“Willie Was As Fine a Sailor”


Willie and Mary plan marriage but his ship must "sail for a foreign land." If he proves false he prays her spirit haunt him until he dies. He is false. His captain writes Mary. She drowns herself and haunts him until a wave sweeps him overboard.

Supplemental text

Willie Was As Fine a Sailor
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Louise Manny and James Reginald Wilson, Songs of Miramichi,
#101, pp. 308-310. From the singing of Mrs. Earle J. Dickson,
Centre Napan, in 1961.

Willie was as fine a sailor
  As ever spliced a rope,
And Mary was his own true love,
  His only pride and hope,
And as they walked they often talked
  Of joining wedlock banns,
But Willie's ship, it was commissioned
  To sail for a foreign land.

(8 additional stanzas)


Manny/Wilson ends with the Jonah motif: "When an unknown wave swept o'er the deck, And swept him o'er the side ... The night grew calm and clear." cf. Jonah 1:15 "And they heaved Jonah overboard, and the sea stopped raging." - BS

Cross references


  1. Manny/Wilson 101, "Willie Was As Fine a Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Hayward-Ulster, pp. 82-84, "Now, Wullie was as Nice a Lad" (1 text)
  3. ST MaWi101 (Partial)
  4. Roud #2972
  5. BI, MaWi101


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1925 (Hayward-Ulster)
Found in: Canada(Mar) Ireland