Posted by Serge Liberman on February 19, 2005
In Reply to: Darby and Joan posted by R. Berg on February 19, 2005
From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable:
"The type of loving, old-fashioned, virtuous couples. The names belong to a ballad written by Henry Wooidfall, first published in The Gentleman's Magazine in 1735. The characters are said to be John Darby of Bartholomew Close, who died in 1730, and his wife 'As chaste as a picture cut in alabaster. You might sooner move a Scythian rock than shoot fire into her bosom.' Woodfall served his apprenticeship to John Darby, but another account localises the couple in the West Riding of Yorkshire."
A quaint additional note states that "the French equivalent is 'C'est St. Roch et son chien.'" (inseparables like St Roch and his dog).