Friday, 19 February 2021

Macamathehou in Lincolnshire and the evidence for people named Muhammad in medieval England

The aim of the following draft is to offer some thoughts on a local name from thirteenth-century Lincolnshire, Macamathehou, that involves a version of the Arabic name Muhammad (Middle English Makomet/Macamethe, Old French Mahomet). Whilst it has been plausibly seen as an instance of a variant of the name of Muhammed being used to mean 'heathen', 'pagan idol' or similar (based on the false but common medieval Christian belief that the prophet Muhammad was worshipped as a god), here in reference to a barrow that was considered to be a pre-Christian site, it is worth noting that there are a small number of people with names and surnames derived from Arabic Muḥammad apparently living in twelfth- to fourteenth-century England.

Figure 1: the location of Macamathehou between Spridlington and Faldingworth parishes in Lincolnshire; click the image or here for a larger version (image: C. R. Green/OpenStreetMap and its contributors). 

The existence of the intriguing local name Macamathehou in the parish of Spridlington, Lincolnshire, was first noted in 2001 by Kenneth Cameron, John Field and John Insley in Place-Names of Lincolnshire VI (PNL), with both attestations of the name dating from the thirteenth century (the reign of King Henry III, 1216–72).(1) They identify the two elements of the name as being Old Norse haugr, 'mound, barrow', and Middle English Makomet/Macamethe, which derives from the name of the prophet Muhammad (Medieval Latin Machometus/Mahumetus, Anglo-Norman Mahumet/Mahomet/Machomete, Old French Mahomet < Arabic Muḥammad, probably via an Arabic regional form Maḥammad).(2) Needless to say, this solution is most intriguing and has, moreover, found favour with other place-name specialist, including the Vocabulary of English Place-Names (VEPN) and Richard Coates.(3)

As to the import of this name, the easiest conclusion—and the one endorsed by PNL, VEPN and Coates—is that the first element, Macamethe/Maumate etc, is not functioning simply as a normal Middle English rendering of the name Muhammad/Mahomet, but rather as a word indicative of heathen or pagan idolatry, based on the false but common medieval Christian belief that the prophet Muhammad was worshipped as a god. So, PNL describes the name as meaning 'the heathen mound', with the first element being 'a corrupt ME [Middle English] form of the name of the prophet Mohammed, for which v. MED [Middle English Dictionary], s.v. Makomete, also used to denote a pagan god or an idol'.(4) This is taken up by Richard Coates, who says that it has been suggested, 'with great plausibility', that Macamathehou in Spridlington parish 'is a Middle English name meaning "Mahomet mound", i.e. "heathen mound"', and points to 'the repeated compound of OE hæðen + byrgels "heathen burial"' as a potential comparison.(5) Likewise, the VEPN's draft section on M includes the following discussion:

makomet ME, 'idol, pagan god', an application of the name of the Arab prophet Mohammed (commonly though mistakenly believed by medieval Christians to have been worshipped as a god)... It occurs early in Macamathehou (f.n.) 1216–72 L:6·211 (haugr), presumably to be interpreted as 'heathen mound'.(6)

On the whole, this interpretation is probably the safest option. There are certainly a handful of references to 'heathen' barrows in Old English charter bounds, for example of leofwynne mearce to þam hæþenan beorge, 'from Leofwine's boundary to the heathen barrow', in the charter S956 relating to Drayton, Hampshire, and dated AD 1019, although none are recorded from Lincolnshire.(7) It has also been suggested that the Lincolnshire names Bloater Hill (North Willingham) and Blod Hou (Barrow-on-Humber) derive from Old Norse blóthaugr, 'a sacrificial mound', whilst other names involving haugr certainly refer to supernatural/demonic creatures—for example, Gasthehowe/Gastehowe, Ashby Puerorum (Lincolnshire), recorded in the thirteenth century and deriving from Middle English gast/Old English gāst, 'ghost, dead-spirit', or names like Scratters (Scrathou, in Hayton, East Riding of Yorkshire) and Scrathowes (Scrathou, in Osmotherley, North Riding of Yorkshire), which derive from Old Norse skratti, 'devil, wizard' + haugr.(8) Furthermore, the Old English compound hæðen + byrgels, 'heathen burial', does indeed recur frequently in Late Saxon charter bounds, with these names often said to be identifiable with barrows in the landscape.(9)

On the other hand, there are some possible issues with this explanation, and other interpretations are possible of Spridlington's Macamathehou. First, the comparison with the many instances of the OE compound hæðen + byrgels, ‘heathen burial’, is perhaps not as convincing as it might seem. Not only is a link between this term and barrows only demonstrable in a handful of instances, but Andrew Reynolds has also suggested that the sense of the term was primarily not ‘pagan’, but rather ‘unconsecrated’, and that it denoted burials of executed offenders and other social outcasts, which renders the proposed value of these names as support for interpreting Macamathehou  as meaning ‘heathen mound’ open to significant debate.(10) Second, if the above is correct, then this would be the only known instance of a derivative of the Arabic name Muhammad being used in a place-name to indicate a 'heathen mound' or similar, which is potentially concerning—the other elements noted above all recur in multiple names. Third, the element identified by PNL and VEPN as being present in Macamethehou is Middle English Makomet(e). The Middle English Dictionary (MED) on Makomet(e)/Macamethe etc, however, makes it clear that the primary use of this word in Middle English is as a form of the name Muhammad, not as a word referring to an 'idol'/'pagan god', with the vast majority of quotations provided by the MED referring either the prophet Muhammad or people named Muhammad; the only exceptions are a single quotation from Layamon's Brut (c. 1200, mahimet, lacking the -c-), and three from two later texts.(11) The form of the name Muhammad that was primarily—although not exclusively—used in the sense 'pagan deity, idol', is rather Maumet/Maumate, mentioned above, deriving from Anglo-Norman Maumet, a reduced form of Mauhoumet, Old French Mahomet/Mahommet.(12)

In this light, it is worth considering whether it is possible that the name Macamathehou could somehow be named from a person named Makomet/Muhammad or similar living in medieval England. Certainly, it should be noted that multiple local names relating to mounds/barrows do seem to be named after people who owned estates or land in the area. For example, Andrew Reynolds draws attention to the bounds of a mid-tenth-century charter for Swallowcliffe, Wiltshire (S468), that records the burial site of a seventh‐century woman whose grave had been cut into an existing mound as Posses hlaew, noting that 'Poss is a male name, and thus the mound is apparently not named after its Anglo‐Saxon occupant', implying that it was instead named after a later estate owner.(13) As Irene Bower long ago pointed out, such a situation can be credibly paralleled in Lincolnshire, with a number of Lincolnshire names involving haugr seeming to contain the same personal-name as is found in the same or a neighbouring parish-name—so, Scalehau (Skalli + haugr) was located near to Scawby (Skalli + ), with Kenneth Cameron commenting that the two were 'no doubt named from the same man'; Leggeshou (Leggr + haugr) was located on the boundary of Legsby parish (Leggr + ); Katehou/Catehowe (Kati + haugr) was located in South Cadeby (Kati + ); and a Grimaldeshawe (Grimaldi + haugr) was recorded in the neighbouring parish to Grimoldby (Grimaldi + ), perhaps on the boundary between the two.(14)

Figure 2: Section from the Pipe Roll Society publication of The Great Roll of the Pipe for the Seventh Year of the Reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1160–1161 (London: Wyman & Sons, 1885), p. 10, dealing with Mahumet of Wiltshire (image: Internet Archive).

As to the likelihood of someone named Muhammad or one of its Anglo-Norman/Middle English variants (Mahumet, Makomet and similar) actually living in medieval England, this is perhaps less far-fetched than might be assumed. Katharine Keats-Rohan and John Moore have directed attention to the Wiltshire entries of five consecutive Pipe Rolls of Henry II (1160/61–1164/65) that refer to a man named Mahumet, whose name-form Moore considers very difficult to explain as anything other than a rendering of Muhammad and which is accepted as such by the OED and MED. This Mahumet is recorded in the Pipe Rolls only because he was fined for his part in an unlicensed duel with a John de Merleberge, probably in or near Marlborough Castle, and it seems he was not an especially wealthy man, as he was pardoned the last mark of his fine due to his poverty.(15) Furthermore, Mahumet of Wiltshire was not the only man with this name for whom we have evidence from medieval England. For example, a Theobald filius Mahumet (or filius Mahomet) is recorded from early thirteenth-century Hampshire in the Pipe Rolls of Henry III for 1222–24; another man named Mahomet is recorded in 1327, when Edward III issued him and six others a pardon at Newton-on-Ouse, Yorkshire, for 'offenses in Ireland'; and a Mahummet Saraceno occurs in the Close Rolls of Henry III for 1254. Furthermore, a number of people surnamed Mahumet and similar are recorded in documents of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, for example a Humphrey Mahumet in a charter of Southwick Priory, Hampshire, a Herbert Maumet who was sergeant of Portsmouth in the mid-thirteenth century, and a Radulphus Maumet who is recorded in the reign of King John.(16) Moore also notes the presence of someone bearing another 'apparent Arab name' in twelfth-century Hampshire, a certain Paucamatus, a name that he considers to probably reflect Bakmat, who is recorded in Winchester from 1159/60 until 1183/4 and who is associated with a man named Stephanus Sarracenus, one or both of whom may be of some relevance here.(17)

Looking more generally at the question of the presence of people who were Muslims or of potential Muslim ancestry in medieval England, and so who might bear names like Mahumet/Makomet and similar, Richard of Devizes in his description of London from c. 1192 certainly implies that there were 'Moors' in that city then, when he writes that:

You will arrive in London... do not mingle with the throngs in the eating-houses; avoid dice and gambling, the theatre and the tavern. You will encounter more braggarts than in the whole of France. The number of parasites is infinite. Actors, jesters, smooth-skinned lads, Moors, flatterers... All this sort of people fill all the houses.(18)

We do need to be careful here, however. The word translated ‘Moors’ here is actually garamantes, which may indicate an origin for this section in a classical or literary source, rather than reality, especially as influence from Horace’s Satires has been identified in the subsequent sections of Richard’s description of London.(19) More certainly relevant may be recent archaeological excavations at the medieval cemetery of St John’s Hospital, Lichfield, which revealed the burials of between two and five people of African ancestry, some of apparently high status, and at Ipswich, where nine people out of a total of a total of 150 excavated from a cemetery there appear to be of 'sub-Saharan' African descent, spread across thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries, with the earliest having oxygen isotope results consistent with an early life spent in North Africa/Tunisia.(20) Likewise, recent work on burials in a mid-fourteenth-century cemetery at East Smithfield, London, indicated that 29% of a sample of 41 people buried there were of ‘non-White European ancestry’.(21

In the above light, it may also be worth noting that both Henry II and his son Richard I seem to have had 'Saracen mercenaries' in their employ, the latter having as many as 120 such mercenaries and apparently including at least some of them in the garrison of Domfront, Normandy.(22) Similarly, it is intriguing to note that knowledge of the location of medieval Lincoln on either side of the River Witham and the existence of the Foss Dyke as a waterway between that city and the River Trent seems to have reached the great Muslim scholar Muhammad al-Idrisi, who included these facts in his geographical encyclopaedia Nuzhat al-mushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq, written for Roger II of Sicily and completed in 1154—indeed, it has been suggested that al-Idrisi probably travelled to England himself during the first half of the twelfth century, which is a point of some significance.(23)

Figure 3: Al-Idrisi's mid-twelfth-century Arabic map of Britain, from a late sixteenth-century copy in the Bodleian Library, Oxford; the map is split across three different drawings which have been combined together here so that the whole island can be seen (Bodleian Library MS. Pococke 375 folios 281b-282a, 308b, 310b-311a)—click the image or here for a larger view. Lincolnshire is on the left hand side, as the map is orientated with north at the bottom; the river flowing nearly horizontally from the left to right is the Witham, with Boston near the sea and Lincoln upstream, where the river flows through the town, just as it did in the medieval period when it divided the old Lower City from its medieval southern suburbs (image: Bodleian Library)

Finally, attention might also be directed to the evidence for at least some 'Saracens' having been unwillingly brought into England in the medieval period, although this is perhaps less directly relevant to the current enquiry. So, the Flores Historiarum under the year 1271 makes reference to Thomas de Clare having returned to England from the Holy Land with 'four Saracen prisoners',(24) and the Calendar of Patent Rolls for 1259 includes a mandate for the arrest of a runaway 'Ethiopian... sometime a Saracen' who had apparently escaped his master:

Mandate to all persons to arrest an Ethiopian of the name of Bartholomew, sometime a Saracen, slave (servus) of Roger de Lyntin, whom the said Roger brought with him to England; the said Ethiopian having run away from his said lord, who has sent an esquire of his to look for him: and they are to deliver him to the said esquire to the use of the said Roger.(25)

In sum, whilst we can point to no specific man named Mahumet/Makomet/Macamathe/Maumet (< Muhammad) present in twelfth-/thirteenth-century Lincolnshire after whom Macamathehou in Spridlington might be named, it seems clear that it is not entirely impossible that someone bearing such a personal name or something similar could lie behind this mound-/barrow-name, rather than it simply being a folkloric name intended to convey the meaning 'heathen barrow' or similar. Although such a usage of the name Muhammad might parallel names such as Scrathou and Gastehowe and be reflected in the usage of the medieval form Maumet and similar to mean 'pagan deity' or 'idol' in Middle English, there is significantly less evidence for the form Makomet being used in this way. Furthermore, not only are there no other instances of Makomet or Maumet being used in local names to indicate a perceived 'heathen' or 'pagan' character for landscape features such as mounds and barrows, but there is evidence for at least some people named variants of Muhammad living in medieval England between the twelfth and the fourteenth centuries. Additionally, there is also a small amount of textual evidence for Muslims and people of potential Muslim origins being present in England and Normandy in this era, some being clearly captured or enslaved, but others potentially living in cities such as London, Ipswich and Lichfield, and some even perhaps being relatively high-status or in the employ of the king. Such people were probably not present in England in great numbers, but the evidence we have for this is not insignificant, and it may at least give us further pause for thought when considering just what the meaning of Macamathehou might be. 


