Musician Marc Gunn describes ‘The Bonnie Ship the Diamond’ as:

An old Scottish song popularized by The Corries. Over-fishing in the Greenland sea during the early 19th century had a devastating toll on the whale stocks. A new hunting ground, the South-West Fishery, was discovered in the region of the Davis Straits and it was mostly here that The Diamond fished. In 1830 The Diamond, Eliza Swan and The Resolution along with seventeen other whaling ships were caught in the ice of Melville Bay. The ships were lost and many sailors lost their lives.

Note: The tunes, lyrics and history of a single sea songĀ or shanty are often diverse and debated, given how these songs were passed along and changed (often simultaneously on many ships all over the seas). This is part of what is beautiful and fascinating about them. What we’re representing in this blog post is only one, and certainly not the only, version of a song and its history.

 

Full Lyrics - The Bonnie Ship the Diamond

The Diamond is a ship, my lads

For the Davis Strait we’re bound

The quay it is all garnished

With bonnie lasses ’round

Captain Thompson gives the order

To sail the ocean wide

Where the sun it never sets, my lads

Nor darkness dims the sky

Chorus:

For it’s cheer up my lads

Let your hearts never fai

l For the bonnie ship the Diamond

Goes a-hunting for the whale

 

Along the quay at Peterhead

The lasses stand around

Wi’ their shawls all pulled around them

And the salt tears runnin’ down

Don’t you weep for me, my dear

Though you be left behind

For the rose will grow on Greenland’s ice

Before we change our mind

 

Chorus

 

Here’s a health to the Resolution

and Eliza Swan by name

Here’s health to Battler of Montrose

And the Diamond, ship of fame

We wear the trousers o’ the white

The jackets o’ the blue

When we get back to Peterhead

We’ll have sweethearts anew

 

Chorus

 

It will be bright both day and night

When the Greenland lads come hame

Our ship full up with oil, my lads

And money to our name

We’ll make the cradles for to rock

And the blankets for to tear

And every lass in Peterhead sing

“Hushabye, my dear”