Allan's Tyneside Songs reveals that Bold Archy was infact one Archibald Henderson. A famous and well-liked character of Newcastle, 'Archy' was known for his strong attachments to his mother. This song was written on hearing local gossip in which it was claimed Bold Archy had drowned. Archibald Henderson did infact die on 14th May, 1828, and was remembered in a number of Tyneside songs.
The author of this song, Robert Gilchrist, was born at Gateshead on 8th September, 1797. A sail maker by trade, Gilchrist demonstrated a love of poetry from an early age and published a mixture of dialect poems and songs. Robert Gilchrist died on the 11th July, 1844 at his house in Shieldfield, aged 47 years.
Similar to the cheap press of today these poorly printed books and broadsides catered for popular tastes, being sold by chapmen in the country and booksellers in the town. Usually sold for no more than a penny, the production of these little books and broadsides were extremely profitable for most printers. Sold in bulk the material required little proof-reading, was widely plagiarised, and badly printed.
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 V of the 'Songster' series and is perhaps easier to date than the preceding parts. Although it is not clear whether parts I and II of the 'Songster' were published before or after John Bell's 'Rhymes of the Northern Bards, 1812, references to 'Hackney cabs' in part V, which were not introduced into Newcastle until 1824, give some indication of the publication date.
The book contains some of the region's best known traditional songs. From the 'Keelmen's Stick' to 'Hell's Kitchen', the book has offerings from well known Tyneside composers such as William Oliver and would have been extremely popular among the local population.