Song on a famous Dudley tree. A note accompanying the song reveals the history of this tree - 'This song is written by consent of Mr. Gillespie, farmer, Low Weetslade, Dudley, who one morning on his way to school at Crow Hall, in the year 1818, passed two men about half a mile south of Cramlington Village who were cutting a willow hedge; he got a twig which he used to school and back home for a riding whip, and without any idea of it taking root, planted it in the garden, where it is now to be seen a huge willow tree.'
This 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.