The Black Velvet Band is a traditional folk song collected from singers in Ireland, Australia, England, Canada and the United States describing how a young man is tricked and then sentenced to transportation to Australia, a common punishment in the British Empire during the 19th century. Versions were also published on broadsides.
The narrator is bound apprentice in a town (which varies in different versions). He becomes romantically involved with a young woman. She steals a watch and places it in his pocket or in his hand. The apprentice appears in court the next day, and is sentenced to seven years penal servitude in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). In the broadside versions the young woman's motivation is more obvious - she has met a sailor and wants to get rid of her lover.
In the broadsides the action takes place in Ratcliffe Highway, a street in the East End of London, but in collected versions various locations are mentioned - London, Belfast, Tralee, a town in Bedfordshire, and in Dunmanway, Co. Cork. Some East Anglian singers place the action in Belfast and others in London.