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Title : Awd man's petition fra the workhoose te Tommy Burt

Format : song

Composer : Cresswell, Marshall (b. 1883) ; Illustrator : Marcke, J.L.

Production details : publisher : J.W. Chater
Grainger Street ; Newcastle upon Tyne

Edition : edition statement : second edition

Date : 1883

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Collection name : Local and other songs, and recitations, etc. composed by Marshall Creswell, Dudley, Northumberland. With introductory autobiography.


Appeal to the local M.P. from a man who has been separated from his wife and placed in the workhouse.

Throughout the nineteenth century much energy had been spent on attempting to reduce the cost of poor relief. By the time this song was written, parish relief, an 'outdoor' form of relief whereby the poor could remain in their homes, had dramatically reduced and the workhouse had been placed at the centre of provision. To further discourage reliance on poor relief it was decided that workhouse conditions should be worse than the lowest standards of the independent labourer. It was hoped that paupers would be deterred from a reliance on the workhouse by the harsh treatment of the inmates and the conditions within. From BBC History - Welfare. This song is testament to the harsh treatment of the unfortunates who were forced to rely on poor relief at the end of the nineteenth century.

The song forms part of a selection of songs by local pitman Marshall Creswell. The book was published in Newcastle in 1883 by J.W. Chater. Many of the songs deal with the topics of the day such as 'The Grainger Monnymint', 'The North Durham election', whilst others such as 'A modest appeal', touch on working and domestic life. Interestingly the collection also contains a number of songs relating to sea voyages, undoubtedly inspired by the pitman's journey to Borneo. All of the songs in this collection are written in local dialect.

The author, Marshall Cresswell, was born on the 18th January, 1833, in the village of Fawdon Square. After a brief education Marshall was sent to work in the pits at the age of nine years old. Following appointments at numerous pits in Northumberland and County Durham the author learned of a local coal owner, William Coulson, who required three men to go to Borneo as sinkers. Jumping at the opportunity Cresswell set sail and proceeded to encounter ship wrecks, storms and dangerous natives, an account of which is given in this collection. Marshall Cresswell returned from his voyages and commenced work in the pits, writing various songs and recitations for print, chiefly in Chater's publications.


Collection description : A collection of songs by local pitman Marshall Creswell.

First line : Dear Tommy, maw hinny, aw send thoo this letter

Subject heading : poverty, health and welfare

Keywords : poverty & workhouse

Period : 1861-1900

Page numbers: pp. 13-14


Held by : Border History Museum

Copyright : Item reproduced by kind permission of Border History Museum


t :: 0191 433 8430

f :: 0191 433 8424

e :: libraries@gateshead.gov.uk

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FARNE Folk Archive Resource North East