|In 1680, at 82 Front Street, the
famous Three Codds Tavern opened for business. In 1775, legend
has it, that the British frigate HMS Lively fired several shots
in the harbor and one cannonball lodged in the front side of
the Tavern, where it stayed embedded for years.
Another legend concerning the Three Codds Tavern is that sailors and petty officers from the British ship Merlin were drinking and boasting and showing contempt for Marbleheaders. Young Robert Wormsted challenged the British to duels, and using only a broom handle, beat them all.
Wallace Reed's poem, The Old Tavern, colorfully commemorates this event:
The Merlin lay in the harbor mouth,
And her officiers gay in their buff and red
Must come ashore at this rebel port
For a grog and a swagger through Marblehead.
A glass o' grog at the Tavern old,
A jibe and a taunt on the air of night,
But with sidearms a-swing--if the truth be told--
Lest the seadog rebels should choose to fight!
Dimly the lights in the Tavern burned
As the entering officers' forms were seen,
And the air was heavy with reek of rum,
And sweet with the odor of nicotine.
But the townsmen scowled and spoke no word
As with studied intent the frigate men
Drank a quick success for the King's good sword,
Then swung til they face the crowd again.
"Themen who live in this rebel town
Are cowards who'd heed not honor's calls!
Why! six o' King George's men could down
The two score louts in this taverns walls!
Hands that are hooked for the rope and oar,
Moulded to grind at the labor grist,
Helpless as cattle when ranged before
A rapier swung by a supple wrist,"
Then, quick as a flash o' light, they see
Young Wormstead spring to the center floor,
And breaking a broom across his knee
And whirling the stick they hear him roar,
"Come on! Ye swabs! and I take your dare!
One at a time I'll shut your jaw,
Or all t'gether I'll whip you fair
An' stripe ye o' slickers ye're quick to draw!"
The sudden alive with motion part
The wavering smoke wreaths set a-swirl;
Broomstick and sword in tierce, a carte,
Parry and vine-twine swiftly whirl,
And the keen blades clatter across the floor
'Till six King;s men in their red and buff
Disarmed and shamed pass out the door.
They had done their best--but enough's enough!
"Begone now! damn ye! I've took your dare,
Licked and disarmed ye and drawn no red!
Let the broomstick teach ye to talk with care
With a tongue that's civil--in Marblehead."