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Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

29 Jan 03 - 11:24 AM (#877633)
Subject: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: JedMarum

I was sure I'd asked the question here at Mudcat before, but couldn't find a reference in any of the old threads, so perhaps I asked elsehwere.

I am looking for the use of an obsure New England epithet in song. In particular; I would like to find the term "Jickie" used in song or verse. This was a term my grandparents used, jokingly refering to themselves and their neighbors - but I'm sure it was not always used jokingly in their earlier days.

My grandmother would always give my grandfather hell for using the word in front of me, but she would chuckle from time-to-time when he used it, as well. They told me it referred to the English immigrants, the poor and working class folks - sort of a local (perhaps less malicious) "N" word.

I found a description of the word at the On-line Dictionary of Playground Slang and they say:

"Jickie n. Derogatory term for a person from Northern England (living as an immigrant in America. Used in early 1900's and specifically referred to working class person from area around York. (ed: never heard this before so not even sure if the spelling is correct - help needed please)."

So ....
Anyone familiar with its use? Heard it in song??? Poem? Story?

29 Jan 03 - 11:42 AM (#877651)
Subject: Folklore: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: McGrath of Harlow

According to Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable "Dicky Sam" is a term for a native of Liverpool, or was at one time. That could easily be heard as "Jicky".

I found this on this site Merseytalk:Dicky Sam: earlier term than Scouser for a Liverpudlian, Dicky Sam is understood to be a corruption of Dick O'Sam's derived from the Lancashire form of the patronymic. It refers to someone born and bred in Liverpool, within the sounds of the bells of St, Nicholas,.the waterfront parish church there. There is a record of one Richard Samuels, landlord of an old sailortown pub called the Dicky Sam Inn, which used to be on Mann Island, near the Pier Head.
Source: Shaw ST, SL

29 Jan 03 - 11:44 AM (#877653)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: JedMarum

sounds like a possible connection. Thanks McGrath.

29 Jan 03 - 12:24 PM (#877683)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

"The American Language," H. L. Mencken. "In Bristol County, Massachusetts, where there are many Portuguese immigrants, a number of Portuguese loan words are encountered, e. g. .....jick or jickie (Englishman)." These words have spread all along the northeastern coast.
This would suggest that your grandparents had an encounter with either Portuguese or locals who had picked up the word, who derogatorially called them "Jickies."

Reminds me of the word "hick," which has been found in English
cant of 1690, from Richard, Dick, but which has come to mean an unsophisticated countryman (to put it politely).

29 Jan 03 - 12:30 PM (#877690)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

Checked my Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue." Hick was applied in cant to country or ignorant people by the end of the 18th century. How much earlier than that I don't know.

29 Jan 03 - 12:38 PM (#877694)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: MMario

Given the Fall River area - I would say Q has hit it on the nose.

29 Jan 03 - 06:40 PM (#877985)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: JedMarum

Yes Q - to be sure, your comments sound most appropriate. The rival immigrant group working the Fall River mills were Portugese. I am sure the two groups had unpleasant names for one another! The Irish and British Isles immigrants were further divided Catholic and Protestant. I don;t know of any ugly stuff among the groups, but I do konw they stayed within their ethnic communities for a generation or two.

I never understood why there was an Irish Catholic church on one corner and a French Catholic church on the other! Each ethnic community had their own church - of course the English and Scot Protestants were at the top of the heap!

Still - no one's heard it used in a song, eh??

29 Jan 03 - 08:24 PM (#878068)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

Hinky Jinky parlez voux! Sometimes these epithets showed up in children's rhyming taunts if not in songs.
If you can contact a librarian familiar with the Journal of American Folklore and similar journals, something might be found.

29 Jan 03 - 08:37 PM (#878084)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

Just read "John Harrop's Bridge," by Jed Marum. Very good! I like these reminiscences. I have papers and photos of my grandparents and great-grandparents that I am trying to put together for my children and grandchildren. For Jed Marum's story, see: John Harrop

29 Jan 03 - 08:41 PM (#878088)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: McGrath of Harlow

"Inky pinky parlez vous" is how I've always heard it sung.

