“Come, ferryman, ferry me over,
To a ship that’s call’d the Fame
For there I’ve got a husband,
But hang me, if I know his name —”
A verse from a song noted down by Marine Lieutenant Robert Steel and quoted in Jack Tar.
Basically a lot of prostitutes would claim to have husbands on board in order to gain entrance to a ship when it arrived in port. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.