Digital Tradition Mirror

Hicks the Pirate

Hicks the Pirate

 A mournful tale, heartrending
 To you, kind friend, I will relate
 The solemn truth intending
 Of three met a tragic fate
 An oyster sloop was sailing
 Upon the ocean's spakling tide
 In the healtful breeze regaling
 She moved upon the waters wide

 But upon this oyster vessel
 A pirate bold had found his way
 With wicked heart, this vassal
 The captain & 2 boys did slay
 He seized the gold & silver
 Which this poor captain had in store
 His watch & clothes did pilfer
 While he lay struggling in his gore

 He overboard soon threw them
 The murdered boys & captain too
 The briny deep enclosed them
 And they were quickly gone from view
 But the eye that never slumbers
 Did follow the murder's track
 And the vigilance of numbers
 To justice brought the monster back

 In a boat he left the vessel
 When the wicked deed had done
 And soon the murderous rascal
 Had far into the country gone
 He soon was overtaken
 And to New York was brought again
 A lonely wretch, forsaken
 Who had the boys & captain slain

 By a true & faithful jury
 He was found guilty of the crime
 Some raved & cursed like fury
 But he had met his fate in time
 Twixt heaven & earth suspended
 On Bedloe's Island Hicks was hung
 Some thousand there attended
 To see the horrid murderer swung

"Hicks The Pirate" from 'Folk Songs Of New York' Folkways FH5276
 (1966) - June Lazare.
 From the sleeve notes:
 The score of years that preceeded the Civil War the usually landlocked
 gangs turned their attention towards the waterfronts of New York. Gangs
 like the Hudson Dusters, the Gophers, & the Daybreak Boys worked the
 East River Piers while the Charlton Street Gang worked the Hudson Docks
 & so successful were they that they ran their own sloop as far up river as
 Poughkeepsie & becoming real River Pirates. Hicks was a gangster & not
 pirate was drugged & found himself shanghaied by a fellow free lancer.
 Upon waking he murdered the skipper & 2 young crew, in gruesome
 fashion. He was convicted of the triple murder & at the hanging the Peanut
 vendors & lemonade stands did a brisk business to the beat of the
 & the fife & drum. His procession from jail to the gallows on Bedloe's
 Island took on the aspect of a circus & a general holiday atmosphere
 prevailed. Soon after he was buried his body was dug up by grave robbers
 & sold to medical students.

 Hicks The Pirate - March, 1860


Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

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