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Lyr Req: Transportation to the American Colonies

EBarnacle 17 Jun 18 - 05:51 PM
RTim 17 Jun 18 - 10:23 PM
Joe Offer 17 Jun 18 - 11:43 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 18 Jun 18 - 03:20 AM
EBarnacle 18 Jun 18 - 09:58 AM
RTim 18 Jun 18 - 11:14 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Jun 18 - 01:30 PM
EBarnacle 18 Jun 18 - 02:02 PM
FreddyHeadey 23 Jun 18 - 07:10 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Transportation to the American Colonies
From: EBarnacle
Date: 17 Jun 18 - 05:51 PM

While at the Mystic Sea Music Festival last weekend, I realized that there seems to be a dearth of songs about transported prisoners to the Americas. A major reason for the settlement of Australia was that the Americas were no longer available as penal colonies. Does anyone know of any?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Transportation to the American Colonies
From: RTim
Date: 17 Jun 18 - 10:23 PM

Titles include "Virginny", "The Lads of Virginia", "The Transports of Virginia".

I am sure you can find these songs using Google..

Tim Radford

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Subject: ADD: The Lads of Virginia
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Jun 18 - 11:43 PM

Thanks for the tip, Tim.


Come all you young fellows wherever you be,
Come listen awhile and I will tell thee,
Concerning the hardships that we undergo,
When we get lagg’d to Virginia.

Such clever young fellows myself I have seen,
That is more fitting to serve George our king,
Those hard-hearted judges so cruel have been,
To lag us poor lads to Virginia.

When I was apprentice in fair London town,
Many hours I served duly and truly,
Till buxom young lasses they led me astray,
My work I neglected more and more every day,
And to maintain them went on the highway
By that I got lagg’d to Virginia.

When we came to Virginia that old ancient town,
The place that is so much admired,
Where the Captain he stands with a cane in his hand,
And our aching hearts before him doth stand,
With tears in our eyes in a foreign land,
Was sold for a slave in Virginia.

When I was in England I could live at my ease,
Rest my bones down on soft feathers,
With a jug in my hand and a lass on my knee,
I thought myself fit for all weathers.

But now in Virginia I lay like a hog,
Our pillow at night is a brick or a log,
We dress and undress like some other sea hog,
How hard is my fate in Virginia.

Old England, Old England, I shall never see you more,
If I do it’s ten thousand to twenty;
My bones are quite rotten, my feet are quite sore,
I’m parched with fever, and am at death’s door,
But if ever I live to see seven years more,
Then I’ll bid adieu to Virginia.

London: H. Such, Machine Printer and Publisher

from An American Garland,, (by C.H. Firth, published by B.H. Blackwell, 1915) pp 72-73

Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

Australia (Virginny)

DESCRIPTION: "When I was a young man, my age seventeen, I ought ha' been serving Victoria our Queen, But those hard-hearted judges, how cruel they've been, To send us poor lads to Australia." To please his girlfriend, the singer turns outlaw, and winds up transported
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1969 (collected from Bob Hart by Rod & Danny Stradling, according to Patterson/Fahey/Seal)
KEYWORDS: transportation courting work outlaw
FOUND IN: Australia Britain(England(Lond,South))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Fahey-Eureka, pp. 12-13, "Australia" (1 text, 1 tune)
Paterson/Fahey/Seal, pp. 47-48, "Australia" (1 text)
Palmer-ECS, #48, "Australia" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #1488
Bob Hart, "Australia" (on BHart01, HiddenE)
Cyril Poacher, "Australia" (on Voice04)

