12 S. VI. MARCH, 1920.J NOTES AND QUERIES.
The expression is also current in the Isle of Wight. I am over 60, and the expression is familiar to me as in vise there as long as I can recollect anything. I am quite satisfied that it is not a piece of modern slang, but a proverbial expression of long standing. It invariably ran " Years and years, and donkeys years ago." There is a tendency in the Isle of Wight dialect to prefix a y to words beginning with a vowel, e.g., " yarm," the arm ; " yeal," ale ; " yeaprun," an apron ; " yet," to eat. This tendency in the case of ears has existed as far back as 1566 as evidenced by the following entry in the inventory taken in that year of the goods and chattels of Sir Richard Worsley of Appuldurcombe (Appen- dix B. to 'The Undercliff of the Isle of Wight,' by J. L. Whitehead, M.D. London, Simpkin, 1911) : "2 basons w th yeares to them." WM. SELF- WEEKS.
JOHN WITTY (12 S. vi. 13). The record of his admission to St. John's College, Cambridge, is as follows :
" 1696. John Witty born at Lun [Lund near Beverley'], Yorkshire, son of Richard Witty, husbandman (agricolce) : school, Beverley (Mr. Lambert) ; admitted sizar for his tutor and surety Mr. Nourse, 17 April, set. 17."
G. C. MOORE SMITH. Sheffield.
There is in vol. 2, page 219, of ' Letters of Eminent Men addressed to Ralph Thoresby,' a letter dated Jan. 20, 1709/10, from a certain John Witty in which he speaks of his uncle Mr. John Witty, Rector of Lock- ington, near Beverley, and of his cousin Mr. Ralph Witty, Senior Fellow of St. Peter's College, Cambridge. The Rector of Lockington may be the man desired. I may be able to give your correspondent further information about the family if he cared to write to me. T. C. DALE.
29 Larkhall Rise, S.W.4.
JOHN SYKES, NELSON'S COXSWAIN (12 S. v. 257). Since the account of John Sykes appeared at the above reference it has been proved, chiefly by deduction, that the writer of the narrative of the bombardment of Cadiz (quoted therein) must have been Ralph Willett Miller, captain of the flag-ship Theseus.
In his letter of July 4, 1797, Nelson spoke of the gallantry of Capts. Freemantle* and Miller, yet in the narrative only the name of the former was mentioned. Then, the
- Captain of the Terpsichore.
writer states that, " Sykes was with us on?, the Captain " i.e., with Nelson and Miller ,. as the latter had also been flag-captain of that ship, hence his thorough knowledge of the Admiral's coxswain. Again, Nelson's barge was carried on the Theseus, so was manned by her men and commanded by her captain.
Further evidence as to the identity of the writer is contained in a letter* from Capt. Miller to his wife, giving a graphic descrip- tion of the battle of the Nile. Therein he remarks : "it [the letter] will remain in your hands, as a record for me hereafter of the- Battle, the share the Theseus had in it, and the mode of conduct I found beneficial."
From this it is evident that Capt. Miller was in the habit of writing descriptive accounts of engagements in which he had; taken part, and sending them to his wife to- preserve for his own reference at a later date.
The ' D.N.B.' contains an interesting biographical sketch of Capt. Miller (1762-99), who was unfortunately killed in the Theseus by the accidental explosion of some shells on May 14, 1799.
E. H. FAIRBROTHER.
URCHFONT (12 S. vi. 12). In Edward Hulton's ' Highways and Byways of Wilts,'
" They told me in Urchfont or Erchfont that the name is derived from a spring there, which they showed me, and which never runs dry. In the Domesday Survey I find the name spelt Jerchesfont."
Amongst some Wiltshire Notes, by my late father, T. H. Baker, I find the follow- ing :
" King Alfred and his queen founded the convent of St. Mary at Winchester. . . .according' to Domesday Book the manor of Erchfont, there called Jerchesfonte, belonged to this convent."
FRANCES E. BAKER. 91 Brown Street, Salisbury.
A ' Manual of Wiltshire Place-Names,' published in that county in 1911 has the following entry :
" Erchfont or Urchfont was in Domesday Book lerchesfonte, and in the ' Nomina Villarum ' of 1316, Erchesfonte. The name is variously written Erches-font, lerchesfonte, and Urches- font. The first syllable may be Celtic /icrcA = tho roebuck, and the latter A.S. funt, funta, a foaming or frothing fount. Hence ' the fount of the roebuck.' I think it probable, however, that the first syllable represents an A.S. personal name."
In Elizabethan documents the name is found as Urchefont, Urchfonte, Urchfount.
- ' Dispatches and Letters of Lord Nelson,'
Nicholas, vol. vii., p. cliv.