> The Young Tradition > Songs > Henry the Poacher

Henry the Poacher / Wild and Wicked Youth / Van Diemen's Land

[ Roud 221 ; Ballad Index FaE16 ; Bodleian Roud 221 ; trad.]

This is one of several ballad about poachers deported to Van Diemen's Land (today Tasmania), which was named after Anthony van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies (1636-1645). According to Rod Stradling's notes to the Voice of the People series, “it was collected by several Edwardian collectors, such as Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger and the Hammond Brothers. Roy Palmer has traced the song (which has been found only in England) to two real poaching affrays that occured in Warwickshire in 1829.”

There is another ballad with the name Van Diemen's Land ( Roud 519 ; Laws L18 ; Ballad Index LL18 ; Bodleian Roud 519 ).

Harry Cox sang Henry the Poacher at home in October 1953. This recording made by Peter Kennedy was included in 2000 on his Rounder anthology, What Will Become of England.

Ewan MacColl sang this song as Van Diemen's Land accompanied by Peggy Seeger in 1960 on their Topic album Chorus from the Gallows. This track was also included in 1993 on his Topic CD The Real MacColl.

The Young Tradition learned Henry the Poacher from the singing of Harry Cox and recorded it in 1966 for their eponymous first album, The Young Tradition. The sleeve notes commented:

Henry the Poacher, sometimes called Van Diemen's Land, is a magnificently detailed deportation ballad, learned from the vast repertoire of Harry Cox of Sutton Norfolk. It tells its own very moving story better than any other ballad we know. A very convincing story too—you can't doubt such full and precise narrative. MacColl relates the tune used here to The Banks of the Sweet Dundee.

Walter Pardon sang this song as Van Diemen's Land in his home in Knapton, Norfolk, May 11, 1974. This recording made by Bill Leader and Peter Bellamy was included a year later on his Leader album A Proper Sort, and in 1998 on the Topic anthology CD Farewell, My Own Dear Native Land (The Voice of the People Series Volume 4).

Frank Hinchliffe sang this song as Wild and Wicked Youths in a recording made by Mike Yates in 1976 on his 1977 Topic album In Sheffield Park: Traditional Songs from South Yorkshire.

Pat Ryan sang Van Diemen's Land in 1983 on her Traditional Sound Recordings album Moving On.

The Demon Barbers sang Van Diemen's Land in 2002 on their CD Uncut, acknowleding Walter Pardon's record as their source.

Andy Turner learned Van Diemen's Land from the singing of Walter Pardon and sang it as the April 5, 2014 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Lyrics

Harry Cox sings Henry the Poacher

Come all you wild and wicked youths, whersomever you may be
I pray now pay attention and listen unto me,
The fate of our poor transports, as you shall understand,
The hardships they do undergo upon Van Diemen's Land.

My parents reared me tenderly, good learning give to me,
Till I by bad companions beguiled my home from me.
I was brought up in Worcestershire, near to the town did dwell;
My name it Henry Herbert, and many knows me well.

Me and three more went out one night to Squire Daniel's park;
To get some game was our intent as the night come proving dark.
And to our sad misfortune they took us there by speed
And sent us off to Warwick Gaol which made our hearts to bleed.

'Twas at the March assizes, at the bar we did appear;
Like Job we stood with patience to hear our sentence there.
And being some old offenders it made our case go hard:
Our sentence were for fourteen year and we were sent on board.

The ship that bore us from the land, the Speedwell was her name;
And full four months and upwards we ploughed the raging main.
No land, no harbour could we see, and believe it is no lie,
For around us one black water and above us one blue sky.

I oft-times looked behind me towards my native shore
And the cottage of contentment that I shall see no more;
Likewise my aged father who tore his hoary hair,
Also my tender mother whose arms did once me bear.

'Twas on the Fourth of July, the day we made the land,
At four o'clock we went on shore all chain-ed hand in hand.
And to see our fellow sufferers, as I feel I can't tell how,
Some chained unto a harrow and some unto a plough.

So we were marched into the town without no more delay
And there a gentleman took me, bookkeeper for to be.
I took my occupation, my master likes me well,
My joys are out of measure, I am sure no one can tell.

He kept a female servant, Rosanna was her name,
For fourteen year a convict, from Worcestershire she came.
And we oft-times tell our love tales when we were far at home
And now we are rattling of our chains in foreign lands to roam.

Ewan MacColl sings Van Diemen's Land on Chorus from the Gallows

Now come all you wild and wicked youths, wheresoever you may be
I pray now pay attention and listen unto me
The fatal awful transports as you shall understand
The hardships they do undergo upon Van Diemon's Land.

My parents reared me tenderly, good learning they give to me
'Til all my bad companions beguiled my home from me
I was brought up in Worcestershire, near to the town did dwell
my name is Henry Abbott, and many knows me well.

Me and three more went out one night to Squire Daniel's farm
To get some game was our intent as the night come falling down
But to our sad misfortune, they took us there with speed
They sent us off to Warwick jail which made our hearts to bleed.

