Convict's Lament on the Death of Captain Logan (Moreton Bay)


Classic Australian song by Frank The Poet - arranged by Graham Dodsworth

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Sometimes known as Moreton Bay or an abreviation of its title, The Death of Captain Logan.

Logan was a military captain in charge of convicts that had been sent to Australia between 1825 and 1830. He was killed by Aborigines in 1830 while surveying the Upper Brisbane river. This song was possibly written by Frank McNamara, commonly known as Frank the Poet.

The song is usually sung with another verse, as follows:

I've been a prisoner at Port McQuarrie, at Norfolk Island and Emu Plains,
at Castle Hill and (cursed) Toongabbie, at all these settlements I've worked in chains.
But of all the places of condemnation and penal stations of New South Wales,
to Moreton Bay, I have found no equal, excessive tyranny each day prevails.

At the time this song was written, early to mid 19th century, lyrics were sung to a more limited range of tunes, with many sets of lyrics sharing the same tune. These were usually popular tunes of the era, from music hall or popular folk songs that everybody knew. Broadsheets with printed lyrics would be sold with the explanatory line 'sung to the tune of . . . ' printed across the top. Sometimes the lyrics couldn't successfully be matched to the tune. The tune used here is based on Boolavogue which is typically used as its setting, which was written by Patrick Joseph McCall around 1898) to celebrate the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and so was well known and popular with the Irish and especially associated with dissention of authority.

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This version: 2016-05-21

One Sunday Morning as I was walking,
By Brisbane waters I chanced to stray,
I heard a prisoner, his fate bewailing,
As on the sunny river bank he lay.
I am a native of Erin’s island
Now banished from my native shore
They tore me from my aged parents
And from the maiden I do adore.

I’ve been a prisoner at Port MacQuarrie,
At Norfolk Islands and Emu Plains,
At Castle Hill and at Toongabbie,
At all those settlements I‘ve worked in chains,
But of all the places of condemnation
And Penal stations of New South Wales,
To Moreton Bay I have found no equal,
Excessive tyranny prevails.

For three long years I was beastly treated and
Heavy irons on my legs I wore
My back with flogging is lacerated and
Oft times painted with my crimson gore
And there’s many a man from downright starvation
Lies mouldering underneath the clay
And Captain Logan he had us mangled at the
Triangles of Moreton Bay.

Like the Egyptians and Ancient Hebrews
We were oppressed under Logan’s yoke
Till a native lying there in ambush
Did give our tyrant his mortal stroke.
My fellow prisoners be exhilarated that
All such monsters this death should find
And when from bondage we are liberated
Our former sufferings shall fade from mind.

The second verse was not recorded on ‘In Good King Arthur’s Day’.
Many songs fail to be exposed to the general populous because they fail to hold the attention of modern day audiences used to three minute hits and formula entertainment on television, cinema screens and commercial radio. Editing down a song can render it more acceptable and more likely to gain further exposure that might eventually expose more people to the omitted verses than otherwise expected.

vocal & guitar - Graham Dodsworth