As I Went A-Walking Down Ratcliffe Highway

(Ratcliffe Highway)

Ratcliffe Highway is near Limehouse Reach in London, an especially lively shipping port in the days of the East Indiamen.

William Doerflinger (Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman) distinguishes this forebitter from Blow the Man Down, although they use many of the same stanzas.

Doerflinger takes his versions from Capt. Patrick Tayleur and from William Laurie, each singing at Sailor's Snug Harbor, NY. Stanzas unsuitable for printing were omitted between stanzas 2 and 3. George Edward Clark, in Seven Years of a Sailor's Life (1867) writes that "Ratcliffe Highway" was one of the favorite songs of the crew aboard the British vessel with which he sailed in 1860.

Flying-fish sailors refer to those shiping to warmer latitudes, as in the East India and China trades.