The Far Wastes of Van Diemen’s Land




The Far Wastes of

Van Diemen’s Land

Strongly                       Words & Music By Graeme Meek



Here is an example of a song written in the traditional idiom about a Bedfordshire story



1.             Oh my name’s Francis Hulatt and when I was free

                I wondered how life o’er the oceans might be,

                But now that I’m sailing far over the sea

                It doesn’t seem quite the adventure to me.




                Here’s adieu to the shores of old England.

                For Australia soon I’ll be bound

                For a lifetime of leisure

                At his majesty’s pleasure

                In the far wastes of Van Diemen’s Land.


2.             For the crime of sheep stealing, arrested was I

                And in front of the court I was sentenced to die

                But the judge, he commuted my sentence, that’s why

                I shall sail for Tasmanian shores by and by.


3.             A wife and three sons I am leaving behind.

                I hoped that together our lives were inclined

                But then guilty was I, oh the judge he did find

                And to a life of hard labour was quickly resigned.


4.             With friends at my side I shall travel the main

                To pass of the time and to ease of my pain

                And when of Tasmania’s shores we do gain

                We’ll greet of our brothers, united again.


5.             I’ll be of strong spirit, I’ll be of strong mind

                Whate’er shall arise and whate’er I shall find,

                And to all I endure I shall remain blind

                As to destiny now I am surely resigned.


6.             Come all you young fellows and listen to me,

                Beware of false comrades whoever they be,

                For you may be imprisoned for eternity

                And the only true felon allowed to go free.


Copyright © Graeme Meek 2001



The story told in this song:


Felmersham men, Francis Hulatt, George Costin & Benjamin Parsons were sent to Tasmania in August 1825 for sheep stealing in nearby Pavenham, Bedfordshire. Dickens Prigmore, turning King’s Evidence, confessed and gave the names of his accomplices in return for his freedom. James Hulatt And Robert Costin had already been sent to Tasmania for their part in the crime in April 1825. As a result it appears that five men suffered whilst the main culprit was reprieved!


This story was found in the book ‘Grain & Chaff (Threshing out the history of Felmersham, Bedfordshire)’, written & published by W.E. Draycott, 1985.


More Bedfordshire Songs by Graeme Meek



·         Dunstable Downs Midsummer’s Day Song *  

·         The Ghost of Lady de Grey * & X

·         The Life & Times of Henry Claydon, Highwayman *

·         Rough Music *

·         Fuller’s Earth *

·         Queen Catherine * (words: G Meek/S Meek) 

·         A Working Boatie Man * & †

·         The Witch of Conger Hill *

·         Plough Monday Song *   

·         Tell Old Charlie Irons **

·         The Markyate Highwayman **

·         Blockers’ Seaside **

·         Let’s Go To The Grand **

·         Brickmaking ** & ***

·         The Scots of The Davis Gas Stove Company **

·         The Bonelace Weaver **

·         Straw Plait **

·         Bedfordshire Ale **

·         Easter Song **

·         Flitwick Chalybeate Water

·         To The Memory of an Unknown Female (words: anon.)

·         Tilsworth May Song (words: anon.)

·         The Bedfordshire Clanger

·         Old Granny Smoke-a-Pipe

·         Dun The Robber

·         The Robber, Dun

·         The Statty Fair

·         Sailor’s Lament

·         The Toddington Tour

·         Charles Wells & Josephine Grimbley

·         The Kempston Poachers

·         A Bedfordshire Whaling Song (or The Inland Whale Fisheries)

·         The Ivel Navigation †

·         Jump With The Devil ***

·         Katherine’s Cross (words: Horace Walpole)

·         Marston Vale ***

·         The Unsuccessful Recruiting

·         The Pits That Scar The Land ***

·         John Bunyan

·         Holes and Homes ***

·         Eleanor Cross

·         The Riseley Lads’ Wager

·         The Bridge Down The Meadow

·         Man of Clay ***

·         Robin Hood of Hexton

·         Christmas 1914

·         More Time, Gentlemen, Please

·         Have You Got A Shilling For The Gas?

