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grown up unmarried ladies, though the mother was living, and for a considerable part of the century maintained its ground against the infantine term of “Miss."
At the Sun Fire Office, which was established in the year 1710, all ladies were in their policies of insurance styled “Mrs.” without any regard to their being married or single, but within the last three years the single ladies are in their policies styled “ Miss,” as they do not like to be called “Mrs.” A hundred years ago they would have been offended at being called Miss, as that was then a term of contempt if not of reproach.
In a work called “The Lover,” edited by Sir Richard Steele (p. 18), under the date of Feb. 27, 1714, is the following note in the edition printed in 1789 by Mr. J. Nichols, “That young women were at this time usually styled “Mrs,' has been repeatedly shown by the Tutler. It may be new to observe that it appears from the Register Book of St. Bride's, London, that early in the last century children were so denominated when their names were recorded in baptism."
Miss. Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary, [Tit. “Miss,"] defines this to be “ the term of honour to a young girl ;” and Todd, in his edition of the Dictionary, adds, “ Miss, at the beginning of the last century, was appropriated to the daughters of gentlemen under the age of ten, or given opprobriously to young gentlewomen reproachable for the giddiness or irregularity of their conduct :” and he cites the notes to Steele’s Epist: Corres:, vol. 1, p. 92. Todd also cites the following passage from Dean Swift : “When there are little masters and misses in a house, they are great impediments to the diversions of the servants ;" which shows that a little girl in his time was styled “Miss.”
In Galt's Lives of the Players," it is said that “the epithet Miss in the 17th century was a term of reproach. Miss Cross, who is particularly noticed in Hayne's Epilogue to Farquhar's “Love and a Bottle,” about 1702, was the first actress announced as Miss.”
1 Vol. 1, p. 13.
MA’AM. This style was till very recently, and probably is still, applied to old women who keep schools for little children in North Wilts similar to those called Dame Schools. These schools are called “Ma'am Schools,” and the persons who keep them have “Ma'am" prefixed to their names. This is, I believe, not peculiar to Wiltshire; for when I was a little boy, I remember a school of this sort at Berkeley in Gloucestershire, which was kept by Mrs. Parslow, who was always called “Ma'am Parsley."
GOODWOMAN AND GOODWIFE. In the Ogbourne Churchwardens' Book, before cited, there is in the subscription list for the Northampton Fire, “ Goodwoman Potter £0. Os. 4d.," and in a subscription list for “ the Redemption of all English Slaves which were lately taken by ye Turkish pyratts,” we find “ Goodwife Coleman £0. Os. 6d.” and “ Goodw. Sheepreve £0. Os. 6d.”
We must not, however, infer that a person thus designated was really good, or even supposed to be so, for in the books of the Corporation of Gravesend' is an entry of 2s. paid the porters for ducking of Goodwife Campion, who was probably not thought good for much.
Mr. Aubrey, in his “ Collections for Wilts” (part 2, p. 12), under Tit. “ Yatton Keynell,” says—
“ Note.-A tenant of my father's here, one Goodwife Miller did dentire [i. e. had young teeth] in the eighty fifth yeare of her age or more.” And in the dinner bill of the Earl of Leicester in 1570, before cited, are many instances of the same kind, as : “For x lb of butter at iijd ob. the lb. to Goodwife Segwekes i js xjd For iiij lb. of butter to Goodwife Rowe at ijd the pounde .xijd For iij lb of butter to Goodwife Essexe at iijd ob the lb. . . xd ob” .
Widow. This appellation was often applied in the 17th and 18th centuries to the widows of persons in the middle and lower classes. This is
1 See above, p. 71.
shown by the trifling sums given in the Ogbourne subscription lists before cited : as “ Widow Potter” 6d., in 1680, and “ Widow Goddard” 3d., in 1685, “ Wid. Hal” 6d., &c.
GAMMER. Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, Tit. “Gammer," says, “ of uncertain etymology, perhaps from grandmere, and therefore commonly used to old women ;” but Todd, in his edition of the Dictionary, adds, “From good-mother (Ray). From god-mother, perhaps from the Saxon Gemather,' like the contraction of Gaffer from Godfather, or from the Gothic 'Gumma,' a woman; and he explains the word Gammer to mean “ the compellation of a woman, corresponding to Gaffer, as ‘Gammer Gurton's Needle,' the name of an old play."
I have already mentioned that the style “Gammer" was used at Liddiard Tregoz and Liddiard Millicent between 65 and 70 years ago.
