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This song apparently refers to the loss of vessel “Cospatrick” which caught fire off the Cape of Good Hope on 17 November 1874 on its way from Gravesend to Auckland, New Zealand, with the loss of nearly 500 lives. A contemporary ballad “The Burning of the Emigrant Ship Cospatrick” came out at the time but this ballad is not the source of our song here of which this is the only version in oral tradition.