Farewell, Nancy
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Lesley Nelson-Burns

This ballad appears in Patrick Weston Joyce's Ancient Irish Music (1873 and 1888). It is also known as William and Nancy's Parting. According to the Ballad Index it was printed on broadsides as early as 1855. Variations and alternate titles include, Farewell, Charming Nancy, Lovely Nancy and The Sailor and his True Love.

There was another broadside named Farewell, Lovely Nancy, printed circa 1810 which begins in Covent Garden. The last verse of that ballad is very similar to the first one here. A copy of that broadside may be found at the Bodleian Library.

Farewell, my dearest Nancy,
Since I must now leave you;
Unto the salt seas
I am bound for to go;
But let my long absence
Be no trouble to you,
For I shall return
In the spring, as you know.

Like some pretty little sea boy,
I will dress and go with you;
In the deepest of danger,
I shall stand your friend;
In the cold stormy weather,
When the winds are a blowing;
My dear, I shall be willing
To wait on you then.

Your pretty little hands,
Can't handle our tackle,
And your pretty little feet
On our top mast can't go;
And the cold stormy weather,
Love, you ne'er can endure,
Therefore, dearest Nancy,
To the seas do not go.

So farewell, my dearest Nancy,
Since I must now leave you;
Unto the salt seas
I am bound for to go,
Where the winds do blow high
And the seas loud do roar;
So may yourself contented;
Be kind and stay on shore.

  • Other versions at this site:
  • Related songs at this site (Women who dress up as men to follow lovers):
  • Related Links
    From One Hundred English Folksongs
    See Bibliography for full information.