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Captain Brooks and his Gallant Crew

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Alternative title: Chesapeake and the Shannon, The

Performer: Roberts, Edwin
Place Collected: Siddington
Date collected: Between 1913 and 1916
Collector: Williams, Alfred
Roud Number: 963

Unusually for folk song, this one is based on fact. In 1813 a “single combat” was arranged between the USS Chesapeake and the HMS Shannon. The American ship was poorly crewed and trained and as a result the British ship, led by Captain Broke [sic], easily won the battle, capturing the ship and taking it back to England where it was eventually scrapped.

The ballad printers had a field day with the story, but the song was rarely taken up by country singers. A version was collected in 1975 from a singer in Kent and apart from our Gloucestershire version, it has been found one in Canada, and this is it. Not surprisingly, no American version exists.

Notes by Gwilym Davies 17 March 2016