Davy Jones' Locker

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Myths

Davy Jones's Locker is an idiom for the bottom of the sea — the resting place of drowned seamen. It is used as a euphemism for death at sea (e.g. to be "sent to Davy Jones's Locker"); Davy Jones is a nickname (used primarily by sailors) for what would be the devil of the seas. The origins of the name are unclear, and many theories have been put forth, including incompetent sailors, a pub owner who kidnapped sailors, or that Davy Jones is another name for the devil.

The story's reputation has been widespread among sailors since its popularization, and nautical traditions have been created around Davy Jones. He is also very popular in the broader culture.



Daniel Defoe mentions the phrase in his 1726 book "The Four Years Voyages of Capt. George Roberts": "Heaving the rest into David Jones's locker, i.e. the sea." It appears not to have yet taken on the later connotations of misfortune.

The earliest known reference to Davy Jones's negative connotation occurs in The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle by Tobias Smollett, published in 1751:

This same Davy Jones, according to sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the evil spirits of the deep, and is often seen in various shapes, perching among the rigging on the eve of hurricanes, ship-wrecks, and other disasters to which sea-faring life is exposed, warning the devoted wretch of death and woe.

He is described in the same story as having saucer eyes, three rows of teeth, horns, a tail, and blue smoke coming from his nostrils.

In 1824, Washington Irving mentions Jones's name in his "Adventures of the Black Fisherman.":

He came, said he, in a storm, and he went in a storm; he came in the night, and he went in the night; he came nobody knows whence, and he has gone nobody knows where. For aught I know he has gone to sea once more on his chest, and may land to bother some people on the other side of the world; though it's a thousand pities, added he, if he has gone to Davy Jones's locker.


The exact origin of "Davy Jones" is unclear, and many explanations have been proposed. David Jones was a pirate on the Indian Ocean in the 1630s, but most scholars agree that he was not famous enough to gain such lasting global fame. Sources have cited the British pub owner who is referenced in the 1594 song "Jones's Ale is Newe." He may be the same pub owner who supposedly threw drunken sailors into his ale locker and then dumped them onto any passing ship. He could also be Duffer Jones, a notoriously myopic sailor who often found himself overboard.

Others have suggested more supernatural meanings. Some believe the name came from Welsh sailors who would call upon Saint David for protection in times of mortal danger. Some also think it is just another name for the devil. Some call him Deva, Davy or Taffy, the thief of the evil spirit. Some think Jonah became the "evil angel" of all sailors. Upon death, a wicked sailor's body supposedly went to Davy Jones's locker, but a holy sailor soul went to Fiddler's Green.


Davy may come from Duppy, a West Indian term for a malevolent ghost, or from Saint David, also known as Dewi, the patron saint of Wales, while Jones comes from the prophet Jonah, whose story is considered bad luck for sailors.


Jones's reputation causes fear among sailors, and many refuse to discuss Davy Jones in any great detail. Not all traditions dealing with Davy Jones are fearful. In traditions associated with sailors crossing the Equatorial line, there was a "raucous and rowdy" initiation presided over by those who had crossed the line before, known as shellbacks, or Sons of Neptune. The eldest shellback was called King Neptune, and the next eldest was his assistant who was called Davy Jones.

In popular culture


Davy Jones is the main villain in the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ( 2006), played by Bill Nighy. He appears along with his crew of half-human, half-sea creature sailors aboard the Flying Dutchman. He is portrayed as a mutated cross between a man and an octopus, with a wriggling beard of tentacles and two crustacean-esque limbs. The movie also extrapolates on the origins of Davy Jones. In the movie, the story follows that Davy Jones was once an average sailor who fell in love with a beautiful woman, wild and untameable as the sea. When he could not have her, the pain was so much that he cut out his still beating heart, and sealed it in a chest, so that he would never have to feel love or compassion ever again.


In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, The Flying Dutchman threatens to send Mr. Krabs to Davy Jones' locker, which is full of smelly gym socks.

In the Anime and Manga series One Piece, Davy Jones is mentioned as being the inspiration for the Davy Back Fight. The Davy Back Fight is a pirates game where crews of pirates play games, the winners of which can take crew members from the opposing team. The number of games are chosen based on a coin system, meaning you can have either a 1-coin, 2-coin, or 3-coin game. After the selection, the coins are thrown into the ocean, supposedly payment to Davy Jones.

Davy Jones is also referenced many times in the television series Rocko's Modern Life.

His ship, The Flying Dutchman, has been parodied on The Simpsons as the restaurant The Frying Dutchman.

On the 1960's comedy The Monkees, actor / character Davy Jones made reference to one day inheriting the locker in an episode of the series, " Hitting the High Seas."

