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GUEST,Terry McDonald Origins: Willie Moore (47) RE: Origins: Willie Moore 21 Nov 07


I also learned this song in the 1960s from the Alex Campbell LP and always liked the way it referred to Montreal in its final verse. It seemed unusualfor a Canadian town to be mentioned. Many years later, I became an emigration historian specialising in English emigration to Upper Canada between 1815 and 1840 with an emphasis on people who left Somerset and Wiltshire c1830,. Many of their letters home were published in order to show how successful schemes whereby the parish paid for (or helped) people to emigrate had been. This practise was often referred to as'Shovelling out Paupers.' Among these letters were some from two groups of emigrants from Frome and I analysed their content and found out what had happened to the emigrants once they'd arrived in Canada. One of the emigrants was a young man named William Moore who left frome in 1832.

He wrote to his parents and siblings in February 1833 telling them that he was living in Delaware, a few miles west of London, Ontario. Before that he had been in Prescott with another emigrant named William Jeanes (Moore is twice mentioned in Jeanes' letters to his wife.)Moore gave deteauled instructions of how to find his 100 acre lot. He even appended a poem at the end of his letter which read:

O the boy William Moore left his friends and his home
And his dear native land, o'er the oceans to roam
Like a sapling he sprung, he was fair to the view
He was British Oak boys the older he grew
The Vet'rans all cried he'll one day lead the van
The' rated a boy, he'd the soul of a man
And the heart of a true British son.
Liberty and Freedom here.

(The last line seems to be an added comment by Moore)

In the Autumn of 1833 William Moore had left Delaware and went to Cobourg, on the shores of Lake Ontario. He wrote twice from Cobourg - 6 October 1833 and 13 October 1833. No reason is given for his move eastwards from Delaware where he was as 'happy as a king on his throne' to Cobourg but obviously something had happened. After these letters, nothing more is known and he vanishes from the archival record (and I did try to find him in Montreal!)

Now, my heart wants him to be the inspiration for the song but my head, of course, knows he wasn't. But there was a real young man called William Moore in Canada in the 1830s who suddenly left his 100 acre plot to move a fair distance eastwards. I wish I'd found the reason!


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