Mudcat Café message #1121520 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #66885   Message #1121520
Posted By: Bob Bolton
22-Feb-04 - 11:16 PM
Thread Name: DTStudy: Bold Jack Donohue
Subject: Lyr Add: THE WILD COLONIAL BOY
G'day again,

OK - this is where we chuck in large lumps of text! This is all selected from The Donahoe Ballads, John Meredith, Red Rooster Press, Ascot Vale, Victoria, Australia, 1982. I have just selected the texts, with a minimum of background information. I have retained Meredith's numbering for each version, but I think that supplying all the running commentary would make the postings unworkable.

We will start with the versions of the song that are generally called The Wild Colonial Boy ... although these are generally the later forms of what, Meredith believes, all started from the poem (c. 1832) by "Frank the Poet" - Irish convict Francis McNamara:

The ballad which became the most popular one of the series is that which refers to Jack Donahoe as "the wild colonial boy". An early version of this was taken down from an old convict named Timms by Malcolm Ellis, towards the end of the 19th century. Timms, according to his own story was transported when eight years of age, and lived to become a prosperous carrier in South Western Queensland in the 1890's. Timms sang "The Wild Colonial Boy" to the tune of "The wearing of the Green", though he did mention another tune as being used after the song was banned. during the decade of its origin the singing of the ballad was forbidden in hostelries, probably because it was the anthem of rebellion (Ireland, 1798). To authorities the idea of Irish risings remained a bogey for many a year. No actual legislation has been traced regarding this prohibition, but there is a reference to it in The Historical Records of Australia, in a footnote to a letter from Governor Darling to Sir George Murray in 1831:

"Jack Donahoe was one of the most notorious bushrangers of the first epoch in bushranging or highway robbery in New South Wales.

He arrived in the colony as a convict, and during his career committed several murders. After he was shot, a pipe maker was permitted to take a cast of his head showing a bullet wound in the forehead. One of these casts is still extant. The pipemaker made clay pipes, the bowl bearing a facsimile of the cast, and these pipes had a large sale. A song composed called "Bold Jack Donahoe", and, as this song had an evil influence, its singing was prohibited in any public house on pain of loss of licence."

Timms' version was as follows:

THE WILD COLONIAL BOY

No.2A Ellis/Timms version

There was a wild colonial boy, Jack Donahoe by name,
Of poor but honest parents he was born in Castlemaine.
He was his father's dearest hope, his mother's pride and joy,
O, fondly did his parents love the wild colonial boy.
Chorus:
Then come away my hearties, we'll roam the hills so high,
Together we will plunder, together we will die.
We'll cross the wild Blue Mountains, and scour the Bathurst Plains,
For we scorn to live in slavery, bound down with iron chains.


He was scarcely sixteen years of age when he left his father's home,
A convict to Australia, across the seas to roam,
They put him in the iron gang in the Government employ,
But never an iron on earth could hold the wild colonial boy.

And when they sentenced him to hang to end his wild career,
With a loud shout of defiance, bold Donahoe broke clear.
He robbed the wealthy silvertails, their stock he did destroy,
But no trooper in the land could catch the wild colonial boy.

Then one day when he was cruising near the broad Nepean's side,
From out the thick Bringelly bush the horse police did ride.
"Die or resign, Jack Donahoe" they shouted in their joy,
"I'll fight this night with all my might!" cried the wild colonial boy.!"

Thus he fought six rounds with the horse police before the fatal ball,
Which pierced his heart and made him start, caused Donahoe to fall,
And then he closed his mournful eyes, his pistol an empty toy,
Crying, "Parents dear, O say a prayer for the wild colonial boy."

A version of "The Wild Colonial Boy" similar to Timms' version appears in a little songbook which was published anonymously in Western Australia several years ago:

THE WILD COLONIAL BOY
No. 2B West Australian version

There was a wild colonial youth, Jack Donahue by name;
Of poor but honest parents he was born in Castlemaine.
He was his father's only hope, his mother's pride and joy,
And dearly did his parents love that wild colonial boy.
Chorus:
Then come all my hearties, well roam the mountains high
Together we will wander, together we will die,
We'll roam beneath the bluegums, and gallop over plains,
For we scorn to live in slavery, bound down with iron chains.


He was scarcely sixteen years of age when he left his father's home,
And through Australia's sunny clime a bushranger did roam,
He robbed the wealthy squatters, their stocks he did destroy,
And a terror to the rich man was the wild colonial boy.

One day as he was riding the mountainside along,
A-listening to the little birds, their pleasant laughing song,
Three mounted troopers met him, Kelly, Davis and Fitzroy,
And thought that they would capture him, the wild colonial boy.

"Surrender now Jack Donahue, you see there's three to one,
Surrender now Jack Donahue, you daring highway man!"
He drew a pistol from his belt and waved it like a toy;
"I'll fight but won't surrender", cried the wild colonial boy.

