Captain Glen/The New York Trader (The Guilty Sea Captain A/B) [Laws K22]

DESCRIPTION: A ship sets out to sea; many of the crew become ill. The captain has a dream which causes him to reveal his dreadful crimes to the boatswain. In the face of a severe storm, the boatswain reveals the captain's sins. He is tossed overboard; the storm abates
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1794
KEYWORDS: ship crime execution revenge storm
FOUND IN: Canada(Mar,Newf) Britain(England(South),Scotland) US(MA,SE) Ireland
REFERENCES (17 citations):
Bronson (57 -- Appendix to "Brown Robyn's Confession"), 10 versions
Laws K22, "Captain Glen/The New York Trader (The Guilty Sea Captain A/B)"
Greig #130, pp. 2-3, "Captain Glen" (1 text)
GreigDuncan2 191, "Captain Glen" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Williams-Thames, pp. 265-266, "The Guilty Sea Captain" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Wt 445)
Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 586, "Guilty Sea Captain" (1 text)
Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, pp. 72-73, "The New York Trader" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's 10}
Chappell-FSRA 35, "Captain Glen" (1 text, 1 tune) {Bronson's #3}
Logan, pp. 47-50, "Captain Glen's Unhappy Voyage to New Barbary" (1 text)
Peacock, pp. 396-397, "New York Trader" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-NovaScotia 55, "Captain Glen" (1 text, 1 tune)
Mackenzie 90, "Captain Glen" (1 text); 91, "The New York Trader" (1 text)
Leach, pp. 697-698, "William Glen" (1 text)
Ranson, pp. 76-77, "The Cork Trader" (1 text)
Ashton-Sailor, #82, "Captain Glen" (1 text)
BBI, ZN2534, "There was a ship, and a ship of fame"
DT 563, NYTRADR WILLGLEN

ST LK22 (Full)
Roud #478
BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Harding B 11(2902), "The New York Trader," T. Birt (London), 1828-1829; Harding B 11(2700), Johnson Ballads 220, Johnson Ballads 569, Harding B 11(2163), 2806 b.11(232), Harding B 11(2699), Firth c.13(204), "The New York Trader"
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Brown Robin's Confession" [Child 57] (Jonah theme)
cf. "Cruel Ship's Carpenter, The (The Gosport Tragedy; Pretty Polly)" [Laws P36A/B] (Jonah theme)
cf. "The Pirate"
cf. "The Sailor and the Ghost"
cf. "The Man and the Two Maidens"
cf. "Willie Was As Fine a Sailor" (Jonah theme)
cf. "Willie Grahame" (Jonah theme)
cf. "Bonnie Annie" [Child 24] (Jonah theme)
cf. "The Sailor and the Ghost" [Laws P34A/B] (Jonah theme)
cf. "Two Jinkers" (Jonah theme)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
William Guiseman
Sie William Gower
There Was a Ship
NOTES: See also Creighton and MacLeod Gaelic Songs in Nova Scotia 38, pp. 120-121, "Uilleam Glen (William Glen)" which alternates Gaelic and English verses. The English verses are close enough to Creighton-NovaScotia to be considered the same ballad.
The theme of the sailor thrown overboard to calm a storm sent by God is found in Jonah 1.1-16.
Ranson's version seems mangled with one four line stanza, three of five lines and three of six; no tune is supplied which, in Ranson's case, probably means the ballad was recited. Further, the contributor seems to be recalling the ballad as she remembers it from her late husband. The version has a few elements from the beginning of "Captain Glen": the number of the crew is mentioned (but only 34), and the captain is named (William Gore). From that point on couplets, rather than verses, and a few compressed single lines follow Catnach's "New York Trader" broadside at Bodliean Firth c.13(204).
What ship/boat was sunk? The versions are not all clear. Even the broadsides are not of one mind, so to speak. And Laws is ambiguous: "He goes to sea to escape her spirit, but she appears in a boat ... the ghost threatens a violent storm unless he is produced. The captain complies, the girl denounces her lover, and the boat sinks in flames with him aboard." Did she sink the ship? Was he forced by the sailors into her boat, which then sunk in flames? Most versions allow the second conclusion, and some explicitly rule out the first. The two Bodleian broadsides are typical:
2806 c.8(242): "You balked me once [she says], but I have you now He and the boat sank in a flash of fire Which made the sailors all admire [from a safe distance?]."
Harding B 10(68): "Then, to preserve both ship and men, Into a boat they forced him; The boat sunk down in a flame of fire, Which made the sailors all admire."
Some, for example, Greig-Duncan2 341A, have it that "into the [presumably her] boat they forced him." The exception is Greig-Duncan2 341B, which - to me - seems confused: "So to preserve both ship and men He rushed him to the topmast end The boat it sank in a flame of fire [preserving what?] Which made this young men [sic] to admire."
In any case this is another ballad with a Jonah (Jonah 1.4-15) theme. Here, for the captain -- knowing his Old Testament -- just the threat of a storm was enough to have him produce the ghost's lover. - BS
This may not be the only song about Captain Glen's misdeeds. The National Library of Scotland has an item, broadside NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(46a), "Captain Glen" ("As I was walking to take the air, To see the ships all sailing O"), unknown, c. 1890, describes Captain Glen seducing Betsy Gordon and abandoning her -- but he returns to her later. This has now been indexed as "The Noble Duke O'Gordon."
The idea of the sea raging against a criminal aboard a ship is, of course, a popular theme going back all the way to the Biblical book of Jonah. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.2
File: LK22

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