Neha Patil

The Maid of Amsterdam

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"The Maid of Amsterdam", also known as "A-Roving," is a traditional sea shanty. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 649.



The lyrics have many variations. They are often cautionary tales of a sailor's amorous encounter with the Amsterdam maid, who, variably, is married, taking advantage of the sailor for his money, or has the pox. The notes for the Doug Bailey-produced album Short Sharp Shanties claim the most traditional lyrics describe the sailor progressively touching different parts of the maid's body. Regardless of varying lyrics, almost all versions contain the chorus of:

A similar song featured in Thomas Heywood's play The Rape of Lucrece, first performed around 1630, is often credited as the origin of the shanty. However, this is contested by some experts, including Stan Hugill, who claims the song originates in the Elizabethan era. The author of the notes for Sharp Sea Shanties writes, "It too has an amorous encounter with anatomical progression but there, to put it simply, all similarity ends. The presence of a common entertaining theme line does not prove a connection except possibly in the idea itself."

The song was popular among British, Danish, and French sailors.


The song has been recorded by various artists, such as operatic baritone Leonard Warren, the Robert Shaw Chorale and Paul Clayton. It was featured on the ending credits of episode two of the 1950s television show The Buccaneers and also as background music on various episodes. It is the 2nd track of the soundtrack of the video game Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and the song can be heard when the main character is riding the ship.


The Maid of Amsterdam Wikipedia

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