Shantying and Shanties Part II

By L.G. Carr Laughton, published March 1923


It was through the cotton trade that negro songs and the term shanty were introduced ; and it was owing to the keenness of the sailing in the other services mentioned that shantying was carried to its height. Shanties are classified according to their use. In the heyday of shantying there were songs for a long pull ; songs for a short pull, as in sweating up; and one or two for special occasions, such as hauling the bowline, and for buntmg up. Then there were pumping and windlass shanties ; and a ” stamp and go ” for running away with a rope.  The author argues that the term shanty derives from the word used to describe a moveable hut in the southern states of the US or Gulf of Mexico, rather than the French ‘chantez’. He identifies the influence of ‘negro-songs’ brought to the UK through the trade in cotton in the mid-nineteenth century. However, there is evidence of hauling and heaving songs much earlier; The Complaint of Scotland was printed in 1549 and The Song of the Lead – to proclaim the depth of water – was already in general use in the 17 century.

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Filed under: Napoleonic War | Atlantic | Other (Early Modern) | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Merchant Marines | Navies | Ship Handling & Seamanship | Whaling & Fishing

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