I learned this song from the Cornish traveller Charlotte Renals, who is featured along with her sisters Betsy Renals and Sophie Legg on the Veteran cassette Catch me if you Can (now available in expanded form as VT119CD). Her version has several two and three line verses. I’ve filled in the gaps, and put the verses in a more logical order, with the help of a very complete set of words collected by Cecil Sharp in August 1905 from Captain Robert Lewis of Minehead in Somerset.
In Charlotte Renals’ version the male protagonist is Captain Walters. A perfectly respectable name. But in Captain Lewis’ version the bounder’s name is Captain Thunderbold:
My name is Captain Thunderbold
It’s a name I will ne’er deny
Well why would you deny a name like that? And how could I resist including it in the song?
Looking at the numerous broadside versions available via Broadside Ballads Online the name seems to be universally given as ‘Captain Thunderbolt’ and this is the title Phoebe Smith has for her version of the song.
I had let this song lapse for several years, but recently relearned it, and I must say it’s good to have the song back in my repertoire.
Down By The Shannon Side