> Shirley Collins > Songs > Newcastle


[ Roud 8086 ; Ballad Index PFCYNN ; trad.]

Shirley Collins recorded Newcastle in London in 1958/59 for her 1959/60 Collector EP English Songs. This track was also included in 2002 on her Fledg’ling anthology Within Sound. She noted:

This romantic and tender song is set to one of the loveliest English dance tunes (also known as Newcastle) from Playford’s English Dancing Master, published in 1651. The words sound to me as though they were added a century or so later. It’s a wonderful tune both to sing and to dance to, but since it’s quite an energetic dance, not at the same time!

Maddy Prior sang Came Ye From Newcastle in 2008 on her Park album Seven for Old England. She noted:

This is another tune from Playford, this time The Dancing Master, printed under the name Newcastle. Dance tunes are always tricky to sing, and this is no exception. The words of the first verse are from The Grub Street Opera of 1731 and I’ve just developed the theme to make a singable song.

Lankum sang Newcastle in 2023 on their Rough Trade album False Lankum. They noted:

We learned this song from Seán Fitzgerald of The Deadlians, whose mother Pauline sang it to him as a child. The tune was first published in The English Dancing Master (1651) where it is simply entitled Newcastle, while the words may be related to a broadside ballad printed in 1620 and entitled The contented Couckould, Or a pleasant new Songe of a New-Castle man whose wife being gon from him, shewing how he came to London to her, & when he found her carried her backe againe to New-Castle Towne.


Shirley Collins sings Newcastle

Come you not from Newcastle?
Come you not there away?
O met you not my true love,
Riding on a bonny bay?
Why should I not love my love?
Why shouldn’t my love love me?
Why should I not speed after him,
Since love to all is free?

[ There’s not a stouter yeoman
That treads the heath’ry moor,
There’s not a heart more constant,
More gentle or more pure.
In childhood we were plighted
And until death, will prove
That gold, which conquers pride and pow’r,
Can never shake our love. ]

My father, once his true friend,
Now turns him from the door.
My mother owns him worthy,
But bids me love no more.
The Squire, his boyhood’s playmate,
Would now his rival be,
And Willie madly rides away
To sail the stormy sea.

But spite of blame and danger,
With Willie I will roam.
His arms my safe depender,
His breast my happy home.
Why should I not love my love?
Why shouldn’t my love love me?
Why should we not together roam,
Since love to all is free?

Maddy Prior sings Came Ye From Newcastle

Came ye from Newcastle?
Came you not there away?
And met ye not my true love
Riding on a bonny bay?

Chorus (after each verse):
Why should I not love my love?
Why should not my love, love me?
Why should I not speed after him
Since love to all is free?

My love is neat and handsome
My love is fair and strong
I know that my love loves me
And I know that I’m not wrong

Sometimes I wonder at my love
He’s been so long away
I watch the highway daily
Looking for the bonny bay

(repeat first verse)