Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Paul, Mrs John

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Paul, Mrs John

The existence of the woman who was quite possibly Sydney's first recorded composer is attested to in The Sydney Gazette for 1 March 1836. Reporting on a concert by the newly arrived Irish musical virtuoso William Vincent Wallace, the Gazette noted that Wallace concluded his program by inviting members of the audience to submit tunes, one of which he selected and added 'some extemporaneous variations' of his own. According to the Gazette, the item in question was the song 'Currency Lasses (as composed by our talented towns lady, Mrs John Paul senior).' [1]

One version of the words of the song, printed in 1832, includes the following chorus: [2]

The Currency Lads can fill up their glasses
And drink to the health of the Currency Lasses
The Lass I adore; the one for me
Is the lass of the Female Factory

Whether these were the words of Mrs Paul's song is not known. Nor is there any known record of the tune ascribed to her, though some vestige of it may survive in the setting published by Isaac Nathan in London in 1846.

Edward Geoghegan was also author and possibly composer of the musical play or operetta The Currency Lass, or My Native Girl (he himself later described it as an 'original 2 act opera'), first performed at the Royal Victoria Theatre, Sydney on 27 May 1844.


James Hall, 'A History of Music in Australia (11)', The Canon, vol 4 no 5, November 1951, pp 152–56


[1] The Sydney Gazette, 1 March 1836, p 3; James Hall, 'A History of Music in Australia (11)', The Canon, vol 4 no 5, November 1951, pp 155–156

[2] Tony Rayner, Female Factory, Female Convicts, Esperance Press, Dover Tasmania, p v