"Three Score and Ten" is a sea song I first heard from Brian Kelly
and transcribed for use in the Idle Fellows
. We sang it fairly often. This song can be found in Roy Palmer's The Oxford Book of Sea Songs
. Brian's tune differs slightly from that given by Roy Palmer but the lyrics are virtually identical. Soodlum's 100 Irish Ballads Volume 2
claims it as an Irish song! Were you surprised, dear surfer?. Roy Palmer's copious footnotes tell us something quite different!
The song is about the loss of eight fishing boats from Grimsby and Hull lost in a dreadful gale in the North Sea in 1889. Before passing into the oral tradition it was written, composed and published as a broadside in the same year by William Delf
, a Grimsby fisherman.