“Ye Parliament of England (I)”


The Americans present their claims against England: First limiting trade, then impressing American sailors, then insulting American captains. The Americans of course have gone to war, and mention their naval victories


This ballad correctly identifies the American complaints that led to the War of 1812: restrictions on trade and the pressing of American seamen. It also highlights several small victories of the American navy (but ignores assorted American defeats, as well as the fact that many American ships, including the _United States_, were forced to stay in port for most of the war due to British blockade. The American fleet, composed of nothing larger than a frigate, in fact had no ability to challenge the British fleet of ships of the line).

Based on the events recounted, it would appear that this piece began life as a broadside in late 1812 or early 1813 (this based on the fact that it mentions the _Essex_ positively; the _Essex_ beat the _Albert_ in 1812 but was defeated by _Phoebe_ and _Cherub_ in 1814; see Donald R. Hickey, _The War of 1812_, pp. 156-157); it is possible that later versions added additional battles. - RBW

Historical references

  • 1812-1815 - War of 1812
  • Aug 19, 1812 - the 44-gun U.S.S. _Constitution_ defeats and captures the 38-gun H.M.S. _Guerriere_ in the north Atlantic
  • Oct 18, 1812 - sloop U.S.S. _Wasp_ engaged with sloop H.M.S. _Frolic_ off North America; _Frolic_ is rescued by the arrival of the British ship of the line _Poictiers,_ which captures the _Wasp_
  • Oct 25, 1812 - the 44-gun U. S. S. _United States,_ commanded by Stephen Decatur, defeats the 38-gun H. M. S. _Macedonian_ in the mid-Atlantic
  • Dec 29, 1812 - U. S. S. _Constitution_ defeats the 38-gun H. M. S. _Java_ off Bahia, Brazil
  • Feb 24, 1813 - U. S. S. _Hornet_ defeats H. M. S. _Peacock_
  • Sep 5, 1813 - U. S. S. _Enterprise_, an experimental ship, fights an indecisive battle with H. M. S. _Boxer_

Cross references


  1. Flanders/Olney, pp. 195-196, "Ye Parliament of England" (1 text)
  2. Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 278-279, "Ye Parliaments of England" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 158-160, "Ye Parliament of England" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Colcord, pp. 128-130, "Ye Parliament of England" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. ADDITIONAL: C. H. Firth, _Publications of the Navy Records Society_ , 1907 (available on Google Books), p. 308, "Ye Parliament of England" (1 text)
  7. Roud #2078
  8. BI, FO195


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1948 (Shay, though undated manuscripts are much older)
Keywords: navy patriotic war
Found in: US(NE)