Tuesday 3 August 2021

2 previously unpublished songs written by a convict on Norfolk Island

These songs are on Don's CD The Convict Voice, details here  

Two previously unpublished songs written by a convict on Norfolk Island and copied into the diary of a constable in 1846.

to the tune of Liverpool Judies (verse only.)

Article copyright Don Brian.

The Cooking Pot Riot

As that sun in the morn on the 1st of July
It rose in its splendour with man to comply
And the dark shores of Norfolk it seemed to look sad
As the grass on its hills were all withered and dead

The bells even seemed for to give a dead knell
As if summonsing tyrants to heaven or hell
Convicts rose from their beds for revenge to prepare
And the clergy remarked they seemed in despair

They walked to their mess room, poor creatures they gazed
All seemed in silence and all quite amazed
Wm Westwood broke silence, those words he did say
Let’s go for our pots men, without more delay

The pots were retaken and each man returned
The blood in their veins it seemed to be warmed
Poor Jackey he said what say if we pay
The debts of Ash Wednesday on the 1st of July

Each man manned their weapons the conflict began
And the blood of those tyrants were soon made to run
They called loud for mercy O mercy they cried
No, no, was the answer you have mercy denied

Smith and Morris were left laying dead in their gore
And at the lime kiln was two wretches more
There was wretches escaped for they could not be found
And some that were beat lay in pain on the ground

Now to Barrow the screw come let us go quick
And to this base tyrant we will soon play a trick
For his brains we will bash them clean out of his head
And his own wife will kneel and thank God that he’s dead

Now the news of the murders round the island did ring
And the soldiers to arms they soon did them bring
There was Boland and Lawler and Pickford also
They agreed for to hang all of them they did know

Thirteen in number they died on a tree
And the names I’ll endeavour to tell them to thee
There was Davis and Pendergrass, Cairns the lad
Cavanagh and Pearson, God bless them they’re dead

Brown and Scrimshaw, Maquire as well (Ed. McGuiness)
God bless them I hope in heaven they dwell
Young Whiting and Kenyon you may him well know
I hope that our saviour has called them from woe

There’s Kummusky and Pickthorn they made the thirteen
That ended the last of this tragical scene
Death they feared it not, that bad it come soon
For they knew that their saviour would grant them a boon

Side by side in one grave poor creature they lay
Not a stone marks the spot but a manchineel tree
And the boatswain and swallow oft visits the grave
It screeches and flies to its solitary cave

The song was titled “A song composed by the prisoners at Norfolk Island, relative to the 1st of July 1846”. It comes from the James Stevens Diary Transcript 12 May 1846, p21-22 at the Norfolk Island Museum (NIM 7128), copied by Don Brian in 2016
William Westwood was also known as Jacky Jacky the gentleman bushranger
The hanged convicts were buried in ‘Murderers Mound’ outside the cemetery at Kingston NI.

The Manchineel tree is misidentified. It is a tree known locally as a Melky tree (Excoecaria agallocha). Both were toxic and irritant to touch.
Barrow was an unpopular stipendiary magistrate removed from NI for his own safety just before the Cooking Pot Riot in July 1846
Stevens was constable at NI and became chief constable on drowning of Baldock 1848.

(Photo Sandra Nixon)

Barrow’s Tour of Hell

Barrow was a (screw) of low renown
Many is the prisoner he’s cut down
He neither fights for honour nor renown,
He fights for colonial wages

The morning this affray took place
This tyrant wouldn’t show his face
Until the soldiers did arrive
But then this coward crept behind.

As soon as ever Barrow dies
At hell’s gate he will arrive
Come in, come in the devils will all cry
And surround him with blazes.

A fiery helmet on his head they’ll place
A burning sash around his waist
The cats and triangles on his back they’ll place
To keep him in fighting order

Oh says Barrow if a prisoner should come
With a drop of water to cool my tongue
To him I’d own if I’ve done great wrong
And perhaps he would relieve me

Says Beelzebub,” How can you tell
That ever a prisoner entered hell
It was for the kettles those men fell
And Heaven shall be their portion

Then they shoved him in a fiery din
Along with the rest of those tyrant men
And there his soul it will burn right well
On the hot flags of damnation

With grease and tar they’ll oil him well
To give him a write good tyrant smell
And there his soul it will burn in hell
It’s a song called prisoners glory

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