The choruses in the multitude versions of this song take some combination of "row" and "roll", "Julia" or "bullies". Julia, of course, is the name of a ship. A Nova Scotia variant runs "To me roll, roll, Julia, roll". Doerflinger notes that Gordon's Adventure Magazine used the verses in the shanty "A Long Time Ago" and that David W. Bone published an older, packet-ship version in Capstan Bars. Doerflinger's own variant comes from Captain Henry E. Burke of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
Stan Hugill says this Liverpool forebitter was popular enough to be
used at the capstan. "Another version is based on a homeward passage
from Frisco to the Bramley-Moore dock, Liverpool, by way of Cape Horn".
In Hugill's version of Liverpool Judies, a packet ship sailor
meets a New York crimp offering free liquor if he'll leave the Line. New
York, after all, was a common jumping off point for half-starved
sailors. But even though the sailor refuses the job, he wakes to find
he's been drugged and shanghai'd, shipped off on a Southbound ship.
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From Eng-land to... California I went, To stay in that country was my full intent, But drinking bad whiskey, like ev'ry damn fool, Soon got me imported back to Liverpool.
Julia, roll! Roll! Julia, roll! The Liverpool girls they've got us in tow!
The Alaska of Boston lies down in the Bay, Waiting for a fair wind to get under way. The sailors on board, so sick and so sore, Their whiskey's all gone, they can't get no more.
Here comes our mate, with his jacket so blue; He's looking for work for the sailors to do. Then "Jib tops'l halliards!" he loudly does roar, Saying, "Lay aloft, Paddy, you son of a whore!"
That night off Cape Horn I shall never forget, And well I remember, I think of it yet, She was running bows under, and the sailors all wet. She was scudding twelve knots with her main skys'l set.
Here's to our captain, wherever he be, He's a friend to his sailors on land or on sea; But as for our mate, he's a dirty old brute, And I hope when he dies straight to hell he'll skyhoot.