Author Topic: Add: Three Score and Ten


Posted - 02 Nov 02 - 06:08 pm

Three Score and Ten

And its three score and ten boys and men were lost from Grimsby Town;
From Yarmouth down to Scarborough many hundreds more were drowned.
Our herring craft, our trawlers, our fishing smacks as well.
They longed to fight that bitter night to battle with the swell.

Methinks I see some little craft spreading their sails a-lee
As down the Humber they do glide all bound for the northern sea.
Methinks I see on each small craft a crew with hearts so brave
Going out to earn their daily bread upon the restless wave.

Methinks I see them yet again as they leave the land behind,
Casting their ners into the sea the fishing ground to find.
Methinks I see them yet again and all on board's all right,
With the sails flow free and the decks cleared up and the side-lights burning bright.

October's night was such a sight was never seen before:
There was masts, there was yards; broken spars came floating to our shore.
There was many a heart of sorrow, there was many a heart so brave;
There was many a hearty fisherlad did find a watery grave.

Source: Oxford Book of Sea Songs, ISBN 0-19-282155-5


'In memoriam of the poor Fishermen who lost their lives in the Dreadful Gale from Grimsby and Hull, Feb 8 & 9, 1889' is the title of a broadside produced by a Grimsby fisherman, William Delf, to raise funds for bereaved families. The song passed into oral tradition.lost six verses and gained one - the last, which refers to October instead of February. It also acquired a chorus and a new tune. This oral version was collected from a master mariner, Mr J Pearson of Filey in 1957 by N A Hudleston. A copy of the original broadside is held in Grimsby Public Library.

Database entry is here

Edited By dmcg - 11/2/2002 6:15:17 PM


Posted - 25 Jan 03 - 10:42 pm

It was reported like this:

As day after day passes and no tidings arrive of the missing Grimsby smacks, it is beginning to be realised that the gale of the 9th ult. will prove one of the most disastrous to the Grimsby fishing trade on record. Altogether nearly a dozen fishing vessels, carrying between 60 and 70 hands, are missing. Most of these vessels were only provisioned for eight or nine days, and many of them have been out over a month. Of the safety of seven of them all hope has now been abandoned. The vessels are:
Sea Searcher, trawl smack, owner Mr Joseph Ward; five hands.
John Wintringham, cod smack, master and owner Mr John Guitesen; eleven hands.
Eton, iron steam trawl smack, owner Mr H. Smethurst, Jun.; eight hands.
British Workman, cod smack, owner Mr Thomas Campbell; seven hands.
Sir Frederick Roberts, trawl smack, master and owner Mr W. Walker; five hands.
Kitten, trawl smack, owner James Meadows; five hands.
Harold, trawl smack, master and owner Mr Blakeney; five hands.

Portions of wreckage from the Kitten have been picked up at sea and brought into port, and the British Workman was seen to be reduced to a mere wreck by a heavy sea on the morning of the gale. Many of the men who have been lost leave wives and families, and an immense amount of distress will be caused amongst the fishing population. The total number of vessels lost will, it is feared, be near 15, and of lives between 70 and 80.

Hull Times, 2 March 1889.

Edited By dmcg - 28/01/2003 19:32:18

Guest Account
Posted - 11 Mar 05 - 03:48 pm

From: khumph

I first heard this sung in the Cornish Arms at St Merryn, near Padstow in the early 1960's by the Friday night singers. Many years later I bought a tape of them singing in Padstow, a recording called 'Pass around the Grog', but 'three score and ten' was not featured. There were two Charlies who sang and the repertoire ranged from music hall ballads to folk song favourites. I think that they sang in the church choir, the harmonies were always very disciplined

masato sakurai

Posted - 11 Mar 05 - 04:20 pm

From folktrax:

THREE SCORE AND TEN - "boys & men were lost from Grimsby Town" "From Yarmouth down to Scarborough" - PALMER OBSS 1986 #138 p274 Noted by N A Hudleston, Wardill Yorks 1956 -- THE WATERSONS: TOPIC 12-TPS-166 1966 - KESTY rec by PK 1980: 240 - Tommy MORRISEY & chorus rec by John Howson, Cornwall on Radio 2: 10/11/95: CASS-1335

Jon Freeman

Posted - 11 Aug 06 - 12:35 pm

Copied from one of the many Mudcat threads:

From 'The Oxford Book of Local Verses', comes the following: 'A Ballad in Memory of the Fishermen from Hull and Grimsby who lost their lives in the Gale of 8 and 9 February 1889'; by W. Delf, a Grimsby fisherman.

Methinks I see some little crafts spreading their sails a-lee
As down the Humber they did glide bound in the Northern sea;
Methinks I see on each small craft a crew with hearts so brave,
Going to earn their daily bread upon the restless wave.

Methinks I see them as they left the land all far behind,
Casting the lead into the deep their fishing grounds to find;
methinks I see them on the deck working with a will,
To shoot their net into the deep either for good or ill.

Methinks I see them shoot their trawl upon the Thursday night,
And saw the watch upon the deck, and everything was right;
methinks I see them yet again when daylight did appear,
All hands working with a will getting off their gear.

Methinks I see the net on board and fish so fresh and gay,
And all were busily engaged clearing them away;
Methinks I see them put away into the ice below,
And then the sea began to rise, and the wind did stronger blow.

Methinks I heard the skipper say, 'My lads, we'll shorten sail,
As the sky to all appearance looks like an approaching gale.'
Methinks I see them yet again, and all on board was right,
With sails close reef'd, the deck cleared up, and sidelights burning bright.

Methinks I see them yet again, the midnight hour was passed [sic];
Their little craft was battling there with the fiery blast;
Methinks I heard the skipper say, 'Cheer up, my lads, be brave.
We'll trust in Him who rules the deep, in Him who alone can save.'

Methinks I read the thoughts of them who now are called away;
They were thinking of their loved ones dear many miles away;
Thinking of wife and children dear, and aged parents too,
Who no more will see them here again in this world below.

Great God, Thou sees each sorrowing heart, the widow in distress,
Thou knows the little children dear, who now are fatherless;
Comfort and cheer them here below, and lead them by Thy hand,
And at last may they meet with their loved ones dear in the promised land.

The notes say: 'Supplied by F.R. Whitmarsh of Grimsby from the original broadsheet as sold by the author.'


Posted - 02 Nov 08 - 02:05 am

I learned the words to the chorus as "they long defied the bitter night," instead of 'did fight.' I think it flows better and makes more sense that way.

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