NANCY LEE

 

Yes, you’ve guessed it: yet another forgotten name which all Royal Sailors of yesteryear knew well, at least metaphorically ! It’s almost a certainty that eminent Victorian and Edwardian people like Herbert Lott would have been familiar with the tune, the words, and the usage of the piece in Naval ceremonial.

 

The Royal Navy had two marches in days gone by which every self respecting Royal Marine Bandsman, nay, every military band, could play at the drop of a hat. One, and the best known march, was of course Heart of Oak  which was played when the Royal Navy were marching past. The other was played when the Royal Navy was being reviewed in a parade which had other armed service present.  When the order was given by the Naval Commander to “Advance in Review Order” , the band struck-up with Nancy Lee.  Each separate armed force had its own ‘review order’ march, and of course, every regiment had its own regimental march.

 

The words were written by a Somerset man, Frederick E Weatherly [1848-1929]. He earned his living as a lawyer and also wrote over 50 children’s books. The music came from the pen of a Liverpudlian Stephen Adams [b.1844].  He became a well known baritone singer in the last quarter of the 19th century. These are the words:-

 

Of all the wives as e'er you know,
Yeo ho! lads, ho! Yeo ho! Yeo ho!
There's none like Nancy Lee, I trow,
Yeo ho! Yeo ho! Yeo ho!
See there she stands and waves her hands
Upon the quay, and every day
When I'm away she'll watch for me,
And whisper low when tempests blow,
For Jack at sea,
Yeo ho! lads, ho! Yeo ho!

Chorus
The sailor's wife the sailor's star shall be,
Yeo ho! We go across the sea;
The sailor's wife the sailor's star shall be,
The sailor's wife his star shall be!

The harbor's past, the breezes blow,
Yeo ho! lads, ho! Yeo ho! Yeo ho!
'Tis long ere we come back, I know,
Yeo ho! Yeo ho! Yeo ho!
But true and bright from morn till night
My home will be, and all so neat,
And snug and sweet, for Jack at sea;
And Nancy's face to bless the place,
And welcome me;
Yeo ho! lads, ho! Yeo ho!

Chorus

The bosun pipes the watch below,
Yeo ho! lads, ho! Yeo ho! Yeo ho!
Then here's a health afore we go,
Yeo ho! Yeo ho! Yeo ho!
A long, long life to my sweet wife,
And mates at sea, and keep our bones
From Davy Jones, where-e'er we be,
And may you meet a mate as sweet
As Nancy Lee.
Yeo ho! lads, ho! Yeo ho!

Chorus

 

and you are listening to the music CLICK HERE, the second Royal Navy official marching tune

although please bear in mind that it is a canned music file [very tinny] and much too slow to boot.

 As an exercise, I looked at a few Royal Marine CD’s but it wasn’t one of their recorded tracks.  Perhaps they too, have forgotten dear old Nancy Lee !