Captain Ward (Kenneth Peacock) video
#1540: YouTube video by ShantyMart
©2013 ~ Used with permission ~

Come all ye jolly seamen bold
that live by tyrant rum,
I'll tell you of a rank robber
now to the seas is gone,
Whose name was callèd Captain Ward,
now you the truth shall hear,
There hasn't been such a rank robber
found out this hundred and fifty year.

He wrote a letter to the King
on the fifth of January,
To know whether he would take him in
and all his company,
To know whether he'd accept of him
and all his seamen bold,
And for ransom he would give
five thousand pounds in gold.

"Oh no, oh no," then said the king,
"Sure that could never be,
For he has been a rank robber
and a pirate on the sea."
"Oh now, oh now," said Captain Ward,
"My boys, we'll put to sea again,
For to see what prizes we can win
on the coast of France and Spain."

'Twas there we spied a lofty ship
come sailing from the west,
She was loaded with silk and satin
and cambrics of the best.
We then bore up to her straightway,
not thinking of such a thing,
We robbed them of their merchandise
and bid them tell the King.

But when the King he heard of this
it grieved his heart full sore,
For to think his ships could not get by
as they had done before.
Oh then he called a war-like ship,
a war-like ship of fame,
The Rainbow he did call her,
the Rainbow was her name.

He riggèd her, he fitted her,
he sent her to the sea
With five hundred bold mariners
to bear her company.
They sailèd east, they sailèd west,
but nothing could they spy,
Until they came to the very spot
where Captain Ward did lie.

"Who is the owner of this ship?"
the captain he did cry.
"Oh here I am," said Captain Ward,
"Let no man me deny."
"What brought you here, you cowardly dog,
you ugly wanton thief?
What lies you at an anchor
to keep our King in grief?"

"You lie, you lie," said Captain Ward,
"As ever I heard you lie,
I never robbed an Englishman,
an Englishman so high,
As for those worthy Scotchmen,
I loves 'em as my own,
My chief delight it is to pull
the French and Spaniards down."

"May the curse be on you, bold robber,
you soon will humble your pride."
With that the gallant Rainbow
she shot out of her side.
"Fire on, fire on," said Captain Ward,
"I value not one pin,
If you are brass on the outside,
I am good steel within."

They fought from eight o'clock in the morn
till eight o'clock that night,
And then the gallant Rainbow
began to take her flight.
"Go home, go home," said Captain Ward,
"And tell your King for me,
If he reigns King all on dry land,
I will reign King on sea!"

With that the gallant Rainbow
she shot and shot in vain,
She left the Rover's company
and homeward returned again.
"Tell your royal King of England
his ship is returned again,
And Captain Ward he is too strong,
he never will be taken!"

####.... Author unknown. Variant of a traditional [Child ballad #287] (Captain Ward And The Rainbow) The English And Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898) edited by Francis James Child, Dover, 1965. Also a variant of an early 18th-century British broadside ballad, A Famous Sea-Fight Between Captain Ward And The Rainbow, published by T Norris (London) sometime between 1711 and 1732, and archived at the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads, shelfmark: Douce Ballads 1(80b) ....####
See more Child Ballad variants from NL.

This variant collected in 1958 by Kenneth Peacock from Clarence Bennett [1926-1993] of St Paul's NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.840-841, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that in 1604 John Ward of Kent is supposed to have taken the crew of a king's ship under his command to raid the high seas as a pirate. Professor Child reasons that his career was probably quite short since no mention of him was made after 1609. However, there were reports that he was in the Mediterranean in 1615 attacking Venetian and Maltese commercial ships. The Rainbow, the ship the king sent out against Ward, had been used by Drake in 1587 against Cadiz. A very rare ballad.

The video above features an excellent cover performance by Dick Swain at the 37th Sea Music Festival sponsored by Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT, June 11-14, 2016.

A variant was also collected by William Hugh (W H) Logan, editor, and published as Captain Ward And The Rainbow (A Pedlar's Pack Of Ballads And Songs, With Illustrative Notes, pp.7-10, 1869, William Paterson, Edinburgh, Scotland).

See more Logan ballad variants from NL.


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