Davy Jones Locker Is a Real Nautical Term

Most pirates had a strong belief in Davy Jones, some claiming “Davy Jones’ Locker” is a real nautical term referring to sailors dying at sea. In a sense, the locker was actually accepted as a valid nautical term by many sailors and officers during the 1700s, being associated with death later on. Although the origins of the term are not clear, it has caught on to a great extent among pirates, navy officers and seafaring individuals as early as 1726, when Daniel Defoe’s “Four Years Voyages of Capt. George Roberts” mentioned the term’s negative connotations.

Origins of “Davy Jones’ Locker”

Highly unclear, the origins of “Davy Jones’ Locker” are supposedly the superstitions of old seamen which have gradually turned the term into an elaborate story about a mythical “Devil of the Sea” known as Davy Jones. The name itself is also linked to people who are supposed to have actually lived at some point – such as a 16th century publican who was commonly known to imprison drunken sailors in a locker, only to then force them to serve on various ships. Unsupported by any evidence, however, stories such as this one only point to the popularity that Jones has attracted in the years after talk about the “Demon of the Sea” first began circulating among sailors, leading to even further diminished clarity when it comes to pointing to the specific origins of the nautical term.

What the Locker Really Stands for

According to pirates and old seamen, “Davy Jones’ Locker” is a real nautical term for the death of a sailor, and can also have various other meanings. But what does it really stand for? The locker itself has often been associated with either the death experience or a form of maritime “hell” or “transitional place” where seamen would be taken on further into the afterlife. Many experts also believe there is a link between Davy Jones and the story of Jonah from the Bible, being mixed together with a host of other superstitions.

Davy Jones’ Reputation

Although Jones usually had the reputation of somewhat of a ruthless monster – a characterization that is consistent with many folk tales and depictions of the Sea Devil during the late 1700s and early 1800s, the name didn’t always have negative connotations. In some cultures, Davy Jones is actually associated with St. David who was considered by many to be the patron saint of sailors everywhere. Others simply associated the term with the crossing of the Equatorial line, which was presented as a difficult challenge by seamen who had crossed the line in the past.

Common Nautical Terms Hinting at Davy Jones

“Davy Jones’ Locker” has been a source of many tales and has also led to a number of spin-off terms that were used by seamen long ago and are still associated with seafaring superstitions today. Being in “Davy Jones’ grip” is commonly linked to being close to death, while “to awaken Davy Jones” means stirring up a storm. Also, “see you to Davy Jones” was considered to be a serious threat to kill someone.

Blane Perun

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