Billy Barlow in Sydney




The following is as sung by George Coppin, in 1843, at the Royal Victoria Theatre, Sydney, where his performance netted him “upwards of fifty-pounds a night”. This was an astronomical amount of money for the 1840s. The song was later published by Thomas Rolfe of Pitt Street, Sydney, in 1853, testifying the lengthy popularity of the ballad.



As I walked along George Street this ere day
The people all look’d &. some of ’em did say
Now that ere young chap he don’t go so slow
I guess not, says a lady, that’s Billy Barlow

Oh dear & etc


When resolv’d from old England I would come away
The lords & the ladies all ax’d me to stay
The Queen she came too, on knees she did go
And said “Pray do not leave me, dear Billy Barlow
Oh dear etc


She then said “we have had all the Germans at court
To Italians & Frenchmen we’ve given support
On our own native talent our favours we’ll show
So we’ll order to court Mr William Barlow


When she said these words oh she smiled upon me
& said, that the Prince of Wales I should next see
She then took the child & said “dear don’t you know
Your illustrious god papa Billy Barlow


The next prince or princess they’ll named after me
There’s a line in perspective we most on us see
So the name they will on the next young un bestow
Will be Albert Augustus Sam Billy Barlow


Ladies & gentlemen I have come back again
Of your approbation I feels very wain
Though it must be confessed your good taste you all show
In encoring the song of Billy Barlow


As am I on the clean deck of the Templar did stand
A lot of gents came & took me by the hand
Says they ‘Your a stranger in Sydney we know
So we’ve come here to welcome young Billy Barlow


Says one “you don’t know i see why I came
But I have heard of your most illustrious name
I’m the Mayor of the city with me you must go
1’ll introduce to the council young Billy Barlow


Since then I have a hit on an excellent plan-
To set up for Legislation as soon as I can
So give me your votes and I very well know
You could not choose better than Billy Barlow


Perhaps ay political opinions you’d ask
And to give you them all in a very short task
I’d live well, do no work, ride wherever I go
Peace & comforts the system for Billy Barlow

Ladies & gents I must “bid you good night
For from Governor Gipps I’ve had an invite
To meet him at supper in a house you well know
His carriage is waiting for Billy Barlow


Additional verses


Wanted a wife that is timid & young
With a very good temper-a curb on her tongue
A fortune not less than a thousand or so
& a very small price for Billy Barlow


Like a clock she must go in a regular way
But not like a clock strike each hour of the day
For a wife that can box for me is no go
A peaceful man is young Billy Barlow


Who’ll have me! who’ll have me! – cry out I
I cant marry you all though I m willing to try
To a sweet pretty lady I’d grieve to say no
For a very soft heart has Billy Barlow


Bid you speak Miss-ah, don’t turn & look shy
If you are quite willing quite ready am I
Come round to the stage door & ask for your beau
And fly to the arms of Billy Barlow