It'll be the Death of Me

by Pete Thompson



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My name it is John Thompson and a seafarer am I
I started as a cabin boy when I was but knee-high
And I reckon this will be my life until the day I die
For it's water that will be the death of me

Let the wind blow up and down
From the River Hull to the whaling ground
In the Black Boy I'll be found
For I do love strong beer

I've worked on every kind of ship from Billy Boy to Bark
And I've sailed with lascars, packet-rats and many a chis'lling shark
And if I hadn't dodged the press gangs that were waiting in the dark
Those Frenchies would have been the death of me

As first mate on a whaler I was there at Baffin Fair
When we got drunk and Tommy Hunt got eaten by a bear
And I tell you, I'll be buggered if ever I go back there
For the whaling lark will be the death of me

Now as master of a sloop I run from Hull to Sheffield town
And the Dunn takes oil and leather up and coal and steel goods down
But at either end I got so drunk it's a blessing I'm not drowned
For this river trade will be the death of me

One day I met a bonny lass while as I was docked in Thorne
But I confess I'd had a few upon our wedding morn
Now whenever I come home I swear another brat's been born
And their hungry mouths will be the death of me

Now the Dunn's tied up at Chapel Staith and I'm in t'Black Boy Inn
Where I've spent a pleasant evening drinking George North's beer and gin
But he says I shouldn't go outside for an easterly's blown in
And those Humber gales will be the death of me

But I reckon that I'd best be off before me legs give in
So I step out into High Street in this filthy wind and rain
And I know that it won't be too long before I'm back again
Oh, that Black Boy beer will be the death of me!

Yes, the Old Black Boy is holy ground
For those that like strong beer

The song was kindly provided by Pete Thompson from the folk duo Whipstaff. It’s about his great-great-great-greatgrandfather, John Thompson, an ex-whaler from Hull who ran a Humber sloop, The Dunn, between Hull and Sheffield. He met a watery end in 1834 when, after a heavy night’s drinking in The Black Boy Inn in Hull, he tried to return to his boat moored nearby during a gale and was blown into the Old Harbour and drowned. The next day his body was recovered and taken straight back to the pub.