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The Female Transport

[ Roud V1284 ; Ballad Index JRUI131 ; Bodleian Roud V1284 ; Mudcat 66740#2175433 ; trad.]

Frankie Armstrong sang The Female Transport in 1973 on her album Out of Love, Hope and Suffering. She noted:

After the loss of the American colonies, the British Government was at a loss to know what to do with its convicts. And so penal settlements were created in Australia. The most trivial offenses were enough to ensure transportation there for seven years, fourteen years, or for life. Many songs were written around this theme, most of them dealing with men. Here the woman’s voice is heard.


Frankie Armstrong sings The Female Transport

Come all you young girls both far and near and listen unto me,
While unto you I do relate what proved my destiny.
My mother died when I was young which caused me to deplore,
And made me find my ways too soon, all on my native shore.

Sarah Collins is my name and dreadful is my fate.
My father reared me tenderly, the truth I do relate.
Til enticed by bad company, along with many more,
Which led to my discovery, all on my native shore.

My trial it approached fast, before the judge I stood,
And when that he the sentence passed, it fairly chilled my blood.
Crying, you must be transported, for fourteen years or more
And make haste, without delay, unto Van Diemen’s shore.

It hurt my heart when in the coach my native town passed by,
To see so many I did know it fairly made me cry.
Then to the ship I went with speed, along with many more,
Whose aching hearts did grieve to go all on Van Diemen’s shore.

They chained us two by two and whipped and lashed us all along,
They cut off our provisions if we did the least thing wrong.
They march us in the burning sun until our feet are sore,
So hard’s our lot now we have got all on Van Diemen’s shore.

We labour hard from morn till night until our bones do ache,
Then every one we must obey, our mouldy beds to make.
We often wish when we lie down that we may rise no more,
To face our savage governors all on Van Diemen’s shore.

So come young men and maidens, a warning take by me.
If tongue could tell our overthrow, t’would make your heart to bleed,
You girls I pray be ruled by me, your wicked ways give o’er,
For fear you end your days like me all on Van Diemen’s shore.