Sunday, September 4, 2011

Female Transport


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Come all young girls, both far and near and listen unto me
While unto you I do unfold what proved my destiny
My mother died when I was young, it caused me to deplore
And I did get my way too soon upon my native shore

Sarah Collins is my name most dreadful is my fate
My father reared me tenderly the truth I do relate
Till enticed by bad company along with many more
It led to my discovery upon my native shore

My trial it approached fast before the judge I stood
And when the judge's sentence passed it fairly chilled my blood
Crying you must be transported for fourteen years or more
And go from hence across the seas unto Van Diemen's shore

It hurt my heart when on a coach I my native town passed by
To see so many I did know it made me heave a sigh
Then to a ship was sent with speed along with many more
Whose aching hearts did grieve to go unto Van Diemen's shore

The sea was rough ran mountains high with us poor girls 'twas hard
No one but God to us came nigh no one did us regard
At length alas we reached the land it grieved us ten times more
That wretched place Van Diemen's Land far from our native shore

They chained us two by two and whipped and lashed along
They cut off our provisions if we did the least thing wrong
They march us in the burning sun until our feet are sore
So hard's our lot now we are got to Van Diemen's shore

We labour hard from morn to night until our bones do ache
Then every one they must obey their mouldy beds must make
We often wish when we lay down we ne'er may rise no more
To meet our savage Governor upon Van Diemen's shore

Every night when I lay down I wet my straw with tears
While wind upon that horrid shore did whistle in our ears
Those dreadful beasts upon that land around our cots do roar
Most dismal is our doom upon Van Diemen's shore

Come all young men and maidens do bad company forsake
If tongue can tell our overthrow it will make your heart to ache
Young girls I pray be ruled by me your wicked ways give o'er
For fear like us you spend your days upon Van Diemen's shore

Lyrics and notes from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Song site:

Printed in Geoffrey C. Ingleton's True Patriots All , taken from the rare broadside in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. Nearly 25,000 women and girls were transported half to NSW and half to Van Diemen's Land. About half of them were from Ireland. The women were often transported with their children. This tune was collected by Lucy Broadwood in England with the song 'Van Dieman's Land'.

The illustration to this post is a painting by Augustus Earle (1793-1838), Female Penitentiary or Factory, Parramatta, Rex Nan Kivell Collection NK12/47, National Library of Australia.

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