“Bollochy Bill the Sailor”

Alternate titles: “Barnacle Bill the Sailor”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 ("Immortalia")
Keywords: bawdy dialog sailor seduction
Found in: US


A dialogue song in which Bill -- who "just got paid and wants to be laid" -- seeks to get the fair young maiden into bed.


For a history of this onetime sea song, see Cray, _Erotic Muse_ II, pp. 83-85. - EC

Most of the printed versions of this song are fairly "clean." But Cray and Fuld are in agreement that it is properly a bawdy song. Fuld doubts the existence of its ancestor "Abram Brown the Sailor," but Cray quotes a text from the Gordon collection [and there is a version in Greenleaf/Mansfield- (BS)].

There is also a nursery rhyme about Abram Brown, found in Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #230, p. 150, ("Abram Brown is dead and gone"), but if that is associated with any song, it is probably "Old Grimes Is Dead."

Carson Robison is sometimes credited with a popular version of this ("Barnacle Bill the Sailor"), but obviously his part was no more than a clean-up (and production of sequels). - RBW

In the interest of history, it is worth recording that the scientists of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, during the Sojourner mission, named a particularly lumpy rock on the surface of Mars "Barnacle Bill the Sailor." - PJS

Same tune



  1. Greenleaf/Mansfield 49, "Abram Brown the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Cray, pp. 81-86, "Bollochy Bill the Sailor" (3 texts, 1 tune)
  3. Shay-SeaSongs, p. 204, "Rollicking Bill the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune, probably truncated since it ends with Bill asking for a place to sleep and the girl declaring she has only one bed)
  4. Colcord, pp. 182-183, "Abram Brown" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Harlow, pp. 164-166, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Hugill, pp. 440-442, "Abel Brown the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune) [AbrEd, pp. 331-333]
  7. Fuld-WFM, pp. 128-129, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor"
  9. Roud #4704
  10. BI, EM081