in 1798. Nelson's [service in] _Victory_ began in 1803 and continued until his death at Trafalgar in 1805 (Source: HMS Victory site) - BS

Hugill calls this a "shore sea-song" possibly from the music-hall, believes that it dates from the 1840s, and that it bears some relationship to "Donkey Riding." - SL

Historical references

  • Aug 1, 1798 - Nelson defeats the French in Aboukir Bay, Egypt

Cross references

  • cf. "Heiland Laddie" (similar chorus)


  • LOCSinging, as111260, "The Powder Monkey," unknown, 19C


  1. Creighton-NovaScotia 57, "Chanty Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Hugill, p. 148, "The Powder Monkey" (1 text, 1 tune-chorus only)
  3. ST CrNS057 (Full)
  4. Roud #1799
  5. BI, CrNS057


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1932 (Creighton-NovaScotia); 19C (broadside, Bodleian LOCSinging as111260)
Found in: Canada(Mar)