The Peterhead whaling trade



Music and Songs

Peterhead whaling songs.

The Eclipse, was written four years before Captain David Gray retired.

In 1887, Captain Gray took the Eclipse fishing in the Arctic with her sister ships the Erik and the Hope.

The golden jubilee of Queen Victoria's coronation was celebrated in the Greenland seas on 21 June 1887, by the killing of a 57 foot long female whale. It was the largest whale ever caught by Captain David Gray and a Shetland seaman on the Hope, captained by David Gray's brother, John, wrote a special Jubilee song to mark the 'glorious day'. The whale yielded 27 tons of oil. Its jawbone, which measured close on 20 feet, was sent to South Kensington Museum in London where it is still on display.

The phrase one and three in the song refers to the bonus of one shilling and three pence per ton of oil that the men expected to be paid; they were clearly unhappy with the amount!

The Eclipse

So blow ye winds of morning, blow ye winds, hi-o
Clear away your running gear and blow, boys, blow

It was the twenty-first of June, it being a glorious day
The Eclipse she saw a whale-fish and she lowered all hands away

The boats they pulled to leeward, went skipping over the sea
And we killed this noble whale-fish for another jubilee

Our Captain Davie Gray was kind and he give his crew a treat
And that was why we caught this whale that measured fifty feet

The Eclipse she lies to windward, her colours she does flee
And the Erik and the Hope also, and this is the jubilee

The Erik caught a sperm-whale that measured forty-three
But the Hope has none and shall get none this year of jubilee

But when this trip is over we'll not ship for one and three
Because we didn't get fair play in the year of jubilee

We'll march up to the Custom House where we do all sign clear
And when we face old Bless-My-Soul we'll tell him without fear

We'll tell him that we'll never sign again for one and three
And we'll march through Commercial Street and sing the jubilee


Martyn Gorman   ·   University of Aberdeen   ·   Department of Zoology  ·   © 2002