A Scottish Storyteller

And the Boddamers Hung the Monkey-O

My dad's father's folks were from Boddam, just south of Peterhead on the north-east coast of Scotland. Now I can't claim to be any sort of myth-historian but I do know that this story has become quite famous as originating in Hartlepool.

Some research suggests that the Hartlepool myth comes from the Boddam version of the story, written in a song which pre-dates the Hartlepool story. A Geordie music hall performer called Ned Corvan is said to have come in to contact with the Boddam song whilst touring and then to have updated the story for his Hartlepool audience.

The story goes that in days of old (during the Napoleonic Wars with France) you weren’t allowed to plunder a ship unless there was not a living soul aboard a ship….

The Boddamers used to light fires along the coast so the sailors would think they were light houses and the ships would crash on the rocks. If no living souls were on the boat, the locals were entitled to the plunder…

However, there was on this one particular ship, an orang-utan dressed in the clothes of a sailor (well, whatever floats your boat!). The Boddamers couldn't plunder the ship with a living soul aboard the boat so they'd have to kil it - and what was this thing anyway? Some thought it was the devil himself! But I prefer the following explanation:

The Boddamers, having never seen a Frenchman, supposed this to be a French sailor and so that they could plunder the ship, the Boddamers hung the monkey-o! Boddamers were (and some still are) followed around with the cry "Fa hangit the monkey?!" My Grandfather, when he moved to Aberdeen, would often come back from lunch to find a toy monkey hung in a noose above his workbench!

The song my father sings goes like this:

Eence a ship sailed round the coast
And a' the men in her was lost
Burrin' a monkey up a post
So the Boddamers hanged the monkey-O

Noo the funeral was a grand affair
All the Boddam folk was there
It minded you o' the Glesga Fair
Fin the Boddamers hanged the monkey-O

Noo a' the folk frae Peterhead
Cam oot expectin' tae get a feed
So they made it into potted heed
Fin the Boddamers hanged the monkey-O


3 Responses to “And the Boddamers Hung the Monkey-O”

  1. # Blogger Fiona-Jane Brown

    Jings, why did I nae see this afore??? Of course we now ken it wasn't the Boddamers or Hartlepudians, it wis the Peelichers!! (According to Eric Whyte)


  2. # Anonymous Anonymous

    hehe I love that song.

    I've recorded my dad talking about it though. I took the opportunity on New Years Day

  3. # Anonymous Scott the Aussie

    Wonderful song - I heard in sung in a pub in Stonehaven in 2000 by a great local singer..he also said;

    Durrum a do a daddy O
    Durrum a do a daddy A
    Durrum a do a daddy O
    Fin the Boddamers hanged the monkey O!  

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