·         Lime Burning

·         We Used To Plait Straw Here As Well

·         Admiral Byng

·         Bedfordshire Brickmakers ***

·         The B&MK ***

·         The Village Lock-Up

·         The Last Hoffmans ***

·         Sand ††

·         Dobbing ††

·         The Toddington Gallon



..and tunes with Bedfordshire connections include:


·         Keysoe Row *

·         Bushels of Brussels * & †††

·         The Felmersham Polka * & ††† 

·         One Man’s Morris * & **

·         Bonelace **

·         Why Axe Ye **

·         Seven Chimneys ***

·         The Stewartby Phorpres ***

·         Black Tom

·         The March Hare

·         Cainhoe Castle

·         The Bedfordshire Regiment

·         The Blue Man

·         Robert Bloomfield’s Jig

·         Broom Dance

·         Grizzly

·         The Bedfordshire Hornpipe

·         Margaret Beaufort’s Jig

·         The Crystal Palace

·         Riseley Mill

·         The Skimpot Flyer

·         The Way to Tun Well

·         Coney Hall

·         Donkey Hall

·         Prune Country

·         Lamsey

·         Mile Tree Highway

·         All Hallows







*  Recorded on    



**  Recorded on

     Strawplait &  



***  Recorded on

     Marston Vale


  Recorded on    

    Where The  

    Working Boats



††  Recorded on    

    Sands Of Time


     (Life & Times)


X  Recorded by      


    Robson on

    Dawn Chorus

































††† Recorded on

      Keep Dancing

     (Herts EFDSS)


     A Select Few

     (Time of

            Your Life)






Shropshire Songs & Tunes By Graeme Meek



Songs and tunes from Shropshire Iron:


·         Shropshire Iron

·         Abraham Darby

·         The Simple Life of a Quaker

·         Success To All These Learned Men

·         Lament for Darby

·         Boys of Bedlam

·         Bedlam Jig

·         John Wilkinson (words: anon.)

·         A Furnaceman’s Life

·         A Bridge of Iron

·         The Bridge of Iron

·         Colebrook Dale

·         The Pride of Englishmen

·         Contemplate Good Fortune







Bedfordshire Songs Displayed



You can see framed copies of my songs displayed in a number of Bedfordshire libraries, pubs and museums. Here is a list of just some of the places where songs have been displayed:












Ampthill Library

Queen Catherine

The Queen’s Head, Ampthill

Queen Catherine

Katherine’s Cross

Oddfellows Arms, Toddington

The Witch of Conger Hill

The Sow & Pigs, Toddington

The Toddington Tour

The Cross Keys, Pulloxhill

Plough Monday Song

The Green Dragon, Gravenhurst

The Bridge Down The Meadow

The Old Farm Inn, Totternhoe

Lime Burning






Other Songs By Graeme Meek



·         ‘Til Light Of The Moon

·         Not In My Back Yard

·         The Boatmen’s Strike

·         I’m The Lord Of The Manor, You See

·         How Can They Sleep At Night

·         A Pint And A Song

·         Roses And Castles †

·         The Duke of Bridgewater

·         Lock Keepers of the Waterways †

·         The Row Between The Boaters †

·         Where The Working Boats Went †

·         Until The Cut Runs Dry †

·         The Farming Year

·         The Stonehaven Fireballs

·         Wareham Court Leet (hear this song on the web – see right)

·         The Barleycorn

·         Calling On

·         Calling Off

·         Calling On Song

·         A Cold Christmas Day

·         The Mistletoe Bough

·         Drink One Glass

·         Farewell To Erin’s Isle

·         The Capstan Line

·         The Brisk Young Sailor

·         When Are You Coming Home

·         The Steelworker’s Song

·         The Streets of Bray

·         The Grinders’ Hardships (words from a broadside)






  Recorded on    

    Where The  

    Working Boats
















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                            Graeme Meek