Peter's Banks (Kenneth Peacock)

Come all ye hearty fishermen
and hark to what I say
About young William Strickland
belonging to our bay
Who proved the Lily on the Banks
the twenty-first of May,
The wind blew hard, the fog came on,
for rowing back that day.

We'll go out on St Peter's Banks,
myself and Goddard went,
To overhaul our trawls that day
it was our full intent;
The wind blew hard, the fog came on,
and what a dreadful sight,
For six long weary lonesome days
and many a weary night.

No food or water for six days
till one poor man got weak,
He lay down in his dory,
with hunger could not speak;
And after suffering there so long
and weaker every day,
'Twas on one Sunday afternoon
poor Goddard passed away.

Poor William Strickland all alone
lay by his dory-mate,
He found his strength fast giving out
to share his comrade's fate;
And just as he gave up hope
and lay down for to die
A fishing skiff from Ramea a castaway did spy.

Took William Strickland out of boat
and used him kind and well,
And carried him into Ramea
all for the tale to tell,
To see his home and friends once more
and bid his Maker thanks,
Snatched from the very jaws of death
by fishing on the Banks.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland ballad ....####

Collected in 1959 by Kenneth Peacock from Levi Everett Bennett [b.1899] of St Paul's, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.969-970, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that Peter's Banks is a fishing area off the south coast of Newfoundland near the French island of St Pierre. Ramea is an island port also off the south coast. Everett Bennett's variant was the only record Peacock found of this native south coast ballad.

Willam Strickland's story was published in 1961 in The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories by Maple Leaf Mills Ltd. From it GEST has gleaned the following facts and corrected the first two lines of verse four which were not properly completed in Peacock's original text.

William Strickland was from Spaniard's Bay, NL. The captain of the schooner Lily was William Goddard out of Burin, NL. The captain's brother, Albert Goddard, was Strickland's dory-mate and boss. The two left on May 22nd, 1897, and neglected to take food and water on board. For the next six days there was fog, wind, a southeast gale, high seas, and an occasional distant vessel. Albert Goddard succumbed on the third day after attempting to row to land. Afterward, Strickland resorted to cutting his own arm and consuming his own blood to quench his thirst. Late on the sixth day, he was rescued by William Cutler, a fisherman of Ramea, NL, who had sighted what seemed to be a drifting empty dory. It took Strickland almost three months to recover under doctor's care in Burin and in St John's General Hospital.


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