“The Rambling Boy (III)”


Jack the sailor and his girl spend the night and stop in a Green Street tavern where he is beaten by "turks and heathens." He is taken and "transported for theivery" to Van Diemans Land. Now in "transport blue," he will write her a letter if she is true.

Supplemental text

Rambling Boy (III), The
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

The Rambling Youth 

From the recording by Robert Cinnamond (IRRCinnamond03: "Sailor's Songs"
FOLKTRAX-159). Transcribed and with notes by John Moulden; quoted with
his permission. - BS

I'm a rambling youth that all's led astray
Jack the sailor they do call me
I am out of work I can find no employ
That's why they call me the rambling boy.
It was down to Green Street I took my flight
Me and my darling for to spend a night
A night, brave boys, when was time to go
Ah little I knew she proved my overthrow.
It was in the tavern where we both sat down
The turks and heathens did me surround
Where the turks and heathens they did me surround
My innocent blood, brave boys, did stain the ground.
Farewell father and mother too,
Farewell sisters and brothers three
I'm now transported for thievery
And Van Diemans Land brave boys I'm bound to see.
There is one thing grieves me, vexes my mind
'tis the leaving of my true love behind
I'll write her a letter if her heart is true
Although I'm wearing the transport blue.


The description is based on John Moulden's transcription from IRRCinnamond03 included in the Traditional Ballad Index Supplement.

There appear to be missing pieces to the story. The text says Jack "can find no employ" [is a robbery missing at this point?] and he "took ... flight" with his "darling"; after their night together "she proved my overthrow." Were the "turks [cruel men] and heathens" in the tavern police? - BS

More likely they are Catholics, I think. According to Eric Partridge's _A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English_, a "Turk" was a gutter word for Irishmen. If "Turk" is used in that sense, it seems reasonable to assume that Jack is English, and Protestant, and is claiming to have been attacked by Irish Catholics. No doubt a convenient excuse.... - RBW


  • Robert Cinnamond, "The Rambling Youth" (on IRRCinnamond03)


  1. ST RcRCTRaY (Full)
  2. Roud #3083
  3. BI, RcRCTRaY


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1955 (IRRCinnamond03)
Found in: Ireland