The General Rawlinson (Lehr and Best)

Ye noble-hearted Christians
I hope that you'll attend
And listen unto those few lines
that I have lately penned;
It's concerning the General Rawlinson
belongs to Newfoundland,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

And she is a noble vessel
as many men can tell,
With every kind of fitting
she's fitted out quite well;
On the twenty-sixth of October
from Marystown did steer,
Bound to a port called New Harbour
caused us to be aware.

Our crew was young and healthy
as you may plainly see,
Willing to do their duty
whatever it would be;
To trace her jibs or reef her sails
no matter how 'twould be,
Her crew was well contented
when on the stormy sea.

We were seventeen days sailing
when our skipper to us did say,
'Have a sharp look out tonight,
my boys, the land is not far away;'
He told us the distance
and brought to us good cheer,
Being on the eighteenth morning
New Harbour did appear.

O, now we're in New Harbour
and tied up in good shape
On the account of it being Sunday
we'd have a nap of sleep;
'Twas early Monday morning
when we were called on deck
'Twas little we thought before we'd sleep
she would become a wreck.

O early Monday morning
our orders we received,
'Be quick and take your anchor, boys,
and New Harbour we must leave;
To be sold up the river,
our cargo for to land;'
The wind sprang up most violently
and with it hove a send.

We hove our anchor to the bow,
our tow-line we made fast
And owing to the heavy wind
the pier she could not pass;
The wind it blew most violently
and with it hove a send
The tug she could not take us on,
we moored her up again.

'Twas very shortly after,
the wind it did die down
And in a few more moments
it did chop right around;
It pitched a gale from the west-north-west
and blew most violently
Which caused our vessel to go ashore
with mourners there for we.

We then bent our big anchor
and we threw it o'er the rail
We were intended to hold her
on in that tremendous gale;
We held her on for a short while
but proved to be in vain
Our hawser it had parted
and we were adrift again.

'Twas very shortly after,
the vessel struck the rocks
The breaking seas broke over her,
she got some heavy knocks;
'Look out, my boys,' our skipper cries,
'we cannot do no more.'
And with the help of a smaller boat
got landed safe on shore.

O now we're safely landed
and new lodgings to go seek
We were placed in a restaurant
where we have spent three weeks;
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
When sour wine we had for tea
and half enough to eat.

At eight o'clock in the morning
it's coffee you'll receive
A half a slice of bread with that
our appetite to feed;
A bowl of soup for dinner
and that not very nice,
A couple o' picks of meat in that,
and two spoonfuls of rice.

You'll get the same for supper
as all our crew can tell
And we were not used to rationing,
we were not feeling well;
The Molly and Jacob
she came in and plenty we received -
You bet we were not sorry
when New Harbour we did leave.

O now I'm on my way for home
I got no more to tell
But some fine day in summer
I'll word it for a friend;
I'll word it off for a friend of mine
and if he thinks 'twill do
We'll learn it off and to our mate
he'll sing it for the crew.

####.... Benjamin (Ben) Ducey [1885-1957] of Marystown, Burin District, NL ....####
Collected in 1977 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best from Phillip Pius Power, Sr [1912-1993] of South East Bight, NL, and published as #40 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.69-71, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press ©1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that the General Rawlinson, built in Marystown, NL, was in the charge of Captain James Harris on a voyage in 1921-1922 to Oporto, Portugal. While at New Harbour on 7 January during the return voyage, the Rawlinson tied up to await good weather. However, the wind grew stronger, causing the ship's anchors to drag. The Rawlinson struck against the dock, took on water, and sank. She was raised in July 1922 and eventually sold to be used by the Portuguese (renamed Pacos de Brando) as a Bank fishing vessel. Lehr also noted that The General Rawlinson was composed by Mr Ben Doucey[sic] of Marystown, NL.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

From The History of Shipbuilding in Marystown, NL - The first large-scale shipbuilding venture in Marystown began at Stapleton's Point and Sandy Point from 1918 to 1920. At Stapleton's Point, John Forsey constructed five three-masted tern schooners for Samuel and George Harris. These schooners were named after generals: The General Wood, General Rawlinson, General Byng, General Knox, and the General Ironside. At Sandy Point, the Jean and Mary, the Ria, and the Violet Buffet were built.

Note: Oporto is the second largest city in Portugal, located at the mouth of the Douro River. Historically, the city has always been a key port on the Atlantic Ocean and today is well known for its shipments of Port wine made from grapes grown to the east, along the banks of the Douro, where Captain James Harris apparently had to land his cargo "to be sold up the river." It can be readily assumed that the General Rawlinson's cargo for the voyage back to Newfoundland would have been Port wine.

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