Song on the president of the National Agricultural Labourer's Union.
Joseph Arch was born on the 3rd February, 1847. Somewhat of a radical, he was approached in the 1870s by a group of men hoping to form a farm worker's union. Arch soon jumped on board and succeeded in increasing the groups membership dramatically. The National Agricultural Labourer's Union was formed on the 29th 1872 with Arch as its president and went on to gain over 86,000 members. Arch went on to be the first agricultural labourer to become a member of the House of Commons and was instrumental in the passing of the 1884 Parliamentary Reform Act.
This song was written by William Dunbar and printed in 1874. Dunbar began his life in the service of Gateshead painter and glazier, Mr. Romanis. After working for a short time in the service of a Felling cartwright, he spent the remainder of his life in the coal pits. He varied the monotony of the pit life by appearing at amateur concerts at which, although not much of a singer, he was always well received. Along with his talent for composing, Dunbar had a decided taste for drawing and spent much of his spare time producing water-colours and pencil sketches. During the last few years of his life he spent most of his time writing pieces for the local annuals, published by J.W. Chater of Newcastle. He won a number of medals and competitions and on his death in 1874 was fondly remembered with a number of tributes in Chater's publications.
'Joseph Arch' forms part of a small song book published by Stevenson and Dryden of Newcastle. It contains over 40 pages of local songs composed by Dunbar, along with extracts from 'Chater's Diary and Local Remembrancer'. Most of the songs are given the tune to which they were intended to be sung and are classified into 'local', 'motto', or 'comic' song types. The book was published in 1874, probably on the death of William Dunbar.