Captain Ward and the Rainbow [Child 287]

DESCRIPTION: Captain Ward asks the king to grant him a place to rest. The king will not grant a place to any pirate (though Ward claims never to have attacked an English ship), and commissions the (Rainbow) to deal with Ward. Ward defeats the Rainbow
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: before 1733 (broadside, Bodleian Douce Ballads 1(80b))
KEYWORDS: ship pirate battle royalty
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
c. 1604-c. 1609 - Career of Captain John Ward. A fisherman from Kent, Ward's first notable act was his capture of a royal vessel in 1604.
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond,West),Scotland(Aber)) Canada(Mar,Newf) US(MA,MW,NE,SE) Ireland
REFERENCES (28 citations):
Child 287, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (1 text)
Bronson 287, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (11 versions)
BronsonSinging 287, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (4 versions: #3, #8, #9, #10)
Greig #128, p. 2, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow"; Greig #114, p. 3, "Why lie ye here at anchor"; Greig #117, pp. 2-3, "We focht from eight in the mornin'" (1 text plus 2 fragments)
GreigDuncan1 39, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (3 texts, 2 tunes) {A=Bronson's #8, B=#6}
RoudBishop #3, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ranson, pp. 49-50, "Saucy Ward" (1 text)
Butterworth/Dawney, pp. 38-39, "Saucy Ward" (1 text, 1 tune)
OShaughnessy-Yellowbelly1 10, "Captain Ward" (1 text, 1 tune)
Bell-Combined, pp. 167-170, "A Famous Sea-Fight Between Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (1 text)
BarryEckstormSmyth pp. 347-363, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (2 texts plus a fragment and a version from the Forget-me-not Songster and a possibly-rewritten broadside, 2 tunes, plus extensive notes on British naval policy) {Bronson's #9, #10}
Flanders/Olney, pp. 204-206, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #11}
Flanders/Brown, pp. 242-244, "Captain Ward and the Rain-Bow" (1 text from the Green Mountain Songster)
Flanders-Ancient4, pp. 264-270 "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (2 texts, 1 tune, the first text being the Green Mountain Songster version)
Thompson-Pioneer 8, "Captain Ward" (1 text)
ThompsonNewYork, pp. 33-36, "(Captain Ward)" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering 83, "Captain Ward" (1 text)
Peacock, pp. 840-841, "Captain Ward" (1 text, 1 tune)
Chappell-FSRA 22, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (1 text)
Carey-MarylandFolkLegends, p. 99, "Captain Ward" (1 text)
Leach, pp. 670-673, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (1 text)
Friedman, p. 362, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (1 text)
Logan, pp. 1-10, "Captain Ward" (1 text)
Ashton-Sailor, #3, "A Famous Sea Fight between Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (1 text)
BBI, ZN949, "Gallants you must understand"; ZN2410, "Strike up you lusty Gallants"
DT 287, WRDRNBOW* WRDNBW2*
ADDITIONAL: C. H. Firth, _Publications of the Navy Records Society_ , 1907 (available on Google Books), p. 30, "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" (1 text)
Leslie Shepard, _The Broadside Ballad_, Legacy Books, 1962, 1978, p. 145, "A Famous Sea Fight Between CAPTAIN WARD and the RAINBOW" (reproduction of a broadside page)

