"Jim Jones at Botany Bay
" is a traditional Australian folk ballad
first published in 1907. The narrator, Jim Jones, is found guilty of an unnamed crime (although the song refers to "flog the poaching out of you" Poaching was a transportable offence) and sentenced to transportation
. En route, his ship is attacked by pirates
, but the crew holds them off. Just when the narrator remarks that he would rather have joined the pirates or indeed drowned at sea than gone to Botany Bay
, he is reminded by his captors that any mischief with be met with the whip. The final verse sees the narrator describing the daily drudgery and degradation of life in the penal colony, and dreaming of joining the bushrangers
and taking revenge on his floggers.
The ballad was most probably sung to the tune of the old Irish rebel song Skibbereen
, Charles MacAlister in his Old Pioneering Days in the Sunny South (1907) gives the tune as Irish Molly Oh
One version of the traditional lyrics is shown below.
Come gather round and listen lads, and hear me tell m' tale,<br />How across the sea from England I was condemned to sail.<br />The jury found me guilty, and then says the judge, says he,<br />Oh for life, Jim Jones, I'm sending you across the stormy sea.<br />But take a tip before you ship to join the iron gang,<br />Don't get too gay in Botany Bay
, or else you'll surely hang.<br />Or else you'll surely hang, he says, and after that, Jim... Read More