theorists think it might be a variation of "dipping" the hides to make leather.
Simpson - another Dabber - who used to run the family shoe shop in Beam Street,
tells me his grandfather had a different theory. He says the name came not from
the tanning industry but from shoe making. The uppers (the bits you polish) and
a lining had to be glued together before they were stitched into the shoe. This
was done with dabs of glue carried out by - you've guessed it - a
attributed by some to the gambling world where bets were "dabbed"
down. That would be fitting as Nantwich had a racecourse on Beam Heath between
1729 and 1824. After that the common land was bounded by fences and
Illiterate farmers who couldn't sign contracts permitting them to use the
town's common land to graze their cattle were said, in another theory, to
"dab" their mark on the deed. A fingerprint, I suppose. The trouble
with these, in my opinion, is that these actions must have occurred in other
towns so how did Nantwich people alone qualify for the name?
READ a new theory in the Nantwich Chronicle of January 28, 2004. A reader, doing
research into their family from the 1851 and 1861 censuses, noticed there
were a lot of Irish people in Nantwich at those times. They suggested that the
name Dabbers was a way of concealing the nickname Paddies so that "the people
of Crewe wouldn't pick up on it". A nice idea, but, again, I am sorry to
say that I don't buy it. I don't think Irish people refer
to themselves as Paddies, do they? Any more than we call ourselves by the
Australian term of "pommy b*****ds". True, there were Irish people
fighting in the 1644 Civil War so some of them could have stayed around and they
or their descendents could have been
here at the right time when the name came into being.
it be that we are Dabbers because of our bakery skills? We certainly have
the best bakers and confectioners in the country in Chatwin's!
This idea came to me after I read an entry on the website of the
Worcestershire and Sherwood
Association from one Terry (Dabber) Baker. When I asked him about his
nickname, he said: "I
got the nickname when I was in the Army because of my surname, as that
is what bakers do to the dough. It's another word for kneading."
ANOTHER theory connected with food can be found in a
reference to Nantwich Town Football Club: "Nantwich Town were founded in 1884
and are nicknamed the Dabbers after the town’s famous Dabber Pies (apparently)."
So says David Poole, member No 34 of the 100 Football Grounds Club - a website
which focuses on football grounds. His comment can be
heard of a Dabber's Pie in respect of Nantwich football ground before - "Pies 'ave
cum, lads" - although Nantwich butchers, Clewlow's of Pepper Street, make one.
[It serves 1 to 2 people and is made with local pork from Reaseheath College,
farmhouse pickle and Cheshire cheese.] You can buy one on-line at
But I digress . . .
THE recently-renamed Cheshire Cat
in Welsh Row has a website which puts forward a slightly different idea. Talking
about the history of the town (in January 2010), it combines the salt industry
with a couple of different eras and refers to "the famous salt dabbers of Roman
and Saxon times". A case of the people taking on the name of the implement used
in the trade? Not that I have heard of a salt dabber as the name of an implement
I stick with my
favourite theory. I have long
believed that the name comes from the wattle and daub
buildings in Nantwich, or at least their builders. Others have also expressed
this view. Buildings were made from a wooden frame and the gaps
between the beams were filled with wattle (thin twigs) and daub (mud and even
cattle dung). I like to think that Nantwich people were the best "wattle
and daubers" for miles around - and gained the shortened name of
"daubers" or Dabbers. Well, it's as good as any other idea.
Not that another Dabber, Michael
Chatwin, agrees with me - cautiously referring to my idea with some scepticism
in his book about Nantwich Town F.C., "Proud to be
Incidentally, wooden frames and the daub of buildings were
originally left in their natural colours. It was only later that the frames were
painted black and the daub was coated in white to give the famous look of black
and white (or magpie) buildings.
A Places to See page:
lWhat do you think?
Read some website visitors' views about the origin of the name Dabber on
this page (split away to a separate one as this one
was getting a little long).