A Convict Love Token

Tony Smith
Language: English

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A Convict Love Token
© Tony Smith 2018

Notes for A Convict Love Token

David Brown of West Sussex came across a coin etched by a convict ‘CG to SG’ in late 1830. He was able to trace a descendant of Charles Green because Warren Read had contributed research on his ancestor to the Hungerford Virtual Museum, In late 2017, Mr Brown came to Australia and presented the coin to Mr Read. It is now in the Camden Museum. The museum of Australia has a collection of similar coins – some 120 – which they call ‘leaden hearts’.

Charles, of Kintbury Berkshire, was in prison for his part in the rural protest movement known as the Swing Riots. Their leader’s nom-de-guerre was Captain Swing. These protestors, like the Luddites in urban areas, took direct action against the machines which threatened their way of life. They smashed threshing machines and burnt haystacks.

Charles etched the coin while awaiting transportation for his crimes. He sailed on the Eleanor, which carried 133 men – all Swing Rioters - from Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire and Hampshire. At least one man was executed. There was a suspicion that some of the magistrates sentencing these men had landed estates in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land for which they needed skilled labout. He and Sarah were never re-united. The chorus of the song approximates Charles’ inscription, which is close to some others in the Museum of Australia. This may suggest that Charles copied another inscription with similar sentiments.
When my love this coin you see
I hope that you’ll remember me
Until I gain my liberty
I gain my liberty

Oh Sarah love I miss you so
Now I am waiting to go
From this prison hulk my cell
Across the sea to another hell

I fought the changes to our world
For when I looked at our dear girl
I felt a deep and helpless shame
To think of her whole life enslaved

I burnt a hay stack maybe more
I fought the greed ‘twould make us poor
With Captain Swing I nightly went
Of all I did I can’t repent

And now I leave you with no man
You must live from mouth to hand
The rich have won this time I fear
But we will fight another year

When my love this coin you see
I hope that you’ll remember me
Until I gain my liberty
I gain my liberty

This loving coin I give to you
It might help to see you through
The years ahead that you must fight
So keep it by you in the night

This coin is like a wedding ring
It bears a promise from the King
This token round it has no end
Nor has the love to you I send

When my love this coin you see
I hope that you’ll remember me
Until I gain my liberty
I gain my liberty

Contributed by Tony Smith - 2021/1/24 - 03:00

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