Roller Bowler - Shanty U.K. Archive

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Roller Bowler

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Roller Bowler

Well-known in the West Indian rum and sugar trades, this capstan shanty originated in a Jim Crow stage show of the 1830s, which proved extremely popular when performed upon the London stage in 1836, following huge successes in American cities over the previous three years.

The choruses were taken over wholesale by seafarers, although in a garbled form. But this mattered little, as they consisted mainly of tongue-twisting nonsense syllables anyway. And the original story line of the song was ditched and replaced with a tale of Sailor John's amorous (mis)-adventures ashore in one of the major ports, often Liverpool.

Roud 8283
Click to play MIDI file
Roller Bowler
Roller Bowler


I met her first in Liverpool

Away you roller bowler

I met her first in Liverpool,
That saucy gal of mine

And away you rowler bowler
With a hey rig a jig and a ha ha
Good Morning Ladies all


The first time that I met her

Away you roller bowler

The first time that I met her, '
Twas down in Park-e Lane

And away you rowler bowler
With a hey rig a jig and a ha ha
Good Morning Ladies all


She winked and tipped her flipper

Away you roller bowler

She winked and tipped her flipper:
She thought I was a mate

And away you rowler bowler
With a hey rig a jig and a ha ha
Good Morning Ladies all


But when she found that I was skint

Away you roller bowler

But when she found that I was skint,
She left me standing there

And away you rowler bowler
With a hey rig a jig and a ha ha
Good Morning Ladies all


She left me there in Park-e Lane

Away you roller bowler

She left me there in Park-e Lane,
So I went back on board

And away you rowler bowler
With a hey rig a jig and a ha ha
Good Morning Ladies all


I met her first in Liverpool

Away you roller bowler

I met her first in Liverpool,
That saucy gal of mine

And away you rowler bowler
With a hey rig a jig and a ha ha
Good Morning Ladies all


Recorded by Monkey's Orphan,
More Monkey Business, 2003
Watch video
Roller Bowler: Vaughan Hully
Roller Bowler: sung by Vaughan Hully
Good Morning, Ladies All


Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860) was a white actor and playwright who specialised in playing black-faced characters on stage, and is credited with the creation  of the Jim Crow character. He was a worldwide sensation in the 1830s, and popularised blackface in London in 1836 when he appeared in his own opera "Oh, Hush", featuring the song "Good Morning Ladies All",which is pretty clearly the progenitor  of the shanty versions. The first verse goes as follows:

Down in ole Wurginny,

Oh, Roley, Boley,

A gun dat massa gib me,
To go an shoot de koon.

Wid a hida ka dink, ah, ah!
Oh, Roley, Boley,
Wid a hida ka dink, who dare?
Good morning ladies all


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