DESCRIPTION: Green hand Crotty understands nothing about sealing. When the Dan reach the seals Crotty boxes with a big one until he is rescued. Crotty is thankful the seal's breath smelled of whisky, else he might have been beaten to death
EARLIEST DATE: 1900 (Burke & Oliver)
KEYWORDS: fight rescue hunting ship humorous animal
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Peacock, pp. 73-74, "Maurice Crotty" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lehr/Best 74, "Maurice Crotty" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Ryan/Small, pp. 86-87, "Maurice Crotty"; p. 88, "The Spring of the Wadhams" (2 texts, 1 tune)
ST Pea073 (Partial)
cf. "Grandfather Bryan" (tune)
NOTES [361 words]: Although Ryan/Small's two texts have different titles, they are clearly the same song, as both involve the strange exploits of Maurice Crotty. Only a handful of versions have the opening referring to the Spring of the Wadhams. This is probably an error, for several reasons. One is that the Spring of the Wadhams was a disastrous year (more on this below), and there is no hint of it here. Another is that several versions refer to "steamers," yet the first steamer did not go to the ice until 1863, eleven years after the Spring of the Wadhams! (Ryan/Drake, third [unnumbered] page of introduction). Third, while the song does not say that the ship Dan was a steamer, we know there was no steamer named Dan or anything like it. (I can't find a sailing sealer named Dan, either, but there were enough small sealing vessels in the pre-1860 period that doesn't mean much.)
According to Ryan/Small, "1852 is generally known and spoken of as the 'Spring of the Wadhams.'" Seals were found very plentiful in the vicinity of the Wadhams, (islands located in Notre Dame Bay S.E. of Fogo Island), and the majority of vessels were caught in a fearful gale of NNE wind which caused great destruction to the fleet."
Similarly Busch, p. 50, writes of "the 'spring of the Wadhams' (1852), when the seals were found near those desolate rocks and forty vessels were driven to their destruction by rafting ice pushed by a north-northeast gale."
Chafe, p. 41, reports, "It was calculated that upwards of 40 vessels were smashed to matchwood by the rafting ice, while more were destroyed by fire by the upsetting of stoves. About 200 men arrived from Greenspond, who reported leaving 1,500 men behind them who only saved what they stood in.
"The crews were sheltered on the 'Wadham Island' from the 5th to the 12th of April, till a relief ship was sent them by the government." (Feltham, p. 54, however, considers this exaggerated -- although, if he is right in saying there were forty lost ships, averaging 25 in their crews, this comes out to a thousand or so lost.)
Feltham, p. 54, quotes a newspaper article saying that there were storms on the fourth and tenth of April.. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
- Busch: Briton Cooper Busch, The War Against the Seals: A History of the North American Seal Fishery, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1985
- Chafe: Levi George Chafe, Chafe's Sealing Book: A History of the Newfoundland Sealfishery from the Earliest Available Records Down To and Including the Voyage of 1923, third edition, Trade Printers and Publishers, Ltd., 1923 (PDF scan available from Memorial University of Newfoundland)
- Feltham: John Feltham, Northeast from Baccalieu, Harry Cuff Publications, 1990
- Ryan/Drake: Shannon Ryan, assisted by Martha Drake, Seals and Sealers: A Pictorial History of the Newfoundland Seal Fishery, Breakwater Books, 1987
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