Auld Dunbar – the nickname rhyme
This is one version of an Edwardian rhyme or mnemonic once well known in Dunbar. Other versions exist with different spellings (many were only ever written down for this rhyme), different name order and some entirely different stanzas!
It simply consists of the nicknames (teenames or by-names) of some once weel-kent characters about the town. Although some names are still current (they’ve passed down through families), it is now difficult (perhaps impossible) to work out who ‘owned’ which name.
Most of the names came from the close-knit fishing community, but some are known to have been ‘borne’ by tradesmen and shopkeepers; at least one was a former provost. Sometimes they served to distinguish men (mostly) of the same name, often relatives. Others highlight a characteristic or a remembered incident or even a place or relationship associated with the bearer. Some sound rather unfortunate to modern ears: it’s not clear now if they were all used direct to the owner’s face!
Pussy, Pudden, Puken, Pelder;
Frenchie, Flooker, Ferret, Elder.
Fiddler, Foogie, Brassie, Barrel;
Paidler, Plunky, Scabby Farrel!
Patey, Peeweep, Wulsey, Paddy;
Aud Pipes, Piper, Kissy, Addy.
Tirdy, Tosey, Tibbie, Tan;
Birler, Blurt and Caravan.
Poona, Deedles, Dumble, Duffy;
Sikker, Traiveller, Shie and Scuffy.
Seaboots, Streetchie, Sconey, Owsey;
Seabreeze, Sausage, Bowels, Bowsie.
Borer, Beasel, Brown, Beegee;
Gorgie, Girvan, Grub, Gee Gee.
Patty, Doodie, Europe, Snail;
Tam Pat, Taunty, Silver Tail.
Towser, Mosey, Dutchy, Mackenzie, Cud;
Bullfinch, Bullnut, Major, Flood.
Kinsy, Budge, Buff, Baigie, Bow;
Herrin, Hyner, Saucer, Chow.
Dumplin’, Cocky, Henny, Collie;
Hairy, Honsfleet, Clinkum, Dolly.
Bumbee, Captain, Kurnel, Tait;
Kailock, Coxs’n, Brassie’s Kate.
Stumpy, Butcher, Stout and Dobie;
Elicky, Minky, Murphy, Snobie.
Boomer, Wiry, Sparry, Arry;
Kelly, Gellacher, Towrow, Tarry.
Tenderfirst, Pool, Puck McGraw;
Sullivan, Ody, Bendy Law.
Dudes, Chum, Dottle, Jumbo, Trunk;
Chalmers, Whitecraw, Toe and Skunk.
Teeth, Lad, Puirie, Baldy, Chiggy;
Cocky, Peps, Mick, Shantoo, Piggy.
Whustler, Spooney, Turk and Tingy;
Crow, Mouse, Vardon, Wingy.
Bowlie, Codnose, Sandy Pay;
Shaw, Tot, Ballop, Tommy Key.
Anti Poverty, Toosh, Wee Becky;
Stilty, Coggy, Moudie, Necky.
Posted at the top of the page is one absolutely certain identification. Whitecraw (bold text in the rhyme) was Andrew Thomson, a well-respected Dunbar fisherman. If you can help us identify the ‘owners’ of the names or add any more rhymes or stanzas, then feel free to comment below or drop us a call or email.