THE SPRINGFIELD EMIGRANT MINERS

The emigrant Scottish miners are named in the verses of a poem sent to me by an Australian historian and copied from a cutting from a Scottish newspaper published in1857. The newspaper is not identified. Six verses are introduced with the following preamble:

“Most respectfully inscribed to our old friends, neighbours, and acquaintances, our former employees and worthy managers, in testimony of our lasting respect for them; and as a proof that we are sincere, we shall sing this homely ballad upon the deck of the Forest Monarch, just as we are leaving sight of Old Caledonia.”

Signed

THE SPRINGFIELD EMIGRANT MINERS

Air—The Flowers of the Forest

A farewell to Springfield, a farewell for ever!

Our destiny leads us to far distant climes,

And those left behind us, forget, we shall never,

Ingratitude was the blackest of crimes.

Our families, numerous, they shall be with us,

And we, like our sires, shall lead youth by the hand,

We will make them even in the antipodes,

For the morning is dawning in Van Diemen’s land.

 

The ship Forest Monarch will bear us in safety,
Through clouds, and through tempests, through hail,

winds and rains,
So we sing to the land that we still must hold dearest,
Though few of us ever will see it again.
BISSET, he says that he ne’er can forget it,
RUSSELL and CHERRY, and HOPE are at hand,
BAULD, too, is with us, and DOWNIE declares it,
The Scots shall be Scots, though in Van Diemen’s land.

 

Farewell to JOHN CROOKSTON, to GEORGE, his brave

brother,
Those men who would give every workman his hire,

The first is a man, and so is the other,

Both friends whom we exiles shall ever admire,

But DOWNIE is with us to cheer our departure,

He is like out thistle, and knows how to stand,

Close to his friends and fierce to his foemen,

An honour to Springfield and Van Diemen’s

 Land.

 

Farewell to old neighbours, old comrades, old cronies,

Farewell to the village where we dwelt so long,

Farewell to Springfield, farewell to the Fir Park,

And when far on the deep we shall this same song.

But still we request that our shall remember

And think of us too when we are not at hand,

Each year as it rolls brings round its December,

But or May months await us in Van Diemen’s land.

 

And when we are far on the dark foaming billows,

And when Scotland recedes on from each languishing eye,

And we’ll rhink on you on our ocean-rocked pillows,

And start from our dreams when no friends are

            nigh.

So farewell one and all, oh! Farewell, land of Wallace,

As true sons of thine we shall still take our stand,

………………………………………………….

………………………………………………….

 

(The last two lines are not in my copy.)

 

All of the surnames in the verses are of families listed in the 1851 census of Cadder, a parish which included Bishopbriggs. The names Springfield and Firpark appear as street names in Bishopbriggs, and Springfield is given as the name of a modern mansion in the article on Cadder in the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, published about 1893, and as the same article reports that coal and ironstone were mined in that district, the men of Cadder were undoubtedly the Springfield Emigrant Miners of 1857.

 

The above article is an amended version of one posted in 1999, with an invitation to readers to help me to identify the Springfield  which the miners left behind.  Patience has now (May 2004) been rewarded by a New Zealand descendant of one of the families named in the Springfield Emigrant Miners.  She has supplied me with a copy of a cutting from the Launceston Examiner of  Saturday, 25th July 1857, and has identified Cadder as the home of her ancestors in 1851.  A search of the Lanarkshire Family History Society’s index to the 1851 Census revealed all of the families named in the miners’ poetic farewell to Scotland.    I hope the cutting may be of interest to others who have posted enquiries about the Forest Monarch and her passengers. 

Robin Russell

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