29 Jan 03 - 08:48 PM (#878094)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: Allan C.

Now, that discussion goes back quite a way in MC history. However, I have doubts that there is a connection to the word Jed has mentioned.

29 Jan 03 - 09:05 PM (#878110)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

Not implying any connection between ----parlez vous rhymes and Jed Marum's request for Jickie. just am example of how words can be taken up into game songs.

30 Jan 03 - 09:40 AM (#878420)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: JedMarum

Q - thanks for the comments re: John Harrops Bridge. I reread it last night and think it could do with some refinment - but I enjnoyed it too!

I wonder if Jick or Jickie is a real word in Portuguese or a slang - if it's slang, was developed strictly for use in Bristol County, Massachusetts - or does it predate that era?

I feel a song coming on.

30 Jan 03 - 09:45 AM (#878426)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: JedMarum

In fact; a quick look at an on-line Portuguese/English dictionary does not show a real Protuguese word for either Jick or Jickie - but I do not know how the correct spelling might appear in Portuguese - so I tried English or Englishman - and found no relation to Jick (Ingles).

30 Jan 03 - 01:15 PM (#878456)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

Dictionaries, unless comprehensive, are not much help. Look at the Oxford- some 15 or more large volumes. Most people wrongly think that their one or two volume set gives all the answers. Interested in words, I have the full OED (to 1987) plus several dictionaries of slang and some foreign language dictionaries (none comprehensive). Additionally one would need runs of journals devoted to language study if they were really serious about a language study.
If you can find a professor of Iberian languages with an interest in slang- not as difficult as it sounds if you have a nearby university at which to start inquiries- I am sure something will be found.

Did you go through the threads on "gringo"? (most comments undr Santa Ana or the like). In Spain, it has been a term for a foreigner or non-Spaniard since the 18th century at least, and used in Latin America before the Mexican War, but the first real contact Americans had with the term was during the Mexican War. Hence anecdotally the word is associated with all sorts of myths including the ludicrous idea that it came from the American troops (Irish, of course) singing "Green grow the Lilacs-Rushes-whatever." Webster's Collegiate and the OED still haven't caught up with the non-English uses and origin.

11 Sep 08 - 12:52 AM (#2437039)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

Re: Jick and Jickie. Both of my grandmothers came to Fall River, Mass., (Bristol County) from northern England in the latter part of the 19th century, one from Bradford, Yorkshire, and the other from Oldham, Lancashire. Both were of Irish descent (Cassidy and Muldoon), and they were not fond of one another. They each called the other not just a jick, but a "bloody jick," which was about as bad an epithet as they could use. It was not a complement.
As for any Portuguese connection to the use of the word, the English workers were here in Fall River much prior to the influx of the Portuguese to the Fall River mills. Their rivals were the French Canadians, not the Portuguese.
I do have several Yorkshire songs that my grandmother taught me when I was a child. One, called "Dolly Plum," is about "an eight-loom weaver lass, and a bonny lass, by gum." The other is called "I'm Going to Have Me Name above the Door" about an immigrant opening his own business. Betty Turner Sullivan

22 Jun 12 - 04:54 PM (#3366803)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: GUEST,Ron

Hi. I am also familiar with the term "jickie".
My father used it, he must have heard it from his
family in Rhode Island. It was used interchangeably
with "limey" to describe an Englishman.
Here is another link about it.

25 Oct 12 - 11:31 PM (#3426217)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

My grandmother from England also referred to herself as a tough auld jickie. She is 99 years old today! I am also from Fall River, MA

26 Oct 12 - 12:13 AM (#3426226)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: maeve

"Pictured above is St. Mary's Parochial School in Fall River, MA. This elementary school, situated in the Irish Corky Row neighborhood, is where Bernard attended school as a child. Young Bernard got into many a fight with the "Irish" youngsters who called him a "jick", a derogatory term for someone from England. Ironically, although Bernard was born in England, had a British surname, and probably had a bit of a Lancastrian accent, he was actually half Irish, with both of his parents having Irish mothers, and was Catholic.

