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Wiltshire Community History

Folk Song Information

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Book TitleAuthorDateNotes
Song TitlePoor Tom Brown, of Nottingham Town
Roud No.519
Collected FromUnknown
LocationBrinkworth
CountyWiltshire
Collected ByWilliams, Alfred
Alternative Title
Tune
Date
Source PrimaryWSRO: 2598/36 Packet 3 - Oxfordshire: Williams, A: MS collection No. Ox 258
Source SecondaryWilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 3rd June, 1916, p 3, Part 32, No. 2: Williams, A: Folk songs of the upper Thames, 1923, p 263, 264
Recording
 
Song Lyrics
Verse 1

Poor Tom Brown, of Nottingham Town, Jack Williams and poor Joe,
They were three daring poachers, the county well does know;
At night they were trepanned by keepers hid in sands,
For fourteen years transported unto Van Dieman's Land.

Verse 2

Me and five more went out one night into Squire Duncan's park,
To see if we could catch some game, the night it being dark;
But, to our great misfortune, we got dropped with speed,
They sent us off to Warwick jail, which made our hearts for to bleed.

Verse 3

Then at Warwick Assizes at the bar we did appear,
Like Job we stood with patience, our sentence for to hear,
But, being old offenders, it made our case go hard,
So for fourteen long years we were all sent on board.

Verse 4

The very day we landed all on that fatal shore,
The planters they came round us, full fifteen score or more;
They ranked us up like horses, and sold us out of hand,
They yoked us to the plough, my boys, to plough Van Dieman's Land.

Verse 5

Now the cottage that we lived in was built of sods of clay,
And rotten straw for bedding, we dare not say nay;
Our cots are round the fire, we slumber when we can,
For to drive the wolves and tigers all from Van Dieman's Land.

Verse 6

There was a girl of our town, Susan Summers was her name,
Fourteen long years transported, we all doth know the same;
Our planter bought her freedom, and married her out of hand,
She gave us all good usage all in Van Dieman's Land.
 
Print Song Lyrics
 
Notes
Note 1

Williams, Alfred: Ms / WGS: 'I first heard several verses of this at Eynsham, near Oxford, last year. Some months later I met with a little more at Brinkworth, and then again with another stanza at Southrop, and so was able to complete the piece. The versions were somewhat different, as may be seen, though the song was the same.'

Williams, Alfred: FSUT: 'I first heard several verses of this at Eynsham, near Oxford. Some months later I met with a little more at Brinkworth, and then again with another stanza at Southrop, and so was able to complete the piece. The versions differ slightly.'

Note 2

Instead of the fourth verse, at Eynsham, this was used; the other came from Brinkworth.

Verse 4

To see out fellows suffer, I'm sure I can't tell how,
Some chained unto the harrow, some chained unto the plough;
They hooked us out by two and two, like horses in a team,
And a driver standing over us with his long ash and cane.

Transcribed and edited by Chris Wildridge, 2010.

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