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Sergeant Bob Shaftoe is the brother of Jack Shaftoe.  He is a Solidier in the Black Torrent Guards, who asscends to the rank of Colonel and who serves in Ireland under John Churchill.

Bob Shaftoe was one of Eliza's lovers. It is not clear whether he fathered any of her children. Eliza's motive for taking Bob as a lover is unclear; she claimed that she seduced him to teach him a lesson about the ephemeral nature of love, but his resemblence to his brother Jack Shaftoe, who proved to be Eliza's lifelong romance but who could not personally perform the act of coitus with her, may well have played into her decision. It is also unclear whether Bob or Jack Shaftoe is the ancestor of the Shaftoe family in Cryptonomicon, although the closing scene of Jack's sons in America suggests that it is Jack's branch of the family, not Bob's, that is featured in the novel set in the twentieth century.

During the invasion of the Duke of Monmouth, prior to William of Orange's Glorious Revolution, Bob Shaftoe fell in love with one of the Taunton Schoolgirls, who was subsequently enslaved on the order of Lord Jeffreys. He then made an alliance with then-political prisoner Daniel Waterhouse to work together to kill both Jeffreys and Waterhouse's old enemy, the Earl of Upnor. Their deal worked out; Daniel located Jeffreys and threw him to the mob during the Glorious Revolution; Bob Shaftoe encountered and killed Upnor in Ireland.


The name is a reference to an English nursery rhyme.


Bobby Shafto's gone to sea, silver buckles on his knee,
He'll come back and marry me, Bonny Bobby Shafto
Bobby Shafto's tall and slim, he's always dressed so neat and trim
The lasses they aal keek at him! Bonny Bobby Shafto
Bobby Shafto's gone to sea, silver buckles on his knee
He'll come back and marry me, Bonny Bobby Shafto

Bobby Shafto's gettin' a bairn, for to dangle in his airm
In his airm and on his knee, Bonny Bobby Shafto
Bobby Shafto's gone to sea, silver buckles on his knee,
He'll come back and marry me, Bonny Bobby Shafto
Bobby Shafto's been to sea, Silver Buckles on his knee; He's come home and married me, Bonny Bobby Shafto!



Bobby Shafto was in fact a County Durham M.P, who was elected in 1761, when the song was used as an election jingle. A sweetheart of Bobby Shafto, to whom the ballad is often attributed is believed to have lived at Brancepeth Castle across the River Wear, three miles north of Whitworth, near the outskirts of Durham City.


MLA Citation:
"Bobby Shafto." 123HelpMe.com. 28 Aug 2009 <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=55979>.


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