According to the H.L. Mencken in his book American Language, jick or jickie was a word used by Portuguese immigrants in Bristol County, Massachusetts to describe an Englishman. The word jick is referenced in the book Divided Society: The Ethnic Experience in America as follows:

    In Fall River the name "jick," implying more contempt than any of the others, was coined by Portuguese mill laborers who resented their Lancashire overlords."

Then there is this:

"...I remember my parents and relatives (in Rhode Island) referring to English folk as "jickies" (NOT in a derogatory way) and never knew what it meant. About 15 years ago, because of a conversation with a co-worker, I started researching it and finally found someone (I think the arts and entertainment editor of the Providence Journal) who laughed when I asked about it and said it referred to a specific job some of the English did in the textile mills (in England???) and the job was using a "jickie" or something like that.
No songs yet; sorry.

26 Oct 12 - 12:20 AM (#3426229)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: maeve

A Portuguese word for donkey is "jegue"...if that helps this old thread along.

19 Jun 15 - 04:58 PM (#3717601)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: GUEST,jwgerst10

I, too, heard this used as a derogatory term for the English when I was growing up in Rhode Island. I heard it most commonly by members of my grandparents' generation, who would have been born in the late nineteenth century.

20 Jun 15 - 11:46 AM (#3717757)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy

A popular epithet for the English in the Ozark region of Southern Illinois was "John Bull" in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

28 Apr 17 - 10:52 PM (#3852961)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

A term used by my Irish catholic side of the family in Rhode Island when addressing or talking about my 1st generation English "Dod, like in Cod, grandfather who was raised in Fall River/New Bedford, on the MA/RI border. In humorous intent it was used as " You blooming Jicky/Jickie when Dod was in the room." --- In less polite settings it was "bloody jicky/jickie". This is W.W.2 generation talking about the W.W. 1 generation. And I heard it from the 1950-1990's till the WW 2 folks passed on.

29 Apr 17 - 02:26 AM (#3852969)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: Long Firm Freddie

According to Collins online Portuguese-English dictionary the Portuguese word jequice has two meanings: country ways or tackiness. The pronunciation is something like jekkeece, which could be taken for the plural of jickie to English ears.



13 May 17 - 07:56 PM (#3854883)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?

My grandmother was from Bradford, Yorkshire and came to the USA in the early 1900's to work in the woolen mills in Rhode Island. She often told me how other non-English immigrants would call her a Jickie...and how she would cry.

16 Aug 17 - 07:50 AM (#3871921)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: Thompson

And the deliciously daring perfume that ushered in the 20th century, Jicky, was called after a girl Aimé Guerlain flirted with when he was a student in England.

16 Aug 17 - 05:04 PM (#3872026)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: ChanteyLass

I live in RI. Dad was a jicky; mom was a frog. Their families got along, and the terms were used with affection, but I think I was told not to use them outside our families because others might not understand. It seems every nationality had a nickname that could by used with affection or scorn.

04 Feb 19 - 12:11 AM (#3974754)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: GUEST,Ken from Smithfield, RI

My paternal grandfather's parents came from Idle and Eccleshill in Bradford, Yorkshire, EN to the Benn Mill at Greystone (where their son and daughter were born) in North Providence, RI.

Whilst great-grandmother Ethel ran the fish and chip takeaway and was a washerwoman at the mill, great-grandfather Archie was a milkman in Cranston as well as a jeweler in Providence.

Each of six generations in a row have been given Scotch names like Archie, Alan and Kenneth, a cultural reason probably because of York being the old capital of Northumbria and Scots kings taking our old earldom as their fief in homage to the King of England (re: Braveheart and cf. Normandy regarding France). I read elsewhere online that the name "Jickie" might be from "Jock", as in Jacques, from the most common Scotch name being James, which is a version of Jacob.

On the ship's manifest, our family took the SS Ivernia from Liverpool to Boston and the destination was Slater's Mill in Pawtucket, RI, but we somehow ended up in Benn's Mill in North Providence, RI as well as Appinaug Mill in Warwick.

