I was chuffed to read this story on the Classic Sailor website. I greatly enjoyed Ann Davison’s book My Ship is so Small about crossing the Atlantic solo in a 23ft boat some years ago, and it still sits on a shelf above my computer.
Dating as it does from the mid 1950s, it’s the sort of thing you might still find in the sailing section of a good second-hand bookstore.
Felicity Ann sails again
This mighty and horrifying ballad is packed with journeys: first, the butcher’s boy runs away to sea and sails to Bermuda; second the young lad joins a brutal get rich quick slaving voyage to Africa and Cuba; third he becomes a merciless pirate and sails for the Spanish Main; and fourth he is captured and taken to London to be tried and hung on the gallows.
And I suppose the fifth is a mental and spiritual journey in which this adventurer becomes contrite, and bitterly wishes he’d never done any of it.
I guess all of this may well have happened in some genuine cases, but I suspect this ballad was written in a later era, and packed with adventure in order to sell printed ballad sheetsy. The earliest date it was collected as a song was in 1906.