Jock = a Scotsman, 1587 (antedates OED 1788-?)

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Mon Feb 1 08:33:29 UTC 2010

> At 1/31/2010 10:16 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>  I meant the earliest generic front-name type nickname for any ethnic
>> group.
>>All the early contenders seem to date from the 17th C.
> In that case, the "Jock" from 1587 is a contender:
> _The Famovs Victories of Henry the fifth: Containing
> the Honourable Battell of Agin-Court As it was plaide by the Queenes
> Maiesties Players_.  [no author.] London: Printed by Thomas Creede,
> 1598.  One of the characters is "Iock".  [Harvard says: "One of the
> sources of
> Shakespeare's Henry IV [sic!], probably written about 1587." --Hand
> list to Old English plays.]  Full view, downloadable.
> Joel

Well, *one argument is that it's a forerunner of Naughty Prince Hal / Good
King Henry, and so early (thus 1587).  As good or a better case can be made
that it's a catchpenny lashup put together to cash in on the popularity of
the two Henry IV plays and the concluding Henry V.  (_The Famous Victories_
is entered in the Stationers' Register in 1594 before it's published in
1598, and may have been revised in the interim to carry the events up to the
recently staged battle of Agincourt.)

Whatever, the point is moot, since "Iock." as a speech prefix in the text is
a shortening of the full name of the character in question -- Iockey, a
horseman, no Scotsman he.

Indeed, "Iockey" is none other than (under the guise of Sir John Oldcastle)
our old friend Falstaff, and _The Famous Victories_ begins (sort of -- the
correspondence with anything in any of the three Henry plays is less than
exact) just after the Gadshill incident in 1 Henry IV --  i.e. towards the
end of 1 Henry IV, Act II, scene iv.

Further, it's printed in blackletter/gothic, suggesting a *really downmarket
readership, gothic being the font favoured by the printers of coney-catching
pamphlets and broadsides.  It might be difficult to read, but it induced a
sense of cheerful familiarity in the intended audience.


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