Our contact in Lancaster, EN was my grandfather's father's uncle Robert and the one in Roxbury, MA, was my grandfather's father's aunt Adelaide. My father's mother's side and my mother's side are colonial Yankees from Providence and Cumberland.

According to Mary H. Blewett's biography of author Hedley Smith, we're "Yankee Yorkshiremen" and the Woonasquatucket Valley is "Briardale".

According to Dr. Fischer of Brandeis University, Quakerism that typified RI apart from Baptists, largely derived from York or Lancaster and shires in the valley of the Trent, but the only churches I know we went to, were St Albans in Centredale, St Thomas in Greenville and a Community of Christ (aka Reorganized Church of LDS, or Missouri Mormon) mission in Providence.

We've since embraced Greystone Methodist, but I've opened up further to Greenville Baptist in recognition of my colonial ancestors. I'm not sure how our family would have been ethnically isolated within the mill village, since my father and I, both born in Providence, are integrated by our mothers with native American English families from the 1630s and Providence cofounder William Harris is an ancestor of mine due to that. We're not just British English anymore, so does "Jickie" still apply to us now?

Google book link

Google book link

That book, if you'll search the terms within the Methodist Review, compared Yankees, Yorkshiremen and Aberdeen Scots with Jews, for some odd reason, probably steeped in the "British Israelism" of that time, being 1893. I believe that the argument is for a common sense of native wit and value in education found among all noted, but it's true that all these groups likely formed the largely Republican and non-Roman Catholic populations of RI (the Democratic majority now being Irish, Quebec, Italian, Portuguese).

Graniteville Baptist is the point of contact for my father's family with RI colonial faith. Dad's mother's family are Episcopalian and Mom's Nazarene, so Puritanism isn't strong on any side of my family, if it ever was. I value our total Protestant heritage anyway.

Micks, Frogs, Guineas, Portagees and Polacks: Micks and Frogs walk a fine line between Protestant Republican and Roman Catholic Democrat, because of history with English and Scottish, German and Dutch, whereas Jews align even more foreign than the rest.

I meant my great-grandfather's milk and eggs delivery was in Johnston, whereas Dad's parents' factory Universal Engravers was in Cranston. Their fathers were jewelers in Providence. Mom's parents, Nazarene and Church of God, wed at St John's in Ashton, Cumberland. Dad and Mom wed at Woonsocket Nazarene, but raised us Methodist, Pentecostal and Baptist. Dad went to the Northeastern University for Manufacturing Engineering and brought my sister and I up in the YMCA. He was a Scout, as were we. Profile us as "Jickies"...?

Dr Fischer also wrote that John was the most common name on the Anglo-Scottish border and this accounts for so many Johnsons, Johnstons and Jacksons; the truth being that Andrew and Lyndon Baines Johnson as well as Andrew Jackson all derived from such families. It's possible that Jickie is like Jackie, such as Irish Jackie Gleason, so the name might've come from Jack out of John and not Jake, since Scots go by Jimmy rather than Jacob or James (except their kings, like the King James Bible namesake). Don't forget the Jacobite Highlanders.

My first forefather to go by our surname, was named John, who moved us to Catterick in the time of Braveheart. I've seen John only three other times within nuclear kinship and only once directly in since the late 17th century. Was John as common for North Englishmen, as elsewhere in English society? I've never seen Jack in census records, whether or not those christened John were actually called Jack or just John. I'm not sure where in England Jack and Jill or Jack and the Beanstalk are from, but Little John was a Yorkshireman.

Andrew Jackson's ancestors left Yorkshire for Ulster and the Carolinas, whereas the kin of both Andrew Johnson and LBJ came directly from the Anglo-Scottish Border to Virginia. John and Jack are equally local to the North. I'm not sure how to get to the bottom of this etymological mystery and the truth may be, that multiple sources conflate within the term "Jicky", whether Jake or Jack, just as Johnston may be derived from both Johnson and Johnstown.

I'm not convinced in Portuguese origin, because English folks don't worry about slurs of Wogs like the Papist Portagee or Guinea and there is no point in Nativist WASPs using a foreign term from them to label fellow WASPs. RI was an English colony like Nova Scotia and New England a Dominion like Canada, so whether or not English came before or after the Revolution, we would identify with whatever specific one of the 13 Colonies or States we settled down in first, regardless if the Romanists still identify with the "old country".

