By: Alan Sutton
This book brings together the work of three pioneer historians who took the trouble to record what they heard spoken in the area. In chronological terms, the first was John Smyth, of Nibley (1568-1641), steward to the Berkeley’s (1589-1640). His manuscript is dated 1605, but he made amendments throughout his life, the last of which are dated 1639. The manuscript was published in 1885 under the title A Description of the Hundred of Berkeley. The second was a scholarly work by Richard Webster Huntley (1793-1857), whose Glossary of the Cotswold Dialect was published posthumously the year after his death. Last but not least G. F. Northall’s Folk Phrases of Four Counties (1894), builds upon Huntley’s work and reminds us that many familiar phrases such as ‘stick and stones may break my bones’ had their root in this area.
A fascinating and instructive (as well as amusing) look at the past through the language of the ordinary folk, now, sadly all but disappeared.