Black Joke

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The Black Joke, sometimes spelled Black Joak, was a bawdy song heard in London around 1730.[1] William Hogarth referenced the song in the Tavern Scene of A Rake's Progress.[2] The lyrics and tune apparently gave rise to variations from 1730 onwards, such as the White Joak and so forth. The tune was later known as The Sprig of Shillelagh. Thomas Moore (1779–1852) wrote the song "Sublime was the warning which Liberty spoke" to the tune.


  • In 1827 the British captured the slave ship Henriquetta and renamed her HMS Black Joke. She went on to become one of the most successful anti-slavery vessels in the West Africa or "Preventative squadron".


  1. ^ Fielding, Henry (2004). Lockwood, Thomas, ed. Plays. One 1728–1731. Oxford University Press. p. 641. Retrieved 2009-09-24. "'The merry Tune of the Black Joke' ... slang for cunt" 
  2. ^ "Hogarth". Archived from the original on 2008-01-09. "Tavern Scene ... notoriously obscene song" 

External links[edit]

  • "Black Joke". Digital Tradition Folk Music Database. April 1998. Retrieved 2009-09-24. "quite possibly the earliest Irish popular song to be printed with it own tune"  (lyrics and background)