Britons, Strike Home
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This appears in William Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time (1859), where he notes it is not Purcell's song of the same tune, but an old sea song which was very popular with schoolboys in his youth. Chappell had only a few words to the song. Barrett took the words from an old soldier and completed them from broadsides printed by Pitts (between 1819 and 1844) and Catnach (who printed between 1813 and 1838).

The Pitts broadside is not about a woman following her lover to sea. The Catnach version is the same story as this. Copies of these can be found at the Bodleian Library.

Come all you bold seamen
And see what is done,
See how a brave woman
Will fight for a man.
So well cross the salt seas,
Let the wind blow so strong,
While our rakish young fellows cry,
Britons, strike home, boys,
Britons, strike home.


My father was a squire,
And I was his heir,
And I fell in love
With a sailor so rare.
So well cross the salt seas,
Let the wind blow so strong,
While our rakish young fellows cry,
Britons, strike home, boys,
Britons, strike home.


The press-gang they took him,
My joy and my pride,
And, dress'd in boy's clothing,
I fought by his side.
So well cross the salt seas,
Let the wind blow so strong,
While our rakish young fellows cry,
Britons, strike home, boys,
Britons, strike home.


Our ship carried
Over nine hundred men,
And out of nine himdred
Five hundred were slain.
So well cross the salt seas,
Let the wind blow so strong,
While our rakish young fellows cry,
Britons, strike home, boys,
Britons, strike home.


The sweet little bullets
Came flying apace,
I was shot in the right breast,
How hard was my case.
So well cross the salt seas,
Let the wind blow so strong,
While our rakish young fellows cry,
Britons, strike home, boys,
Britons, strike home.


My sailor was wounded,
No more could we fight,
Discharged we were married,
So all things came right.
So well cross the salt seas,
Let the wind blow so strong,
While our rakish young fellows cry,
Britons, strike home, boys,
Britons, strike home.


Come all you bold women,
Where'er you may be,
Consider the hardships
We suffer at sea
So well cross the salt seas,
Let the wind blow so strong,
While our rakish young fellows cry,
Britons, strike home, boys,
Britons, strike home.


Related Links
From English Folk-Songs and
Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time
See Bibliography for full information.