My point is that, the origin of "Jicky" is no more a foreign loan word than Cracker or Redneck. Indeed, South County colonial families are called "Swamp Yankees", because of their home in the Great Swamp of Kingstown, where they fought a war against King Philip, the Spanish Armada nickname given to Indian scalper and pyromaniac terrorist Metacomet. It's possible that Jicky may even relate to the etymology of Yankee itself, which supposedly came from the Dutch of New Netherland calling my maternal kinsmen "Jan Kees", as in "John Cheese".

I got the Dutch theory wrong. Perhaps Dutchmen of New York being called Yankees, would have been extended to actual old Yorkshiremen, in the form of Jickies, as a joke from word association. The funny thing is, Dutchmen had more in common with old Jersey than the Swedes to their South, whereas Swedes would've had likewise, greater ties to old York than they. Whatever American conditions may have confused about placenames and ethnic association, Anglo-Dutch Robinson Crusoe of York was written by Dutch Daniel Defoe when he knew better.

I must correct myself again. Whereas Defoe was a Whig supporter of William of Orange, there is no evidence of he himself being Dutch. Robinson Crusoe would have had more in common with the Pennsylvania Dutch aka Palatine Germans (including Sophia of Hanover and her Georgian, Victorian, Windsorian descendents) and his story set in New York, than old York. If there was contemporary confusion between societies in old and New York, as well as between Deutsche and Dutch in his own time, then further distortion by wordplay in a game of telephone many generations later, just might have led to overlaps between Yankee and Jickie. I'm going the extra mile to extrapolate what cannot apparently be definitely explained with proof, but it fills a void like nothing else offered thus far.

04 Feb 19 - 03:42 AM (#3974778)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: GUEST,Gerry

Ken, 16 short posts? Why?

Noted and combined. Treating the forum to a series of short text messages doesn't make for smooth reading. He says later he was writing this on his phone - that is an invitation to frustration. Perhaps, Mr. Ken from Smithfield, you need to find a computer. If you don't want to lose the content (glitches do happen) then compose in a word processing or notepad file first. ---mudelf

04 Feb 19 - 03:57 AM (#3974782)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: GUEST,Ken from Smithfield, RI

Sorry Gerry. My phone kept preventing me from composing more than a certain amount of lines, by making the Submit Message button disappear, if I wrote too much. I figured it was a character limitation of the text editor. I hope that my efforts to provide a profile and an etymology to Jicky are persuasive. I'm supposed to be sleeping for Monday work, but I remembered this topic from years ago and decided to Google it again. Once I saw all the Yorkshire and RI connections, I just had to represent this issue with insights of my own.

04 Feb 19 - 04:38 AM (#3974792)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: GUEST,Ken from Smithfield, RI

My WASP bias is no different than that of Lovecraft himself. I'm nonplussed by likely IWW efforts to ethnically differentiate between old and New England folks. I'm fortunate to have an industrial background that doesn't place an emphasis on class warfare. I'm blessed by Transatlantic Anglocentrism, rather than bogged down by hyphenated-American identity crises. Whether or not I'm called Jickie or Yankee, British or American, I'm a Rhode Islander born and bred. I'm not ethnically confused about who and where I belong.

I made an obvious error by calling Nova Scotia an English colony, since it being Scottish, made a world of difference from the 13 American Colonies and like Quebec; Canadians of either type had no love for English, but an Auld Alliance to stand against us. Nova Scotia was, however, settled with New England Planters and Yorkshire Emigrants, in addition to the Ulster Baronets, William Alexander, Earl of Stirling, or the Scottish Freemason legend and Captain Kidd. As for song and lyrics, I regretfully don't have any leads.

05 Feb 19 - 05:53 PM (#3975022)
Subject: RE: Epithet for English Immigrants in Song?
From: GUEST,Ken from Smithfield, RI

For what it's worth, maybe Jickie was a bastardized version of Yorkie.