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A widespread popular ballad this one started out as a broadside ballad, The Gosport Tragedy, or The Perjured Ship Carpenter, in the mid-eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century it had entered oral tradition and was being printed on broadsides in various forms. In the early nineteenth century it was burlesqued as Molly the Betrayed, or The Fog-bound Vessel. The version printed at Bow Church Yard c1750 had 36 stanzas but by the middle of the following century it had been reduced to 11 and most surviving oral versions derive from this.