Fan Diemen's Land

On Springthyme SPRCD 1043
Shepheard, Spiers & Watson: Over the High Hills

Pete Shepheard: From the early 1800s until the abolition of penal transportation in 1853 many thousands of men and women and even children were banished from these islands by transportation - in this case to Tasmania or Van Diemen's Land as it was then known. I recorded this version from two singers Hughie Stewart (2 verses) and Ronnie McDonald (5 verses) on the Blairgowrie berryfields in August 1965. Neither singer had the first verse. (Greig Duncan 2:252, Roud 221).

Pete (vocal) with Tom (fiddle)

1: Come aa ye jolly poacher boys that ramble void of care,
That do go out on a moonlit night with your gun, your dog, your snare;
The harmless hare and pheasant you have at your command,
Never thinking on your last career upon Fan Dyman’s Land.

2: There was poor Jock Brown from Glasgow town, Will Guthrie and wee John,
They were three of the loyalest comrades that ever the sun shone on;
The keeper caught then hunting with gun and snare in hand,
They were fourteen years transported boys upon Fan Dyman’s Land.

3: O once I had a sweetheart, Jean Summers was her name,
They tried her down in Dundee town for the selling of the game;
The captain he fell in love with her, he married her out of hand,
Ah, but she was more than good to us upon Fan Dyman’s Land.

4: Now the place that we’d tae land upon was on some foreign shore,
The settlers thay gathered around us boys, five thousand there or more;
They herded us like cattle, they sold us out of hand,
And they yoked us up like horses boys to plough Fan Dyman’s Land.

5: And the houses that we dwell within were made of clod and clay,
With rotten straw to lay upon, no better by night nor day;
Around the camp we keep close watch, we slumber when we can,
And we fight the wolves and tigers boys upon Fan Dyman’s Land.

6: One night as I lay sleeping I had a sad old dream,
I dreamt I was back in Scotland beside a flowing stream;
And by my side a fair young lass, and her at my command,
But when I awoke, my poor heart broke, I was on Fan Dyman’s Land.

7: So come aa ye jolly poacher boys and a warning take by me,
It’s never go a-hunting for it is against the law,
It’s never go a-huntin with gun or snare in hand,
Or you will find yourself in the place they call Fan Dyman’s Land.

c p 2012 Springthyme Records • Springthyme Music