1.     K. Cameron, J. Field & J. Insley, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire: Part Six, The Wapentakes of Manley and Aslacoe, Survey of English Place-Names LXXVII (Nottingham: English Place-Name Society, 2001), p. 211; the name appears as both Macamathehou, which they treat as primary, and Mornmatehou.
2.     Cameron, Field and Insley, Place-Names of Lincolnshire VI, p. 211; Oxford English Dictionary, 'Mahomet, n.', OED Online, third edition, Oxford University Press, September 2020,, accessed 10 November 2020; 'Makomet(e), n.', in S. M. Kuhn & Reidy (eds), Middle English Dictionary: Part M.1 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1975), p. 83. On haugr, see M. Gelling & A. Cole, The Landscape of Place-Names (Stamford: Shaun Tyas, 2000), p. 174.
3.     R. Coates, 'Azure Mouse, Bloater Hill, Goose Puddings, and One Land called the Cow: continuity and conundrums in Lincolnshire minor names', Journal of the English Place-Name Society, 39 (2007), 73–143 at p. 85; VEPN, The Vocabulary of English Place-Names: M, draft version, online edition at, accessed 10 November 2020, p. 14.
4.     Cameron, Field and Insley, Place-Names of Lincolnshire VI, p. 211.
5.     Coates, 'Lincolnshire minor names', p. 85.
6.     VEPN, The Vocabulary of English Place-Names: M, draft version, p. 14.
7.     A. Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 274.
8.     Coates, 'Lincolnshire minor names', p. 85; K. Cameron, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire: Part Two, The Wapentake of Yarborough, Survey of English Place-Names LXIV/LXV (Nottingham: English Place-Name Society, 1991), p. 24—note, a similar name, Blodhowfeld/Blodhowgate, also occurs in Thurmaston parish, Leicestershire. On gastehowe/gasthehowe, see I. M. Bower, The Place-Names of Lindsey (North Lincolnshire) (University of Leeds PhD Thesis, 1940), pp. xviii, 200; for Scratters and Scrathowes, see, for example, A. H. Smith, English Place-Name Elements, Survey of English Place-Names XXVI (Cambridge: English Place-Name Society, 1956), Part 2, p. 126.
9.     Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, pp. 274–7.
10.     Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, pp. 219–22.
11.     Middle English Dictionary, 'Makomet(e, n.', in Robert E. Lewis, et al. (eds), Middle English Dictionary (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1952–2001), online edition in F. McSparran et al. (eds), Middle English Compendium (Ann Arbor, 2000–18),, accessed 10 November 2020.
12.     Middle English Dictionary, 'Maumet, n.', in Robert E. Lewis, et al. (eds), Middle English Dictionary (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1952–2001), online edition in F. McSparran et al. (eds), Middle English Compendium (Ann Arbor, 2000–18),, accessed 10 November 2020. For the use of Maumet and similar as a surname, see below and MED sense 2(d).
13.     Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, pp. 203–04.
14.     Bower, Place-Names of Lindsey, pp. xviii, 253–4; K. Cameron, A Dictionary of Lincolnshire Place-Names (Nottingham: English Place-Name Society, 1998), pp. 26, 80, 107. See also Hawardeshou, the meeting-place of Haverstoe Wapentake, which was almost certainly a barrow in Hawerby (Hawardebi) parish, both names involving the Scandinavian personal name Hāwarth, and Calnodeshou, the meeting-place of Candleshoe Wapentake, which was probably on Candlesby Hill, named from Candlesby, Calnodesbi: Cameron, Dictionary, pp. 27–8, 61. Likewise, the meeting-place of the wapentake of Wraggoe was presumably a Wraghehou (Wraggi + haugr), which may well have been at Wragohill in Wragby (Wraggi + ): Bowers, Place-Names of Lindsey, p. 250; Cameron, Dictionary, pp. 143–4.
15.     K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, 'Queries', Prosopon, 9 (1998), p. 6; J. S. Moore, 'Who was "Mahumet"? Arabs in Angevin England', Prosopon, 11 (2000), pp. 1–7; D. Thornton, K. Keats-Rohan & R. Wood, 'Mahumet', COEL Database: Continental Origins of English Landholders, 1066-1166, [data collection], UK Data Service SN: 5687,; OED third edition, 'Mahomet, n.'; Middle English Dictionary, 'Makomet(e, n.'. See The Great Roll of the Pipe for the Seventh Year of the Reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1160–1161, Publications of the Pipe Roll Society IV (London: Wyman & Sons, 1885), p. 10; The Great Roll of the Pipe for the Eighth Year of the Reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1161–1162, Publications of the Pipe Roll Society V (London: Wyman & Sons, 1885), p. 13; The Great Roll of the Pipe for the Ninth Year of the Reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1162–1163, Publications of the Pipe Roll Society VI (London: Wyman & Sons, 1886), p. 46; The Great Roll of the Pipe for the Tenth Year of the Reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1163–1164, Publications of the Pipe Roll Society VII (London: Wyman & Sons, 1886), p. 14; and The Great Roll of the Pipe for the Eleventh Year of the Reign of King Henry the Second, A.D. 1164–1165, Publications of the Pipe Roll Society VIII (London: Wyman & Sons, 1887), p. 57.
16.     K. S. B. Keats-Rohan in Moore, 'Who was "Mahumet"?', pp. 6–7; The Great Roll of the Pipe for the Sixth Year of the Reign of King Henry III, Michaelmas 1222 (London: Pipe Roll Society, 1999), p. 96, and The Great Roll of the Pipe for the Eighth Year of the Reign of King Henry III, Michaelmas 1224 (London: Pipe Roll Society, 2005), p. 12; Calendar of Patent Rolls: Edward III, A.D. 1327–1330 (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1891), p. 123; Close Rolls of the Reign of Henry III: A.D. 1253–1254 (London: HMSO, 1929), p. 211; K. A. Hanna (ed.), The Cartularies of Southwick Priory: Part 1 (Winchester: Hampshire County Council, 1988), pp. 16–17, and K. A. Hanna (ed.), The Cartularies of Southwick Priory: Part 2 (Winchester: Hampshire County Council, 1989); Middle English Dictionary, 'Maumet, n.', sense 2(d), as surname, and Rotuli de oblatis et finibus in Turri Londinensi asservati, tempore Regis Johannis, ed. T. D. Hardy (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1845), p. 455.
17.     Moore, 'Who was "Mahumet"?', p. 3.
18.     Chronicle of Richard of Devizes of the Time of King Richard the First, ed. and trans. J. T. Appleby (London, 1963), pp. 65–6, with modifications by W. Johansson, 'London's Medieval Sodomites', in History of Homosexuality in Europe and America, ed. W. R. Dynes & S. Donaldson (New York and London: Garland, 1992), pp. 159–63.
19.     J. Scattergood, ‘London and money: Chaucer’s Complaint to his Purse’, in Chaucer and the City, ed. A. Butterfield (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2006), pp. 162–76 at pp. 171–2.
20.     Ipswich: BBC, History Cold Case: Series 1, Episode 1—Ipswich Man (broadcast 27 July 2010); 'Skeleton of medieval African found in Ipswich sheds new light on Britain's ethnic history', BBC Press Office, 2 February 2010, online at, accessed 18 November 2020; K. Wade, Ipswich Archive Summaries: Franciscan Way, IAS 5003 (Ipswich: Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service, 2014), pp. 9, 10, 12, online at; and Xanthé Mallett, pers. comm.. Lichfield: C. Coutts, 'St John’s Hospital, Lichfield: a Black and White Medieval Cemetery', talk at the Market Hall Museum, Warwick, on 24 July 2017, online abstract at, accessed 18 November 2020; Jasmine Kilburn, pers. comm..
21.     R. Redfern and J. T. Hefner, ‘“Officially absent but actually present”: bioarchaeological evidence for population diversity in London during the Black Death, AD 1348–50’, in Bioarchaeology of Marginalized People, ed. M. L. Mant and A. J. Holland (London: Academic Press, 2019), pp. 69–114.
22.     Moore, 'Who was "Mahumet"?', p. 1; F. M. Powicke, 'The Saracen mercenaries of Richard I', Scottish Historical Review, 8 (1911), 104–05.
23.     C. R. Green, 'Al-Idrisi's twelfth-century map and description of eastern England', blog post, 28 March 2016, online at, accessed 18 November 2020; A. F. L. Beeston, 'Idrisi's Account of the British Isles', Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 13.2 (1950), 265–80 at pp. 278, 279–80; C. Loveluck, Northwest Europe in the Early Middle Ages, c. AD 600–1150: A Comparative Archaeology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), p. 323 ('Al-Idrisi... had visited England prior to his arrival in Sicily in c. 1138')
24.     C. D. Yonge (trans.), The Flowers of History (London: Bohn, 1853), vol. 2, p. 453.
25.     Calendar of Patent Rolls, Henry III: Volume 5, 1258–1266, ed. H. C. Maxwell Lyte (London: HMSO, 1910), p. 28, and see further M. Ray, 'A Black Slave on the run in Thirteenth-Century England', Nottingham Medieval Studies, 51 (2007), 111–9. Note, ‘Ethiopian’ here probably means simply someone of ‘Black African ancestry’, rather than someone from modern Ethiopia, given Late Antique and medieval uses of this term.

The text content of this post and page is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2020, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

The 'bluestones' and Bluestone Heath of eastern Lincolnshire: some thoughts on their significance and name

The following brief note is concerned with the so-called 'bluestones' and the 'Bluestone Heath Road' of eastern Lincolnshire. In origin, the stones themselves seem usually to be glacial erratics—non-local boulders carried here from northern Britain by the ice-sheets—that were used as focal points for their communities, for example functioning as meeting-stones, court-stones, judicial stones, or boundary markers, although earlier antiquarians suggested that some had more sinister roots. The following piece discusses the history and use of some of the more notable examples of 'bluestones' in eastern Lincolnshire, including the 'Louth Stone' and 'Haveloks Stone', as well as some examples further afield, before briefly considering the potential etymology and meaning of 'bluestone' in this context. Finally, a list of the various recorded Lincolnshire bluestones is given, with further details of both these stones and the evidence for the Blue Stone Heath in the central Lincolnshire Wolds. 

The Louth Stone or Bluestone/Blewstone, first mentioned in 1503 and weighing four to five tons. Now located outside Louth Museum, in all of the early references it was situated at the junction of Mercer Row and Upgate in the centre of town, although some unwarranted nineteenth-century antiquarian speculation that it was originally located in the Julian Bower maze outside of the town has found its way on to the museum's plaque describing it.

