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Title : XYZ at Newcastle Races, 1814. Or, pitman's luck.

Format : chapbook ; song

Composer : Mitford, William (b.1788 d.1851)

Production details : publisher : J. Marshall
Old Flesh Market, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear

Date : 1814 (circa)

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Collection name : Newcastle songster; being a choice collection of songs, descriptive of the language and manners of the common people of Newcastle upon Tyne and the neighbourhood. Part III.


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.


Collection description : Popular Tyneside songs published in chapbook form.

First line:Smash! Jemmy, let us buss, we'll off

Subject heading : leisure, entertainment and sport

Keywords : sport & horse racing & entertainment

Period : 1801-1840

Height : 14 cm

Width : 8 cm

Held by : Newcastle University

Copyright : Item reproduced by kind permission of Newcastle University


t :: 0191 433 8430

f :: 0191 433 8424

e :: libraries@gateshead.gov.uk

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FARNE Folk Archive Resource North East