Song or Story
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Harvey Station, New Brunswick
Rights and Access Note
"Wild Colonial Boy" is one of a few songs that came to Maine from Australia by way of Britain. This particular version was collected in Canada, but the singer learned it in the Maine woods, a point that underscores the close connections of Maine and the Maritimes economically and culturally.
1. It’s of a wild colonial boy, Jack Dowling was his name; His parents they were wealthy, brought up in Calais, Maine. He was his father’s only hope and his mother’s only joy – A terror to Australia was the wild colonial boy.
2. At the early age of sweet sixteen he began his wild career; His heart it knew no danger, nor a stranger did he fear. He held up stage and mail coach and he robbed Lord MacElroy – A terror to Australia was the wild colonial boy.
3. He wrote the judge a warning and he told him to beware, Never to so strike a eager blow while marching on the square, Never deprive a mother of her hope, her only joy, Nor send them out there rambling like the wild colonial boy.
4. Jack said unto his comrades as they climbed the mountains high, “Together we will ramble and together we will die. We’ll rob those wealthy farmers and their flocks we shall destroy, With trembling hands give o’er their gold to the wild colonial boy.”
5. Then Jack rode out one evening, as he gaily rode along, A-listening to the mocking birds set forth their cheerful song, Three mounted troopers came riding up, Keldavis, and Malloy – They all set out to capture the wild colonial boy.
6. “Surrender now, Jack Dowling! For you been a plundering sin. Surrender now in the Queen’s name for here is three to one.” Jack pulled a pistol from his belt, it was no playful toy: “I’ll fight but not surrender!” cries the wild colonial boy.
7. He fired at Fitzgerald, and he brought him to the ground, Turned to Keldavis, gave him his deathly wound. When a bullet sharp did pierce his heart from the rifle of Malloy, They shot him and they captured the wild colonial boy.
Thomas Cleghorn, Sandy Ives, The Wild Colonial Boy, Australia, Britain, Ireland, Maine, New Brunswick, Harvey Station, Robin Hood figure, criminal, highwayman, bushranger, Bold Jack Donahue, Jack Dowling, Calais, Joe Scott, ballad, lumberwoods, Roud, Laws
Ives, Edward D. Drive Dull Care Away: Folksongs From Prince Edward Island. Charlottetown, PEI: Institute of Island Studies, 1999, 77-78, 257 (includes a transcription with slightly different lyrics); Laws, G. Malcolm, Jr. American Balladry from British Broadsides. Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, 1957, 14, 177 (L-20); Leach, MacEdward. Folk Ballads and Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada, 1965, 148-49; & Cazden, Norman, Herbert Haufrecht, and Norman Studer. Folk Songs of the Catskills. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1982, 422-27.
Ethnomusicology | Folklore | Oral History
Cleghorn, Thomas. 1964. “Wild Colonial Boy.” NA64.6, CD72.7. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Special Collections Department, University of Maine.