The term 'bluestone' or 'blue stone' is used for a number of apparently notable boulders found in eastern Lincolnshire, as well as occurring in the name of the important prehistoric ridgeway across the Lincolnshire Wolds now known as the 'Bluestone Heath Road'. The latter name is absent from Kenneth Cameron's 1998 volume A Dictionary of Lincolnshire Place-Names, despite other major Lincolnshire road-names appearing there, and isn't considered in Victor Watts' Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names or other national surveys like that of Ekwall and Mills, although it appears on relatively large-scale maps like the OS 1:50,000 Landranger.(1) The road-name was noted by G. S. Streatfeild, who observed that 'no-one is able to explain the Blue Stone' in this name and suggested that it was perhaps a corruption of the medieval road-name Buskhowstrete for the same route, a position reiterated by Arthur Owen. On the other hand, Irene Bower in her 1940 doctoral thesis on The Place-Names of Lindsey offers the brief and arguably more credible opinion that the name is not a corruption of Buskhowstrete, but rather an independent name that 'refers to the blue stones in the north east of Lindsey', perhaps because a notable example of one of these was once found on the Wolds here, a conclusion also supported by C. W. Phillips.(2) Certainly, the term 'bluestone' or 'blue stone' for specific, important stones recurs repeatedly in eastern Lincolnshire from at least the first half of the seventeenth century, and there moreover seems to be evidence for the separate existence of a Blueſtone Heath or Blue Stone Heath in the Wolds north of Belchford and to the west of the Louth, which would support 'Bluestone Heath Road' being a genuine name instead of a corruption. Thus a reference to Blueſtone Heath occurs in the Journals of the House of Commons for 1770, another is found in Pride and Luckombe's The Traveller's Companion of 1789, and an area of the Wolds is labelled Blue Stone Heath on Captain Andrew Armstrong's 1779 Map of Lincolnshire, although this name for the central Wolds doesn't seem to survive in active use beyond the first half of the nineteenth century aside from in the road-name.(3) So, the question must become, what exactly was a Lincolnshire 'blue stone'?

With regard to the question of quite what a 'blue stone' was in a Lincolnshire context, the specific examples that we know of all seem to have been large boulders and glacial erratics (glacially-deposited rocks that differ in size and type from the rock native to the area in which they rest) used as boundary and meeting-stones in eastern Lincolnshire. The 'Louth Stone', for example, is also known as the 'blewstone' at least as early as 1651, and seems to have functioned as a meeting- and judicial stone for the town located in the centre of Louth at the junction of Mercer Row and Upgate since at least 1503—so, for example, the Warden of Louth was paid 6d for the examination of Jews 'at Blew stone' in 1745, and it is also claimed to have been 'a sanctuary for murders and other criminals'.(4) Likewise, there were two major boundary-stones each known as 'the blew stone' at Grimsby by the seventeenth century, one being located on the coast between Grimsby and Cleethorpes (where it is shown on the 1819 OS draft map and the subsequent First Series) and the other being the famous Havelocks Stone, which was described by Gervase Holles in 1634 as a great blue stone functioning as a 'Boundry-Stone lying at ye East-ende of Briggow-gate'.(5

The Blue Stone Heath, as marked on Captain Armstrong's Map of Lincolnshire, 1779; the interesting circle to its north is probably Belchford Wood, with a close examination of the marks revealing them to be trees (image: British Library).

Another important 'blue stone' was found in Humberston parish, located just to the south of Cleethorpes, whose name was first recorded in the eleventh century and means 'the stone by the River Humber', with Gervase Holles in 1634 identifying the 'Humberstone' as being 'a great Boundry blew Stone just at the place where Humber looseth himselfe in ye German Ocean'.(6) Ethel Rudkin similarly drew attention to another important 'blue stone' at North Thoresby, which is referred to as follows in White's 1856 Directory of Lincolnshire
In a field near the church, called Bound croft, is a blue stone, over which the manor court was formerly held.(7)

Ethel Rudkin noted of this in 1934 that 'the Stone lies in a field immediately north of the Church, in a depression, with banks round it' and that the Sexton at North Thoresby recalled there being a Court Day when he was lad.(8) Furthermore, in 1935 she published extracts of a mid-nineteenth-century manuscript history of Lincolnshire by John Smith of Caistor that included a tale that linked this blue stone and another at the Deserted Medieval Village of Audby/Autby in North Thoresby parish with the medieval Lincolnshire story of Havelok and Grim, the supposed founder of Grimsby (interestingly, both stones in Grimsby have been associated with figures from this too). According to Smith, he was told by locals twenty years previously that these two blue stones were magical, the one at Thoresby having the ability to control the rain and the one at Audby having the ability 'to make the corn grow', and together they caused there to be 'plenty in the land'. John Smith then went on record that he was told by the 'rustics' of Audby that:

Ivery year for a long while after the folks cam' fra far an' wide to a grand feast about the stanes, an' they were whipt till iverybody went wicked wi' prosperity. Then the Devil come an' flew away wi' Grim's stane [the Audby stone].(9

John Smith further commented that the North Thoresby stone, known as 'Boundel's stone',
is a large blue stone standing near the centre of an old enclosure at the north end of the village, I was met with the ready tradition that owing to its ancient votaries having made a practice of planting their rods of hazel and wych-elm in the soil around, after the ceremony of basting, a grove had grown up for its protection; hazel and wych-elm it appears offering very potent charms against necromancy...
     It is traditionally stated that in old time whenever the Manorial Court was held here the steward, jurymen and tenants of the Manor used to march in procession, each bearing a white hazel wand (peeled rods of ash, willow, or hazel) from the Manor House at Audeby through the village to Boundel's Croft, and there surrounding the stone, used to perform an ancient ceremony in connexion with all transfers of land.(10)
The stone itself is, incidentally, probably the stone referred to in the North Thoresby street Stanholme Lane, recorded as Stayneholme in 1451–53, that surrounds the relevant field to the north of the church, suggesting that the stone's local importance may stretch back to the late medieval era and likely before, whilst an unlocated twelfth- to fourteenth-century Hotie or Hortye in North Thoresby, meaning 'public meeting-place at a muddy site', may well have applied to this site too.(11) Finally, other 'blue stones' were found in the Lincolnshire Wolds village of West Ravendale, where a Blueston feild is documented in 1630 but not after, and at Immingham to the north of Grimsby, which gave its name to Bluestone Lane and the Bluestone Inn, with a large glacial erratic erected by the Inn in the early 1960s that is said to have been 'taken from a field at the top of the Lane'.(12)

Detail of Edward Metcalf's 1819 draft map of Grimsby for the Ordnance Survey, showing the location of the Blue Stone on the coast between Grimsby and Clee (image: British Library).

This is all most intriguing. Of course, it is worth pointing out that the term 'bluestone'/'blue stone' for large, significant boulders is not solely restricted to eastern Lincolnshire, although it does seem to be exceptionally prevalent here. The volumes of The Survey of English Place-Names include a small handful of other examples, namely two instances from Cheshire (a 'Bluestone' glacial erratic at Acton and another called 'the Blewe Stonne at Blacon' that functioned as a boundary-stone), one from Norfolk (Cawston parish, surviving in a number of names, for example Bluestone Hall), and one in County Durham (a 'Blue Stone Carr' recorded in the nineteenth century at Bishop Middleton).(13) In addition, there was a stone known as 'The Great Blue Stone' that functioned as the market stone at Scarborough, being 'where public bargains were ratified and discharged, it being the custom in those days'; a 'blew Stone about the middle of the Bridge' at Newcastle that marked 'the bounds of Newcastle Southwards' and from which the Mayor pronounced the banishment of the Society of Friends from Newcastle in 1657–8; a 'Blew-Stone' on the boundary between the demesne of Manchester and the township of Reddish' that was first mentioned in 1322; and a handful of 'blue stones' in Scotland too, such as the Devil's Blue Stane at Crail, Fife.(14) It would be remiss not to also mention here perhaps the most famous insular 'bluestones', those non-local stones—transported ultimately from Wales—known by this name at Stonehenge, which were first recorded as 'blue stones' in 1812 according to the OED. With regard to these bluestones, it is worth noting that the name Stonehenge seems to derive from Old English stān + hengen, arguably meaning 'stone gallows', suggesting that the site may have had some (at least imagined) judicial function in the past, something potentially supported by the discovery of a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon decapitation burial there.(15) Finally, it is important to observe that the name 'Bluestone' (Blauwe SteenBlaue Stein, Blåstein and similar) also occur for a number of important stones used as boundary-stones, judicial-stones, court-stones or even execution-stones outside of Britain too, particularly in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Flanders (northern Belgium), and parts of Germany, with examples in Flanders additionally being often associated with prehistoric burial mounds.(16

So, what does the term 'bluestone' mean? The simplest solution would obviously be that these locally important stones all just so happened to be bluish in colour and hence were each, independently, named 'the blue stone' or similar, purely as the result of a rather notable coincidence. The problem with this, however, is that not all of the 'bluestones' actually seem to be particularly 'bluish' in colour. Richard Coates, referring to those in the Grimsby area, has noted that 'the colour blue seems irrelevant to the instances known to me', and something similar is apparently true for many of the 'bluestones' recorded in Germany too.(17) Indeed, Grimsby's 'the blew stone in Welowgate', also known as Havelocks Stone, is reportedly actually a boulder of pinkish granite, whilst images of the Immingham, Scarborough and Crail stones, for example, don't suggest stones that might be thought of as being primarily blue in colour. Such a description might just about fit the dark-coloured Louth Stone, at least with the eye of faith, though it should be noted that the 'Blue Stone' at Louth was clearly not considered particularly blue by the folk of the town, as at one point it was actually painted blue to match its name!(18) Likewise, it was said in 1930 of the North Thoresby example that 'the stone is not blue', and English Heritage notes of the famous Stonehenge 'bluestones' that not only are they made from a variety of types of stone, but they also do 'not appear blue' under normal circumstances, although they are somewhat tenuously said to have a 'bluish tint' when freshly broken or wet.(19

So, if these important 'bluestones' that were used as meeting-stones, judicial-stones, market-stones, and boundary-stones were not all blue, or obviously blue, then why were they all called this? The implication of the above would seem to be that 'bluestone' is here functioning not as a simple descriptive name, but rather as some sort a technical/functional term, but what might this be? Thus far, only one theory has been suggested for the English examples, which has been outlined by Richard Coates, the current President of the English Place-Name Society, as follows:
The origin of the term bluestone has not been ascertained, but the colour blue seems irrelevant to the instances known to me. There is no strong formal reason why the first element should not be Sc. *blōð ‘blood’ or even *blōt ‘sacrifice’. In either case, Sc. *stein- has presumably been replaced by its English counterpart. It is *stein- that appears in the earliest attestations of Stanholme in North Thoresby.(20)
Bloater Hill, North Willingham, whose name may derive from Old Norse blóthaugr, 'a sacrificial mound' (image © Chris/Geograph, CC-BY-SA 2.0).

Needless to say, this alternative theory is certainly an interesting idea. In terms of the local context, it is worth noting that a small number of other names involving Scandinavian blōt, 'sacrifice, heathen activities', have been identified in Lincolnshire. One is Blod hou, recorded in the thirteenth century in Barrow-upon-Humber parish, which Kenneth Cameron and John Insley derive from Old Norse blóthaugr, 'a sacrificial mound'.(21) Another is Bloater Hill in North Willingham parish, Bloatoe Hill in 1606 and bloto in 1697, which Cameron leaves unexplained but Coates considers to be identical in meaning to Blod hou and to likewise derive from Old Norse blóthaugr, 'a sacrificial mound', something that may also apply to Blodhow in Thurmaston parish in neighbouring Leicestershire. A final example may be Blotryngcarre in Scartho parish, Grimsby, which could, just possibly, also involve blōt, although other explanations are possible.(22

Of course, whilst all of this does suggest that the element blōt was indeed used in Anglo-Scandinavian Lincolnshire, it also highlights an issue with deriving the local names 'bluestone' and 'Bluestone Heath' from blōt, namely the lack of any instances with similar formed first elements amongst the various bluestones/blewstones, which should urge caution here. Similarly, the implied interpretation of these stones that the above etymology would involve is perhaps uncomfortably close to early antiquarian explanations of them—for example, the 'blew-stone' at Louth was suggested by Robert Bayley in 1834 to have been 'a Druid stone, which was used perhaps on Julian Bower for an altar'.(23) On the other hand, some of the English and the Continental examples do seem to have functioned as judicial- or even execution-stones, which is suggestive, and Coates's etymology is certainly intriguing and would help explain the use of 'bluestone' for such a limited group of important and not-always-blue stones. In this light, it may also be worth noting that it has been independently argued that the Blåstein, 'Bluestone', near the famous ninth-century Gokstad ship-burial at Sandar, Sandefjord, Vestfold, Norway, was originally a blotstein, 'sacrifice stone', so the shift from this name to 'bluestone' in England would not be without potential parallels elsewhere.(24)

The site of the ninth-century Gokstad ship-burial at Sandar, Sandefjord, Vestfold, Norway (left of the map, marked by an antiquity symbol) and the nearby Blåstein (right of map); click for a larger view (image: OpenStreetMap).