ST C287 (Full)
Roud #224
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Douce Ballads 1(80b), "A Famous Sea-Fight Between Captain Ward and the Rainbow" ("Strike up ye lusty gallants)", T. Norris (London), 1711-1732; also Harding B 4(107), "A Famous Sea-Fight Between Captain Ward and the Rainbow"; Harding B 4(108), "A Famous Sea Fight Between Captain Ward and the Rainbow"; Firth c.12(8), "Famous Sea Fight Between Capt. Ward and the Gallant Rainbow"; Harding B 11(831), "Capt. Ward and the Rainbow" ("Come all you English seamen with courage beat your drums"); Firth c.12(6), "Captain Ward"; 2806 c.16(334), Harding B 11(4034), Firth c.12(7), "Ward the Pirate[!]"
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Outlaw Murray" [Child 305] (theme)
cf. "Sir Andrew Barton" [Child 167] (theme)
SAME TUNE:
Captain Ward (per broadside Bodleian Douce Ballads 1(80b))
The Wild Rover (per broadside Bodleian Firth c.12(6))
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Jolly Mariner
NOTES: Compare with this broadside for a different ballad on the same subject: Bodleian, Wood 402(39), "The Seamans Song of Captain Ward, the Famous Pyrate of the World, and an English[man] Born" ("Gallants you must understand"), F. Coles (London), 1655-1658; also Douce Ballads 2(199a), Wood 401(79), "The Seamans Song of Captain Ward, the Famous Pyrate of the world and an English Man Born" - BS
Although the "historical" Captain Ward was active during the reign of Britain's King James I, the context sounds more like that in the time of Charles I. The religious and political situation, as well as financial interests, dictated that Charles should have been allied with the Protestants of the Netherlands and Germany against Spain -- but instead Charles implicitly supported Spain while quarreling with the Dutch about herring fishing.
The result was an undeclared war between many of Charles's sailors and Spain. And many of the fighters, like Ward or the later Captain Kidd, thought right was on their side. Indeed, the Earl of Warwick was creating a group of pirates who were carefully trained according to Calvinist principles -- Puritan raiders (Herman, p. 157f.)
This would also explain why the king was trying to crack down: Piracy had gotten completely out of hand in his father's reign. Ritchie, p. 140, writes, "Only the most inept pirates ended their lives on the gallows during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The nadir of English concern and ability to control piracy came during the reign of James I. Taking no special pride in the Royal Navy and abhorring the expenses generated by the fleet, James sold some of his ships and let most of the others rot at the docks. The resulting growth of piracy in and around English waters caused the Dutch to request permission to send their ships into English waters to attack the brigands. Bereft of means to do the jobs, James acquiesed."
Stokesbury, p. 47, notes that the strong navy of Elizabeth was down to 37 ships by 1607, and most of them in poor repair; he attributes this to the corruption of the Treasurer of the Navy, Sir Robert Mansell. As a result, Stokesbury declares on p. 48, "[T]his was the high point of the era of piracy; the Moorish pirates in particular, raiding out of ports on the North African shore, virtually ruled the sea. Thousands of sailors were enslaved, and there was a waste of about seventy English merchant ships a year to pirates. In some cases they were so bold that they even raided along the southern English coasts, seizing peasants, whom they carried off to slave markets. Not since the days of the Norsemen had there been such a scourge at sea."
BarryEckstormSmyth, however, try to relate the whole thing to the politics of James I -- and to the opposition to that king. Of course, Charles I generated even more opposition, and talking about events in his father's reign might make the discussion slightly safer. The drawback is that the historical Captain Ward was dead by then.
DictPirates, p. 360, gives Ward's dates as 1553-1623; he was imprisoned for piracy in England in 1602, impressed in 1603, turned pirate, and took to the Mediterranean. In 1606, he took service with the ruler of Tunis. In 1607, his fleet suffered a series of setbacks. He may have tried to buy a pardon from the King of England, but the idea failed. He turned to Islam and lived more or less happily ever after.
If we accept that Ward was active at the very start of the reign of James I, that gives us still another scenario, which ties in with the death of Elizabeth I and the accession of James I. Elizabeth of course spent much of her reign at war with Spain; famous incidents in this war were the voyage of the Spanish Armada and Drake's circumnavigation of the globe. Semi-official piracy was one of Elizabeth's key weapons against the Spanish; her ships captured Spanish treasure ships and interfered with Spain's attempts to build a stronger navy.
But all wars come to an end. Ritchie, p. 13, notes that peace was made with Spain in 1603, the year James I succeeded to the English throne. And suddenly English privateers who had been attacking the Spanish had to become either unlicensed pirates or join someone else's service. If Ward kept raiding the Spanish after peace was made, that might explain the King's attitude toward him. We know that James I really disliked piracy.
According to Mancall p. 194, "Ward was a particularly dangerous pirate whose exploits proved to be ideal fodder for the peddlars of pamphlets in London. He was a threat no only to those whose ships he attacked, but even to the men on his own vessels. Wine flowed freely on his ship, but rumor had it that if a man killed another while in a drunken state, he was to be lashed to the corpse and both of them thrown overboard. Such claims made Ward into a kind of dark celebrity and the fitting subject of the plot of a play. Newes from Sea, of two notorious Pyrates, publicly performed in London in 1612, told the tale of 'A Christian turn'd Turke.'"
The comment about the captain being king upon the sea does date to the reign of James I -- but, according to Rodger, p. 349 and Herman, p. 144, it was not made by Ward but by one Peter Easton (or Eston). Easton, who took over the pirate fleet of Richard Bishop in 1611, did so much damage that he was offered a pardon in 1612, refused it, saying, "I am, in a way, a king myself." The next year, he was offered a lordship in Spain, which he took.
There is one other source which might perhaps have influenced this song a little, although the names are reversed (that is, the Captain Warde involved is not the pirate but his victim). A Flemish pirate named John Crabbe became famous along the Channel in the early fourteenth century, and his first noteworthy prize was a ship called the Waardebourc captained by John de Warde (McNamee, p. 209). - RBW
Greig #114 (before Greig recognized this as a "Captain Ward and the Rainbow" fragment): "... a ballad about Wallace and the Red Reiver...." The reference is to the 1298 capture of the pirate Richard Longoville, a.k.a. the Red Reiver, by William Wallace (see the Wikipedia article "William Wallace"). - BS
Bibliography Last updated in version 4.1
File: C287

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