The Poachers

On Springthyme SPRCD 1002
John Watt & Davey Stewart - Shores of the Forth

In the eighteenth and nineteenth century many people from Scotland were transported to Van Dieman’s Land, now Tasmania, for the most trivial of crimes. This is a well known transportation ballad. The text is from Ord’s Bothy Songs and Ballads excluding two trite and moralistic verses, which may well have been added at a later date. Sung by Davey Stewart with the Beggars Mantle Ceilidh Band.

1: Come all you gallant sporting boys that ramble void of care,
When you go out on a moonlight night with your dog your gun your snare;
The harmless hare and pheasant you have at your command,
No thinkin on vour last career upon Van Dieman’s Land.

2: There was poor Tom Brown from Glasgow town, Jack Williams and poor Joe,
We were three gallant sporting boys, the country well did know;
One night we were trepanned by keepers in the sand,
And for fourteen years transported unto Van Dieman’s Land.

3: And the day on which we landed upon that fatal shore,
The planters stood around us, full twenty score and more ;
And they ranked us up like horses, and they sold us out of hand,
And they yoked us to the plough, me boys, to plough Van Dieman’s Land.

4: And the houses that we dwell in here are made of clod and clay,
With rotting straw for bedding, we dare not say them nay;
And our cots are fenced with wire, and we slumber when we can,
And we fight the wolves and tigers which infest Van Dieman’s Land.

5: But there came a lass frae sweet Dundee, Jean Stewart is her name,
For fourteen years transported, for the stealin of the game;
Our captain bought her freedom, and he married her off-hand,
And she gives us all good usage upon Van Dieman’s Land.

6: Although the poor of Scotland do labour and do toil,
They are robbed of every blessing and produce of the soil;
Your proud imperious landlords, if you break their command,
They will send you to the British hulks, or to Van Dieman’s Land.

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