The Royal Oak
As we was sailing all on the salt seas,
We hadn't sailed months past but two or three,
Not before we saw ten sail of Turks,
All men-o'-war full as big as we.
"Pull down your colours, you English dogs!
Pull down your colours, do not refuse.
Oh, pull down your colours, you English dogs
Or else your precious life you'll lose!"
Our captain being a valiant man,
And a well-bespoken young man were he:
"Oh, it never shall be said that we died like dogs,
But we will fight them most manfully!"
"Go up, you lofty cabin boys,
And mount the mainmast topsail high,
For to spread abroad to King George's fleet
That we'll run the risk or else we'll die!"
The fight begun 'bout six in the morning,
And on to the setting of the sun.
Oh, and at the rising of the next morning,
Out of ten ships we couldn't see but one.
Oh, three we sank and three we burned,
And three we caused to run away,
And one we brought into Portsmouth harbour,
For to let them know we had won the day.
If anyone then should enquire
Or want to know our captain's name,
Oh, Captain Wellfounder's our chief commander
But the Royal Oak is our ship by name.
From The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, Williams and Lloyd
Collected from Moses Mansfield, Surrey, 1912