SPANISH LADIES


In an attempt to date this fine sea shanty, a reference to 'Spanish Ladies' can be found in the logbook of the Nellie of 1796.

Collections list different distances from Ushant to Scilly. It is variously given as 34, 35 and 45 leagues. The depth of the Channel also varies from 55 to 45 fathoms by version.

I have doctor'd (pun completely intended) the lyrics below to match with the way I was taught.

Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish Ladies,
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain;
For we've received orders for to sail for ole England,
But we hope in a short time to see you again.

We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

We hove our ship to with the wind from sou'west, boys
We hove our ship to, deep soundings to take;
'Twas forty-five fathoms, with a white sandy bottom,
So we squared our main yard and up channel did steer.

We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

The first land we sighted was called the Dodman,
Next Rame Head off Plymouth, off Portsmouth the Wight;
We sailed on by Beachy, by Fairlight and Dungeoness,
And then we bore up for the South Foreland light.

We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

Then the signal was made for the grand fleet to anchor,
And all in the Downs that night for to lie;
Let go your shank painter, likewise your cat stopper!
Haul up your clewgarnets, let tacks and sheets fly!

We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

Now let ev'ry man drink off his full bumper,
And let ev'ry man drink off his full glass;
We'll drink and be jolly and drown melancholy,
And here's to the health of each true-hearted lass.

We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

Information, lyrics and tunes can be found on the Songs of the Sea page.

4 comments:

William said...

Actually there is also a version that goes:

" Until we strike lizard of the coast of Ol' england, Straight up the channel to Portsmouth we'll go"

The Doctor said...

Sir,

I have never heard this 'lizard' version of which you speak. Not being very nautical, I myself do not know, is that a naval term of some sort?

Fred said...

For whatever reason, reading these lyrics made me pull up "Fiesta" by the Pogues from my IPOD

Thanks, Doc

Luke

Chris said...

The Lizard Point, in Cornwall, is the Southern-most tip of the British Isles, and thus forms part of the entrance to the English Channel.

- Mr. Goblin from the Regency Society of America forum.