A very bad Character

A very bad Character (1989)

Thomas Willetts was an English petty thief, who for his so-called ‘crimes’ was banished to the English penal settlement, Australia for seven years in 1834.
The penal record, in which Willetts is meticulously described, forms the text of the composition.
The piece has been written for a baritone solo. Various old and also new, quite difficult to perform vocal techniques are applied in order to give expression to the absurdity of Willetts’ story.
With the addition of an accordion it is also Song 1 of the composition Australiana.
See also the article by David Barton.


Thomas Willetts Number 1809
Tried at Warwick, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land
August 1834.
Trade: none. Complexion: dark. Hair: brown.
Visage: small. Eyebrows: brown. Nose: small.
Chin: small. Height: 4 feet 11 inches.
Head: small. Whiskers: none. Eyes: grey.
Mouth: wide. Remarks: Pockmarked, scar on right arm.
Convicted 7 years’ transportation for stealing stockings
and garden vegetables.
Character: very bad.

(quoted in: Robert Hughes – The Fatal Shore)