Bobby Shafto

“Bobby Shafto” is an English folk song and nursery rhyme, mostly associated with Robert Shafto, a British Member of Parliament for County Durham (elected in 1730) who used this song in his election campaign.

In 1761 some lyrics have been changed by its supporters.

The song is also associated with Bridget Belasyse, the heiress of Brancepeth Castle, who suffered when Robert Shafto broke her hearth and got married to the heiress of Duncombe Park in Yorkshire, Anne Duncombe. It is said the she died 2 weeks after she found out the news.

It is believed that the real Bobby Shafto was an Irish, who lived in County Wicklow in the 18th century. Here is the first published version of the song from 1805.

“Bobby Shafto” 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,
Panning out his yellow hair;
He’s my love for evermore,
Bonny Bobby Shafto!

Additional lyrics were added in 1812 in Rhymes of Northern Bards, by in John Bell.

Bobby Shafto’s getten a bairn,
For to dangle on his arm;
In his arm and on his knee,
Bobby Shafto loves me.