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Title : Tars and skippers

Format : chapbook ; song

Composer : Marshall, Thomas (d.1866)

Production details : publisher : Wm. Fordyce
Dean Street ; Newcastle upon Tyne

Date : 1829

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Collection name : Collection of original local songs by Thomas Marshall


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.


Collection description : Early nineteenth century songbook

Melody used : Derry down

First line : Four hardy Jack tars, wi' a noble intent

Subject heading : local characters and strange events

Keywords : keelmen & sailors & death & superstition & grave-robbers

Period : 1801-1840

Height : 16 cm

Width : 9 cm

Held by : Gateshead Council

Copyright : Item reproduced by kind permission of Gateshead Council


t :: 0191 433 8430

f :: 0191 433 8424

e :: libraries@gateshead.gov.uk

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FARNE Folk Archive Resource North East