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Black Velvet Band

It was in the city of London
In apprenticeship I was bound
And many's the gay old hour
I spent in that dear old town

One day as I was walking
Along my usual beat
A pretty little young maiden
Came tripping along the street

And her eyes they shone like diamonds
I thought her the pride of the land
The hair that hung down on her shoulder
Was tied with a black velvet band

One day as we were a walking
A gentleman passed us by
I could see she was bent on some mischief
By the rolling of her dark blue eye

Gold watch she picked from his pocket
And slyly placed into my hand
I was taken in charge by a copper
Bad luck to that black velvet band

Before the Lord Mayor I was taken
Your case, sir, I plainly can see
And if I'm not greatly mistaken
You're bound far over the sea

It's over the dark and blue ocean
Far away to Van Diemen's Land
Away from my friends and relations
And the girl with the black velvet band


A song well known amongst sailors of Britain, Ireland, North America and Australia. In his Farewell to Old England Hugh Anderson gives a broadside version of the song, printed by Ryle & Co, Seven Dials, dated about 1842. This version collected by Alex Hood from Toby Willis, of Western Australia, who learnt it from his father.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory