12 - Bold Riley

Words by Traditional
Tune by Traditional

In 19th-century Liverpool, it was fashionable for wealthier women to wear white stockings. Each month on 'white stocking day', women went to the shipping office dressed in their best clothes to collect the 'allotment' which was the half pay of their sailing family member away at sea. Not all sailors made provision for the women to collect this allotment, preferring to take a larger advance payment for themselves, and this problem inspired the Liverpool feminist social campaigner and MP Eleanor Rathbone to demand a fairer system of providing for sailors’ and soldiers' dependants during the First World War, eventually culminating in her Family Allowances Act of 1945.

Our anchor’s aweigh and our sails are set,
Bold Riley-oh, bold Riley,
And the folks we’re leaving we’ll never forget,
Bold Riley-oh has gone away!

Goodbye my sweetheart, goodbye my darling,
Bold Riley-oh, bold Riley,
Goodbye my sweetheart, goodbye my dear heart,
Bold Riley-oh has gone away.

Wake up Mary Ellen, don’t look so glum,
On Whitestocking day, you’ll be drinking hot rum

And oh it’s raining all day long,
And the Northerly Gale, it blows so strong,

So we’re outward bound for the Bengal Bay,
Bend your backs me boys, it’s a hell of a way.