ADMIRAL BENBOW SONGS

By , March 8, 2010 4:52 pm

There are many versions of Admiral Benbow songs, dating from shortly after his death. These broadsheet songs were popular in sailors’ pubs. They are still sung to-day.

ADMIRAL BENBOW BROADSHEET

Actual Broadsheet circa 1820: Bodleian library


VERSIONS OF ADMIRAL BENBOW SONG

Admiral Benbow (1)

‘T was of an Admiral
Called Benbow by his name
He fought on the raging main
You must know
Oh, the ship rocks up and down
And the shots are flying round
The enemy tumbling down
There they lay, there they lay

The ship rocks up and down
And the shots are flying round
The enemy tumbling down
There they lay, there they lay

‘T was Reuben and Benbow
Fought the French, fought the French
‘T was Reuben and Benbow
Fought the French, fought the French
Down on his old stump he fell
And so loudly he did call
Fight you on, my English lads
‘Tis my lot, ’tis my lot

Down on his old stump he fell
And so loudly he did call
Fight you on, my English lads
‘Tis my lot, ’tis my lot

When the doctor dressed his wounds
Benbow cried, Benbow cried
When the doctor dressed his wounds
Benbow cried,
Let a bed be fetched in haste
On the quarterdeck be placed
That the enemy I might face
‘Til I die, ’til I die

Let a bed be fetched in haste
On the quarterdeck be placed,
That the enemy I might face
‘Til I die, ’til I die

On Tuesday morning last
Benbow died, Benbow died
On Tuesday morning last
Benbow died
What a shocking sight to see
When Benbow was carried away
He was carried to Kingston church
There he lay, there he lay

What a shocking sight to see
When Benbow was carried away
He was carried to Kingston church
There he lay, there he lay

Paul Clayton, & Sailing Songs, Tradition TCD 1064 (original LP release: Whaling & Sailing Songs from the days of Moby Dick, Tradition Records TLP 1005, 1956)

ADMIRAL BENBOW (2)

Come all ye seamen bold, and draw near
And draw near
Come all ye seamen bold, and draw near
It is of an admiral’s fame
O brave Benbow was his name
How he fought all on the main
You shall hear, you shall hear.

Brave Benbow he set sail, for to fight
For to fight
Brave Benbow he set sail, for to fight.
Brave Benbow he set sail,
With a fine and pleasant gale
But his captains they turn’d tail
In a fright, in a fright.

Says Kirby unto Wade, “We will run,
We will run.”
Says Kirby unto Wade, “We will run.
For I value no disgrace
Or the losing of my place
But the enemy I won’t face
Nor his guns, nor his guns.”

Then Ruby and Benbow fought the French
Fought the French,
Then Ruby and Benbow fought the French.
They fought them up and down
‘Til the blood came trickling down
‘Til the blood came trickling down
Where they lay, where they lay.

Brave Benbow lost his legs by chain shot
By chain shot,
Brave Benbow lost his legs by chain shot.
Brave Benbow lost his legs
And all on his stumps he begs
Fight on, my English lads
‘Tis our lot, ’tis our lot.

The surgeon dress’d his wounds, cries Benbow
Cries Benbow,
The surgeon dress’d his wounds, cries Benbow.
“Let a cradle now in haste
On the quarterdeck be placed,
That the enemy I may face
‘Til I die, ’til I die.

From English Folk Songs, Sharp

ADMIRAL BENBOW (3)

Come all you seamen bold, landed here, landed here,
It is of an Admiral brave called Benbow by his name,
How he ploughed the raging main
You shall hear, you shall hear.

Last Tuesday morning last, Benbow sailed, Benbow sailed,
What a sweet and pleasant gale when Benbow he set sail
And the enemy they turned tail
In a fright, in a fright.

Great Reuben and Benbow fought the French, fought the French,
See the boats go up and down and the bullets whizzing round
And the enemy they knocked down,
There they lie, there they lie.

Oh, Benbow lost his legs, by chain-slot, by chain-shot,
Down on his stumps did fall and so loud for mercy called,
Oh, fight on my British tars,
It is my lot, it is my lot.

When the doctor dressed the wounds Benbow cried,
Benbow cried,
Oh, pray pick me up in haste to the quarter deck my place
That the enemy I might face
Until I die, until I die.

Last Tuesday morning last, Benbow died, Benbow died,
What a shocking sight to see when they carried him away
They carried him to Se’m’s’on church
There he lays, there he lays.

Printed in The Copper Family Songbook – A Living Tradition

ADMIRAL BENBOW (4)

We sailed from Virginia and thence to Fayall
Where we watered our ships and then we weighed all
Full in view on the seas, boys, seven sails we did espy
So we mannéd our capstans and weighed speedily.

Now the first we come up on was a brigantine sloop
And we asked if the others was as big as they looked
Ah, but turning to windward, as near as we could lie
We saw there were ten men of war cruising by.

We drew up our squadron in very nice line
And so boldly we fought them for full four hours time
But the day being spent, boys, and night a-coming on
We left them alone until early next morn.

Now the very next morning the engagement proved hot
And brave Admiral Benbow received a chance* shot
And as he lay wounded to his merry men he did say,
“Take me up in your arms, boys, and carry me away!”

Oh, the guns they did rattle and the bullets did fly,
But brave Admiral Benbow for rout would not cry;
“Take me down to my cabin where there’s ease for my smarts,
If my merry men see me, it would sure break their hearts.”

Now, the very next morning at the break of the day
They hoisted their topsails and so bore away;
We bore to Port Royal, where the people flocked much
To see Admiral Benbow buried in Kingston Church.

So come all you brave fellows, wherever you’ve been,
Let us drink a good health to the King and the Queen,
And another good health to the girls that we know,
And a third in remembrance of great Admiral Benbow.

version of Admiral Benbow as done by June Tabor on the “A Cut Above” recording with Martin Simpson

ADMIRAL BENBOW SET TO MUSIC

Here is a link to various versions of the Admiral Benbow song

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