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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Springthyme SPRCD 1002
© 1976, 2010 Springthyme Records