In this song 'tars and skippers' (i.e. sailors and keelmen) get confused in the dark whilst guarding the corpses of their friends against imaginary 'resurrection men' (grave robbers who stole bodies for research).
The song forms part of a 24 page song book, published in 1829, that appears to be the only known work of Thomas Marshall. Marshall was born in Newcastle and served his apprenticeship as a brush-maker in Pilgrim Street. At the age of 21 this collection of his songs was published by William Fordyce of Dean Street, two of the songs, 'Euphy's coronation' and 'Blind Willie' going on to enjoy relative popularity for a number of years following. It is not clear if Marshall ceased composing after this, or simply if none of his other work has survived - certainly Thomas Allan in his 1891 edition of 'Allan's Tyneside songs' noted that 'if he wrote anything after this it is untraced, as nothing appears to have found its way into local collections'. Thomas Marshall died on 29th December, 1866 at his house in Shieldfield, Tyneside.