Convict

The boy’s meagre earnings
fed himself, his mother, younger
brothers and sisters, all of
them thin, sickly, starving.

Seeing a shopkeeper busy
with customers he sneaked
out  a pound of suet, whisked
it home to mother,

The hue and cry came after him,
brought him before the judge
who sentenced him for this theft
“transport to Botany Bay”.

Shipped to distant Australia
in punishment, he left his family
without his earnings, only
deep shame for his crime.

Ch: “Singing too-ral-li-oo-ral-li-addity
         singing too-ral-li-oo-ra-li-ay.
         Singing too-ral-li-oo-ral-li-addity
         we’re bound for Botany Bay.”     *

*Chorus of an 1880’s London music hall
song still sung in Australia today.

Convict

7 thoughts on “Convict

    1. I didn’t hear about that. I heard about them at a family history group meeting back in the 1980’s when I was just starting out, and had to travel a long way to the few available meetings. I had to give up going to meetings for a while.
      The man who spoke about them was one of the family descendants, and he was considered one of the group’s experts on researching Australian ancestors from New Zealand. He was puzzled at how difficult he found it to get information about them, but it became apparent that some of the boy’s family survived, and went to extraordinary efforts to hide his “disgrace”, which was extremely common for a long time. There was some toing and froing between Australia and New Zealand from early European settlement times, so as family history research became more widespread here, we experienced the same difficulties as Australians with convict ancestors. Nowadays Australians are no longer ashamed of them, and it is widely known that many convicts were in fact poverty stricken people committing petty crimes while trying feed their families.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Isn’t that sad? Charles Dickens was one of my favorite authors and I’ve seen some of his plays. It always breaks my heart to see such poverty and lack of compassion from those with plenty. I guess it can be complicated, but children suffering is awful.

    Liked by 1 person

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