My interest in the variants of this story was awakened some years ago when, looking over a bundle of old numbers of the Ipswich Journal, in which some odds and ends of "Suffolk Notes and Queries" were collected, I came upon a folktale entitled "Tom Tit Tot." Through inquiry recently made of Mr. F. H. Groome, author of Under Gypsy Tents, and editor of those "Notes and Queries," I learned that this tale, as also another tale, entitled "Cap o' Rushes," which our President has printed in the current number of Longman's Magazine, were told by an old West Suffolk nurse to the lady from whom Mr. Groome received them. Their value lies in their being almost certainly derived from oral transmission through uncultured peasants.
The story of "Tom Tit Tot" is as follows:—
Well, once upon a time there were a woman and she baked five pies. And when they come out of the oven, they was that overbaked the crust were too hard to eat. So she says to her darter:
"Maw'r," says she, "put you them there pies on the shelf, an' leave 'em there a little, an' they'll come again."— She meant, you know, the crust 'ud get soft.
- "Mawther," remarks J. G. Nall in his Glossary of the Dialect and Provincialisms of East Anglia (Longman, 1866), "is the most curious word in the East Anglian vocabulary. A woman and her mawther means a woman and her daughter." The word is without doubt derived from the same root as 'maid' and cognate words, upon which cf. Skeat's Entymol. Dictionary, s. v.
Nall gives examples of the use of mawther by Tusser and other writers. Tusser speaks of "a sling for a mother, a bow for a boy." In Ben Jonson's "Alchymist" Restive says to Dame Pliant (Act iv. 7) "Away, you talk like a foolish mawther!" In the "English Moor" (iii. 1) Richard Brome makes a more felicitous use of the word:
P. I am a mother that do want a service.
Qu. O, thou'rt a Norfolk woman (cry thee mercy)
Where maids are mothers and mothers are maids,
and in Blomfield's "Suffolk Ballad" we read
When once a gigling mawther you,
And I a red-faced chubby boy.
In the Gothic translation of the Gospels, Luke viii. 54, "Maid, arise," is rendered "Maur, urreis."