John Chinaman’s Marriage [song by Charles Thatcher, 1857]

[Editor: This song by Charles Thatcher was published in Thatcher’s Colonial Songster, 1857.]

John Chinaman’s Marriage.

A New Original Song by Thatcher, as sung by him for 400 nights.
“Tune — “County Gaol.

Good people all give ear, I pray,
To what I am about to say;
About a Chinese chap, Ching Chong,
I’m going to sing a little song.
This Chinese chap, as I’ve been told,
At digging saved a lot of gold;
To get a wife then was his plan,
Wasn’t he a domestic Chinaman?

Good people all, give ear, I pray,
To what I’m still about to say;
I’m giving you now, in a song,
The married life of poor Ching Chong.

No Chinese girls had yet come out,
And John remained some time in doubt;
His stock of English words was small,
And he couldn’t tell his wants at all.
Some girls he leered at merely laughed,
Whilst others bantered him and chaffed;
At length a girl, named Cock-eyed Fan,
Took pity on the Chinaman.
Good people all, &c.

To look at her, ’twas hard to say,
Exactly where her beauty lay;
Her complexion was a dirty brown,
And she’d lately come from Hobart Town;
Small-pox had left big traces there,
She’d a snub-nose, and deep red hair;
But finding fault was not his plan,
She was just the girl for the Chinaman.
Good people all, &c.

They went to church, and John with pride,
Surveyed his fat and blooming bride;
He’d have talked finely if he could,
But he kept on saying, “welly good.”
At length, quite lushy, home she went,
And entered then his bran new tent;
To play her pranks she then began,
And she pitched into the Chinaman.
Good people all, &c.

And then she came out very flash,
Like winking spent her husband’s cash;
She brought the tears into his eye,
Whilst “no sabby” was poor John’s reply;
Says she, “Buy me a Cashmere shawl,
And take me to the fancy ball;”
And that’s the way that she began
To wheedle this poor Chinaman.

She put poor John quite in a fright,
For often she’d stop out all night;
And in the morning home she’d come,
Smelling delightfully of rum.
She then repudiated rice,
And swore such scran would not suffice.
At length from him clean off she ran,
And left her faithful Chinaman.

And after doing John so brown,
She toddled back to Hobart Town;
The old hands there had got quite pat,
Her doings up on Ballarat,
And now, whenever she goes out,
The little boys behind her shout —
Twig her, Bill, that’s Cock-eyed Fan,
The gal that swindled the Chinaman.

Chorus — If matrimonially inclined,
You Chinese chaps had better mind;
Don’t marry such girls if you can,
They know too much for a Chinaman.

Charles R. Thatcher. Thatcher’s Colonial Songster, Containing All the Choice Local Songs, Parodies, &c., of the Celebrated Chas. R. Thatcher, Charlwood & Son, Melbourne, 1857, pages 20-21

Editor’s notes:
bran new = brand new

Hobart Town = in this context, likely to be a reference to the wife as being of convict stock; people from Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land), known as Vandemonians, were widely regarded as having the convict taint upon them, due to the fact that Van Diemen’s Land was the recipient of about 40% of convicts, and continued to receive convicts from the UK for over a decade after the transportation of convicts to New South Wales had ceased (transportation ended in 1840 in NSW, and in 1853 in Tasmania)

John = slang for a Chinese man, as in “John Chinaman” or “Johnny Chinaman”

no sabby = regarded as typical Chinese-speak for “no savvy” (i.e. “I don’t understand”)

[Editor: Corrected: could’nt to couldn’t; Was’nt to Wasn’t.]


  1. Got any more please?
    I live over at Chinamans Bay down past Howrah, directly opposite old Hobart Town on the Eastern Shore of the Derwent Estuary

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