The Three Ravens

It didn’t take long for things to settle down once again, and soon most were dancing to an upbeat, out-of-tune rendition of The Twa Corbies.

The song in the story should really be called The Three Ravens as The Twa Corbies was a later Scottish version. The Three Ravens is an English folk ballad, printed in the song book Melismata compiled by Thomas Ravenscroft and published in 1611, but it is perhaps older than that.

The original version is about three ravenous ravens who have come across the body of a slain knight. They are prevented from feasting on the corpse by the knight’s two loyal hounds who are guarding their dead master. The knight’s hawk also circles above the body to drive off any carrion birds. The pregnant doe is a metaphor for his lover, who is carrying his child She kisses his wounds and takes him away to be buried.…

Cam Ye O’er Frae France?

In the middle of the throng he saw a red-nosed Brownrigg perched on a stool singing surprisingly melodically what was no doubt a Jacobite song at the top of his voice.

After the death of Queen Anne in 1714 the British crown passed on to George, the Elector of Hanover. In his entourage George I brought with him a number of German courtiers, including his mistress Melusine von der Schulenburg, whom he later created the Duchess of Kendal (known as the Goose) and his half-sister Sophia von Kielmansegg (commonly referred to as the Sow). George I’s wife Sophia Dorothea of Celle remained in Hanover, imprisoned at Ahlden House after her affair with Philip Christoph von Königsmarck – the blade in the song. Another historic personality in the song is John Erskine, Earl of Mar (Bobbing John) who recruited in the Scottish Highlands for the Jacobite cause. The nickname Geordie Whelps is a reference to the House of Welf, the original line of the House of Hanover.…

Capstan shanty

On stepping out onto the cobbled street, he saw that Pete was already staggering down the middle of the road, supported by two shipmates, leading another rowdy verse of the crew’s favourite shanty.

In the tavern in Steinburg the crew of Dream Chaser sing a sea shanty. As a tribute to one of my favourite bands, I chose not to use an historical song, but rather one written by them. It is the fourth track on the Ye Banished Privateers album Hostis Humani Generis, which was released on 7th February 2020, and was written by their songwriter and accordion player Björn “Bellows” Malmros.

The song is about Johnnie, a carpenter and Jacobite, who fled his home after the failed Jacobite rebellion in 1745, taking the King’s shilling and joining the British Navy. Always desperate for recruits, no questions were usually asked, especially someone who was a skilled carpenter, which made it a viable option for those wishing to evade justice.…