“Botany Bay Courtship (The Currency Lasses)”


"The Currency Lads may fill their glasses And drink to the health of the Currency Lasses, But the lass I adore... Is a lass in the Female Factory." Having met Molly (who was "tried by the name of Polly"), the two plan marriage


The "Female Factory" was the compound at Parramatta where female immigrants were kept. Settlers were allowed to come in and seek wives.

The Factory wasn't much of a solution to Australia's problems; fewer than one transportee in six was female, and not all of them were of "marriagable age" (though the authorities eventually started trying to send young women). The women at the Factory, in addition, were those who were not wanted by contractors.

To top it off, the Factory was quite a dreadful place, a hall above a prison, not nearly large enough for all the women sent there. Many had to be lodged on the town, and the whole place presented a picture of squalor and, hence, of other vices as the women strove to survive.

A "currency lad" or "currency lass" was a child born in Australia in the colony's early years, and usually illegitimate. The title arose because Australia had very little money, and so turned to odd, makeshift native products. Since the children, too, were native products, they were called "currency." (As opposed to the handful of British-born non-convict landowners, the "Sterling.") - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "The Irish Washerwoman" (tune & meter)


  1. Fahey-Eureka, pp. 68-69, "The Currency Lasses" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, FaE068


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1832
Found in: Australia