Jabez Good in later life
Jabez Good







Words, Phrases, Place Names,
Superstitions, &c.,

Current in East Lincolnshire.





H. Pulford, Printer, Market Place.





IN placing this little Volume in the hands of the public, the compiler has no pretensions to any approach of excellence, but he hopes it may prove of some interest, not only to those who have been contributors to its pages, but also to many others, of studious habits.

The Glossary in itself affords numerous examples of wholesome food for the enquiring mind, and, in order that it may be a subject of further interest, it has been deemed advisible to add a brief history of our English language, and also a few thoughts upon the Lincolnshire dialect.

The study of single words of a language is a deeply interesting one, bringing, as it will the thoughts to bear on a nation’s history in remote times, and conjuring up before the imagination, scenes in which our forefathers lived, and moved, and had their being.

{4} Though these actors be gone, yet we are their living representatives, and, through the heritage of one common language, have our part to play, humble and obscure though we may be, and it is for us to hand down that language to the generations which may follow after.

If there be then such excellent materials to evoke an outburst of intellectual vigour in the study of “fossil poetry” as the words of a whole nation have been called, must there not, if in a less degree, also be something worthy of consideration in the dialect of any one part of the land? The language of the common people, the words peculiar to the inhabitants of a certain locality, are in themselves full of suggestion for the excitement of our thoughts, if we will but go earnestly to work to acquire them for ourselves. Precious by reason of antiquity, diverting by reason of the various associations with which dialectic words were and are connected, how can we pass them by without pausing just for a little to closely consider them and muse on the many and interesting thoughts to which they give birth!

The bustle of every-day life, the anxiety, the turmoil, the worry, may be some excuse for our finding little time or inclination to study our language. Yet let us pause for a moment, snatch an occasional hour from the absorbing business of life, and the quiet examination of our own words may prove a means of pleasure and of profit!



AFTER the departure of the Romans in A.D. 410, our country was invaded in the course of the latter half of the sixth century, and the former half of the seventh, by a people called by the general name of Saxons, by the native Celts whom they found in possession of the country. They were a branch of the Low Germanic Race, and came over from the country lying between Cimbric Chersonesus (Denmark) and the mouths of the Rhine. They consisted of three principal tribes, the Saxons proper, the Angles and the Jutes.

The former were the more powerful and it is from their alliance that the name Anglo-Saxon arises.

The Low Germanic or Teutonic Race was one of the three migratory waves which flowed over Europe.

Having effected an entrance into our land, the Saxons drove out the Britons whom they found here, and in the fifth century permanently established their own language, customs and religion.

In the ninth century, the Anglo-Saxons were terribly troubled by the incessant invasions of the Danes, and, at last, to alleviate their troubles, they allowed these invaders to settle in the land, who accordingly took up their abode in the province of Mercia, of which Lincolnshire was a part.

{6} Through the Danish language called the Norse belonging to the same stock as the Anglo-Saxon (or properly Englisc), it left an appreciable mark of its influence here, which will be noticed later.

The year A.D. 1066 brought with it the Norman conquest, and a struggle for supremacy began between the Norman-French and the existing Englisc.

The struggle continued for many years, both languages existing side by side, for the conquerors were too proud to employ Englisc, and the conquered were too full of hatred to use the language of their masters.

After haughty pride and deep-rooted hatred had somewhat subsided, the two became ultimately blended.

With advancement of learning, words from other languages were introduced, until now we have many from the Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, etc.

All in their several ways were calculated to supplement and adorn the old Englisc, but not in the least degree to supersede it.

The Saxon is so manifestly the Englishman’s Mother-tongue, that it is possible to carry on long conversations or to write at great length without having recourse to words of another stock.

Through a long succession of generations, it has firmly adhered to every individual Englishman as his common birthright, and however great may be the tide of advancing knowledge, yet it still more than holds it own, and is ever likely to.



LINCOLNSHIRE, during the occupation of the Romans, formed part of the Division called Flavia Cæsarensis. As, however, the Roman occupation was a military one, it did not influence the language of the people to any great extent.

Then came the Saxons, and Flavia Cæsarensis was called by them, Mercia. The ravages of the Danes forced the Saxons to allow them to settle here, and Lincolnshire was one of their strongholds.

Their language called the Norse made itself felt upon the existing Anglo-Saxon one.

The terminations “by,”thorpe,” “ness, “toft,” (all Danish) as Spilsby, Mablethorpe, Skegness, Bratoft, show the influence the Danes must have had in the County.

The Lincolnshire dialect, like others, is derived from Anglo-Saxon, but we may go further and say that it contains more pure Saxon than most other dialects in England; for the requirements of the Lincolnshire peasant have rarely been such as to need the help of more expressive words derived from Latin or other sources. He can express his thoughts and carry on his conversation, without bringing into play, words of a stock other than English.

We remember hearing Charles Alderson, Esq., H.M.I. of Schools, once saying in Burgh when on a visit of inspection:—“No county in England speaks purer Saxon than that of Lincolnshire, in its middle classes.”

{8} His occupation is so purely agricultural, as was the occupation which was the main calling of his Saxon forefathers, that the terms employed by them in their agricultural pursuits are sufficient for his purpose.

Many other counties have a greater number of words from other sources, for they have been the seats of great learning or large manufactures, and where such have been introduced, expressions belonging in the first place to these, have afterwards become a part of the common speech of the people. It has not been so with Lincolnshire. It has had neither renowned schools nor great manufactures. It has been until the comparatively recent introduction of railways, telegraphs, etc., in a state of seclusion, taking no general active part in national triumphs or constitutional successes.

For these reasons even now a truly Lincolnshire man, having had a liberal education, employs terms derived from the old Englisc in preference to what may be called classical expressions. Thus he will have “a talk “ rather than “a conversation,” he “will go on” rather than “proceed,” “carry” than “convey,” “believe” than “credit,” “put off” than “postpone.” He will “give a pound” more often than “contribute a sovereign,” he will “rear” sooner than “erect.” Again the pronunciation of Anglo-Saxon by reason of a freer use of the vowels, and a greater number of inflexions than now, must have been more rolling and fuller in tone; and though advancing education has done {9} much to alter this in higher society, yet it still remains among the lower and less educated people.

This full-mouthed pronunciation is shown for example by the Anglo-Saxon word foewer, “four,” and thus we now hear fower, faäyther, farther, etc. The dialect also retains many of the old English inflexions, as, “He would a puttan it right if you had lettan him.”

These examples are sufficient to illustrate the subject, and by reference to the Glossary, they may be continued at pleasure. Such are some of the thoughts which suggest themselves in the study of our dialect. They are by no means exhaustive, (volumes might be written on the subject), for, as stated at the outset, it has not been the writer’s object, for one instant, to lay claim to great excellence, exhaustive consideration, or deep learning.

If a perusal of these pages stirs up in the mind a desire for greater knowledge, or affords a means of spending a pleasant hour, then our aim has been attained; and who can calmly consider our English tongue, nay, even our Lincolnshire dialect, uncouth and brusque though it be, without finding his thoughts carried away both to remotest ages and other regions of the globe, where the Saxon language has and does prevail, and where it prevails, prosperity and light increase as poverty and darkness decline.