A list of Lincolnshire bluestones and bluestone names
1.     The Blue Stone Heath & Bluestone Heath Road
The Blue Stone Heath or Blueſtone Heath occurs from at least 1770, when it appears in the Journals of the House of Commons in reference to the new Turnpike to be constructed from Louth in that year, suggesting that it was an already well-established term for part of the central Lincolnshire Wolds by that date. The 'Blue Stone Heath' is also labelled on Captain Andrew Armstrong's Map of Lincolnshire of 1776-9, John Cary's A New Map of Lincolnshire of 1801, and George Bellas Greenlough's A Physical and Geological Map of England and Wales (1820, 2nd edn. 1839), in all cases to the north of Belchford, and C. W. Phillips in 1933 noted that 'the Blue Stone Heath was the upland tract between Belchford and Cadwell'. It appears subsequently in the name 'Bluestone Heath Road', which doesn't seem to be recorded before the nineteenth century, but occurs both on Edward Metcalf's 1819 draft map for the Ordnance Survey and in Thomas Allen's 1834 History of the County of Lincoln as an accepted name for the road north and east of Scamblesby and Belchford known in the medieval period as Buskhowstrete. Phillips suggests, reasonably, that this tract of upland 'may have carried a well-known glacial erratic' or 'blue stone', going on to say that 'many of these "blue stones" are found in the Wold country. The most famous is at Louth... The stone which presumably gave its name to the Heath is gone.'(25)

The Bluestone Heath, as marked on Greenlough's A Physical and Geological Map of England and Wales, 1839 (image: David Rumsey).
2.     The 'blew-stone' at Louth, aka the Louth Stone
The first reference to the 'blew-stone' at Louth occurs on 24 July 1503, when land lying in the town of Louth at Louth Stone (ad louth stone) is mentioned; subsequent references to the hous leyng agayn Louth stone or Lowth Stone occur in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and indicate that one the 'great houses' of Louth lay by it, and by the seventeenth century this house was known as the blew-stone House. In 1651, this was occupied by a Mr Walpole, who subsequently bought it in 1677 for £150, and in 1728 the Blue Stone Inn was sold by John Walpole to an innkeeper called Robert Shaw. This inn was reputed to be the largest in Lincolnshire, occupying the whole of the westernmost medieval burgage tenement fronting on to Mercer Row where it joined Upgate and running all the way back to Kidgate, and references to Blue Stone/Louth Stone itself confirm that it too stood here in the centre of town at the junction of Upgate and Mercer Row up until 1827, when the owner of the former Blue Stone Inn, a printer named Benjamin Fotherby, moved it into his yard. It has subsequently been moved to the front of Louth Museum on Broadbank. It should be noted that, although the plaque above the stone on the museum wall claims that the stone was originally located in the medieval Julian Bower maze on the top of the southern hill above the town, there is absolutely no evidence for this. The idea began in 1834 as speculation on the part of a local antiquarian author and minister, Robert Bayley, who hypothesised that the stone was
a Druid stone, which was used perhaps on Julian Bower for an altar... (26)
but offered no support for this flight of fancy. Indeed, all the evidence we have suggests that, from its first recording, the Blue Stone/Louth Stone was located in the centre of town at the junction of the main commercial street, Mercer Row (the 'principal street' of Louth, according to John Britton in 1807), and the main north–south routeway through the town, Upgate. As to its use, it seems to have functioned at least in part as a judicial stone, as in 1745 when the Warden of Louth was paid 6d. for 'Jews Examined' there in that year, whilst other references suggest an at least occasional use as a market-stone, with items being pledged for sale there (cf. the Scarborough 'Great Blue Stone'). It is also claimed to have been 'a sanctuary for murders and other criminals'.(27)
3.     Havelocks Stone, or 'the blew stone in Welowgate'
This 'blew stone' seems to be first mentioned under the name havelokeston in 1521, with its description as a blew stone/blewstone being first recorded in the seventeenth century. In 1634, Gervase Holles describes this as a 'Boundry-Stone lying at ye East-ende Of Briggow-gate' that 'retaines ye name of Havelocks Stone to this day', Havelok being the hero of the medieval Lincolnshire poem Havelok the Dane and a key personage in the foundation-story of Grimsby. George Oliver in 1825 also writes of this stone as follows:
An ancient monument, still in existence, offers a further testimony to corroborate the story of Gryme and Haveloc. A large stone, composed of imperishable materials, said to have been brought by the Danes, out of their own country, forms the landmark which separates the parish of Grimsby from the adjoining hamlet of Wellow; and is know at this day by the significant appellation of Haveloc's Stone.(28
According to Anderson Bates in his Gossip About Old Grimsby of 1893, the stone was 'placed in the road opposite the end of the passage to the house No. 8, Wellowgate, and what remains of it may now be seen near the kerbstone, so that part of the house was in Wellow, and part in Grimsby'. Bates further records both Oliver's tale that the stone was brought over by the Danes and an alternative tale that it was once part of the church, but had been thrown down from there by Grim (the founder of the town) when he was attempting to stop a hostile fleet!(29) The stone was reportedly moved to Welholme Galleries at some point after this and is said to be a boulder of pinkish granite found there.(30)
4.     Grimsby's blew stone on the coast by the old Race Ground
This boundary-stone seems to be first recorded in the seventeenth century as the blew stone or ye blewstone and was located on the coast between Grimsby and Clee. Although it has been suggested that the stone was first placed on the coast in 1824, it is shown there on Edward Metcalf's 1819 draft map of Grimsby for the Ordnance Survey. The Freemen of Grimsby and the Cleethorpes Commoners apparently contested the exact boundary on the coast here and the associated rights of grazing on 69 acres of Common, with the boundary being only definitively fixed on the blue stone after a trial at the Lincoln Assizes in 1830; it was presumably decided that the blue stone was indeed the ancient boundary marker, contrary to the claims of the Grimsby men.(31) Certainly, this was the interpretation in Cleethorpes. In C. Ernest Watson's A History of Clee and the Thorpes of Clee, published in 1901, it is noted that the 'famous "Blue Stone"' was 
a relic of the time when the Mayor and Corporation of Grimsby "whipped the boundaries." Tradition, however, could not control the rapacity of the Grimbarians, who claimed that their Marsh extended as far as the Old Haven. The Meggies [a local name for the inhabitants of Cleethorpes] pinned their faith upon the Blue Stone, and the Kirton Quarter Sessions of 1828 pronounced in their favour. The town was not going to be brow-beaten by the village, verdict or no verdict; Grimsby turned its cattle to graze between the Blue Stone and the Old Haven. Cleethorpes promptly impounded them. Grimsby sent out a hundred stalwarts armed with bludgeons to assault the pound and rescue the cattle. Cleethorpes charged them with pound-breach, and nine of the enemy went to prison. Grimsby thereupon adopted the Meggy plan of campaign and impounded all Cleethorpes cattle found on the North of the Old Haven. Cleethorpes again invoked the law, and at the Lincoln Assizes of 1830 the matter was finally settled in their favour. (32)
The location of the coastal Blue Stone on the common land that was used for racing; the Blue stone is shown to lie approximately on the inland boundary of Grimsby as it extends along the coast to the Racing Ground, but the courts in 1828 and 1830 agreed with the men of Cleethorpes that the ancient boundary of Grimsby only went up to this stone, not beyond as depicted on this Grimsby map from the first half of the nineteenth century (photo: C. R. Green; the map is an older map included in Anderson Bates' A Gossip of Old Grimsby, 1893).
5.     The Humberstone
The name of Humberston parish, first recorded in Domesday Book, means 'the stone by the River Humber'; in 1634 Gervase Holles identified the 'Humberstone' as being 'a great Boundry blew Stone just at the place where Humber looseth himselfe in ye German Ocean', as noted above.
6 & 7.     The blue stones at North Thoresby and Audby
The North Thoresby stone, located in a field immediately to the north of the church, seems to be first recorded as a 'blue stone' in the early nineteenth century, but the field-name Stayneholme, recorded in 1451–53 and surviving as 'Stanholme Lane' running around the field to the north of the church, suggests that it was certainly in place by that date at the latest. Ethel Rudkin and others have chronicled a number of fascinating tales and superstitions surrounding the North Thoresby stone and an apparent now-lost twin at the DMV of Audby, which are given at length above. The stone seems to have functioned as a meeting-place and court-site, as well as being credited with some sort of role in ensuring rain. Further details of local traditions about the site are given by Walter Johnson, who recorded the following in 1908:
An old lady, born in 1819, told me that in her childhood the village fair of North Thoresby (Lincs.) was held near the church, in a field which had a large blue stone in the middle. Around this stone games were played. Villagers born a little later, say 1830–40, could tell nothing of the custom... the jury of the manorial courts formerly met at this stone, within 'an old enclosure'...(33
The stone itself was described as 'not blue' in 1930, despite its name, and since then has either been removed or buried (it has been recently claimed that the stone has been rediscovered and is sunk into the field so that only the top is visible); the Audby stone is mentioned in stories, but was said in these to have been taken away by the Devil.(34) Excavations in the 1960s in the relevant field to the north of the church found a large rubbish pit with finds dated from the the late fourteenth to seventeenth centuries, and noted that the Bluestone here was also 'called the Moot Stone locally'.(35) Interestingly, twelfth- to fourteenth-century documents also record an unlocated Hotie or Hortye in North Thoresby parish, which probably means 'public meeting-place at a muddy site' and may well have applied to this site too.

The site of the Blue Stone at North Thoresby to the north of St Helen's Church; note the street-name Stanholme Lane, aka 'the gate [road] that comes from Stainholme' (1664), around the field in question, which preserves the fifteenth-century name Stayneholme, probably referring to the meeting-stone in this field. The third side of the field is marked by 'Bond Croft Drain', which matches the later-recorded name for this field, 'Boundel's Croft' (image: imagery © 2021 CNES/Airbus, Getmapping plc, Infoterra Ltd & Bluesky, Maxar Technologies; map data © 2021 Google. Click here for a larger, zoomable version). 
8.     The West Ravendale Blueston
Blueston feild is documented in West Ravendale parish in 1630, but isn't mentioned subsequently.
9.     The Immingham Bluestone
There was presumably a Bluestone at Immingham to the north of Grimsby, which gave its name to Bluestone Lane and the Bluestone Inn. The latter road-name is first recorded in the early twentieth century, but the road at least was in existence before this, being present on the 1819 draft OS map of the area, when it seems to be uninhabited; the Bluestone Inn is said to have been erected in 1961, when a large glacial erratic was erected outside it (the current 'Bluestone') that is said to have been taken from further up Bluestone Lane. A local commentator on a Head Heritage named Lizzyp1972 contributed the following reminiscence in 2019:
My grandmother lived at 7 Bluestone Lane from the 1930s to the 1990s and my mother from when she was born in 1930s to marrying my dad in the late 1960s. I spent every summer of my childhood there. The stone is a glacial erratic and no-one knew for sure where it came from. It was originally further up Bluestone Lane, about half way up on the right hand side going towards the church. In this location it was laid on its side and kids used to play on it, sliding down it. It was a well known meeting place in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. It may have been taken from a field at the top of the Lane and placed there... When the Bluestone pub was built in 1961 it was moved to the corner of Habrough Road and Bluestone Lane and set on a plinth in its current upright position. The locals did not want it to be moved and there was a belief that moving it would bring bad luck, but as far as my mum can remember nothing bad happened after it was moved. Bluestone Lane has always been called that, even before any houses were built there and it was just a lane through the fields leading to the church (the first houses, including no.7, were built in the 1920s) and the bluestone has always been there, hence the name of the Lane.(36)

10. The 'blue coggul' at Risby 

According to the Lincolnshire antiquarian Edward Peacock, of Bottesford Manor, Brigg, a fifteenth-century document contains a reference to a Blue Stone in Risby parish: 'one of the boundaries of the parish of Risby—a village near here—is spoken of as marked by "an blue coggul."' It is worth noting that the 'blew coggul' is recorded as an alternative name for the Blue Stone at Louth by Gilbert John Monson-Fitzjohn in 1926.(37)


