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A broadsheet featuring two ballads titled 'The Sailor's Farewell' and 'The Rover of the Seas'.

Date: 1834 - 1886
Overall: 255 x 187 mm, 0.023 kg
Medium: Woodcut engraving and printed text on paper mounted on card.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Broadsheet
Object No: 00017371
Place Manufactured:Durham

User Terms

    A broadsheet featuring two ballads titled 'The Sailor's Farewell' and 'The Rover of the Seas'.
    Printed by G. Walker, Durham.
    SignificanceBroadsheets were designed as printed ephemera to be published and distributed rapidly. This also meant they were quickly disposed of with many of them not surviving the test of time. The museum's broadsheet collection is therefore a rare and valuable example of how maritime history was communicated to a wide audience, particularly in the 18th and 19th centuries. They vibrantly illustrate many of the themes and myths surrounding life at sea. Some of them also detail stories about transportation and migration.
    HistoryThe Rover Of The Seas.

    I'm rover of the seas,
    And chief of a daring band,
    Who obey all my decress,
    And laugh at the laws of the land.
    Wherever my swift bark steers,
    Desolation and rapine are spread,
    And the names of the famed buccaneers
    Fill the bosoms of all with dread.
    For I'm Rover of the Seas --- Ha! ha!
    For I'm Rover of the Seas.

    King of the waves am I, And rule with despotic sway,
    As over the waves I fly,
    In search of my lawless prey.
    No mercy I ever show
    To any I chance to meet ---
    But 'neath the billows they go,
    For dead men no tale repeat.

    I'm terror of the main,
    For none yet has conquered me,
    And every victory I gain
    Makes me fornmer the lord of the sea;
    In storm, or in calm or in fight,
    I am ever the same,
    And dearly have earn'd the right
    To claim my blood-stain'd name.

    I envy no king on shore,
    For there's none has power like me,
    They're bound by the oath they swore
    While I am reckless and free;
    And tho' danger I meet each day,
    Yet merry my life is pass'd
    For let there come what may
    I can but die at last.

    The Sailor's Farewell.

    Farewell! Mary, I must leave thee,
    The anchors weighed - I must aboard,
    Do not let my absence grieve thee,
    Of sorrow do not breathe a word:
    What though the foaming ocean sever
    Me from thee, yet still my heart
    Loves you, Mary, and will ever,
    Through stern duty bid us part.

    Farewell! Mary, my dearst Mary,
    Do not grieve, I shall return
    Crown'd with laurels, pray do smother,
    That sad sigh, oh! do not mourn,
    You unman me with your kindness,
    Oh! chase these tears off my brow,
    Now round thy lips sweet smiles are creeping,
    Bless thee, Mary, farewell now.

    Farewell! Mary, do not weep so,
    THough I leave thee for awhile,
    I'll love thee still when on deep now,
    Cheer my heart with thy sweet smile,
    Soothe my parents with thy kindness.
    And I'l bless thee when far away,
    Oh! forgive my youthful blindness
    For I can no longer stay.

    Dearest parents, farewell kindly,
    Rest content while I'm away,
    Mark that gun, 'tis to remind me,
    On shore I can no longer stay;
    The anchor's weigh'd, the sails are spreading,
    The boat is waiting in the bay,
    Farewell now all kind relations,
    Pray for me when far away.

    Broadsheets or broadsides, as they were also known, were originally used to communicate official or royal decrees. They were printed on one side of paper and became a popular medium of communication between the 16th and 19th centuries in Europe, particularly Britain. They were able to be printed quickly and cheaply and were widely distributed in public spaces including churches, taverns and town squares. Their function expanded as they became used as a medium to galvanise political debate, hold public meetings and advertise products or cultural events.

    The cheap nature of the broadside and its wide accessibility meant that its intended audience were often literate individuals but from varying social standings. The illiterate may have also had access to this literature as many of the ballads were designed to be read aloud. In 'Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England', Peter Burke notes that the golden age of the broadside ballad, between 1600 and 1700, saw ballads produced at a penny each which was the same price for admission to the theatre.

    The ballads also covered a wide range of subject matter such as witchcraft, epic war battles, murder and maritime themes and events. They were suitably dramatic and often entertaining, but as James Sharpe notes, also in 'Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England', some of them were designed as elaborate cautionary tales for those contemplating a life of crime.

    The broadside ballads in the museum's collection were issued by a range of London printers and publishers for sale on the streets by hawkers. They convey, often comically, stories about love, death, shipwrecks, convicts and pirates. Each ballad communicates a sense that these stories were designed to be read aloud for all to enjoy, whether it was at the local tavern or a private residence.
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