Anderson, the singer, is about to be hanged. He had had a good childhood, but went away to sea on the "Saladin." There he joined in a conspiracy with one Fielding; they murdered the ship's captain and others. Now he must pay the price
The story of the Saladin mutiny is roughly as follows: The pirate Fielding, taken aboard the _Saladin_ out of charity, convinces part of the crew to mutiny against Captain "Sandy" Mackenzie. (Mackenzie seems to have been a harsh officer, but the Fieldings -- a father and son -- probably hoped to capture the money stored on the ship.) Mackenzie and five others are killed, and the conspirators, realizing that they might be next, turn against the Fieldings and throw them overboard. The ship, left without an experienced navigator, is wrecked off Halifax; the remaining conspirators are executed.
Most sources date the mutiny to 1844; Laws says 1843, but I'm guessing this is one of the many typos in his song list.
The four men executed were Charles Anderson, George Jones, John Hazelton, and William Trevaskiss. Three of the four have ballads about them. This one, about Aderson, is the most popular; George Jones is also well-known; "Saladin's Crew," about Hazelton, was found only by Helen Creighton.
Creighton quotes an account from the 1924 _Acadian Recorder_ that seems to imply that all three songs were written by a "Mr. Forhan" who saw the mutineers hanged when he was six years old. - RBW