“The Southern Cross (I)”


The Southern Cross goes to the Gulf in March to hunt seals. They are successful in the hunt but on their return are lost in a storm. The SS Kyle, sent off to search, could find nothing. The singer concludes by hoping that all are in Heaven if never found.

Supplemental text

Southern Cross (I), The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

As printed in Ryan & Small, Haulin' Rope & Gaff, pp. 99-100. Reprinted
from Doyle (1955 edition), p. 54. Copied out by Lizzie C. Rose, Fox Harbour,
Labrador, 1927.

She got up steam the twelfth of March and shortly did embark.
To try her fortune in the Gulf in the charge of Captain Clark.
She carried a hundred and seventy men, a strong and vigorous race,
Some from St. John's and Brigus and more from Harbour Grace.

(7 addditional stanzas)


Horace Beck in his book _Folklore and the Sea_ (Mystic Conn.: Mystic Seaport Museum, 1985), p. 208 gives a brief account of sealing disasters in Newfoundland that he obtained from George A. England, "Vikings of the Ice" (London, 1924) pp. 54-59. - SH

Greenleaf/Mansfield says that 170 men were lost; "no survivor or wreckage has ever been found."

_Southern Cross_ last sighted by the _Portia_ March 31, 1914 off Cape Race en route from Channel, southwest Newfoundland, to Harbour Grace (on the far side of Conception Bay from St John's); cargo about 20,000 seals; Captain George Clark (Northern Shipwrecks Database).

A must-read article on the ballad and its history, complete with a map, is available online in the archives of the site for the Canadian Journal for Traditional Music. Specifically, _Canadian Journal for Traditional Music_, vol 10, 1982, "The Southern Cross: A Case Study in the Ballad as History" by T.B. Rogers.

The article is good not only for its exhaustive discussion of this ballad but for the light it sheds on ballad-making in Newfoundland (at least). - BS

This song is item dD36 in Laws's Appendix II. - RBW

Historical references

  • Mar 31, 1914 - Last sighting of the Southern Cross

Cross references


  1. Greenleaf/Mansfield 139, "The Southern Cross" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Peacock, pp. 973-974, "The Southern Cross" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Leach-Labrador 77, "The Southern Cross" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Doyle2, p. 57, "The Southern Cross" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Doyle3, pp. 54-55, "The Southern Cross" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Blondahl, p. 80, "The Southern Cross" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Ryan/Small, pp. 99-100, "Southern Cross" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. ST Doy57 (Partial)
  9. Roud #2796
  10. BI, Doy57


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (Greenleaf/Mansfield)
Found in: Canada(Newf)