This poem is written about a time when even a small crime could get you a sentence of seven years and shipped off to Australia as a convict.
The poem is to "seek some honest trade" or you'll wind up in Botany Bay.
Botany Bay has become synonymous with being sent to prison in Australia, despite
the penal colony being moved from Botany Bay to Sydney Cove.
See also the songs
Female Transport • Botany Bay
Convicts being transported
to Botany Bay say goodbye.
Ye London maids attend to me,
While I relate my misery.
Through London streets I oft have strayed,
But now I am a Convict Maid.
In innocence I once did live,
In all the joy that peace could give.
But sin my youthful heart betrayed,
And now I am a Convict Maid.
To wed my lover I did try,
To take my master's property.
So all my guilt was soon displayed,
And I became a Convict Maid.
Then I was soon to prison sent,
To wait in fear my punishment.
When at the bar I stood dismayed,
Since doomed to be a Convict Maid.
At length the Judge did me address,
Which filled with pain my aching breast.
To Botany Bay you will be conveyed,
For seven years a Convict Maid.
For seven long years oh how I sighed,
While my poor mother loudly cried.
My lover wept and thus he said,
May God be with my Convict Maid.
To you that here my mournful tale,
I cannot half my grief reveal.
No sorrow yet has been portrayed,
Like that of the poor Convict Maid.
Far from my friends and home so dear,
My punishment is most severe.
My woe is great and I'm afraid,
That I shall die a Convict Maid.
I toil each day in grief and pain,
And sleepless through the night remain.
My constant toils are unrepaid,
And wretched is the Convict Maid.
Oh could I but once more be free,
I'd never again a captive be.
But I would seek some honest trade,
And never become a Convict Maid.