1.     K. Cameron, A Dictionary of Lincolnshire Place-Names (Nottingham, 1998); V. Watts, The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names (Cambridge, 2004); E. Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th edn (Oxford, 1960).
2.     G. S. Streatfeild, Lincolnshire and the Danes (London, 1884), p. 168 n. 1; A. E. B. Owen, 'Roads and Romans in south-east Lindsey' in A. R. Rumble & A. D. Mills (eds), Names, Places and People (Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1997), pp. 254–68 at pp. 258–9; I. M. Bowers, Place-Names of Lindsey (University of Leeds PhD thesis, 1940), pp. 16–7; C. W. Phillips, 'The present state of archaeology in Lincolnshire: part 1', Archaeological Journal, 90 (1933), 106–49 at p. 148.
3.     Journals of the House of Commons, 10 May 1768–25 September 1770, reprinted 1803, p. 814, referring to the widening and repairing of a road 'from the Head of the ſaid Canal, to Blueſtone Heath' (the canal being here Louth's new canal and Riverhead); T. Pride and P. Luckombe, The Traveller's Companion (London, 1789), p. 120; and A. Armstrong, Map of Lincolnshire, published 20 January 1779, British Library Maps K.Top.19.19.5 tab.end. The 'Blue Stone Heath' is also labelled on George Bellas Greenlough's A Physical and Geological Map of England and Wales, first published in 1820, second edition 1839, available to consult online; Phillips, 'Present state of archaeology', p. 148, notes that 'the Blue Stone Heath was the upland tract between Belchford and Cadwell'. 
4.     C. Green, Streets of Louth (Louth, 2014), pp. 258–9; R. W. Goulding, Louth Old Corporation Records (Louth, 1891), pp. 43, 146, 185; G. J. Monson-Fitzjohn, Quaint Signs of Olde Inns (London, 1926), p. 34.
5.     K. Cameron, Place-Names of Lincolnshire: Part Five, The Wapentake of Bradley (Nottingham, 1997), pp. 20, 51, 58–9; E. B. Metcalf, Draft drawing of the Grimsby area for the Ordnance Survey (1819), British Library OSD 283.24; G. Holles, Lincolnshire Church Notes 1634–42, ed. R. E. G. Cole, Publications of the Lincoln Record Society 1 (Lincoln, 1911), p. 3. 
6.     Cameron, Place-Names of Lincolnshire 5, pp. 116–7; Holles, Lincolnshire Church Notes, p. 14, in a section written in 1634, tentatively supported by Bowers, Place-Names of Lindsey, p. 59.
7.     W. White, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Lincolnshire (Sheffield, 1856), p. 570.
8.     E. Rudkin, 'Lincolnshire folk-lore: stories about stones', Folklore, 45 (1934), 144–57 at p. 154.
9.     E. Rudkin, 'Traditions attached to large stones at Audby and North Thoresby', Folklore, 46 (1935), 375–6 at p. 376.
10.     Rudkin, 'Traditions attached to large stones', p. 376, and see also K. Gracie, 'The founding legend of Grimsby', in Aspects of Northern Lincolnshire ed. J. Walton (Barnsley, 2002).
11.     K. Cameron, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire: Part Four, The Wapentakes of Ludborough and Haverstoe (Nottingham, 1996), pp. 164–5, 170; R. Coates, 'Azure Mouse, Bloater Hill, Goose Puddings, and One Land called the Cow: continuity and conundrums in Lincolnshire minor names', Journal of the English Place-Name Society, 39 (2007), 73–143 at pp. 98–9; A. Pantos, Lincolnshire Assembly Places, unpublished document in the Lincolnshire HER, no. 14 (pp. 7–8). 
12.     Cameron, Place-Names of Lincolnshire 4, p. 154; Coates, 'Lincolnshire minor names', pp. 98–9; R. Coates, Grimsby and Cleethorpes Place-Names (Nottingham, 2020), p. 28. For the history of Bluestone Lane and the glacial erratic at Immingham, which are both absent from the relevant Place-Names of Lincolnshire volume, see Lizzyp1972's account of the 'Immingham blue stone', online at, dated 2 June 2019.
13.     J. M. Dodgson, The Place-Names of Cheshire: Part Three, The Place-Names of Nantwich Hundred and Eddisbury (Cambridge, 1971), p. 145; J. M. Dodgson, The Place-Names of Cheshire: Part Four, The Place-Names of Broxton Hundred and Wirral Hundred (Cambridge, 1972), p. 170; K. I. Sandred, The Place-Names of Norfolk: Part Two, Three, Hundreds of North and South Erpingham and Holt (Nottingham, 2002), p. 72; V. Watts, The Place-Names of County Durham (Nottingham, 2007), p. 136.
14.     D. White, 'Are you going to Jabbler's Fayre', Scarborough Review, 45 (2017), p. 34; J. Fawcett, A Memorial of the Church of St. Mary's, Scarboro' (London, 1850), p. 45; W. Gray, Chorographia, or, A survey of Newcastle upon Tine (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1649), p. 12; H. T. C., 'Blue Stone', Notes and Queries, 7th series, 1 (1886), 378; J. Westwood & S. Kingshill, The Lore of Scotland: A Guide to Scottish Legends (London, 2009), p. 65.
15.     Oxford English Dictionary, third edition (2013), s.v. bluestone, n., sense 2b; D. Mills, A Dictionary of British Place-Names (Oxford, 2011), p. 438; J. Simpson & S. Roud, A Dictionary of Eglish Folklore (Oxford, 2000), p. 343; M. Pitts et al, 'An Anglo-Saxon decapitation and burial at Stonehenge', Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, 95 (2002), 131–46, especially p. 143.
16.     W. Knippenberg, 'De blauwe steen', Brabants Heem, 14 (1962), 26–31; J. Coolen, 'Places of justice and awe: the topography of gibbets and gallows in medieval and early modern north-western and Central Europe', World Archaeology, 45 (2013), 762–79 at p. 766.
17.     Coates, 'Lincolnshire minor names', p. 99; for German bluestones, see W. Fieber & R. Schmitt, 'Rechtsarchäologische Denkmale in Sachsen-Anhalt: Ein Rück- und Ausblick nach zwanzig Jahren', Signa Iuris, 12 (2013), 27–43.
18.     Gracie, 'Founding legend'; W. F. Rawnsley, Highways and Byways in Lincolnshire (London, 1914), p. 242. Images of Scarborough and Crail stones can be found online here and here. The name of the 'Blue Stone' at Acton, Cheshire, has been explained rather implausibly by recourse to supposed 'blue porphyritic crystals, which are no longer visible', see further the Wikipedia entry on Acton.
19.     T. F. G. Dexter, The Pagan Origin of Fairs (Perranporth, 1930), p. 24. English Heritage, 'Building Stonehenge', online at, accessed 7 February 2020. 
20.     Coates, 'Lincolnshire minor names', p. 99.
21.     K. Cameron, The Place-Names of Lincolnshire: Part Two, The Wapentake of Yarborough (Nottingham, 1991), p. 24.
22.     Coates, 'Lincolnshire minor names', pp. 77, 85. 
23.     R. S. Bayley, Notitæ Ludæ, or Notices of Louth (Louth, 1834), p. 244.
24.     V. Møller, Sandar: grend og gård 1850-1970, med tidsbilder fra næringsliv og kulturhistorie, vol. 2 (Sandefjord Kommune, 1980), p. 339; J. E. Møller, 'Jordhaugen kan bli mer populær', online article, 12 July 2011,
25.     Phillips, 'Present state of archaeology', pp. 148–9.
26.     Bayley, Notitæ Ludæ, p. 244.
27.     G. J. Monson-Fitzjohn, Quaint Signs of Olde Inns (London, 1926), p. 34.
28.     G. Oliver, The Monumental Antiquities of Great Grimsby (Hull, 1825), pp. 14–5.     
29.     A. Bates, A Gossip About Old Grimsby (Grimsby, 1893), pp. 32–3.
30.     Gracie, 'Founding legend'.
31.     Bates, Gossip About Old Grimsby, pp. 11–12; the case was briefly reported as Bellamy vs. Woodliffe and Anderson in the Hull Packet, 23 March 1830, p. 3, and the Stamford Mercury, 12 March 1830, p. 2.
32.     C. Ernest Watson, A History of Clee and the Thorpes of Clee (Grimsby, 1901), pp. 50–1. 
33.     W. Johnson, Folk-Memory or The Continuity of British Archaeology (Oxford, 1908), pp. 143–4; W. Johnson, Byways in British Archaeology (Cambridge, 1912), p. 193.
34.     For the suggestion that the stone has been discovered buried in the field, see Gracie, 'Founding legend'.
35.     Lincolnshire HER record 41205.
36.     Lizzyp1972, 'Immingham bluestone', online at, dated 2 June 2019.
37.     E. Peacock, 'The Blue Stone', Notes and Queries, 7th series, 1 (1886), 294–5 at p. 295; Monson-Fitzjohn, Quaint Signs, p. 34.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2021, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Why 'Cousin Jack'? The origins of the nickname of the Cornish overseas

The following draft is concerned with the curious use of the nickname 'Cousin Jack' for the Cornish in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The 'Great Emigration' of the Cornish between around 1815 and the First World War saw what has been termed the 'wholescale scattering' of the Cornish to the new mining frontiers of North and South America, Australia and South Africa. From at least the mid-nineteenth century, these emigrants were known as 'Cousin Jacks', but the origin of this term seems rather obscure. The aim of the following note is to investigate the evidence for the early usage of the term 'Cousin Jack' and make some suggestions as to its origins in light of this evidence. 

The cover of Oswald Pryor's Cousin Jack Cartoons (Sydney, 1945); Pryor was the son of Cornish parents and born at Moonta, South Australia. The books says the following of the front cover image: 'The cover design suggests a miner who has knocked off early, and has come up a ladderway remote from the main shaft in order to avoid running into the boss. Unfortunately he has run into the trouble he meant to avoid. This situation will be, obvious to all who know the Moonta scene. —The miner's hat here depicted is made of hard compressed pulp and colored a deep maroon when new. The candle is stuck on the front of the hat with a lump of wet red clay. This was the practice of old Cornish miners for generations.' (Image: State Library of Victoria)

The 'Great Emigration' of the Cornish in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries seems to have occurred on a quite remarkable scale. Margaret James-Korany has, for example, identified 42,000 individual emigrants sailing from the principal ports of Cornwall for Canada between 1831 and 1860, with some 6,200 leaving from Padstow alone in that period, and this outflow continued long after 1860 too. Thus the Cornish Telegraph for 5 September 1866 published a piece regretting 'the rage for emigration' in recent years, noting that 'the rush for Australia and America has been very great', and recent calculations suggest that at least 240,000 Cornish went overseas between 1860 and 1900, with a similar number leaving for England and Wales, with the result that Cornwall lost around a third of its population across the period. This depopulation was particularly marked amongst the youngest age-groups. Philip Payton observes that 44.8% of the Cornish male population aged fifteen to twenty-four left for overseas between 1861 and 1900, along with 26.2% of the female population in the same age group, and another 30% and 35.5% respectively left for other counties within Britain as well.(1)

The use of the term 'Cousin Jack' for the Cornish, particularly miners and especially emigrant miners, along with its companion-term 'Cousin Jenny', is well-evidenced from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards. John H. Forster's account of 'Life in the copper mines of Lake Superior', given to the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society in 1887, contains the following illustrative passage:

The Cornishman, or "cousin Jack," is a native of the duchy of Cornwall, England... The Cornishman of the present day, like his father, is of a roving disposition. His footsteps may be traced around the globe. There is no prominent mining field in the world wherein you will not find "Cousin Jack." He is in Alaska, California, the Rocky Mountains, Mexico, Central and South America, in Australia, India and Lake Superior. He is a first rate miner and possesses a certain sturdiness of frame and disposition that commends him to the observer. He works hard, eats well and fights bravely. He is, numerically, very strong in our northern mines, and, being, as a rule, steady, conservative and skillful, he finds ready employment. He likes mining; esteems his vocation among the most honorable, if not aristocratic. He despises the duties of an ordinary day laborer. In short, he is a born miner and nothing else... But "Cousin Jack's" language attracts most attention. His dialect, pure and simple, is unique. He uses many English words with a strange twist, while other words of his you would look for in vain in Webster's unabridged... But we find in the mines many gentlemen of Cornish birth who are well educated and efficient, occupying positions of trust and responsibility. Many of the captains and agents are Cornishmen.(2)

Quite when and where these Cornish emigrants started to be known as 'Cousin Jacks' is not wholly clear, unfortunately, and various theories have been proposed over the years, most of which locate the genesis of the term overseas in America, Australia or other places where Cornish miners emigrated to in the nineteenth century. The Cornubian and Redruth Times in 1908, for example, carried a piece suggesting that the term 'Cousin Jack' was first used in the California mining districts in the very late 1840s and spread out from there, with the additional claim that 'twenty years ago the term in Cornwall was unknown'; however, as we shall see, neither claim stands up to scrutiny, and the reality is perhaps even more interesting.(3)

An Australian Cousin Jack cartoon by Oswald Pryor from 1915; the caption reads 'Cousin Jack miner:- "Call isself Cap'n 'e do; and I 'spoase ef the truth ez known, 'e never did a day's work underground in all 'ez life."' (Image: Trove)

Looking at the documentary evidence for the usage of the term, a traditional place to start is with the Oxford English Dictionary, which cites a number of examples of the use of Cousin Jack under their Cousin, n. and Jack, n.¹ entries. One, from Rolf Boldrewood's Australian novel Miner's Right of 1890, describes 'a short man, whose blue-black curly hair and deep-set eyes betrayed the Cousin Jack',(4) whilst the earliest given is from The Star newspaper of Ballarat, Victoria (Australia) on the 19 March 1857, which runs as follows:

They were ‘Tips’, and ‘Geordies’, and ‘Cousin Jacks’, altogether, and I did as well as I could.(5

