Botany Bay [song, 1885]

[Editor: This is the text of the song from the stage show “Little Jack Sheppard”, which played in London in 1885 and in Melbourne in 1886, which went on to become a popular song in Australia.]

Botany Bay.

Farewell to old England forever, ………
Farewell to my rum culls as well ………
Farewell to the well known Old Bailee
Where I used for to cut such a swell ………

[Refrain:]
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity, ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity.
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………

There’s the captain as is our commandier, ………
There’s the bo’sun and all the ship’s crew ………
There’s the first and the second class passengers
Knows what we poor convicts go through ………

[Refrain:]
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity, ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity.
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………

’Taint leaving Old England we cares about,
’Taint cos we mis-spells wot we knows ………
But be-cos all we light finger’d gentry
Hops a-round with a log on our toes ………

[Refrain:]
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity, ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity.
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………

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 ………

[Refrain:]
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity, ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity.
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………

Now all my young Dookies and Duchesses, ………
Take warning from what I’ve to say: ………
Mind all is your own as you toucheses,
Or you’ll find us in Botany Bay ………

[Refrain:]
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity, ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li addity.
Singing too-ral, li oor-al, li-ay ………



Source:
Henry Stephens and William Yardley, Selection of Words and Music from Little Jack Sheppard: Burlesque Drama in Three Acts [music], [S.l. : s.n., 1886?], pages 42-45

Editor’s notes:
“Botany Bay” has been a popular song in Australia for many years. It appears to have originated from songs of English theatrical productions, with part of it taken from Dion Boucicault’s stage show “Janet Pride” (1854) and incorporated into another song for the comedic play “Little Jack Sheppard” (1885) by Henry Stephens and William Yardley.

“Little Jack Sheppard” played in Melbourne at Her Majesty’s Opera House in 1886 and in Sydney at the Theatre Royal in 1887. The Botany Bay song was a huge success and spread throughout Australia by word of mouth, becoming a popular folk song.

There are some relevant notations in the publication Selection of Words and Music from Little Jack Sheppard that may be of interest:
p.1: “Written by H.P. Stephens and W. Yardley. Music by Meyer Lutz, Arthur Cecil. Hamilton Clarke, and Florian Pascal. First produced at the Gaiety Theatre, on Boxing Night, 1885”
p.42: “Sung by Mr. David James. No. 11. Botany Bay.”

2 November 2011

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