December 16, 2015
How sad it is that the myopia of Oxford academics prevents their seeing past Hadrian's Wall.
In the "Oxford Names Companion" for the Scots given name "Jock" they say "Scottish: variant of Jack". They then pile it on by saying that "Jocky" is a pet form. What nonsense. We all know that Jockeys ride horses. Interestingly the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has nothing at all to say about the etymology of the word "jockey".
"Jockey" is none other than the Gaelic given name "Eochaid(h)" – which means "Rider/horseman" (from Ech = horse). There was even a Scottish King Jockey (ie Eochaid) who ruled with Grig in the period 878-889. Many Irish kings also bore this name. [In modern day Ireland one variant appears to be Haughey.]
So Jock is not a variant of Jack however much it may have come to be used in this way – and Jock, not Jocky, is the pet form.
Jock became a generic name for a Scotsman because in feudal times the Scots bred horses which they sold in England – thus most English people's personal knowledge of Scots was as horse dealers.
December 16, 2015
In my new book "Arthur: Legend, Logic & Evidence" I offer an alternative explanation:
The area taken over by the "Scots" from Ireland was (broadly Argyll) was that of the Epidii (identified by Ptolemy). Epidii means "horsemen" (we don't know what they called themselves). The incoming Dalriadans may well have referred (in Gaelic) to the locals as "Eochaid"s – or Jocks. Whether as a term of affection or in mild disparagement it is probably now impossible to tell. Either way if the locals adopted this and used it as a badge of honour we have a potential explanation.
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