Botany Bay is a song from
the musical burlesque,
Little Jack Sheppard,
a comedy staged in London, England in
1885 and Melbourne, Australia in 1886.
The show was written by
Henry Pottinger Stephens
and William Yardley
though the music for "Botany Bay" was written by Florian Pascal, a
pseudonym for Joseph Williams, Jr. (1847-1923), a music publisher
and composer. The song shares two verses with Fairwell to
Judges and Juries
which had been performed in 1820.
Botany Bay was the designated settlement for the first fleet
when it arrived in Australia in the eighteenth century.
was a settlement intended for the transport of convicts to Australia
. The song
describes the period in the late late 18th and 19th centuries, when
British convicts were deported to the various Australian penal
by the British government for seven-year terms as an
alternative to incarceration in Britain. The second verse is about
life on the convict ships, and the last verse is directed to
English girls and boys as warning not to steal.
After the production of Little Jack Sheppard
, the song
became a popular folk song and has been sung and recorded by Irish
folk singers, Burl Ives, and many others. It is played as a
children's song on compilations, particularly in Australia.
The song is referenced in many documentaries researching the
transport of convicts to Australia, a practice that had ceased
before the song was made.
Black-eyed Sue and Sweet Poll of
Plymouth taking leave of their lovers who are going to Botany
Farewell to old England forever,Farewell to my rum culls as
well,Farewell to the well–known Old Bailey
Where I used for to cut such a swell.
Singing too-ral, li-ooral, li-addity,Singing
too-ral, li-ooral, li-ay,Singing too-ral, li-ooral, li-addity,And
we're bound for Botany Bay.
There's the captain as is our commander,There's the bosun
and all the ship's crew,There's the first–
and the second–class passengers,Knows what we poor convicts go
'Taint leaving old England we cares about,'Taint cos we mis-spells
what we knows,But because all we light–fingered gentryHops around
with a log on our toes.
These seven long years I've been serving nowAnd seven long more
have to stay,All for bashing a bloke down our alleyAnd taking his
Oh had I the wings of a turtle–dove,I'd soar on my pinions so
high,Slap bang to the arms of my Polly love,And in her sweet
presence I'd die.
Now all my young Dookies
warning from what I've to say:Mind all is your own as you
touchesesOr you'll find us in Botany Bay.
The song Toorali
, on the 2008 album Summerland
from Australian band: The Herd, uses an adapted excerpt from the
song "Botany Bay" for its chorus.
- "Botany Bay" catalogue information
- See Florian Pascal profile at the Gilbert and Sullivan
Archive and "A Thirty-ninth Garland of British Light Music Composers"
at MusicWeb International
- Liner notes on Australian Folk Songs.
- Lyrics and links to recording at Irish Song
- Decca Recording at The National Library of
- "Children's Songs and Nursery Rhymes" Mama Lisa's