Though it is considerably less popular now, this song was omitted from several shanty collections on the basis of being too familiar. Hugill believes it dates to the early 18th century, judging by both the clothes in which Elinor Ford dresses her young sailor and from the use of the term "first-rater".
Cawsand Bay is at the Southeast coast of Cornwall, England.
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In Cawsand Bay lying, The Blue Peter flying, The hands all turn'd up for the anchor to weigh; There came off a lady, As fresh as a May-day When looking up, modestly, these words did say: "I wants a young man there, So do what you can there, To hoist me a'board, or to send him to me; His name's Harry Grady, And I am a lady Come off for to save him from going to sea!"
The Captain, his honour, When he look-ed upon her, Ran down the ship's side to assist her on board; And he said with emotion, "What son of the ocean Can thus be look'd arter by Elinor Ford?" When thus she gave answer, "This here, is my man, sir, I'll make him as rich and as fine as a lord!" "That ere," said the Captain, "Can't werry well happen, We've got 'sailing orders'- you, sir, go on board!"
"Avast!" says the lady, "Don't mind him, Hal Grady, He once was your Capt'n, but now you're at large; You shan't go aboard her, In spite that chap's order:" Then out from her bosom she lugg'd his discharge! Says the Capt'n, says he, now, "I'm damned but he's free now!" Hal sings out "Let Weatherface have all my clothes!" For the shore then he steer'd her, And all the hands cheer'd her; But the Capt'n was jealous, and look'd down his nose!
Then she got a shore tailor To rig her young sailor In fine nankeen trowsers and blue long-tail coat; And he look'd like a squire For her to admire, With a dimity hankercher tied round his throat. "And now," says she, "Harry, The next thing we'll marry;" And she look'd like a dove in his fine manly face; "That's the thing," says Hal Grady, "A parson get ready, And arter a 'long-splice' we'll 'splice the main-brace.'"
Their house it was greater Nor e'er a first-rater, With servants in uniform handing the drink, With a garden to go in, Where flowers was blowin, Sun-flower, jessamine, lily, and pink! Then he got eddication Just fit for his station, For we know we arn't never too old for to larn! And his shipmates soon found him, With young uns around him, All 'chips of the old block' from stem to the starn!