At the time this song was written both the Northumberland and Durham miners had spent a number of years building up effective trade unions. In 1864 Thomas Burt proposed that the Northumberland miners should form a separate organisation and by 1872 a strong union had been established that succeeded in securing the Northumbrian pitmen a better position than that of any other group of English miners. In the late 1870s there were numerous strikes throughout Northumberland and Durham which threatened to undermine the unions. Despite this both the Northumberland union and the Durham Miners' Association survived and went on to become the strongest unions in the country. Note also the reference in the song to 'royalty rents', a charge imposed by landowners for the transport of coal over or under their lands.
This song forms part of a selection of songs from 'Blyth and Tyneside poems and songs' by James Anderson. The book was published in Blyth by J. Fraser, around 1898. The songs reflect the characters, industries and landscapes of Tyneside, with many such as 'Be kind te yer wife', touching on domestic life at the time. The author, James Anderson, was born in the village of Earsdon, in 1825. Following his father into the pits, Anderson held the position of lamp man at Elswick Colliery in Newcastle for over 20 years. His early songs gained merit in the Weekly Chronicle song competitions and the composer went on to have material published in 'Chater's Tyneside Comic Annuals' and other publications. The author was apparently as well known in his day as famous Tyneside composer Joe Wilson, although his popularity has not endured and he is not well known today.