Moreton Bay … or The Convict’s Lament

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.

Full list of songs

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.

Excessive tyranny each day prevails

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.

Moreton Bay Lyrics and Chords

One [D]Sunday morning as [Bm]I went [G]walking

By [D]Brisbane waters I [Bm]chanced to [Em]stray. [G]

I [D]heard a prisoner his [Bm]fate be[G]wailing

As [D]on the [Bm]sunny river [Em]bank he [D]lay.

I [D]am a [D7]native from [G]Erin’s [Em]island

Transported [D]now from [Bm]my [Em]native [G]shore,

They [D]tore me from my [Bm]aged [G]parents

And [D]from the maid[Bm]en [G]whom I ad[D]ore.


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.




Full list of songs