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Poor Tom Brown, of Nottingham Town

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Alternative title: Van Dieman's Land

Performer: Unknown
Place Collected: Southrop
Date collected: Between 1913 and 1916
Collector: Williams, Alfred
Roud Number: 519

This song is usually known as Van Dieman’s Land, one of a number of songs in which the poacher is the hero as opposed to the dastardly gamekeeper.  It harks back to a time of poverty in England when poaching was rife to feed one’s family, despite the risks of gamekeepers with shotguns or of eventual deportation.  The song, which was printed on a broadside, has been collected often in England and twice in the USA, but nowhere else.

For a Gloucestershire version with a tune, see


Notes by Gwilym Davies 9 April 2016