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Ye tender hearted Christians,
Ye widows, and mothers, too,
Come hear the dreadful tragedy
Of the Jane Hunter's crew;
She sailed from Corner Brook
And was bound to Newfoundland,
But many will remember
The gale that blew that day.
'Twas half-past seven on that sad night
The land they did espy,
It filled their hearts with fear,
To get around they tried;
But to their sad misfortune
They saw it could not be done,
When they tried to turn her,
'Twas on the rocks she ran.
The good ship Jane Hunter,
When she struck upon the rocks,
The mainmast it went overboard
With a dreadful shock;
Her timbers they were cracking,
Her counter it did tear,
She being half filled with water,
Holes in her everywhere.
We knew a boat on such a night
The sea she could not brave,
'Twas everyman's opinion
Not one soul would be saved;
Now for our captain he was not well,
For the deck was not inclined,
Our first mate and bos'un
They had commanded at the time,
Our mate he was not experienced
If what I say is true,
"My lads, cling to the rigging,
My orders do obey."
And next he cried, "Launch out a boat,
Your precious lives to save,
Or else the foaming billows
This night will be your grave."
Three labouring youths from Scotland
To jump they did agree,
One forwards, one aft, one amidships,
They jumped into the deep.
And one of those brave fellows
That's all that safety reached,
The other two poor seamen
Went down all for to rise no more;
When Angus Rowe he got on shore,
He shouted once or twice,
But to rally his grieving heart
He got no answering voice.
The screeches of those drowning men,
I'm told would pierce your heart,
They all had clung to pieces of the wreck,
Their bodies were tossed about;
There's one of those, Alexander,
His name was to by birth,
That was our cabin b'y,
The mainmast broke his arm.
Now it's for our good government
I'm told we have to blame,
If there had to be a lighthouse on head
It would prevent the same;
Now let our members study on this,
While in their houses warm,
Think on poor seamen on the deep,
It's a shame to see them sunk.
Collected in 1951 from Bert Fitzgerald of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
A similar variant was also collected in 1951 from Mr. Fitzgerald of Renews, NL, and published as Wreck Of The Jane Hunter in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).
From a post at Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogy site: Captain Henry Bowden was born c.1812-1814 in Devon, England. He and his wife Mary Ann had eight children who were born in St. John's, NL. Henry Bowden drowned from the Brig Jane Hunter off Sheep's Cove, Trepassey, in either 1881 or 1883.
See more songs about Newfoundland and Labrador shipwrecks.