Song about a sailor's strike on Tyneside.
This is one of a number of songs written in protest of post-war conditions in Britain. It had been hoped that the end of the Napoleonic Wars would be followed by a period of peace and prosperity. However the five or six years after 1815 were a period of intolerable privation for the people of Tyneside. The sudden stop in demand for armaments and war materials threw many ironworkers, factory operatives and miners out of work. The number of unemployed was further aggravated by thousands of discharged soldiers and sailors who found it impossible to find jobs. This song probably refers to a sailors strike held on Tyneside between August and October 1815. In an attempt to force ship-owners to employ them, sailors at South Shields and Sunderland stopped all ships sailing for several weeks. Reluctantly the magistrate called upon the local militia to force the men back to work, this however simply succeeded in increasing public sympathy for the sailors' plight.
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.