What is a Dabber?

Someone who comes from Nantwich is often referred to as a Dabber. It’s someone who was born within the towns boundaries (Nantwich Town football club’s stadium is ever referred to as the Dabber Dome). But where does the term Dabber come from? I found these explanations in Nantwich library:

  1. Name – Given to a person born and bred in Nantwich.
  2. Bargain – When a verbal agreement has been made sealed by the proposer spitting on his hand and dabbing it down on the palm of the other hand (or shaking hands).
  3. Betting – One who puts down stakes for a bet (Nantwich had a racecourse in 1729).
  4. Birds – One who dabbed lime on trees and bushes in order to catch wild birds for caging.
  5. Birds (again) – When chaffinch snaring a Nantwich boy would have said ‘Dab thi yed down, feyther’ implying be smart kept out of sight – thence, adept.
  6. Cookery – One who used currants for the outside of a currant loaf when only a few currants were stuck, pressed or dabbed into the dough.
  7. Expert – ‘A dab hand’ an expert in some line, e.g. No. 2 above or a champion sheep shearer.
  8. Pay up – One who pays his dues, rents, rates, promptly.
  9. Prize-fighting – One who puts up his fists or ‘dabs’ ready for a fight
  10. Builder – May be derived from ‘dauber’, one who in the days of timber framed houses, put in the wattle and daub between the timbers. The last one died in 1706.
  11. Tanning – One who ‘dabbed’ the hides into tannic acid.

There’s even more explanations on John Brough’s excellent site A Dabber’s Nantwich.

Bill Pearson \ Nantwich History

Bill Pearson’s Home Page

One thought on “What is a Dabber?”

  1. Hi Bill

    Another type of DAbber mentioned on one of the other sites is a boat. So called I believe because they were mainly used to catch Dabs – a small flatfish like a plaice and at least until recently, could be bought straight from the fishermen on the Suffolk coast. Delicious if cooked the same day in butter coated in no more than a little seasoned flour.

    Best wishes

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