Old Sea Legends: The Incredible Story of Davy Jones and His Locker

Updated on December 5, 2016
Some legends say Davy Jones was captain of the famous Flying Dutchman.
Some legends say Davy Jones was captain of the famous Flying Dutchman.

Many have heard of Davy Jones and his famous locker, maybe through the old legend itself or maybe through the immensely popular movie series The Pirates of the Caribbean. However, the story in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is nothing like the real stories, except for the fact that Jones is captain of the famous 'Flying Dutchman." Sailors used to tell terrifying stories to each other about this legendary pirate, but who was he exactly? Where does the legend come from and what is Davy Jones' locker?

It is unclear when the Davy Jones stories took place, but it was probably around the 1500s when people started trading and fighting at sea more and more. The earliest known written reference was in the Four Years Voyage of Captain George Roberts by Daniel Defoe, 1726. However, there was only a short mentioning of the saying "to be sent to Davy Jones' locker". Among the different stories, some depict him as the devil, while some say he is the evil god of the seas. In some tales, he is a murderer or captain of a ghost ship.

The Different Stories of Davy Jones

  • Pub owner: In one of the stories, Davy Jones was the owner of a British pub and would get sailors intoxicated and lock them in his ale locker. He also locked their unconscious bodies in ships that were passing through the harbor. The story also tells us that his pub went bankrupt, which made him decide to become a pirate. He stole a ship from the harbor, and, supposedly, sailed the Atlantic Ocean, hijacking other ships and decapitating or keelhauling most of the crew from other ships. The surviving crew would be locked in the ship and the ship would be sunk. The story also tells of this pub owner selling his soul to the devil.
  • Captain of the "Flying Dutchman": In some stories, Davy Jones is the captain of the "Flying Dutchman." The "Flying Dutchman" was supposedly a ghost ship that wandered the seas forever because it could not make port. The story goes that Jones hailed out to the sky on a trip from Holland to Batavia. Legend quotes him as saying, "God or Devil... I will sail around the Cape, even if it means sailing towards our last judgement." Then the Devil took control of the ship, and, as a price, the ship had to sail the seas forever, with the dead crew working for eternity without saying a word ever again.
  • The Jonah theory: In the Bible, Jonah became the "devil of the seas" when his crew found out that he was being punished by God for his disobedience. The crew casted him overboard. Some say that Davy Jones came from "Devil Jonah." Sailors believed that any wicked sailor would "go to Davy Jones' locker."
  • David Jones: There once was an actual pirate captain by the name of David Jones who sailed the seas around the 1630s. But, this pirate captain wasn't that well-known and most historians do not think he could have gathered such worldwide fame.
  • Satan: Some believe it is simply another name for Satan, made up by sailors.

Davy Jones' Locker

Davy Jones' Locker is a sailor's synonym for the ocean floor. A locker was another name for a chest back in the day. So "being sent to Davy Jones' locker" actually means dying at sea. In some stories, evil and wicked sailors who died at sea were locked up in the chest by Davy Jones and had to spend eternity trapped in there.

Davy Jones in The Pirates of the Caribbean

Davy Jones in Movies and Books

Movies:

In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Davy Jones was the main villain. He was supposed to bring souls from sunken ships to work aboard the "Flying Dutchman." Instead of going to the afterlife, Jones proposes that the dead men come and work on his ship for a 100 years, and convinces them that the afterlife is even worse. He also commands the mythical beast the "Kraken."

Books:

Davy Jones is mentioned in a lot of books, but mostly only in passing phrases like, "going to Davy Jones" or "going to Davy Jones' locker." Almost every book about life on a pirate ship mentions this at least once. Moby Dick for example contains the phrase: "There was young Nat Swaine, once the bravest boat-header out of all Nantucket and the Vineyard; he joined the meeting, and never came to good. He got so frightened about his plaguey soul that he shrinked and sheered away from the whales, for fear of after-claps, in case he got stove and went to Davy Jones."

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Davey Jones 

        6 months ago

        Honestly, Not completely stoked about being named for a Devil figure.

        However, I am.

        So I’ll make my declaration as such:

        Unless, otherwise encouraged upon my Bearings, To meet and see my Locker is Deep and Vast. No need to be warned for every man and woman knows their path. The winds simply help the waves rock you to your end of voyage. The Navy Deep or the Land You Know shall swallow us all whole!