In "The Bird's Last Jest," an episode of the live-action Batman series, Robin ( Burt Ward) exclaims, "Holy Davy Jones!" as Chief O'Hara ( Stafford Repp) appears to be headed for a watery grave.

Also, in an episode of Yo Yogi, Yogi says "send them to Davey Jones' locker".

Video Games

In the videogame Banjo-Tooie, in the fourth world the boss (a giant anglerfish called Lord Woo Fak Fak) is inside a locker that says: "D. Jones". The other lockers, incidentally, bear the names of the game's producers.

In the beginning of the PC Game The Curse of Monkey Island, the wanna-be pirate Wally describes his toughness by saying "I'm so tough, that in junior high I stuffed Davy Jones in his locker!"

In " The Secret of Monkey Island", when at the shopkeeper's on Melee Island, try to look at the safe, and Guybrush will describe it as one of "Davey Jones' Lockers" .

In Sierra's PC game King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella, whenever the player swims Rosella too long in the ocean, she tires out and drowns, with the message that she has been sent back to Davy Jones' locker.

In the computer game Blood Money (developed by DMA Design, published by Psygnosis in 1989), the shops in the under water level bear a sign that says "Davy Jones Equipment Locker".

Jonathan Jones is a character from the game Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, who is likely a reference to Davy Jones.

In MegaMan Battle Network 6: Cybeast Falzer/Cybeast Gregar, The character Captain Blackbeard, after being announced guilty in his court trial, says "I'll send ye all to Davy Jones' locker!"

In the PC game Wizardry 8 you can find "Davy Jones' Locker", a chest at the bottom of the sea containing some of the best loot in the game.

In the PC game Zuma, some levels take place under water. They are titled "Davy Jones' Locker"

In the NES game Little Nemo: The Dream Master, in the Ocean at Night level, a hidden cave is referred to as Davy Jones Locker.


On the album "The Power of Seven" by the ambient techno group System 7 there is a song called "Davy Jones' Locker." On the album "Bermuda Triangle," by guitar virtuoso Buckethead, there is a song titled "Davy Jones' Locker."

Techno / electro project Drexciya have a track called "Davey Jones Locker" on the compilation "True People: The Detroit Techno Album".

On the Beastie Boys album " Licensed to Ill", the track "Rhymin' & Stealin'" mentions Davy Jones locker with the line "My pistol is loaded - I shot Betty Crocker; Deliver Colonel Sanders down to Davy Jones' locker".

Iron Maiden mentions Davy Jones in their " No Prayer for the Dying" album, on the song "Run Silent, Run Deep"

The Devil Makes Three, an acoustic group with a mix of country ragtime to rock-n-roll with a little punk, has a song called The Plank with a chorus that mentions Davy Jones Locker, "To all our enemies, we'll see you in hell. We're gonna walk 'em off the plank into the wishing well. Down to Davy Jones' Locker where the fishes sleep. I won't be praying for you so don't be praying for me."

Australian punk band Frenzal Rhomb talk about Davy Jones in their song "Ship of Beers". In the song, the ship of beers that the band are sailing is sinking and they claim "...it won't be long 'till Davy Jones can claim me - hopefully he'll feel like a cleansing ale after all he's only human." This talks about exchanging their souls for a beer.

On his album, " Food & Liquor", rapper Lupe Fiasco makes mention of Davey Jones' Locker in the song "Pressure" featuring Jay-Z. He goes on by dropping this line..."Stones in the pocket will drag em down to Davy Jones' Locker"


The band The Ocean Blue released a CD entitled "Davy Jones' Locker" in 2001. It was released on independent pop label March records, and included acclaimed independent hits " Ayn" and "Denmark", which both had eponymic EPs.

In the comic book series " Hellboy", Davy Jones' locker is an underwater room full of jars in the shapes of men. This room is owned by the villainous Bog Roosh, a fish-like witch that draws her power from the souls of drowned sailors.

Neal Stephenson makes many references to "David Jones' Locker" in the book " Quicksilver" of " The Baroque Cycle." A reference is also made to "Davy Jones' Locker" in his book " Cryptonomicon."

Davy Jones' Locker is mentioned in Eric Linklater's juvenile fantasy The Pirates of the Deep Green Sea (1949) where Davy Jones also is a major character, a benevolent underwater monarch whose moveable court bears this name.

Davy Jones was a wooden whale and companion to the title character in John R. Neill's 1942 Oz book, Lucky Bucky in Oz.


In the constructible strategy game Pirates of the Spanish Main, Davy Jones appears as a unique crew for the Cursed faction, and his flagship is the Flying Dutchman.

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