The Banks of Newfoundland

English Folk Song; Capstan Shanty

Composed in 1820 by Francis Forbes (1784-1841)

You bully boys of Liverpool
I’ll have you to beware,
When you sail on them packet ships,
no dungaree jumpers wear;
But have a big monkey jacket
all ready to your hand,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

There was Jack Lynch from Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy and some more,
I tell you well, they suffered like hell
on the way to Baltimore;
They pawned their gear in Liverpool
and they sailed as they did stand,
And there blow some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland. (Chorus)

Now the mate he stood on the fo’c’sle head
and loudly he did roar,
Now rattle her in me lucky lads,
you’re bound for America’s shore;
Go wash the blood off that dead man’s face
and haul or you’ll be damned,
But there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland. (Chorus)

So now it’s reef and reif, me boys
With the canvas frozen hard
and this mountain pass every mother’s son
on a ninety foot topsail yard
nevermind about boots and oilskins
but holler or you’ll be damned
But there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland. (Chorus)

So now we’re off the hook, me boys,
and the land is white with snow,
And soon we’ll see the pay table
and we’ll spend the whole night below;
And on the docks, come down in flocks,
those pretty girls will say,
Ah, It’s snugger with me than on the sea,
on the Banks of Newfoundland. (Chorus)

Song Notes

There are slightly different lyrics in The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, selected and edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams & A.L. Lloyd, Penguin, 1959. Re-released in 2003 by the English Folk Dance and Song Society as Classic English Folk Songs, revised by Malcolm Douglas.

“The Banks Of Newfoundland” is the earliest Newfoundland composition set down in music notation. It was composed by Chief Justice Francis Forbes in 1820 and published in a piano arrangement by Oliver Ditson of Boston. Originally composed as a dance, it was treated as a march by the soldiers of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment during World War I; it later became the Regiment’s authorized march.

It has also been associated with the Royal St. John’s Regatta since its early days. As a Regatta song it is more popularly known as “Up The Pond”, and is traditionally played as the crews pass the bandstand on their return to the stakes. It was later made the official song of the Regatta.