The Flemmings Of Torbay (James Murphy)

See also: The Flemings Of Torbay (Johnny Burke)

And also: The Fishermen Of Newfoundland
(The Good Ship Jubilee)

The thrilling tale we heard last week
'tis in our memory still,
Two fishermen of Newfoundland
snatched from the jaws of death;
Two fine young men, born in Torbay
who went adrift at sea,
On the eighteenth day of April
from the schooner Jubilee.

They left to prosecute the voyage
near the Grand Banks stormy shore,
Where many a hardy fisherman
was never heard of more;
For twelve long days in storms and seas
those hardy fellows stood,
Fatigued, footsore, and hungry,
with no water or no food.

The heroes of this story -
they're the Flemmings of Torbay,
Two hardy sons of Newfoundland
who in their dory lay;
Until a vessel hove in sight
and saw this floating speck,
The Jessie Morris was her name,
coal laden from Quebec.

The wheelsman's well trained eye
espied clear through the misty haze,
These two poor exhausted fishermen
adrift so many days;
The captain, this kind-hearted man,
had just come on the deck,
The order gave to hard-a-port
and shape her for the wreck.

Two hours or more while wind did roar,
the Jessie sailed around,
To see if any tidings of
the dory could be found;
The crew were stationed in the bow
all anxious her to hail,
When the captain eyed her in the fog
just aft the weather rail.

Her brave commander right away
the order gave to launch
The jolly boat that hung astern
of good old oak so staunch;
Two tough old seamen mann'd the oars
and at the work to go,
The captain standing in the bow
to take the boat in tow.

The captain gripped the painter
to bring her to the barque,
For those on board were still as death,
their features cold and dark;
A sling was then made from below,
in this the men to place,
Whilst tender hearted mariners
their work did nobly face.

No sign of life was on the men
as they were placed in bed,
But still the captain held out hopes
the vital spark not fled;
He watched for days and sleepless nights
to bring those men around,
And on the second day discerned
but just a feeble sound.

The first to speak was Peter,
the elder of the two,
He told the captain that they were
a part of the Jubilee's crew;
And that in April on the Banks
they chanced to drift away,
And lay exposed in an open boat
for many a stormy day.

The captain then our sternsail set
and shaped her for Quebec,
He took the Jubilee's dory
and all left of the wreck;
They watched the men with mother's care
while in their berths they lay,
They saved the lives of these two boys,
the Flemmings of Torbay.

The news was soon despatched at home
to wives and children dear,
To say the Jessie picked them up,
and to banish every fear;
Although they lay in hospital,
from dear friends far away,
Please God they'll soon return
all right to gladden sad Torbay.

So let us pray for those away,
saved from the dory wreck,
To heal their wounds as sore they lay
in hospital in Quebec;
And guard them in their hours of pain
to keep a cheerful smile,
These men snatched from the jaws of death
that on the seas must toil.

God bless them seamen, true as steel,
who saved our heroes lives,
The plucky boys who mann'd the boat
to cheer their homes and wives;
May Captain Farlane long be spared
who nobly did his part,
A crown of glory must await
that kind and tender heart.

Long live the Jessie's gallant crew,
also her captain bold,
Their names should be recorded
in letters of bright gold;
To send them peace and happiness
in every port they'll lay,
The plucky boys who saved the lives
of the Flemmings of Torbay.

####.... Johnny Burke of St John's, NL [1851-1930] ....####
See more songs by Johnny Burke

This variant was printed in St John's in 1905 on pp.14-16 of Murphy's Sealers' Song Book and again in 1923 on pp.4-5 of Songs Their Fathers Sung, For Fishermen: Old Time Ditties, both published by James Murphy [1867-1931].

From James Murphy's Publisher's Notes:
"This song depicts the wonderful endurance of two Newfoundland fishermen, Peter and Edward Fleming, of Torbay, St John's District. They were cast adrift in the year 1888 on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, and were for twelve days and nights in an open dory without food or water until rescued by Captain Farlane and crew of the Jessie Morris of Quebec. Afterwards they had both their legs amputated from the knees down; one of them has since died."

A variant was also collected from a recitation by Charles Dawe [1875-1957] of Flatrock, NL, and published as The Flemings Of Torbay in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

Two variants were collected by Kenneth Peacock, one in 1952 from Gordon Willis [1911-2001] of St John's, NL, and another in 1959 from George William Decker [1878-1962] of Rocky Harbour, NL, and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Vol 3, pp.912-915, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Another variant was collected in 1950 from Gordon P Connelly [1877-1954] of Glen Haven, Halifax County, NS, by Helen Creighton [1899-1989] and published in Maritime Folk Songs, (Ryerson Press, Toronto, ON, 1962).

An early variant was sung in 1920 by Daniel W Endacott [1875-1940] of Sally's Cove, NL, and published as #141 on pp.285-287 as The Fishermen Of Newfoundland or The Good Ship Jublilee in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland, by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, PA, 1968).

Also printed as The Fishermen Of Newfoundland (The Good Ship Jubilee) and published on pp.50-51 of Old Time Songs And Poetry Of Newfoundland, 2nd Ed, 1940, printed by the publishers of The Family Fireside for Gerald S Doyle, St John's.

Additional notes excerpted from Off The Banks, Tales Of Heroism, Suffering And Peril by Patrick McGrath, published in Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly and on page 2 in Issue 7872 of the newspaper, The Star, Christchurch, NZ, 28 Nov 1903:
The trawler Jubilee left St John's on April 10, 1888. Peter Fleming was 43 years old with nine years experience in bank fishing. Edward was 37 and on his first trip to the banks. Eight days later, while Peter and Edward were at the trawl, a sudden fog shut out the vessel. They were rescued by the barque Jessie Morris, built in 1872 in Halifax, NS, under command of Captain Farley[sic]. It was laden with coal for Quebec from North Shields, a town on the north bank of the River Tyne, in the metropolitan borough of North Tyneside, in North East England. On June 1, the Fleming brothers had both feet amputated some inches above the ankle at the Marine Hospital in Quebec. Public subscription was set to provide them with artificial limbs, and they both became farmers after their ordeal.


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