Song written in celebration of the downfall of unpopular local policeman Thomas Carr.
At the time this song was written Thomas Carr was custodian of Newcastle Keep. He was described as a 'gross, vulgar fellow, with a patch on his cheek,' and was immortalized in the song 'Cappy'. In 1823, much to the pleasure of the local population, Carr was taken to court for holding a man without legal cause. The plaintiff, Thomas Watson, had passed the evening with friends in Newcastle. Singing to each other as they walked through the streets, two members of the group were apprehended by Carr. On attempting to post bail for his friends, Thomas Watson was also detained, spending the night in the local watch-house. Enraged by his treatment, Watson brought charges against Carr who was ordered to pay damages of 40 shillings. The trial took place at Newcastle Assizes on 2nd August, 1823 before the Hon. Sir John Bayley.
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.