The fact that both of the early citations are from Australia has sometimes been taken to suggest that the term could have emerged there, and it is certainly treated as such by the English Dialect Dictionary under its entry for Cousin.(6) In addition to these entries, the OED also records what it treats as a variant of Cousin Jack, Cousin Jacky. This is said to be documented first in the South Australian Register, from Adelaide, for 2 June 1854, via the following passage: 'John O'Connell then said to him, ‘You're a b——, Cousin Jacky, an't you?'', although the term also occurs in dialogue from Australian court reports of the 1840s too, e.g. 'I don't like you cousin Jackies, keep your own company, and I'll keep mine', which appeared in the South Australian, 30 May 1848.(7) However, 'Cousin Jacky' is not only documented in Australian contexts; it also appears in, for example, Thomas Quiller Couch's East Cornwall Words, published by the English Dialect Society in 1880, where it is treated as an East Cornwall term for a miner from West Cornwall:

There is a marked difference between the speech of East and West Cornwall... At the beginning of the present century mining adventure, especially in the search for copper, became a furor in East Cornwall, and a passionate enthusiasm brought hither the skilled miners of the West, who flocked to the banks of Tywardreath Bay, and further east to the central granite ridge about the tors of Caradon. These immigrants brought with them and have left an infusion of their language, especially its technical portion, but I remember when it was a great mimetic feat, and productive of much mirth amongst us, to be able to imitate the talk of Cousin Jacky from Redruth or St. Just.(8)

T. Q. Couch of Bodmin, the father of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (aka Q), was born in 1826 at Lansallos near Fowey, and seems to be here recounting a usage known to him in his youth, and is clearly referring to someone from West Cornwall, not a Cornish emigrant overseas. Likewise, in a letter printed in the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser for 28 March 1862, Christopher Childs of Liskeard uses 'Cousin Jacky' in passing as a seemingly well-known, common and friendly term traditionally used between Cornish miners:

The very motto of the Cornish miners, "One and All," at once bespeaks our favour, and indicates that [Cornish miners] are not naturally selfish, but on the contrary, are kindly disposed one toward another. If any one doubt this, let him attend the funeral of a miner, and observe how they congregate to pay the last sad tribute of respect, and drop a tear over the grave of their departed comrade... How forcibly does the familiar name "comrade," and the expression of "Com'se along Cousin Jacky," speak in favour of his friendly and social disposition.(9)

In contrast, in Margaret Ann Courtney's West Cornwall Words (which was bound together with Couch's East Cornwall Words of 1880), 'Cousin Jacky' features as a local dialect term meaning 'a foolish person, a coward', with 'Cousin Jan' instead being given as the name for Cornishman—the latter variant is discussed further below, as is the former definition for Cousin Jacky.(10

The first two pages of Elfin's A Cornish Ghost Story, first published at Truro sometime before 1862; these two pages are taken from an 1868 edition of the text in Cornish Tales in Prose and Verse (Truro: Netherton, 1868), pp. 378 (image: Internet Archive).

Needless to say, the above references do seem to cast serious doubt upon the implication of the report in the Cornubian and Redruth Times in 1908 that the term 'Cousin Jack' and similar was unknown in Cornwall in the late 1880s, and in this light it is worth noting that Sharron Schwartz has, in fact, suggested that the 'evidence seems to point to the mines of Devonshire in the eighteenth century' as the place where the term Cousin Jack originated, via migrant Cornish miners seeking work in Devon rather than overseas.(11) Although she unfortunately offers no citation to support this, this suggestion certainly would seem to accord reasonably well with the apparent mid-nineteenth-century Cornish usage of 'Cousin Jacky' for a miner from West Cornwall discussed above. Some further evidence that supports such an early usage in Britain, rather than just overseas, for 'Cousin Jack'/'Cousin Jacky' might be sought in the following three publications. The first is A Cornish Ghost Story, by Georgina Verrall writing as "Elfin", of which only the second edition survives, which was printed at Lemon Street, Truro, in 1862, priced 3d. Quite when the first edition was printed is unfortunately unrecorded, although a notional date of c. 1860 has sometimes been supplied; this poem starts as follows:

One foggy night, a year ago
Ere yet had fallen December's snow,
A Cornish miner half afraid,
Stroll'd down Tremaine to meet his maid...
Poor Cousin Jack felt ill at ease,
And totter'd on with trembling knees,
In short, dear reader, you may see,
Jack had his failings,—so have we...
Now cousin Jacky was, no doubt,
A comely youth when "oal trick'd out;"
To use his own expression, he
A "clain-off man" was said to be,
And many a maiden inly sighed
To be the handsome miner's bride;...(12)

It then continues with long passages written to reflect Cornish dialect, relating the meeting of the miner 'Cousin Jack/Jacky' with his maid, Mary, and their subsequent talk and deeds. Needless to say, this passage would seem to provide evidence for a Cornish usage of 'Cousin Jack/Jacky' for a miner still living in Cornwall sometime in the 1850s or very early 1860s. Interestingly, the same pamphlet also offers evidence for 'Cousin Jan' and perhaps Jenny—both Jan and Jenny occur for other characters in the text of the poem, suggesting they too were seen as conventional names for Cornish characters, and 'Cousin Jan' moreover recurs in the titles of two further pamphlets that are advertised on the rear of A Cornish Ghost Story, namely The Bâl, or, 'Tes a Bra' Keenly Lode, Cousin Jan's Story (first published at Helston in 1850) and its sequel Cousin Jan's Courtship and Marriage (first published at Truro in 1859), both by William Bentinck Forfar. The earliest of these, published three years before the first reference in the OED reference to Cousin Jan (which is, in fact, taken from a newspaper advert for this pamphlet from 1853, although the OED doesn't mention this), includes the following passage:

If you'll listen to me for a moment, you shall
Hear all about trying and working a Bâl;
How the Lode is discovered by a small hazel twig,
Carried over the ground by some knowing old prig...
When the knowing old Dowzer this discovery's made
He marks out the spot and then calls his comrade,
Saying, "Hallo! Cozen Jan, d'ee come 'long wi' me,
'Tes the keenliest gozan thee ever ded'st see...(13)

Cousin Jan in the narrative then takes a sample of the ore to a Captain Polglaze, 'a Purser, well known, Who quickly, by mining, a rich man had grown'. He declares that they must go to London to raise funds ('The went up to Bristol by a steamer from Hayle, And proceeded from Bristol to London by rail'), and their adventure is then recounted in Cornish dialect by Cousin Jan. Subsequently, the form 'Cousin Jan' is found in a handful of Cornish newspaper articles from the 1860s to the 1890s as the name of a Cornish 'everyman' or as a general name for Cornishmen/Cornish miner, i.e. it seems to have functioned as a variant form of 'Cousin Jack'/'Cousin Jacky'. This is supported by the fact that 'Cozen Jan' first appears in Forfar's poem as part of a phrase that seems essentially identical to Christopher Child's traditional Cornish miner's phrase "Com'se along Cousin Jacky".

The second publication that further illustrates an early usage of 'Cousin Jack' and similar in Britain, without obvious reference to Cornish emigrants, is a report in The Cornish Telegraph for 27 September 1854. This briefly recounted the exhumation of a miner who fell down the shaft of Pednandrea Mine, Redruth in the 1820s. The rediscovery of his remains apparently prompted 'great excitement' and his funeral procession on Sunday, 17 September 1854, was attended by four thousand people, equal to around half of the population of Redruth at that time. What is particularly striking is that, although his real name is given as John Stephens, the newspaper notes that in life he was 'better known as "Cousin Jack Cobbler,"'(14) something that obviously suggests the use of the nickname 'Cousin Jack' in Cornwall as far back as the 1820s. The status of Stephens' alternative name as a nickname is confirmed by the report on the inquest published the previous week in the Royal Cornwall Gazette:

On Saturday the 16th instant, an inquest was held... on the body of John Stephens, aged 25 years. According to the evidence of William Thomas, miner, it appeared that as long ago as the 9th of August, 1828, the deceased and his brother were employed in stripping the shaft, and drawing up the materials in the Pednandrea Mine, near Redruth... The deceased and witness both fell into the shaft together... Deceased was well known in the neighbourhood by the nickname of "Cousin Jack Cobbler."(15)

A mid-nineteenth-century advert for H. J. Daniel's The Cornish Thalia, published c. 1860 at Devonport, which included two poems with 'Cousin Jack' in the title (image: Internet Archive).

The third interesting early publication from Cornwall to refer to Cousin Jack is the collection of comic poems by Henry John Daniel's published as The Cornish Thalia, Being Original Cornish Poems, Illustrative of the Cornish Dialect. Although this was published at Devonport without date, it is advertised in the rear of a pamphlet published in 1859 and advertised in the Cornish Times on 28 July 1860, so was presumably written in the 1850s and in print by either the end of that decade or 1860.(16) This volume included poems with the titles 'Cousin Jack and the London barber' and 'Cousin Jack's song for the volunteers', and H. J. Daniel followed it up in 1862 and 1863 with new books of poems entitled Mirth for "One and All;" or, Comic Tales and Sketches and Mary Anne's Career (continued) and Cousin Jack's Adventures, which included items with the titles 'Cousin Jack and the sun-dial', 'Cousin Jack at Summercourt Fair', 'Cousin Jack and the Piskies', and 'Cousin Jack and the Gipsy'.(17) In the front of The Cornish Thalia, Daniel has the following to say, which suggests that 'Cousin Jack' was being used by him at least partly in the West Cornwall sense of 'a fool', as documented by M. A. Courtney in 1880 for 'Cousin Jacky', in addition to being a commonplace term for a Cornish miner: 

In the following pages, merely to illustrate the mode of thought and expression amongst a certain class of the mining population of Cornwall. Whatever surprise the uninitiated reader may experience from the exaggerated and bizarre observations of Cousin Jack, they are strictly in accordance with fact. This arises from an ignorance of the world at large; at the same time there is no race of men possessed of better natural abilities. Shrewd, quick, and discriminating, they may be deceived once, but seldom twice; besides this, a rich vein of originality frequently runs through their remarks, which affords considerable amusement.(18)

This sense is confirmed by Daniel's first poem in The Cornish Thalia, 'Cousin Jack and the London barber', which begins thus:

About a dozen years or so
A Cornish Miner (let the truth be written)
Was walking through the streets with wonder smitten—
His eyes wide open, staring at the shops. 

Subsequently, Cousin Jack, as he wanders around London, spies a barber's shop and declares 'There's nething down to Camebourne like this here' and goes in for a shave. He then becomes confused by a bar of soap and a basin of suds and water ('What es it here?'); taking it for broth with potatoes in, Jack consumes it entirely to the shock of the London barber, declaring that he:

lapp'd it in a moment like a cat...
I dedden mind for spoons, or sives [=herbs], or bread;
I liked your brath oncommon well I ded...
[but] I cudden bear the tetties[=lumps of soap], no my dear!(19)

Needless to say, the poem seems rather mean-spirited, but it does at least once more add weight to the case for 'Cousin Jack' being a well-understood phrase in 1850s Cornwall, and one that Daniel, a Cornishman born at Lostwithiel in 1818, could freely use both as a generalised term for a Cornish miner and to make a mock of such men without worrying that it would need explaining. In this context, it is worth pointing out that the similar use of 'Cousin Jacky' as a name for both a miner and a fool seems to underlie the following passage on a mine captain from T. R. Higham's A Dialogue Between Tom Thomas and Bill Bilkey, Two Cornish Miners, printed at Truro in 1866: 

Tom: "What soort of Cappen es he down to thy Bâl, Bill" 
Bill: "Well, I b'lieve he's so good a heart as ever took a mug in hand; but we dooan't knaw what to maake of un sometimes, caase he do git 'pon his jokes so often; he do think we are oall Cousin Jackies, but we arn't so bad fools as he do think we be, for we do knaw a passel moore 'bout copper an' tin than he do..."'(20)

John Tabois Tregellas, a Cornishman born in St Agnes in 1792, seems to use 'Cousin Jacky' in this manner too in his The St Agnes Bear Hunt, published at some point in the 1840s, a tale concerning a group of St Agnes miners taken in by a hoax about a yellow bear loose in the countryside: 

So off to Dirtypool the throng
Of Cousin Jackies went,
Up to Wheal Kitty, where they stopped,
As if by one consent.(21

 Cousin Jack and the London barber, from Henry John Daniel's The Cornish Thalia, published in the late 1850s or 1860; Cousin Jack has just drunk the barber's bowl of soap-suds and soap, thinking it broth and potatoes (image: Internet Archive).

