Song describing the triumphs of famous Newcastle racehorse 'XYZ'.
Owned by a Mr. Riddell, XYZ became a household name after winning the Gold Cup for four consecutive years from 1811-1814. This song describes the horse's victory at the 1814 Gold Cup held on Newcastle Town Moor. The press cutting accompanying the song in the John Bell collection indicates that the race was held on Monday June 20.
The song was written to be sung to a tune originally known as the 'Cameronians Rant'. Other Tyneside songs such as 'Hydrophobie' were also written to this tune. The author of 'XYZ', William Mitford, lived in Oyster Shell Lane in Newcastle, and was well known for penning popular local songs, the 'Pitman's Courtship' and the 'Bewildered Skipper'. Songs like this would have been performed at race meetings as well as being distributed in broadsheet and chapbook form.
Newcastle was the second largest producer of chapbooks in the country at the time of this book's publication. 'The Newcastle Songster' was printed by J. Marshall, one of the most prominent chapbook printers in Newcastle during the early nineteenth century. This book forms part III of the 'Songster' series and is perhaps easier to date than parts I and II. Although it is not clear whether preceding parts of the 'Songster' were published before or after John Bell's 'Rhymes of the Northern Bards, 1812, the appearance of songs such as 'XYZ' in part III indicate the publication date to be no earlier than 1814.
The book contains some of the region's best known traditional songs. From 'The Skipper's Wedding' to 'Newcastle Fair', the book has offerings from well known Tyneside composers such as John Selkirk and would have been extremely popular among the local population.