The Hoban Boys (Genevieve Lehr & Anita Best)

Attention all ye countrymen,
and listen to my song,
I hope ye'll pay attention,
I'll not delay you long;
I hope ye'll pay attention
to what I got to say,
'Bout a loss we had to suffer
from a dreadful north east gale.

'Twas on October the twenty-sixth,
the day before the gale -
When we were still a-fishing,
our courage didn't fail.
The bait being very plentiful,
and the weather acting fine
And for to have another set
we all felt well inclined.

We took our seine in dory
for to have a row along;
We rowed around the island
and plenty of herring found.
We payed away our seine, my boys,
those scaly fish did get -
But the loss we came to after,
I never will forget.

'Twas early next morning
those three boats left the bar -
They're bound out for Oderin's Bank,
the distance wasn't far;
The gale sprang up tremendously,
they were forced to set inside
And in under close-reefed canvas
to the harbour we arrived.

The first come in was Hobans,
their hawser it was low -
They says, 'We'll anchor on the bar
for in she cannot go.'
The next come in was Robert Deer,
he wasn't far behind;
He anchored just astern of us
and put ashore a line.

The next come in was Peavy,
all in the smallest boat -
He anchored just astern of him
and put ashore a rope;
Said one unto the other:
'I think it's to its side,
If it don't blow any harder
they'll be all right here tonight.'

At ten o'clock that very night
it blew a hurricane -
At daybreak in the morning,
not one was to be seen;
They must have swept their anchor,
the truth to you I'll tell,
God only knows where these boats are,
not one of us can tell.

At ten o'clock that very day
the wind it did die down -
The Minnie she was sighted
and high and dry aground;
On Woody Island's western point
it caused her bones to crack,
She was scrubbed and tore to pieces
and she there became a wreck.

The owners of the other two
they still got no report -
Some thinks they're on the bottom,
but they could be still afloat;
The very next news that reached our ears
gave us a dreadful shock,
The Lilly and Jim was sighted,
sunk at the harbour rock.

We then made haste and went to her
expecting her to sail -
But still she is a total loss
and met a watery grave;
We saved her spars and bowsprit,
but nothing more could do,
By the help of those Oderin men
and Little Harbour, too.

In turning from that dreadful wreck
a message we did hear -
The other boat she was picked up
and towed in at St Pierre;
Her owners are the Hoban boys
and the Mayflower is her name,
Through French and English councillors
we'll get our boat again.

We hastened to the office
a message for to send -
To see how much 'twould cost us
to get her from French hands;
The message then that we received,
and we were glad to hear,
The Argyle or the Daisy
would take us to St Pierre.

But we received another
since the government proved false -
The Argyle or the Daisy
don't come to our sad loss.
But still there is another chance
that we can get along:
Our loyal friend is Henry Lake,
I'll have him in the song.

O now we're ready for to start
to sail unto St Pierre -
Our whole intention is the boat
and to try to get our gear;
But when we reached St Peter
the French to us did say:
'There's one hundred and fifty dollars,
boys, before she leaves the quay.'

Besides our boat she had been robbed
of caplin, dory, too -
They also tried to sink her
when on the sea so blue;
The chops they made with a fatal axe,
I'll show you any time,
She have it on her starboard side
right at the water line.

O now we leaved that funny place,
St Pierre, a long ways behind -
Bound to a port of entry
with everything going fine;
When we gets through the Customs
it's straight for home we'll go,
And we'll lower her in the harbour
where northeasters they can't blow.

When we gets in the harbour
we'll drink our drop of rum -
For Christmas it is handy,
and I'm sure we'll have some fun.
We'll soon forget the hardships
that we did undergo
When sailing for the Mayflower
in bitter frost and snow.

O now my song is to an end
and don't you think it's true -
But if you thinks I'm telling you lies
you ask some of the crew.
I think I done my very best,
I know it can be beat
For it concerns that northeast gale,
October the twenty-eighth.

####.... Thomas William (Bill) Hoban [1869-1922] of Burin, NL ....####

Original Newfoundland song collected in 1976 by Genevieve Lehr & Anita Best from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1912-1993] of South East Bight, NL, and published as #51 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.89-91, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that Mr Power learned this very long and involved song from his uncle, John Power [1853-1939] of South East Bight, NL, who learned it from the composer Thomas William (Bill) Hoban [1869-1922] of Burin, NL, who was one of the owners of the boat Mayflower back in the 1920s. Ms Lehr also noted that the last word in verse seven, 'wreck', was pronounced 'wrack' to rhyme with 'crack' in the previous sentence.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

See more NL shipwreck songs.


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