Modern Street Ballads


Come all you gallant poachers, that ramble free from care,
That walk out on moonlight nights, with your dog, gun and snare,
The jolly hares and pheasants, you have at your command,
Not thinking that your last career is to Van Dieman’s Land.

Poor Tom Brown from Nottingham, Jack Williams, and poor Joe,
We are three daring poachers, the country does well know,
At night we are trepanned, by the keepers hid in sand,
Who for 14 years transported us unto Van Dieman’s Land.

The first day that we landed upon this fatal shore,
The planters they came round us, full twenty score or more,
They rank’d us up like horses, and sold us out of hand,
And yok’d us up to ploughs, my boys, to plough Van Dieman’s Land.

Our cottages that we live in, are built of brick and clay,
And rotten straw for bedding, and we dare not say nay,
Our cots are fenc’d with fire, we slumber when we can,
To drive away wolves and tigers (?) upon Van Dieman’s Land.

It’s often when I slumber I have a pleasant dream,
With my sweet girl a-sitting down, all by a purling stream,
Through England I’ve been roaming, with her at command,
Now I awake broken hearted upon Van Dieman’s Land.

God bless our wives and families, likewise that happy shore,
That isle of great contentment, which we shall see no more,
As for our wretched females, see them, we seldom can,
There’s twenty, to one woman, upon Van Dieman’s land.

There was a girl from Birmingham, Susan Summers was her name,
For fourteen years transported, we all well know the same,
Our planter bought her freedom, and married her out of hand,
She gave to us good usage upon Van Dieman’s Land.

So all you gallant poachers, give ear unto my song,
It is a bit of good advice, although it is not long,
Throw by your dogs and snares, for to you I speak plain,
For if you knew our hardships, you would never poach again.

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