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Broadside ballad entitled 'Captain Gordon's Welcome Home: a New Song in Praise of his taking the French Privateers'


Verse 1: 'Now Brave Captain Gordon's come, / And brought more Prizes with him home / Let's Drink a Cup full to the brim, / In Health to Captain Gordon, / Because where ever he appears, / He clears Our Coasts of Privateers, / Makes Merchant Ships Trade without fears / Through out the Northern Ocean.' The ballad was to be sung 'To an Excellent New Tune, Hark I hear the Cannons Roar'.

The 'Captain Gordon' toasted here may be the same man featured in Robert Burns' verse epistle 'To Captain Gordon'. This cannot be verified, because the broadside is not dated, and Burns' poem makes no reference to his addressee defeating privateers. Privateers were pirates, and British waters continued to be troubled by piracy throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as they had been for centuries beforehand. The event that gave rise to this ballad in praise of Admiral Thomas Gordon (1658?-1741) occurred in 1704 when Gordon who was captain of the 'Royal Mary' a vessel of the Scottish navy, captured a French privateer and brought her in to Leith. Gordon was very much a Scottish hero and even more so when he helped a French spy to land at Slains Castle to visit Jacobite supporters. These events took places against the backdrop of the debate over the Union with England and this is clearly referred to in the ballad with mentions of 'tyrannie' and 'slaverie'. The 'Annandale' mentioned halfway through the ballad was a Scottish ship seized by the (English) East India Company in 1704.

Early ballads were dramatic or humorous narrative songs derived from folk culture that predated printing. Originally perpetuated by word of mouth, many ballads survive because they were recorded on broadsides. Musical notation was rarely printed, as tunes were usually established favourites. The term 'ballad' eventually applied more broadly to any kind of topical or popular verse.

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Probable date of publication: 1704   shelfmark: Ry.III.a.10(022)
Broadside ballad entitled 'Captain Gordon's Welcome Home: a New Song in Praise of his taking the French Privateers'
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