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God bless us and save us said old Mrs Davies

Posted by Smokey Stover on January 16, 2009 at 03:59

In Reply to: God bless us and save us said old Mrs Davies posted by Graham Cambray on January 15, 2009 at 20:34:

: : : "God bless us and save us said old Mrs Davies".

: : Wellerisms in Ireland: Towards a Corpus from Oral and Literary Sourcesý - Page 20
: : by Fionnuala Carson Williams - Ireland - 2003 - 321 pages

: : '"God bless us and save us," said old Biddy Davis,

: : above notes 1030's and it spread to Irish in Boston and such and appears in varied plays, books sometimes as Mrs Davis or Mrs O'Davis.

: : The basic "GBUASU" also is seen wiith other names but the Irish seems the source.

: ----------------------------------------

: Thanks, Joe. I hadn't heard of Wellerisms before, though it's an obvious name. You give a date as "1030's" - is this 1830's?

: Earler today I had a quick look on the web (for a second time) and found something I'd missed first time around. It's a script for the US (CBS) radio show from 1941 (, page 8). This ties in (possibly) with the nursery rhyme angle - and also with the Irish origins. It has: "Fire, fire said Mrs McGuire; Where, where said Mrs Blair; Down town said Mrs Brown; Heaven save us said Mrs Davis." To complete the circle to Wellerisms, I was able to use "McGuire" to make a more more fruitful search, and one ending of the rhyme appears to be "Oh help us and save us! said Mrs. Davis as she fell down the stairs with a sack of potatoes." It looks as if this may have been a school yard rhyme, at least in the US. How my father got hold of it, God alone knows. Thanks again - Graham C

Interesting puzzle. The versions with "old Mrs. Davis" or "Mrs. O'Davis", even with the second line, "as she fell down the stairs with a sack of potatoes," can easily be scanned as dactylic tetrameter, one of the easiest meters to remember. This certainly supports the idea of a schoolyard rhyme, even if potatoes doesn't exactly rhyme with Davis.