23 - Female Smuggler

Words by Traditional
Tune by Traditional

Many copies of this popular broadside ballad survive. The ending, with the smuggler dressing as a bride to encourage a marriage that saves her life, recalls the (somewhat garbled and unreliable) story that pirates Mary Read and/or Anne Bonny were saved from hanging by pregnancy.

Come listen awhile and you soon shall hear
By the rolling sea lived a maiden fair
Her father was of the smuggling trade
Like a war-like hero, like a war-like hero, she never was afraid

Now, in sailor’s clothing swell Jane did go,
Dressed like a sailor from top to toe;
Her aged father was the only care
Of this female smuggler, of this female smuggler, who never did despair.

With her pistols loaded she went aboard.
And by her side hung a glittering sword,
In her belt two daggers; well armed for war
Was this female smuggler, was this female smuggler, who never feared a scar.

Now they had not sail-ed far from the land,
When a strange sail brought them to a stand.
“These are sea robbers,” this maid did cry,
“But the female smuggler, but the female smuggler, will conquer or will die.”

Alongside, then, this strange vessel came.
“Cheer up " cried Jane,” we will board the same;
We’ll run all chances to rise or fall,"
Cried this female smuggler, cried this female smuggler, who never feared a ball.

Now they killed those pirates and took their store,
And soon returned to Old England’s shore.
With a keg of brandy she walked along,
Did this female smuggler, did this female smuggler, who sweetly sang a song.

Now they were followed by the blockade,
Who in irons strong did put this young maid.
But when they brought her to be tried,
This young female smuggler, this young female smuggler, stood dressed like a bride.

Their commodore against her appeared,
And for her life she greatly feared.
When he did find to his great surprise
'Twas a female smuggler, 'twas a female smuggler, had fought him in disguise.

He to the judge and jury said,
"l cannot prosecute this maid,
Pardon for her on my knees I crave,
For this female smuggler, for this female smuggler, so valiant and so brave."

Then this commodore to her father went,
To gain her hand he asked his consent.
His consent and hers he got, so the commodore
And the female smuggler, and the female smuggler, are one for evermore.