Little Boy Billee (Le Petite Navire, The Little Corvette)

DESCRIPTION: English & French versions. Three Bristol men steal a ship and go to sea. Starving, Jack & Jimmy plot to eat Billee, but he asks to say his catechism first. Before he finishes, he sights the British fleet. Jack and Jimmy are hanged, Billee made an admiral
AUTHOR: Unknown, English version possibly translated by William Thackeray
EARLIEST DATE: 1867 (published by Thackeray, according to Scott); 1946 (Davenson, French version)
KEYWORDS: crime execution punishment theft rescue death ship cannibalism foreignlanguage homicide
FOUND IN: France
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Kennedy 114, "Le Petit Navire [The Little Corvette]" (French version -- 1 text + translation, 1 tune)
Hugill, pp. 429-430, "Three Sailors of Bristol City" (1 text)
Scott-EnglishSB, pp. 110-111, "Little Billee and Guzzling Jack and Gorging Jimmy" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #905
RECORDINGS:
Bob Roberts, "Little Boy Billee" (on LastDays)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Ship in Distress" (plot) and references there
NOTES: The song was apparently widespread among French sailors. The English version, possibly translated by Thackeray, seems almost a burlesque. And the similarities to "The Ship in Distress" are so acute that I suspect the songs are related. - PJS
To me, the question is more of the relations between Kennedy's various texts in multiple languages. If two songs have the same plot, and there is a version in another language with the same plot, how do you tell which song it belongs with? - RBW
Last updated in version 3.2
File: K114

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.