GRAMMER. At Burbage, Wilts, there was a very old cottager who died about 20 years ago, who was always called “ Grammer Barnet.”
GODMER. At Burbage, about 25 years ago, a woman died at a very advanced age. She offered some mushrooms to a lady as a present, and on the lady asking her name, she exclaimed in astonishment, “ Lord a massy upon me, why don't you know old Godmer Davis.”
. GONMER. At Berkeley, in Gloucestershire, about 45 years ago, a very old woman, whose husband was the owner of a sloop which carried coals on the Severn, was always called “Gonmer Cook.”
It would seem that “Granmer” was a contraction of grandmother, and “Godmer” and “Gonmer” contractions of godmother, the latter, perhaps, being more uncertain as to whether it might not have had its origin from grandmother.
Gossip. Todd, in his edition of Johnson's Dictionary, gives one meaning of the word “Gossip,” to be one who answers for a child in baptism,
and adds, “It is now commonly understood of the godmother. Chaucer uses it for godfather ;” and he gives the following quotations:
"Our Christian ancestors understanding a spiritual affinity to grow between the parents and such as undertooke for the child at baptisme called each other by the name of Godsib, which is as much as to say that they were sib together, that is, of kin together through God, and the child in like manner called such his godfathers and godmothers.”—Verstegan Rest: of Dec: Intell :
“At the christening of George Duke of Clarence, who was born in the Castle of Dublin, he made both the Earl of Kildare and the Earl of Ormond his Gossips.”—Davies on Ireland.
A joint letter of Prince Charles, afterwards Charles the First, and George Villiers, then Marquis and afterwards Duke of Buckingham," written from Madrid, when they were on their tour to France and Spain in disguise, in 1623, still remains in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. It is directed on the back, “ from his heighnes and my lo: marques to his matie
ffrome madred the 21 mar. 1623." “ Dere Dad and Gossope
This is to aduertise your Majesty that Mihill Androse is now dispached to
Be cheerfull goodman of Balangith for wee warrant you all shall goe well for wee less repent our jurnei euerie day than other.”
1 He was created Marquess of Buckingham on the 1st of January, 1618, and Duke of Buckingham on the 18th of May, 1623.
2 Orig. Tan. lxxiii.
3 Theophilus Viscount Andover, who became 2nd Earl of Suffolk on the death of Thomas the 1st Earl in 1626.
4 King James the First used to call his son Charles and this Royal favorite “Baby Charles” and “Steenie.” (See Hume's Hist. of Engl. under date of 1623.)
ow betre: . each other ib togethe called sa
1 the Care Ormond his
he Fin of Buck heir tour s in the 5, “ from
The following letter from King James the First to Prince Charles, while still on his tour, is also in the Bodleian Libraryl :
“For the Prencis. My sweete Babie
Since the ending of my last letris unto you, I haủe ressauid a lettre of youres from the Lorde Keeper 2 quhiche tells me the first newis of a parliament (and that in a strainge forme) euer I hearde of since youre pairting from me. By suche intelligence both ye and my sweete Steenie Gossepp maye juge of thaire worth that make thaim unto you and ye maye reste assured that I neuer meant to undertake anie suche bussienesse in youre absence if it hadde bene propowndit unto me as in goode faith I neuer hearde of it—And so with God's blessing to you both I praye God that after a happie conclusion thaire ye maye both make a comfortable and happie returne in the armes of youre deare dade. Greenwiche, the 11 of Maye.
JAMES R.” The whole of the first of these letters is in the handwriting of the Duke of Buckingham, with the exception of the words “Your Majesty's Humble & obedient sone and servant
CHARLES.” which are in the handwriting of Prince Charles.
The second letter is entirely in the handwriting of King James the First.3
The word “Gossip” also occurs in an old Wiltshire song, which begins thus
“Good morrow, Gossip Joan,
Where have you been a walking ;
In the foregoing paper thirty-five of the instances I have referred to are taken from the county of Wilts.
I hope that some of our Wiltshire friends will furnish others, and favour us with further illustrations of the subject.
F. A. CARRINGTON. 1 Orig. Hol. Tan. lxxiii. fol. 326.
2 John Williams, Bishop of Loncoln. 3 For the perusal of these letters and for permission to take copies of them, I am indebted to the kindness of the Rev. Dr. Bandinel, the principal Librarian of the Bodleian Library. The former of the two letters has been lithographed by Mr. Nethercliff in his “ Autographs of Royal and Illustrious Personages."