Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Ticket of Leave Man

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  Traditional (Pretty Polly Perkins)

Once I was honest and worked at my trade
Which was shoemaker and good shoes I made,
Till once a fine fellow came into my place,
And he was the cause of my present disgrace.

He was a Ticket of Leave man, still inclined for to thieve,
Although he was out on a Ticket of Leave

He came to my shop and quickly 'twas,
He ordered some boots and he ordered some shoes,
For a twenty pound note, then, the change he did receive,
I was sold by a Ticket of Leave

A week after this note I did cash,
It was forged and for me was a regular smash,
They made me an example and sent me away,
And gave me seven years at Botany Bay.

But every convict bear this in sight,
May he again receive this freedom, if he acts right,
And the government there my story did believe,
And I had but one year and a Ticket of Leave.

Arrived here on shore, I idleness do shirk,
And tried like a man to look for some work.
But all the folks I saw did the one answer give,
Where's the Police, you're a Ticket of Leave.

I'm scorned by the rich, I'm scorned by the poor.
My ticket drives me mad, from door to door,
And now ere a week or fortnight is pass'd
They make me a thief and dishonest at last.

And this will be the end of the poor
Ticket of Leave Man, who is not inclined to thieve
Although I'm free, with my Ticket of Leave,
And who do you think would employ a Ticket of Leave?

This song from Warren Fahey's Australian Folk Songs and Bush Ballads, although originally collected by Hugh Anderson and Ron Edwards as part of their examination of English broadside ballads.  It was Warren who joined these lyrics to this tune.

The Ticket of Leave was an early form of parole.

The illustration to this post is taken from a review of Tom Taylor's play The Ticket of Leave Man, published in Punch, Vol 104, February 4, 1893.

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