Moreton Bay is also known as The Convict’s Lament and was written by the Irish/Australian Francis MacNamara – more commonly known as Frankie the Poet.
Frankie was convicted by a court in Kilkenny in 1832 of smashing a shop window and stealing some cloth. He was sentenced to seven years in Botany Bay. He quickly established himself as a talented writer and produced several songs and poems criticising the treatment of convicts by the authorities.
He was punished with several floggings but that didn’t seem to stop him writing.
Moreton Bay is one of his best known songs and was written to the tune of Youghal Harbour, which was also used by P J McCall for his classic song, Boolavogue.
Moreton Bay is based on Frankie’s own experiences and describes the cruelty of the penal stations in Australia in the mid-19th century.
Prisoners were kept in chains and flogging was commonplace. Many inmates died of starvation.
The song describes Moreton Bay as having no equal in terms of cruelty, with a Captain Logan being the chief perpetrator. The final verse tells how Logan was killed by a native Australian, much to the delight of all the prisoners.
The song is presented her in the key of D Major. Use our converter to play the song in other keys.
OneDSunday morning asBmI wentGwalkingByDBrisbane waters IBmchanced toEmstray.GIDheard a prisoner hisBmfatebeGwailingAsDon theBmsunny riverEmbank heDlay.IDam aD7native fromGErin’sEmislandTransportedDnow fromBmmyEmnativeGshore,TheyDtore me from myBmagedGparentsAndDfrom the maidBmenGwhom I adDore.
I’ve been a prisoner at Port Macquarie
At Norfolk Island and Emu Plains,
At Castle Hill and cursed Toongabbie,
At all those settlements I’ve worked in chains.
But of all places of condemnation
And penal stations of New South Wales,
Of Moreton Bay I have found no equal
Excessive tyranny each day prevails.
For three long years I was beastly treated
And heavy irons on my legs I wore,
My back from flogging was lacerated
And often slain with my crimson gore.
And many a man from downright starvation
Lies mouldering underneath the clay,
And Captain Logan he had us mangled
At the triangles in Moreton Bay.
Like the Egyptians and ancient Hebrews
We were oppressed under Logan’s yoke,
Till a native black lying there in ambush
Did give our tyrant his mortal stroke.
My fellow prisoners exhilarated
That all such monsters a death shall find,
And when from bondage we’re liberated
Our former sufferings shall fade from mind.