Convict songs, stories and signs | State Library of New South Wales

Convict songs, stories and signs

The State Library of New South Wales has a large collection of nineteenth century broadsides, many of which were produced in London to cater for the huge public interest in the subject of convict transportation. The trials of notorious criminals, the fate of the transportee, the romance of the separated lovers and popular songs inspired by the new colony all provided broadside printers with endless material. The selected examples below are chiefly songs or ballads which moralise about the convict fate which awaits those unfortunate people who stray into a life of crime. The most horrifying thing about being punished by transportation was the prospect of never seeing family and loved ones again, and in fact this was true. Most convicts never returned to the UK. The final example is a local broadside produced in New South Wales by the government asking those who have responsibility for convicts to forward a list of those requiring government issues of clothing to the commissariat.

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