If the date by which Cornish miners started to be known as Cousin Jacks/Jackies is somewhat uncertain (although the term would certainly seem to have been in use in Cornwall by the 1820s and Australia by the 1840s, if not before), the same is true for the question of quite why they were called this. Much of the literature on 'Cousin Jacks' and the Great Emigration seems to pass over these questions or address them only briefly, frequently suggesting that it may result from the oft-cited 'clannishness' of the Cornish emigrants. For example:

The term “Cousin Jack” is believed to have originated from the fact that Cornish miners were clannish. It was very typical for a miner to assist his skilled countrymen in finding work in the mines of Grass Valley [California]. The tight relationships that formed amongst the Cornish led to criticism by outsiders that they all seemed to have a cousin named “Jack” with whom they were willing to work to the exclusion of everyone else.(22)

‘Cousin Jack’ is an informal term for a Cornishman, apparently originating with regard to labour migration during the 19th century. Several theories as to its development exist, but the most popular suggests that upon gaining employment at a mine, Cornish miners would lobby the management for the employment of fellow Cornish miners, stating that a newcomer was his ‘cousin Jack’.(23)

In the early days “Cousin Jack” evoked envy, jealousy and even hatred, for it seemed that every position in the mine was reserved for yet another “Cousin” from Cornwall.(24

Certainly, the 'clannish' Cornish miners seem to have often been commented upon in contemporary and near-contemporary reports. For example, in an article entitled 'Cornishmen on the Rand' about South African mining, published in the West Briton and Cornish Advertiser for 14 May 1908, the following passage occurs: 

The Witwatersrand has proved a happy hunting ground for large numbers of Cornish miners, and at one time there were large mines here that employed only Cornishmen as skilled labourers... Often the manager was neither a Cornishman nor a mining man, and he found the Cousin Jack mine captain indispensable. A Cornish mine captain invariably meant Cornish shift bosses, and that, in turn, means Cornish workmen.(25)

A view of Cornish Town, also known as Cousin Jack Town, Inangahua County, New Zealand, with working men's huts, a narrow railway line running through the centre, and native forest behind; photograph taken by William Archer Price c. 1910s (image: Flickr/National Library NZ).

Whilst there is thus clear evidence that the Cornish miners in South Africa, Australia and America were indeed perceived as 'clannish' and could dominate mines in the manner suggested above, the idea that Cornish miners overseas suggesting their mine managers employ their supposed relatives could offer a full explanation for the origins of the term 'Cousin Jack' is certainly open to question. Not only does such an 'origin story' have the distinct feel of folk-etymology about it, but it is worth noting that whilst 'cousin' nowadays usually carries with it some sense of a claimed direct kin relationship, in the past it could also be used 'as a familiar and friendly term of address among non-kin', and it was apparently especially so used in this manner in Cornwall.(26) Perhaps most importantly, such a scenario also seems out of accord with the fact that the terms 'Cousin Jack' and 'Cousin Jacky' were not restricted in use to Cornish miners overseas, but were also known and used in the same period in Cornwall too, back at least as far as the 1820s, as discussed above. This is not to say that the 'clannishness' of the Cornish miners overseas might not have played a very large role in popularizing the wider usage and longevity of this phrase, but the idea that the term 'Cousin Jack' actually had its origins in Cornish miners overseas claiming to have a supposed 'cousin named “Jack” with whom they were willing to work to the exclusion of everyone else' seems unlikely to be strictly true in light of the evidence we have.

How, then, might the names 'Cousin Jack' and 'Cousin Jacky' be explained? A potentially more plausible scenario may be that the term 'Cousin Jack' or 'Cousin Jacky' actually had its roots in England, not overseas, as Sharron Schwartz has indeed suggested, perhaps being used originally of Cornish miners from West Cornwall working in Devon and/or East Cornwall in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Some of the Cornish references would certainly suggest that it was a familiar and well-known local nickname for a Cornish miner by the mid-nineteenth century, with no obvious indication that it meant someone who had been overseas. Of particular interest here may be the apparent 'mocking' tone of some—though by no means all—of the references: this is explicit in Daniel's Cornish Thalia and related poems of the late 1850s/1860s, and probably also underlies Thomas Quiller Couch (18261884) of Lansallos and Bodmin's apparent youthful memory of the fun to be had by mimicking 'the talk of Cousin Jacky from Redruth or St. Just'. The negative connotations are made particularly clear in Margaret Ann Courtney's West Cornwall Words, where 'Cousin Jacky' is defined as a local dialect word for a fool, the same sense as it clearly has in Higham's A Dialogue Between Tom Thomas and Bill Bilkey, Two Cornish Miners. Moreover, another dialogue of Higham's—entitled The Billy Goat and the Pepper Mine, published prior to 1870—makes it clear that 'Cousin Jacky' was considered to be a word used by people in England of Cornish miners:

Good hevening to 'ee, Zur... you'm a Straanyer en these here paarts, I blaw, by yer ways of spaikin'!... you cudn't 'ave cum'd to a keenlier boddy fur to tell 'ee oal 'bout we "Cousin Jacky's," as you Lunnoners [=Londoners] do caal us! S'pose you'm a Doctur, maakin' so bould? How ded I come fur to thenk like that theere? Why, Zur, ef we been Cousin Jacky's we do kaip out gunnin' eye opun, an' we do knaw Tin an' no mistaake!(27)

All of the above suggests that the name may not have been entirely appreciated by some Cornish miners, at least at first, and may well have originated from outside of the Cornish mining communities, i.e. it was applied to them by those whom they encountered outside of West Cornwall (the use of 'Cousin' could be a further element in this, referencing and/or mocking the apparently particularly West Cornish usage of 'cousin' as a term of friendly endearment for non-kin).(28) In this light, it is interesting to note that two of the handful of other compounds of the form 'Cousin X' in English are also negative in tone. Thus, Cousin Betty and Cousin Betties occur from at least the first half of the eighteenth century as a generic name for one or more female beggars or itinerant prostitutes, whilst Cousin Tom occurs from the 1740s as a name for a male beggar. Be this as it may, the name 'Cousin Jack' or 'Cousin Jacky' seems subsequently to have been 'reclaimed' and adopted by the Cornish miners both at home and, especially and increasingly, abroad, losing its negative/mocking connotations. As Sharron Schwartz notes, the term “Cousin Jack” became one 'used to express an “otherness”', with the Cornish overseas particularly leveraging it to promote their claimed identity as a 'distinct people with specific mining skills that they jealously guarded'.(29) Certainly, by the mid- to late nineteenth century it was being used as a self-designation by Cornishmen both at home and abroad, with people signing letters to newspapers in this era as either 'Cousin Jack' or 'Cousin Jacky'.(30

Nonetheless, all of this does still leave open the question of why, specifically, 'Cousin Jack' came to be a nickname applied to Cornish miners and used by them, and not some other name. There is no sense that 'Jack' is a specifically or typically Cornish name, being rather a common English personal name (a by-name for John), despite occasional claims to the contrary. Jack might, of course, be being used in 'Cousin Jack' simply as a word for an 'everyman'. The OED 2 notes under Jack, n.¹ that 'Jack' was generally used in English as a term 'for any representative of the common people' or for any 'lad, fellow, chap; esp. a low-bred or ill-mannered fellow' back to at least the sixteenth century, if not before, so this is not an implausible suggestion.(31) Yet such a case would still not tell us why this specific nickname became so exclusively associated with the Cornish miners, initially perhaps being used of them by people outside of these communities who felt threatened by them and/or were mocking them before being adopted as a badge of ethnic identity and pride. There may, however, be a potential answer to this in the name and story of one of the most popular fictional Cornishmen of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, namely Jack the Giant-Killer.

A woodcut of Jack killing the giant of St Michael's Mount, Cormilan (aka Cormilion/Cormelian/Cormoran), from a chapbook version of The History of Jack the Giant Killer published in c. 1820 (image: Wikimedia Commons). Jack, a farmer's son from the Lands End district, dug a pit 24 foot deep in a single night with a shovel and pick-axe, into which he tricked the giant the next morning, whereupon Jack finished him off with his pick-axe.

The History of Jack and the Giants seems to have been first published in the early eighteenth century, with the earliest reference to it being sold coming from 1708 and the earliest surviving text having been published in 1711.(32) The tale proved to be incredibly popular and went through multiple print-runs, adaptations and revisions over the next century and a half, and Jack's origins in far west of Cornwall remain a strong thread throughout these. The chapbook tale begins as follows:

In the reign of King Arthur, near the Lands-End of England, namely, the county of Cornwall, there lived a wealthy Farmer, who had one only Son, commonly known by the name of Jack the Giantkiller.(33)

Jack's initial enemy is the giant Cormilan who lived at St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, and who Jack tricks by digging and disguising a hole, then rousing the giant and finishing him off with a pick-axe when he falls into the trap. Jack's reward is the giant’s treasure and he is named by the worthies of Marazion "the Giant Killer," a title that carries with it a sword and an embroidered belt, which read: 

Here’s the right valiant Cornish Man, Who slew the Giant Cormilan.(34)

Jack subsequently leaves Cornwall for overseas, in this case Wales, where he encounters further giants in need of his special skills. In one encounter, he holds the following important conversation and so tricks a Welsh giant into hiding in his dungeon whilst Jack and King Arthur's son feast in the monster's hall:

Jack rides full speed, when coming to the Gates of the castle, he knock’d with such force, that he made all the neighbouring hills resound. The Giant with a voice like thunder, roared out; who’s there? He answered, none but your poor cousin Jack quoth he, what news with my poor cousin Jack? He replied, dear uncle, heavy news; God wot prithee what heavy news can come to me? I am a Giant, with three heads; and besides thou knows I can fight five hundred men in Armour and make them fly like chaff before the wind. Oh! but (quoth Jack) here’s the King’s Son coming with a thousand men in Armour to kill you, and so to destroy all that you have. Oh! Cousin Jack, this is heavy news indeed; I have a large vault under the ground, where I will immediately hide myself, and thou shalt lock, bolt and bar me in, and keep the keys till the King’s Son is gone.(35)

Jack the Giant Killer gives the finishing blow to the giant of St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, from J. Corner, Favourite Fairy Tales (Edinburgh, 1861), p. 79 (image: Internet Archive).

Needless to say, this is arresting. We have here a very well-known hero of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century popular tales who was named Jack, who grew up in West Cornwall, who achieved fame through the excavation of the Earth (digging a hole which the giant Cormilan could fall into and be finished off with a pick-axe), who travelled overseas—here Wales—to pursue his calling, and who, whilst there, was at least on occasion known by the name 'Cousin Jack'. This tale was adapted variously and frequently as, for example, a farce, a ‘musical entertainment’, a ballet, a 'burlesque extravaganza', and multiple times as a 'favourite Serio-Comic Pantomime' and similar.(36) It also became a popular nursery and children's tale, being issued variously with lurid woodcuts, tinted pictures, or grouped in collections with Jack and the Beanstalk (itself arguably a variant of Jack the Giant-Killer), Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood.(37) As The Illustrated London News opined in 1848, Jack the Giant-Killer was:

the hero dear to all boys who have a particle of generosity and imagination in their souls. Does there exist a man who never envied Jack his seven-league boots and his invisible coat, and who never laughed at that inimitable trick by which he made the gluttonous, false-hearted Welsh giant commit suicide? If there do exist such a man, he is like the man who hath no music in his soul... Let no such man be trusted... The man who did not, when a boy, admire Jack the Giant-Killer... is a hard, dry man, with no poetry in his composition; and does not deserve to see Jack reproduced even in a magic lantern.(38)

In other words, the immensely popular eighteenth- and nineteenth-century fictional Cornish hero Jack, aka 'Cousin Jack', would clearly be a natural reference point for anyone encountering a person from West Cornwall. In such circumstances, it seems quite credible that the widespread knowledge of Jack's adventures might have led to people from West Cornwall, especially those who dug holes(!), being jokingly—and perhaps somewhat mockingly—nicknamed 'Cousin Jack' after him in the manner hypothesised above, with the nickname being subsequently reclaimed and adopted as a badge of ethnic identity and pride by the Cornish, particularly those living overseas. Certainly, such a scenario seems to offer the only really plausible explanation thus far advanced for why miners from West Cornwall were specifically nicknamed 'Cousin Jack', rather than any other name.

In conclusion, although the nickname 'Cousin Jack' is often thought to have emerged overseas and to reflect the 'clannishness' of the Cornish emigrant mining communities and their desire to have mine-owners employ only other Cornish emigrants, claiming them to be their supposed 'Cousin Jacks', the evidence does not really support this. Instead, the term seems to have been used from at least as early in Britain too, if not earlier, and it appears to have additionally been thought by the nineteenth-century Cornish to have had some sort of mocking connotations. One potential explanation for this situation is that 'Cousin Jack' was originally a joking or mocking nickname applied to miners from West Cornwall by those outside of this community who encountered them, perhaps initially in Devon or East Cornwall in the eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries. This name is most plausibly explained as a jovial reference to the immensely popular eighteenth- and nineteenth-century hero Jack the Giant-Killer, whose tale tells how he came from West Cornwall, killed a giant by excavating a large hole into which he fell, and was known on occasion as 'Cousin Jack' when away from home. At first, the nickname would seem to have been seen with some ambivalence by Cornish miners, but it would subsequently appear that 'Cousin Jack' was reclaimed and adopted by the Cornish, especially by those taking part in the 'Great Emigration', who used it to express their 'otherness' and promote their own distinctive identity.

