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Jim Jones at Botany Bay

Oh listen for a moment lads and hear me tell my tale
How o'er the sea from England's shore I was compelled to sail
The jury says he guilty sir and the hanging judge says he
For life Jim Jones I'm sending you across the stormy sea

And take my tip before you ship to join the iron gang
Dont be too gay at Botany Bay or else you'll surely hang
Or else you'll surely hang he says and after that Jim Jones
It's high upon the gallows tree the crows will pick your bones

You'll have no chance for mischief there remember what I say
They'll flog the poaching out of you out there at Botany Bay
The waves were high upon the sea the wind blew up in gales
I'd rather have drowned in misery than come to New South Wales

The winds blew high upon the sea and the pirates came along
But the soldiers on our convict ship were full five hundred strong
They opened fire and somehow drove that pirate ship away
I'd rather joined that pirate ship than come to New South Wales

For night and day the irons clang and like poor galley slaves
We toil and moil and when we die must fill dishonoured graves
But bye and bye I'll break my chains into the bush I'll go
And join the bold bushrangers there Jack Donahoo and Co

And some dark night when everything is silent in this town
I'll kill the tyrants one by one and shoot the floggers down
I'll give the law a little shock remember what I say
They'll yet regret they sent Jim Jones in chains to Botany Bay


Printed in Stewart and Keesing Old Bush Songs with the note:
"From Old Pioneering Days in the Sunny South , by Charles MacAlister". (Published Goulburn, NSW, 1907)

This is the most defiant of the transport ballads. Russel Ward writes of the song:
"Instead of an implicit acceptance of the rules of society, there is an explicit assumption that society itself is out of joint, and even a hint that in the new land society may be remoulded nearer to the heart's desire". Frank Clune in hisWild Colonial Boys has the bushranger Ben Hall singing 'Jim Jones' to an appreciative audience. Although not collected in the field the song has had a remarkable new life since the 1950's, often sung where a song of defiance is called for. In Westminster Hall in London in the early 1970's I recorded Bert Lloyd singing it to a huge audience at a rally for the release of Angela Davis.

Searchable archives of Irish transports are now available on at The National Archives of Ireland


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory