Collected (and set with a Piano accompaniment) by Ralph Vaughan Williams, from the collection Folk Songs from the Eastern Counties. For solo voice with Piano accompaniment.
First sung to R. Vaughan Williams by James 'Duggie' Carter, a King's Lynn fisherman, the song tells the story of the death of a young boy aboard a ship. According to comments from RVW himself, "The ballad was probably called forth by a particularly brutal case of ill treatment, similiar to that narrated in it, which occurred some twenty or thirty years ago".
One day a poor boy to me was bound apprentice, Because of his being fatherless; I took him out of St.James’ workhouse, His mother being in deep distress.
One day this poor boy unto me offended, But nothing to him I did say, Up to the mainmast shroud I sent him, And there I kept him all that long day.
All with my gasket I misused him, So shamefully I can’t deny, And by my barbarous cruel entreatment, The very next day this poor boy died.
You captains all throughout the nation, Hear a voice and a warning take by me; Take special care of your apprentice While you are on the raging sea.