It was at the March assizes, at the bar we did appear
Like Job we stood with patience to hear our sentence there
And being some old offenders, it made our case go hard
Our sentence were for fourteen years, and we were sent on board.

The ship that bore us from the land, the Speedwell was her name
And for four months and a half we plowed across the raging main
No land or harbor could we see, and believe it is no lie
For around us one black water and above us one blue sky.

I oft-times look behind me towards my native shore
And that cottage of contentment that I shall see no more
Likewise my aged father, who tore his hoary hair
Also my tender mother whose arms once did me bear.

It was on the fourth of July, the day we made the land
At four o'clock we went on shore, all chain and hand in hand
And to see our fellow sufferers, I fear I can't tell how
Some chained unto a harrow, and some unto a plow.

So we were marched into the town without no more delay
And there a gentleman took me, a bookkeeper for to be
I took my occupation, my master likes me well
My joys are out of measure, I'm sure no one can tell.

He kept a female servant, Rosanna was her name
For fourteen years a convict, from Worcestershire she came
We oft-times tell our love tales there where we are so far from home
For now we're rattling of our chains in foreign lands to roam.

The Young Tradition sing Henry the Poacher

Come all you wild and wicked youths, whersoever you may be
I hope you'll pay attention and listen unto me,
The fate of poor lost convicts, as you shall understand
And the hardships they do undergo upon Van Diemen's Land.

My parents reared me tenderly, good learning they give to me,
Till whole my bad companions beguiled my home from me.
I was brought up in Worcestershire, near to the town did dwell;
My name it Henry Herbert, and many knows me well.

Me and four more went out one night to Squire Daniel's farm,
For to get some game was our intent as the night came falling down.
But to our sad misfortune they took us there with speed;
They sent us off to Warwick Gaol which made our hearts to bleed.

It was at the March assizes, at the bar we did appear;
Like Job we stood with patience for to hear our sentence there.
And being some old offenders it made our case go hard:
Our sentence were for fourteen year and we were sent on board.

The ship that bore us from the land, the Speedwell was her name;
And full four months and a half we ploughed across the raging main.
No land, no harbour could I see, and believe me it is no lie,
All around us one black water and above us one blue sky.

I oft-times looked behind me towards my native shore
And the cottage of contentment that I will see no more;
Likewise my aged father who tore his hoary hair,
Also my tender mother whose arms once did me bear.

It was on the Fourteenth of July, the day we made the land,
At four o'clock we went on shore all chain-ed hand in hand.
And to see our fellow sufferers, I fear I can't tell how,
Some was chained unto a harrow and some unto a plough.

And then they marched us into the town without no more delay
And was there a gentleman who took me, a bookkeeper for to be.
I took to my occupation there, my master he likes me well,
My joys are out of measure, I'm sure no one can tell.

He kept a female servant, Rosanna was her name,
For fourteen year a convict, from Worcestershire she came.
We oft-times tell our love tales now where we are so far from home
But now we are rattling of our chains in foreign lands to roam.

Walter Pardon sings Van Diemen's Land

Come all you wild and wicked youths wherever you may be,
I pray you give attention and listen unto me.
The fate of our poor transports you shall understand
The hardships they undergo upon Van Diemen's Land.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Young men, all now beware
Lest you are drawn into a snare

I and five more went out one night into Squire Dunhill's park
To see if we could get some game but the night it proved too dark
And to our sad misfortune they hemmed us in with speed
And sent us off to Warwick gaol which caused our hearts to bleed

And at the March assizes at the bar we did appear
Like Job we stood with patience to hear our sentence there
We being old offenders it made our case more hard
Our sentence was for fourteen years and I got sent on board

The ship that bore us from the land Speedwell was by name,
For about six months and upwards we ploughed the raging main.
No land nor harbour could we see, believe me it is no lie,
Beneath us one black water, above us one blue sky.

I often looked behind me to see my native shore,
That cottage of contentment that I should see no more,
Nor yet my poor old father, he tore his old grey hair,
Likewise my aged mother, in her womb she did me bear.

On the fifteenth of September was when we made the land
At four o'clock next morning all chained hand to hand
To see my fellow sufferers, I'm sure I can't tell how
Some were chained to a harrow and others to a plough

No shoes nor stockings had they on, no hats had they to wear
Leather breeches and linen drawers, their feet and heads were bare.
They drove about in two and two like horses in a team,
The driver he stood over them with his malacca cane.

As we marched into Sydney town without no more delay
A gentleman he bought me his bookkeeper to be
I took the occupation, my master loved me well
My joys were out of measure, I'm sure no tongue could tell.

He had a female servant, Rosanna was by name,
For fourteen years a convict, from Wolverhampton came.
We often told our tales of love while we were blessed at home
But now the rattling ot our chains in a foreign land to roam.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Add: Van Diemen's Land for a discussion of both Roud 221 and Roud 519.