Thomas Anderson

[Also on the David Harley’s Songs page, though I’ve slightly altered the text here.]

Words & Music by David Harley, 1975. All rights reserved.

Thomas Anderson MP3: This is a home-recorded demo version that’s actually in better shape than the CentreSound  version. I definitely intend to come back and do it a full studio-quality version at some point. 

The song is based on an article – now available here: Black Velvet (article from Shrewsbury folk club magazine, 1973) – for the Shrewsbury Folk Club magazine, written in the 1960s by Ron Nurse. I believe his source material was in the Shrewsbury Chronicle archives. Sadly, I hear that Ron recently passed on, but I was at least able to sing the song in his presence, tell the story, and shake his hand at a Shrewsbury Folk Club reunion last year (2012).

The picture below is a detail from the Shoemakers Arbour, in Shrewsbury Dingle, showing the somewhat dilapidated Crispin and Crispian:


We are but images of stone
Do us no harm
We can do none
St. Crispin and St. Crispian are we
On the arch of the Shoemaker’s arbour

High above the river on Kingsland we stood
On the gate to the hall of the shoemakers’ guild
Where the bakers, the tailors, the butchers, the smiths
And the saddlers too their guild arbours built.
Each year in procession the guilds gave a show
And marched through the town to the sound of the drum:
Then it’s back to Kingsland to feast and carouse
And enjoy the great day the guild members come.

We are but images of stone
Do us no harm
We can do none
St. Crispin and St. Crispian are we
On the arch of the Shoemaker’s arbour

On the 10th of June 1752
In a house called The Crown that stood on Pride Hill
John Richards’ workmen received a week’s pay
And there they stayed and drank their fill.
When a redcoat patrol chanced to pass by
The men  mocked and reviled them with Jacobite songs
And who struck the first blow no-one was sure
But a bloody riot soon raged through the town.

The authorities trembled with passion and fear
When news of this Jacobite outburst was known
For the House of Hanover had won few hearts
And the Stuarts still plotted to win back the throne.
And so that same year, one raw day in December,
The rebellious townsfolk of Salop looked on
While below the old arch of the Shoemaker’s Arbour
They made an example of Tom Anderson

Who was once spared by death on the field of Culloden
Then joined the dragoons but deserted, they say,
Only to die on the banks of the Severn
By firing squad on a cold Winter’s day.
When the black velvet suit was stripped from his body
The Chevalier’s colours were beneath it, it’s said,
Received from the hands of Bonny Prince Charlie
Whose cause like young Thomas is broken and dead.

For it’s 200 years since Bonny Prince Charlie
Died drunk and embittered, an old man in Rome
While a century ago in the flowers of the Dingle
The old arbour gateway found a new home.
Now who’s to remember the Shoemakers’ Guild
Or the Jacobite rebels who fought for a throne?
And who’s left to grieve for Tom Anderson
But these two hearts of stone?

We are but images of stone
Do us no harm
We can do none
St. Crispin and St. Crispian are we
On the arch of the Shoemaker’s arbour

This is the discarded 1980′s studio version (doesn’t have first verse, does have an alarming pre-echo in places, badly recorded fiddle, but gives some idea of how the finished version might have sounded, if it had ever been finished): Thomas Anderson 2. Double-tracked vocal and guitar by me, unknown flute player – believe it or not, I’ve no memory at all of a flautist at any of those sessions – Pete Wilkes on fiddle. I will record this properly some day soon, hopefully.


And this is a view of the Shoemaker’s Arbour from across the Dingle pond. (Yes, I have probably used it elsewhere in this blog. I’m just rather fond of it. 🙂

David Harley 
Small Blue-Green World

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