NOTES [184 words]: Yates, Musical Traditions site Voice of the People suite "Notes - Volume 4" - 19.8.02: "Originally an 18th century song about transportation to the American State of Virginia. Later broadside printers changed it to Australia, to suit the then current destination of transports." - BS
This is at least possible (with the footnote that no one was ever transported to the *state* of Virginia, but rather to the *colony*). Though Virginia did not receive a high number of transportees. The transport system arose around 1650, and by the time the American colonies had been closed off by the Revolution, only about 50,000 prisoners had been sent (see The Oxford Companion to British History, article on "Transportation"). And most of these went to the West Indies (see Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People, p. 82), with only a handful to Virginia, Maryland, and New England. And many of *them* were Jacobite refugees exiled in the aftermath of the 1745 rebellion. (Plus, of course, a lot of Jacobites came voluntarily; see, e.g. the notes to "Flora MacDonald's Lament.") - RBW
Last updated in version 3.7
File: FaE012

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

At Mainly Norfolk, Reinhard Zierke has more or less the same song, from East Anglian singer Bob Hart and recorded by Martin Carthy as "Virginny."

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Transportation to the American Colonies
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 18 Jun 18 - 03:20 AM

Another on Virginia: The Slave's Lament (Burns)

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Transportation to the American Colonies
From: EBarnacle
Date: 18 Jun 18 - 09:58 AM

OK, that's two. Are there any for Georgia or the Carolinas? They were both major destinations.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Transportation to the American Colonies
From: RTim
Date: 18 Jun 18 - 11:14 AM

This is a passage from WikiPedia about Penal Transportation to the America's -

The British used colonial North America as a penal colony through a system of indentured servitude. Merchants would transport the convicts and auction them off (for example) to plantation owners upon arrival in the colonies. It is estimated that some 50,000 British convicts were sent to colonial America and the majority landed in the Chesapeake colonies of Maryland and Virginia.
Transported convicts represented perhaps one-quarter of all British emigrants during the 18th century.[1] The State of Georgia, for example, was first founded by James Edward Oglethorpe who originally intended to use prisoners taken largely from debtors' prison, creating a "Debtor's Colony," where the prisoners could learn trades and work off their debts.
Even though this largely failed, the idea that the state began as a penal colony has persisted, both in popular history and local lore.[2] The British would often ship Irish, Scots, and The Welsh to the Americas whenever rebellions took place in Ireland, Wales or Scotland, but these were sent mostly to Maryland and Virginia, not Georgia.[3]

Tim Radford

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Transportation to the American Colonies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jun 18 - 01:30 PM

The notes to these two songs may be of interest
They are from Sam Richards' Tish Stubbs Album, Invitation to North America Saydisc SDL 280 (1977)
Can supply recordings if helpful
Jim Carroll

Betsy The Servingmaid
"I known people be sent off to America when they'd been a-getting too thick. I know'd things to happen like that in my time, where they thinks she weren't good enough for him. Cleared her out — that's almost like in the slave times."
This was Norfolk folk singer Harry Cox's comment on the tragic song of Betsy and the squire's son. And how right he was, for the song indeed relates to slave times. Early printed versions make it plain that innocent Betsy is sent to Virginia as a slave, and its only more recent versions that make "Virginia" into "Amerikee".
This folk song classic is of some age. It originated in England and has remained popular with English singers, although it also has some considerable currency rn North America. Indeed, it was circulating around Massachusetts in the 17th century for certain.
The version here is mainly based on that noted from Robert Barratt of Dorset at the beginning of the 20th century. His melody is of rare quality.

When That I Was Weary
This song could almost be "Betsy The Servingmaid — Part 2". Now in Virginia as a slave she presents an entirely different set of prospects from the usual inviting panorama that supposedly was America.
In fact, selling off undesirables, orphans, paupers, and other burdonsome types was a vastly lucrative trade up to 1670 when (white) slave dealing became a capital offence. Children were kidnapped from the streets in London by professional agents. After 1670 the trade declined slowly, but was clearly carried on for a while. This broadside ballad was printed in 1692.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Transportation to the American Colonies
From: EBarnacle
Date: 18 Jun 18 - 02:02 PM

I stand corrected.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Transportation to the American Colonies
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 23 Jun 18 - 07:10 PM

If he'd found any Jeff Warner surely would have referenced them in the recent show about transportation?
But here's the song list


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