# Bobby Shafto's Gone to Sea

year 1805 origin England

# Lyrics

Bobby Shafto's gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee;
He'll come back and marry me,
Bonny Bobby Shafto!
Bobby Shafto's bright and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair;
He's my love for evermore,
Bonny Bobby Shafto!

# History and Meaning

'Bobby Shafto' is believed to have originated in the 18th century in the North East of England.

The rhyme is about a young man named Bobby Shafto who is courting a young woman. The rhyme is playful and light-hearted, and it is often used as a children's song.

The meaning of the rhyme has been the subject of much speculation. Some believe that it is a simple love song, while others believe that it has a deeper meaning. Some scholars have suggested that the rhyme is a commentary on class and social status, with Bobby Shafto representing the lower classes and the young woman representing the upper classes.

Others have suggested that the rhyme is of political origin, with Bobby Shafto representing a political figure of the time: Robert Shafto. Here 'Bobby' would be the shorter form of 'Robert'.

Robert Shafto first became an MP (Member of Parliament in the UK) in 1760 in a by-election. A by-election happens when a seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant between general elections. Robert then ran for power again in the 1761 election where topped the poll with 1589 votes against the next ranking candidate on 1553 votes. Although he decided not to run for re-election in 1768 he remained active in politics until well into the 1790's. It is speculated that the rhyme may have been campaign song for Robert in the 1761 election at Durham. In an older version of the rhyme there was a verse which may have made more sense in this context:

"All the Ribbons flying about,

All the ladies looking out,

Clapping their hands and giving a Shout,

Hurrah for Bobbie Shafto!"

# Music Video