Flemings of Torbay



Sung by Alex Letto, Lance au Clair, August 1960.


1.The thrilling tale we heard last week—
It’s in our mem’ry yet—
Two fishermen from Newfoundland
Snatched from the jaws of det [sic].
Two fine young men, born in Torbay,
Who went adrift at sea,
On the eighteenth day of April,
From the schooner Jubilee.

2.They left to prosecute their voyage
Near the Grand Banks stormy shore,
Where many a hardy fisherman
Was never heard of more.
And that in April on the Banks
They chanced to drift away,
And they lay exposed in an open boat
For many a stormy day.

3.Tossed on the seas all those long days,
While bitter was each night.
No friend to speak a kindly word,
No sail to heave in sight.
At length a vessel hove in view
And saw the floating speck,
The Jessie Maurice was her name,
Coal-laden for Quebec.

4.The crew all stationed in the bow,
All anxious her to hail,
When the Captain eyed her in the fog,
Just aft the weather rail.
Three hours or more while winds did roar,
The Jessie sailed around,
To see if any tidings
Of the dory could be found.

5.Our Captain then, a kind-hearted man,
Who just came on the deck,
The orders gave to hard a port
And shape her for the wreck,
Likewise our brave commander
Gave orders too to launch
The jolly boat that hung astern
Of good old oak so staunch.

6.A sling was soon made fast below
And in those men were placed;
Those tender-hearted mariners
Their work did nobly face.
No signs of life were in those men,
As they were placed in bed,
But still the captain held out hopes
The vital spark not fled.

7.The first that spoke was Peter,
The elder of the two;
He told the Captain who they were,
Part of the Jubilee‘s crew,
How that in April on the Banks,
They chanced to drift away,
And they lay exposed in an open boat
For many a stormy day.

8.The news was soon dispatched at home
To wives and children dear,
To say that Jessie picked them up
And banished every fear.
Although they lay in hospital
From their friends far away,
Please God they’ll soon return again
To gladden sad Torbay.

9.Long live the Jessie‘s noble crew,
Likewise her Captain bold;
His name should be recorded
In letters of bright gold.
May Captain Fern long be spared,
Who nobly did his part,
A crown of glory must await
His kind and tender heart.

Source: MacEdward Leach. Folk Ballads and Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast. p.198-199. (“Flemings of Torbay”)

2 responses to “Flemings of Torbay”

  1. Doug Fleming says:

    Is there a version of this i can listen to? can’t find it anywere! My family are Flemings from Torbay, would love to hear the song!

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