Kelly the Pirate (I) [Laws K31]
DESCRIPTION: (Captain Cooper's ship Stag) meets Kelly's pirate ship. Kelly reminds the pirates that defeat means hanging, but this is not enough. The British ship sinks the pirate
EARLIEST DATE: before 1825 (broadsides, Bodleian Harding B 28(162), Harding B 25(1022))
KEYWORDS: pirate fight death
FOUND IN: Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont) Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Laws K31, "Kelly the Pirate I"
Greenleaf/Mansfield 43, "Kelly the Pirate" (1 text)
Mackenzie 81A, "Kelly the Pirate" (1 text)
Creighton-Maritime, p. 151, "Kelly the Pirate" (1 text, 1 tune)
Frank-Pirate 22, "Kelly the Pirate (I)" (1 text, 1 tune; from different sources; #22 in the first edition)
DT 565, KELLPIR
O. J. Abbott, "Kelly the Pirate" (on Abbott1)
David Slaunwhite, "Kelly the Pirate" (on MRHCreighton)
Bodleian, Harding B 28(162), "Kelly the Pirate," W. Armstrong (Liverpool), 1820-1824; also Harding B 25(1022), "Kelly the Pirate" ("Come listen awhile and give ear to my song"), W. Armstrong (Liverpool) , 1820-1824
NOTES [211 words]: Several pirates named Kelly/Kelley are known from the late seventeenth century, notably James Kelley, an associate of Captain Kidd hanged in 1701. But their circumstances do not seem to match this song.
There is also a significant problem in the form of the "Kelly the Pirate" version sung by David Slaunwhite and printed in Creighton-Maritime. It is an open question whether it is the same as Laws K31.
Bennett Schwartz writes,"Creighton-Maritime: 'Novia Scotia place names have been substituted for those in the old English song.... it has undergone many changes in the course of oral transmission.' It is barely recognizable as the same ballad as Greenleaf/Mansfield 43."
But Paul Stamler writes independently, "The plot of this song [the Slaunwhite version] is extremely confused, and the point of view seems to shift in the last verse, but it's clear enough that I'm pretty sure it isn't one of the two 'Kelly the Pirate' songs listed elsewhere in the Index."
Laws does not seem to have known of Slaunwhite's recording. Roud lumps them. It may well be that Slaunwhite's version is composite, mixing "Kelly the Pirate (I)" with something else. I'm sticking it here, for now, since it seems to be a one-shot. That could easily change if more versions show up. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
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 2019 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.