The ballad was found on the ship HMS Repulse after the end of the mutiny of the Fleet at the Nore, which began in spring 1797 because of low pay and poor conditions in the Navy. The Nore, a sandbank in the Thames estuary near the entrance to the River Medway, was an important naval anchorage and assembly point. After the ships involved in the mutiny submitted, Admiral Lord Keith removed any documents that had not been destroyed by the mutineers from the ships and sent them to the Admiralty.
- The document is written in a mixed cursive hand.
- The title Song is in an italic hand.
- ‘Tar’, in line 23, was slang for sailor, a word thought to derive from the word ‘tarpaulin’.
- ‘impessing’ in line 48 for ‘impressing’. Men were often ‘press-ganged’ into the Navy.