What are the lyrics to ‘Spanish Ladies’, the traditional sea shanty?

Spanish Ladies is one of the oldest sea shanties, dating back to the late 18th century. Here are its famous lyrics...

what are the lyrics to the sea shanty Spanish Ladies

What is the story behind the sea shanty, ‘Spanish Ladies’?

Spanish Ladies is one of the oldest sea shanties, and it is believed to have been inspired when the Royal Navy carried supplies to Spain to aid its resistance to revolutionary France during the War of the First Coalition (1793–96). During this period it seems many of the ships’ crew managed to collect Spanish wives, lovers, and children, who they were not allowed to bring home to England when the war drew to an end.

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What are the lyrics to ‘Spanish Ladies’?

Farewell and adieu, to you Spanish ladies
Farewell and adieu, to you ladies of Spain
For we received orders
For to sail for Old England
But we hope, very soon, we shall see you again

We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true British sailors
We’ll rant and we’ll roar along the salt seas
Until we strike soundings in the channel of Old England
From Ushant to Scilly is 35 leagues

We hove our ship to, with the wind at Southwest boys
We hove our ship to, our soundings to see
We rounded and sounded got 45 fathomsWe squared our main yard and up channel steered we

We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true British sailors
We’ll rant and we’ll roar along the salt seas
Until we strike soundings in the channel of Old England
From Ushant to Scilly is 35 leagues

The next land we made was called ‘The Deadman’
Next ram heads off Plymouth, off Portland and Wight
We sailed by Beachy, by Fairlee and Dungeness
‘Till we came abreast of the south foreland light

We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true British sailors
We’ll rant and we’ll roar along the salt seas
Until we strike soundings in the channel of Old England
From Ushant to Scilly is 35 leagues

Then the signal was made for the grand fleet to anchor
All in the Downs that night for to lie
Then it’s stand by your stoppers, steer clear your shank-painters
Haul up your clew garnets, let tacks and sheet fly

We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true British sailors
We’ll rant and we’ll roar along the salt seas
Until we strike soundings in the channel of Old England
From Ushant to Scilly is 35 leagues

So let every man toss off a full bumper
And let every man drink off a full glass
We’ll drink and be merry and drown melancholy
Singing, here’s a good health to each true-hearted lass

We’ll rant and we’ll roar like true British sailors
We’ll rant and we’ll roar along the salt seas
Until we strike soundings in the channel of Old England
From Ushant to Scilly is 35 leagues

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You can find the lyrics to many of your favourite sea shanties here