The Five-Gallon Jar

Interesting Facts about The Five-Gallon Jar

This version of The Five-Gallon Jar is a forebitter, (Only the first verse and all choruses are Hugill’s version), which Stan Hugill took from old Irish Sailor Paddy Delaney. We see the story of Jack Ratcliffe and Marry Ann, a couple who were crimps and took profit from the “Shanghaiing” sailors.
Shanghaiing or crimping is the practice of kidnapping people to serve as sailors by coercive techniques such as trickery, intimidation, or violence. Those engaged in this form of kidnapping were known as crimps.

The source of this forebitter

The music: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 61).

The lyrics: The first full verse and all Choruses come from: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed: p 61). To make the song story complete, and give it a sensible length I added other 3 verses from (Doerflinger – ‘Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman’ – p111) Doerflinger’s version of “The Big Five-Gallon Jar” comes from Capitan Henry E. Burke.

To keep the consistency of the song I replaced Doerflinger verses I replaced the original wife’s name from “Caroline” into Hugill’s “Mary Ann”.

The Record of The Five-Gallon Jar

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The Five-Gallon Jar - Forebitter

The musical notation

the-five-gallon-jar - musical notation

The full lyrics

The Five-Gallon Jar

In Liverpool there lived a man, Jack Ratcliffe was his name
An’in the days of the Cape Horn Trade, he played the Shanghai Game,
His wife’s name was Mary Ann, sailors knew both near an’far,
an’ when they played the Shanghai Game, They used the big stone Jar,

– In The Old Virginia Lowlands, Lowlands Low
– In The Old Virginia Lowlands Low.

* 2 *

There were drunkards in the corner and bummers at the bar
And [Mary Ann]Caroline was supplying them with a big five-gallon jar


* 3 *

Said old Jack to old [Mary Ann]Caroline, I’ll tell you what we’ll do,
There’s a ship lying down to McKinnon’s Wharf; I think she wants a crew.
We’ll go down around the corners to get some drunken tars
We’ll shanghai them away out of Liverpool Bay with a big five gallon jar.

* 4 *

So Jack and Cal[Ann] they worked their game when the ships signed on their tars,
Skys’l Jack and Pete and Bowline Bill helped to judge old Cal’s five gallon jar.
Now we’ll bid adieu to Cal and Jack and set our sails for ports afar
Dear Shanghai Cal, we’ll all come back, and sample Jack’s five-gallon jar.

Related to this Forebitter

Susannavisan (Stan Hugill Translation)

The Gals O’ Dublin Town (A)


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