Wednesday 10 October 2012

56: Ranzo

Shanty time again - an interesting version of a halyard shanty, as sung by sailors in Liverpool in the mid 19th century, noted down by Margaret Harley, and published in the Journal of the Folk-Song Society Vol. 5 No. 18 (1914).

This shanty was particularly popular with whalers, although as noted before, the whaling trade in Liverpool was never a particularly major industry; at its height in 1788 there were around 21 vessels. The image above is a painting by Francis Huswick of the Baffin, built in the city in 1819 at a time when whaling was already in decline in Liverpool.

This shanty sometimes goes by the name of Reuben Ranzo, and as one might expect, there has been a good amount of speculation as to who this "Ranzo" might be, although very little in the way of clear conclusions. Whoever he was, the shanty which bears his name is #3282 in the Roud folksong index.