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Iron Bands

Written & arranged by Aaron Jones

 

Musicians

Rachel Walker (Vocals)

Aaron Jones (Guitar)

Duncan Lyall (Keys)

 

Aaron’s Inspiration:

Countless women were involved in the movement to end slavery, but the stories of Glasgow born mother and daughter-in-law Jane Smeal (1801 - 1888) and Eliza Wigham (1820 - 1899) are particularly inspiring.

 

During the research for this song, I was deeply moved to read the work of many female poets and songwriters on the subject. Iron Bands features lines from the work of Sarah Forten and Susannah Watts. It seems that the detainment and selling of young black children struck a particular chord with Jane and Eliza who truly understood what it must feel like, as a mother, to have your child taken away from you.

 

Their contributions to a pamphlet titled ‘Address to the Women of Great Britain’ and an address to a young Queen Victoria were credited with helping to bring the UK’s involvement in the Caribbean Slave trade to an end. They, along with Agnes McLaren and Elizabeth Pease Nichol are name checked in this tribute. The melody of the song is inspired by the Irish tune ‘Rodney’s Glory’.

LYRICS

How can you take a Christian name,

And feel no pity, feel no shame.

So, women let us all complain,

About the iron bands.

 

They are mothers just like us you see,

So, help us please to set them free,

McLaren, Nichol, Wigham, Smeal,

Release the iron bands.

 

You know how only death can sever,

Beloved children from your hold.

Theirs alive but lost forever,

Children stolen, bought and sold.

 

Here’s an address to the women of Britain,

Let’s speak out all over the land.

Put an end to the cruel act of slavery,

Break the chains, set them free, cut the bands.

 

The grave for slaves is welcomed, blessed,

And death to them is freedom, rest.

So, to the Queen, a firm request,

Undo the iron bands.

 

They are mothers just like us you see,

So, help us please to set them free,

McLaren, Nichol, Wigham, Smeal,

Release the iron bands.