The origin of the nickname ‘Geordie’ (or ‘Geordy’ as it was formerly spelled), is the subject of several theories, all of which rely on conjecture with little or no definitive proof.
While the moniker is freely ascribed to anyone from the North East by those outside of the region, as we North Easterners all know, the name ‘Geordie’ only applies to those from Newcastle in particular and Tyneside in general. It becomes even more confusing when the word is universally used to describe our dialect, a habit practiced as much by locals as it is by outsiders despite the very obvious differences between the Northumbrian, Tyneside and Wearside idioms for example.
Dave Harker, a local historian and author of 13 books as well as numerous articles on North East history and culture, has extensively researched the evolution of the name. The resultant paper provides an extraordinary account of the many instances where the nickname, ‘Geordie’ has been commonly used, starting in the early 1600s and continuing to modern times. His characteristic penchant for detail is both fascinating and persuasive. Did the nickname really arise from Newcastle’s support of King George III during the Jacobean uprising for example? Or was it adopted by those coal miners who used George Stephenson’s safety lamp, itself popularly referred to as a ‘Geordy’? Whatever one believes, Dave’s research will lead us to seriously reconsider the popular theories that have been generally accepted over the years.
Published in two parts by the North East Labour History Society in its journal, North East Labour History, the articles can be read by clicking on the respective links below each of which will open a pdf copy of the entire magazine. To read the article simply go to the indicated page number.
Issue 44, page 169. Part 1 covers the period from 1600 to 1880.
Issue 45, page 187. Part 2 covers the period 1880 to present times.