Spanish Ladies
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

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Lyrics
This is also known as Farewell and Adieu to You. According to Stan Hugill it was a capstan shanty (a shanty sung as the capstan was turned to raise the anchor), sung as ships were homeward bound. A ballad by the name of Spanish Lady was registered in England December 14, 1624 with the Stationers' Company. It is possible that tune is related to this tune or one of the variants listed. However, according to the Oxford Book of Sea Songs the earliest known reference to Spanish Ladies is in the logbook of the Nellie of 1796.

Collections list different distances from Ushant to Scilly. It is variously given as 34, 35 and 45 leagues. The depth of the Channel also varies from 55 to 45 fathoms by version. Special lyrics were written to the tune for the Bluenose (a famous Canadian sailing ship which sailed out of Nova Scotia).

There is no approximate age given for the song or tune. It is only listed as "famous old Naval song."

Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish Ladies,
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain;
For we've received orders for to sail for ole England,
But we hope in a short time to see you again.
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

We hove our ship to with the wind from sou'west, boys
We hove our ship to, deep soundings to take;
'Twas forty-five fathoms, with a white sandy bottom,
So we squared our main yard and up channel did make.
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

The first land we sighted was called the Dodman,
Next Rame Head off Plymouth, off Portsmouth the Wight;
We sailed by Beachy, by Fairlight and Dover,
And then we bore up for the South Foreland light.
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

Then the signal was made for the grand fleet to anchor,
And all in the Downs that night for to lie;
Let go your shank painter, let go your cat stopper!
Haul up your clewgarnets, let tacks and sheets fly!
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

Now let ev'ry man drink off his full bumper,
And let ev'ry man drink off his full glass;
We'll drink and be jolly and drown melancholy,
And here's to the health of each true-hearted lass.
We will rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar all on the salt sea.
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England;
From Ushant to Scilly is thirty five leagues.

  • Related songs at this site:
  • Related Links
    From One Hundred English Folksongs
    See Bibliography for full information.
    And
    A thread on Spanish Ladies at Digital Tradition.