Davy Jones

Davy Jones
   Among modern sailors, 'Davy Jones' is an imaginary figure supposed to lurk on the seabed, where he collects wrecked ships and anything thrown or dropped overboard; to be buried at sea is to 'go to Davy Jones's Locker'. He is first mentioned in 1751, in Smollett's novel The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (chapter 15), in a way which shows he was well known as supernatural and ominous. Wanting to scare an officer, a sailor dresses up in an ox-hide and a leather mask stretched over a shark's jaws; it has broad glasses for eyes, lit up with rushlights, and a firework between its teeth. The officer takes this for Davy Jones, exclaiming: 'I know him by his saucer-eyes, his three rows of teeth, his horns and tail, and the blue smoak that came out of his nostrils.' Smollett adds that this fiend 'presides over all the evil spirits of the deep, and is often seen in various shapes, perching among the rigging on the eve of hurricanes, shipwrecks and other disasters'. Alan Smith, in Davidson and Chaudri, forthcoming.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.


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