Little Boy Billie

Note: Each line is repeated

There were three men of Bristol City
They stole a ship and went to sea
There was Gorging jack and Guzzling Jimmy
And also Little Boy Billie
They stole a tin of Captains biscuits
And one last bottle of whisky
But when they reached the broad Atlantic
There was nothing left save one split pea
Said Gorging Jack to Guzzling Jimmy
We've nothing to eat so I'm gonna eat thee
Said Guzzling Jimmy, I'm old and toughish
So let's eat Little Boy Billie
Oh Little Boy Billie we're gonna kill and eat yer
So undo the top button of your little chemise
Oh may I say my Catechism
That my dear Mother taught to me
He climbed up to the main topgallent
And there he fell upon his knees
But when he reached the eleventh commandment
He cried yo-ho for land I see
I see the British Fleet at anchor
And Admiral Nelson KCB
Well they hung Gorging Jack and Guzzling Jimmy
But they made and Admiral of Little Boy Billie


Little Boy Billie was sung for many years at EYC dinner, normally by three singers (there were actions that went with each line!) The only recorded version I have heard was one by Bob Roberts. Folk Historian A L Lloyd had this to say about the song. "This drama of cannibalism at sea began life as a French sailor ballard in the sixteenth century and passed along the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean. Catalonia and Italy have their versions, but the most impressive is the Portuguese Nau Catarineta (re-enacted ceremonially in parts of Brazil with Padstowe like fervor). In England it circulated tradditionally as the ship in distress set to what Cecil Sharp considered on of the grandest airs he had ever come accross. Thackeray made a parody of the continental version of the ballard and Bob Roberts version dervies from the novelists comic re-make"

Midi Sequence Credit - Sarah Mees