An Australian Cousin Jack cartoon by Oswald Pryor, 1945; the caption reads '"An' what part do 'ee com' from, Maister?" "Gahd's own country, Boy." "Well, tha's funny, I should NEVER 'ave tak'd 'ee for a Cornishman." (Image: The Wonderment of Illustration).


1.     See especially P. Payton, The Cornish Overseas: A History of Cornwall's 'Great Emigration' (Fowey, 2005), and P. Payton, Cornwall, A History (Fowey, 2004), chapter 10. For earlier scholarship see, for example, A. L. Rowse, The Cousin Jacks: the Cornish in America (New York, 1969).

2.     John H. Forster, 'Life in the copper mines of Lake Superior', Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 9 (1888), 175–86 at pp. 183–4.

3.     '"Cousin Jack" and "Cussing Jack"', Cornubian and Redruth Times, 4 June 1908, p. 3.

4.     Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition, 1989), s.v. Jack, n.¹, sense I.1.c.

5.     'Court of General Sessions for the District of Buninyong and Ballarat', report, The Star (Ballarat, Victoria), 19 March 1857, p. 2; Oxford English Dictionary (Third Edition, December 2019), s.v. Cousin, n.

6.     J. Wright (ed.), The English Dialect Dictionary (London, 1898), vol. 1, s.v. Cousin, 5.2, p. 750; J. Ruano-García, 'On the colonial element in Joseph Wright's English Dialect Dictionary', International Journal of Lexicography, 32 (2019), 38–57 at p. 43. 

7.     'Coroner's inquest.—manslaughter', South Australian (Adelaide), 30 May 1848, p. 2.

8.     T. Q. Couch, East Cornwall Words, in Glossary of Words in Use in Cornwall (London: English Dialect Society, 1880), pp. 70–1.

9.     C. Childs, 'The social and moral improvement of the working miners of Cornwall and Devon', West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, 28 March 1862, p. 8.  

10.     M. A. Courtney, West Cornwall Words, in Glossary of Words in Use in Cornwall (London: English Dialect Society, 1880), pp. 14–15.

11.     S. P. Schwartz, ‘Creating the cult of “Cousin Jack”: Cornish miners in Latin America 1812–1848 and the development of an international mining labour market’, The Cornish in Latin America Project, online paper, p. 33.

12.     G. Verrall, writing as Elfin, A Cornish Ghost Story, a Night's Adventures at the Devil's Stile, or, Jack Trevose and Mary Trevean, 2nd edn (Truro, 1862), pp. 3–5.

13.     W. B. Forfar, The Bâl, or, 'Tes a Bra' Keenly Lode, Cousin Jan's Story (Helston, 1850), reprinted in Cornish Tales, in Prose and Verse, by Various Authors, With a Glossary (Truro, 1867), pp. 55–6, and see OED 3, s.v. Cousin, n., under 'Cousin Jan'. This collection includes a number of other tales of Cousin Jan, including Cousin Jan's Courtship and Marriage (Truro, 1859); for the original publication dates, see W. W. Skeat (ed.), A bibliographical list of the works that have been published, or are known to exist in MS., illustrative of the various dialects of English. Compiled by members of the English Dialect Society (London, 1873), pp. 21–2. Note, 'Cousin Jenny' isn't treated further here; Rowse, The Cousin Jacks, p. 9, suggests it is a 'later addition', and the newspaper records seem to confirm this, the first instance I have come across coming from 1868 in The Brisbane Courier, 25 July 1868, p. 5: 'Cousin Jacks and Cousin Jennies (a nick-name given to miners and their wives coming from the Burra Burra mine, being mostly Cornish) have a barbarian custom belonging to an unenlightened era...'.

14.     'Local Intelligence: exhumation of a miner', The Cornish Telegraph, 27 September 1854, p. 3.

15.     'Inquest on a body, twenty six years dead', Royal Cornwall Gazette, 22 September 1854, p. 5.

16.      H. J. Daniel, The Cornish Thalia, Being Original Cornish Poems, Illustrative of the Cornish Dialect (Devonport: W. Wood, n.d.). This was advertised in the rear of C. Mansfield Ingleby's The Shakespeare Fabrication (London: John Russell Smith, 1859), p. 32 of the 'Catalogue of books published or sold by John Russell Smith' appended to the volume, and is mentioned in an advert from 28 July 1860 in the Cornish Times, when it was described as 'just published'; as such the notional date of '1870?' assigned to it in J. Milroy & L. Milroy (eds), Real English: The Grammar of English Dialects in the British Isles (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 326, can be disregarded. 

17.     H. J. Daniel, Mirth for "One and All;" or, Comic Tales and Sketches (Devonport: W. Wood, n.d.), advertised in the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, 7 February 1862, p. 8, and H. J. Daniel, Mary Anne's Career (continued) and Cousin Jack's Adventures (Devonport: W. Wood, n.d.), advertised in the Cornish Times, 13 June 1863, p. 1.

18.     Daniel, The Cornish Thalia, p. 3.

19.      Daniel, The Cornish Thalia, pp. 20–2.

20.      T. R. Higham, A Dialogue Between Tom Thomas and Bill Bilkey, Two Cornish Miners (Truro, 1866), reprinted in Cornish Tales, in Prose and Verse, in the Cornish Dialect (Truro, 1890), pp. 51–2.

21.     J. T. Tregellas, Tremuan; and the St Agnes Bear Hunt. Two Cornish Tales (Truro, n.d.), published at some point in the 1840s—see Skeat (ed.), A bibliographical list, p. 25, for the date—and reprinted in I. T. Tregallas, Cornish Tales, in Prose and Verse (Truro, c. 1870), p. 17, from which this quotation is taken. Note, 'Cousin Jackies' is footnoted as a 'Local term of derision' in some editions e.g. I. T. Tregallas, The Adventures of Rozzy Paul and Zacky Martin; the St. Agnes Bear Hunt; and the Perran Cherrybeam: Three Comic Cornish poems (Truro, 1856), p. 28, although not in the c. 1870 edition.

22.     F. G. Wolf, B. Finnie & L. Gibson, 'Cornish miners in California: 150 years of a unique sociotechnical system', Journal of Management History, 14 (2008), 144–60 at p. 150. 

23.     E. K. Neale, Cornish Carols: Heritage in California and South Australia (University of Exeter and Cardiff University PhD Thesis, 2018), p. 37. See also, for example, Rowse, The Cousin Jacks, p. 9, who says 'When men were wanted for the mines, or a job was going, they always knew somebody at home for it: Cousin Jack. So they became known all over the world as "Cousin Jacks"; "Cousin Jennies" for the womenfolk seems to be a later addition'. J. Rowe, in The Hard-Rock Men: Cornish Immigrants and the North American Mining Frontier (Liverpool, 1974), p. vi, similarly comments that "The most common explanation is that when a job fell vacant there would be a Cornish worker ready to tell the boss or foreman that he would send home for his "Cousin Jack" to fill it', although he also notes a Northern Michigan theory that, due to the profanity of the Cornish miners, they were called 'cussin' Jacks'! The same 'folk-etymology' for the name Cousin Jack has also been, interestingly, attributed to a Californian context, as follows:

A Cornishman who was familiarly known as Jack, reached a mining camp in the western state in 1848, and being profuse in his use of profanity, soon won himself the name of "Cussing Jack." In time other Cornishmen arrived in the Californian camp and naturally they associated themselves with their erstwhile countryman, "Cussing Jack." The cosmopolitan mining population, not knowing the names of the newer arrivals, dubbed them all "Cussing Jacks," which was soon changed to "Cousin Jacks." ('"Cousin Jack" and "Cussing Jack"', Cornubian and Redruth Times, 4 June 1908, p. 3)

24.     Payton, Cornish Overseas, p. 225.

25.     'Cornishmen on the Rand: the past and the future', West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, 14 May 1908, p. 8.

26.     N. Tadmor, Family and Friends in Eighteenth-Century England: Household, Kinship, and Patronage (Cambridge, 2001), p. 160; OED 3, s.v. Cousin, n..

27.     T. R. Higham, The Billy Goat, and the Pepper Mine (Truro, n.d.), which is advertised in the rear of the British Library's copy of Tregellas's Cornish Tales, dated c. 1870 (General Reference Collection DRT Digital Store X.907/2143), and is reprinted in The Billy Goat and the Pepper Mine, and Six Other Cornish Tales (Truro, 1882), p. 3.

28.     Courtney, West Cornwall Words, p. 14; Tadmor, Household, Kinship, and Patronage, p. 160 n. 285; OED, s.v. Cousin, n., sense 2a.

29.     Schwartz, ‘Creating the cult of “Cousin Jack”’, p. 33. 

30.     To give some examples, a Cornish correspondent signed a letter critical of a local Cornwall MP in the Western Morning News in 1884 that was reprinted in the Royal Cornwall Gazette on 3 October 1884, p. 8, with a follow-up letter written under the same pseudonym to the Royal Cornwall Gazette being printed on 10 October 1884, p. 5. Likewise, someone signing himself 'Cousin Jack' wrote a letter about how well the men of Newlyn were doing in terms of joining up to fight the First World War in the Daily Mirror for 7 May 1915 (p. 5), and another correspondent, commenting on mine policies at the Providence Mines, Carbis Bay, wrote to the The Cornish Telegraph in December 1869 and had their comments summarized in the 22 December 1869 issue on p. 2. Overseas, a correspondent signing as COUSIN JACK is mentioned in The South Australian Advertiser, 21 February 1860, p. 2, whilst a letter signed by COUSIN JACK entitled 'A hint to mining managers' was printed in the Mount Alexander Mail (Victoria, Australia), 28 December 1860, p. 5, and the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser carried a letter signed by A COUSIN JACKY from British Columbia on 26 September 1862 (p. 6).

31.     OED 2, s.v. Jack, n.¹, senses I.1.a and I.2.a, For the suggestion that it was a peculiarly Cornish name, see for example 'Why are the Cornish "Cousin Jackies"?', Western Morning News, 13 April 1939, p. 3.

32.     C. Green, 'Tom Thumb and Jack the Giant-Killer: two Arthurian fairy tales?', Folklore, 118.2 (2007), pp. 123–40 at pp. 129–35; C. Green, Arthuriana: Early Arthurian Tradition and the Origins of the Legend (Louth, 2021), pp. 143–4.

33.     I. Opie & P. Opie, The Classic Fairy Tales (Oxford, 1974), p. 64.

34.     Opie & Opie, Classic Fairy Tales, p. 66.

35.     Quotation taken from the 1787 chapbook printed in Falkirk and housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, transcribed in Green, Arthuriana, pp. 148–65 at p. 156, my emphasis; the text is almost identical, albeit slightly modernized, in the 1711 text published by James Halliwell and included in Green, Arthuriana, at pp. 170–1.

36.     For example, Jack the Gyant-Killer: A Comi-Tragical Farce of One Act (London: J. Roberts, 1730); An English Musical Entertainment, called Galligantus (London, 1758); the 'New Grand Mock-Heroic Serio-Comic Ballet of Action, called Jack the Giant-Killer', advertised in The British Press, 14 August 1810, p. 2; H. Byron, Jack the Giant Killer; or, Harlequin King Arthur, and Ye Knights of Ye Round Table: A Burlesque Extravaganza (London, n.d., first performed 1859); and the 'favourite Serio-Comic Pantomime of Jack the Giant-Killer', as advertised in The British Press, 27 June 1803, p. 1. Other instances of The History of Jack and the Giants being adapted into a pantomime are advertised or reviewed in, for example, the Caledonian Mercury, 8 March 1800, p. 1, and the Morning Advertiser, 14 January 1829, p. 2 ('a splendid Comic Pantomime, called Harlequin and Jack the Giant-Killer'), and the Morning Post of 31 December 1831, p. 3 ('The new Christmas pantomime, Jack the Giant-Killer promises to have a run... through the holidays. Some of the tricks and scenery are very good. To-morrow evening the performances will be honoured with the immediate patronage of Prince George of Cambridge').

37.     As advertised as a series in, for example, the Illustrated London News, 10 January 1846, p. 15, or a separate series in the London Daily News, 30 May 1846, p. 7.

38.     Uncle Tom, 'Christmas sports', Illustrated London News, 23 December 1848, p. 22.

The content of this post and page, including any original illustrations, is Copyright © Caitlin R. Green, 2021, All Rights Reserved, and should not be used without permission.