Fire Ship, The

DESCRIPTION: In naval euphemisms, a sailor meets a whore, takes her in tow, and empties his shot locker. She steals his money and clothes, and he discovers she has given him "fire down below."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1612 (London broadside, "Watten's Town End")
KEYWORDS: bawdy sailor sex warning whore disease
FOUND IN: Britain(England) US(NW,So,SW)
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Hugill-ShantiesFromTheSevenSeas, pp. 171-172, "The Fire Ship" (1 text, 1 tune) [AbEd, pp. 138-139]
Cray-EroticMuse, pp. 68-71, "The Fire Ship" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Randolph/Legman-RollMeInYourArms I, pp. 237-239, "The Fire Ship" (1 text, 1 tune)
Shay-AmericanSeaSongsAndChanteys, pp. 205-206, "The Fire Ship" (1 text, 1 tune)
Niles/Moore-SongsMyMotherNeverTaughtMe, pp. 152-155, "Fireship (1 text, 1 tune)
Palmer-OxfordBookOfSeaSongs 101, "The Fire Ship" (1 text, 1 tune)
Kinsey-SongsOfTheSea, p. 128, "The Fire Ship" (1 text, 1 tune)
Johnson-BawdyBalladsAndLustyLyrics, p. 61, "The Fire Ship" (1 text)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 26, "The Fireship" (1 text)

Roud #4841
Guy Mitchell, "The Fire Ship" (Columbia 78-39067, 1950 -- a cleaned-up version, needless to say)
The Weavers, "The Roving Kind" (Decca 27332, 1950; on WeaversCD1 -- another cleaned-up version)

cf. "Firelock Stile" (plot)
cf. "The Sewing Machine" (plot)
cf. "The Wayward Boy" (plot)
cf. "While Hanging Around Town" (plot)
cf. "A-Rovin'" (plot)
cf. "Ball of Yarn" (plot)
cf. "Boring for Oil" (plot)
cf. "Eleventh Street Whores" (plot)
cf. "Footprints on the Dashboard" (plot)
cf. "The Gay Caballero" (plot)
cf. "Root, Hog, or Die (VI -- Cowboy Bawdy variant)" (theme)
cf. "Hot Engagement Between a French Privateer and an English Fireship, (An Excellent New Song Entitled A...)" (theme)
She Had a Dark and a Rovin' Eye
A Dark and a Rolling Eye
NOTES [65 words]: Legman has extensive notes on this ballad in Randolph/Legman-RollMeInYourArms I. - EC
A "fireship," as the term was usually used, was a small craft set on fire and floated into a larger vessel (or fleet) to set it afire or at least force it off-course. Hence the analogy to a prostitute who spreads disease.
Most printed and recorded versions of this have been cleaned up to some extent. - RBW
Last updated in version 5.2
File: EM068

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.