Slave Song in Praise of Captain Hugh Crow

Captain Crow da come again;
But dem alway fight and lose some mens,
But we glad for see em now and den;
Wit em hearty joful gay, wit em hearty joful gay.
Wit em tink tink tink tink tink tink ara.
Wit em tink tink tink tink tink tink ara.
But we glad for see em now and den
Wit em hearty joful gay, wit em hearty joful gay.

But da em sorry and bery sick,
For em da fight the two man-of-war ship;
But we glad em gae dem tat for tit,
Wit em hearty joful gay, wit em hearty joful gay.
Wit em tink tink tink tink tink tink ara.
Wit em tink tink tink tink tink tink ara.
But we glad em gae dem tat for tit,
Wit em hearty joful gay, wit em hearty joful gay.

Then up to the hospital em da go, hay hay,
For to see em wounded boys,
And sat down and talk and pity and say,
Wit em hearty joful gay, wit em hearty joful gay
Wit em tink tink tink tink tink tink ara.
Wit em tink tink tink tink tink tink ara.
And sat down and talk and pity and say,
Wit em hearty joful gay, wit em hearty joful gay.*


* Captain Hugh Crow (1765-1829) was a one-eyed Liverpool slave ship captain who had a reputation for being kind to the slaves he transported. He was commander of the "Kitty's Amelia," the last slave ship to sail out of Liverpool when the British government abolished slavery in 1807. While today we might question whether any slave trader was truly humane, it is true that before the abolition of slavery MP William Wilberforce gave bonuses to slave captains who transported a certain percentage of slaves alive, and Crow is known to have consistently earned a bonus for the relatively healthy voyages he afforded his human cargo, despite attacks by enemy ships. Crow himself wrote, "I always took great pains to promote the health and comfort of all on board, by proper diet, regularity, exercise, and cleanliness, for I considered that on keeping the ship clean and orderly, which was always my hobby, the success of our voyage mainly depended."

The "Song made by the people of Colour in Jamaica on Captn. Hugh Crow" was presented to the captain by slaves he had transported to the West Indies. We show here three out of the seven verses of the song. Poet Brian Levison has written an updated version of the slave song to Captain Crow, and we thank him for sharing with us the text of the original song for the Liverpool 800 Poems project.

Christopher T. George

By The People of Colour in Jamaica