He fired at trooper Kelly, and brought him to the ground,
And in return from Davis received a mortal wound;
All shattered through the jaws he lay, still firing at Fitzroy,
And that's the way they captured him, the wild colonial boy.

Another version of interest is that sung by Mr Theo. Archdeacon, of lnglewood, Western Australia, with this introduction:

"I happened to be going to Hale School here in the middle [18]eighties when the song "The Wild Colonial Boy" first came out, two schoolboys often used to sing it

Mr Archdeacon omits the usual second verse, but includes what is the third verse in most versions, the year in which the boy began his career 1836, 1861, 1863 or 1865 in different versions. It is also of interest to note, that in this Western Australian version, Jack Dowling is not killed, but comes out victorious over the troopers. This is most likely an expression of local sentiment at that period, either of Western Australians in general, or of the Hale schoolboys:

THE WILD COLONIAL BOY
No. 2C Archdeacon version
He was a wild colonial boy, Jack Dowling was his name,
Brought up by honest parents, and born in Castlemaine,
He was his father's only son; his mother's pride and joy,
And dearly, dearly did they love this wild colonial boy.
Chorus:
Then come along my hearties, who roam the mountains wide,
Together we will plunder, together we will ride,
We'll ride o'er the mountains and gallop o'er the plains,
Before we'll die in slavery, bound down by iron chains.


In eighteen hundred and sixty three he commenced his wild career,
With a heart that felt no danger and a mind that knew no fear,
He robbed the mail coach on the beach with judge or viceroy,
And a terror to-Australia was the wild colonial boy.

As Jack went out one morning and gaily rode along,
Listening to the mocking birds pretty little song,
Approached three mounted troopers, Kelly, Davis and Fitzroy,
Who rode up and tried to capture him, the wild colonial boy.

"Surrender now Jack Dowling, you outlawed plundering son,
Surrender in the Queen's name for we are three to one".
Jack drew a pistol from his belt and waved the little toy,
Saying "I'll fight but not surrender, I'm the wild colonial boy!"

He shot the trooper Kelly, and laid him on the !ground,
Davis firing in return, received a fatal wound,
He fired another shot, which stretched out poor Fitzroy,
And that was how they captured him, the wild colonial boy.

An unusual little fragment of "The Wild Colonial Boy" was sung to me by a ringer from the Gulf Country of Northern Queensland. This version has acquired an American cowboy chorus:

THE WILD COLONIAL BOY

Jack Donahoe, he is known by name,
Born and bred up in Castlemaine,
He was his mother's only hope, his father's only joy,
But how they dearly loved him, that wild colonial boy.

Chorus:
Yippee-i-ay, yippee-i-ohhh,
That wild colonial boy.


Another version of "The Wild Colonial Boy", which seemingly travelled to Ireland via America appears in an Irish songbook, Walton's 132 best Irish Songs and Ballads, for which publication it has been adapted by J. M. Crofts

THE WILD COLONIAL BOY
No.2E Walton's Irish songs version

There was a Wild Colonial Boy,
Jack Duggan was his name,
He was born and reared in Ireland,
In a place called Castlemaine,
He was his father's only son,
And his mother's pride and joy,
And dearly did his parents love
The Wild Colonial Boy.

At hammer throwing Jack was great,
Or swinging a caman,
He led the boys in all their pranks
From dusk to early dawn.
At fishin' or at poachin' trout,
He was the real McCoy,
And all the neighbours loved young Jack,
The Wild Colonial Boy.

At the early age of sixteen years,
He left his native home;
And to Australia's sunny land
He was inclined to roam.
He robbed the rich, and he helped the poor
He stabbed James MacEvoy.
A terror to Australia was
The Wild Colonial Boy.

For two more years this daring youth
Ran on his wild career,
With a head that knew no danger
And a heart that knew no fear.
He robbed outright the wealthy squires,
And their arms he did destroy;
And woe to all who dared to fight
The Wild Colonial Boy.

He loved the Prairie and the Bush,
Where Rangers rode along;
With his gun stuck in its holster deep,
He sang a merry song.
But if a foe once crossed his track,
And sought him to destroy
He'd get sharp shootin' sure from Jack,
The Wild Colonial Boy.

One morning on the prairie wild,
Jack Duggan rode along,
While listening to the mocking bird
Singing a cheerful song,
Out jumped three troopers, fierce and grim,
Kelly, Davis and Fitzroy:
They all set out to capture him,
The Wild Colonial boy.

"Surrender now, Jack Duggan, Come:
"You see there's three to one!
Surrender in the Queen's name, Sir,
You are a plundering son!"
Jack drew two pistols from his side,
And glared upon Fitzroy;
"I'll fight, but not surrender!" cried
The Wild Colonial Boy.

He fired a shot at Kelly
Which brought him to the ground,
He fired point blank at Davis, too
Who fell dead at the sound,
But a bullet pierced his brave young heart
From the pistol of Fitzroy;
And that was how they captured him,
The Wild Colonial Boy.


Regards,

Bob Bolton