        -Davey Jones

      • profile image

        JustSomeDude 

        7 months ago

        I’ve noticed many comments about how in the Bible Jonah was not a “sea devil” but it’s important to remember there are many different versions of the Bible around the world with many different tales perhaps in what ever iteration of the Bible that specific speculation is based upon Jonah was like a nautical Kane

      • profile image

        jack 

        10 months ago

        noice legend bro

      • profile image

        hi 

        11 months ago

        nice bro

      • profile image

        200yrs2late 

        13 months ago

        Daughter 6 loves pirates and is fascinated with the Davy Jones legend atm

      • profile image

        xafan 

        14 months ago

        hi

        every one

      • profile image

        marzon 

        14 months ago

        if any one is there post a comment

      • profile image

        marzon 

        14 months ago

        every one. we will find him

      • profile image

        marzon 

        14 months ago

        one day we will discover if its real

      • profile image

        marshall 

        17 months ago

        nice i wana become a marine biologist if i die i hope its by davy

      • profile image

        Firestar 

        19 months ago

        Best ever! thanks for the info dude

      • profile image

        HeWhoWandersTheSeas 

        23 months ago

        He was to be the Grim Reaper or Devil of all who sail the seas, his infamous locker being a massive prison brig where he locks away unworthy sailors who commit mutiny upon their captain and break the codes of their ship or simply drown at sea. He at no point was actually associated with the Legendary ghost ship "The Flying Dutchman" until the Disney movie as that is an entirely separate myth. Davy was said to enforce his will on the sea with all manner of catastrophe such as plagues, storms, accidents and spirits. And he most commonly appears as the face of an old haggard man in the clouds in the middle of a storm. In my land we speak of him at the ports and beaches, but only in hushed tones, for to speak his name at sea is to call his attention. Somewhere out there I believe Jones wanders the depths, watching and waiting for who next he will lock away.

      • profile image

        Lord Double X 

        24 months ago

        The Legends are real all right

      • profile image

        geust user 

        2 years ago

        is he a real octopus or fake

      • profile image

        Isaiah 

        2 years ago

        Is he real

      • profile image

        Tolani 

        2 years ago

        Is Davy Jones actually real

      • profile image

        collin 

        2 years ago

        is davy jones real

      • profile image

        Guest user 

        2 years ago

        Was he an actual being though?

      • profile image

        Guest User 

        2 years ago

        I was wondering if you could post the literature references for the section titled: The Different Stories of Davy Jones. Just wondering where you got these stories from? Thanks

      • profile image

        Capt. Hendrick van der Kleefe. 

        2 years ago

        Many a time hear I tale o' Capt. Jones, but ne'er be I to hear o' The Flying Dutchman hailed by Jones.

        Howe'r, do I rather thank ye for a haul o' grand tale.

      • profile image

        chris 

        2 years ago

        I want to know what happened to davy jones

      • profile image

        seezal khan 

        3 years ago

        pirates of the Caribbean is my favorite movie and i also love magic and pirates this article help to read the story of davy Jones.

      • profile image

        Baycee 

        3 years ago

        I herd that Davy Jones was a young man that was sailing a ship and his ship was attacked by the kraken wile "the Dutchman"was being sacrificed by Davy and he pulled him in the water with him.they both died a sad evil death... But does that make him a devil or a sad lonesome spirit?

        You tell me....are you with the evil lord or are you with a poor man??

      • profile image

        Leroy 

        4 years ago

        Ok yall be tripping first things first.. Davy Jones never set sail ... Jonah spent three days in a whale ... SpongeBob is a yellow blob... And yall soccer moms need to go get a job!!

      • profile image

        Nicola 

        4 years ago

        Very helpful

      • profile image

        Valeri 

        4 years ago

        I've also heard of another verition of Davy Jones. He got hired to fairy soils to hades,a great honer. But he lost the woman he loved so he ripped out his heart and became...him. Old octapuse face.And he torched soils in his locker.(oh, and Jonah is NOT THE DEVIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nnnn

      • profile image

        neasha 

        4 years ago

        swag swag . spongebob . swag.

      • profile image

        Destiny 

        4 years ago

        This has made my day. I wish all pogitnss were this good.

      • profile image

        Capone 

        5 years ago

        neckass

      • profile image

        j/s 

        5 years ago

        Its sea devil,not see devil

      • profile image

        basic Bible 101 for dummies (Emily) 

        5 years ago

        do you need to go back your Bible class Jonah was not a see devil

      • profile image

        Annie 

        5 years ago

        Jonah is not the devil in the Bible, he is a prophet that gets swallowed by a "great fish". He later gets vomitted up by the fish on the shore of the city of Ninevah. Where he is told by God to preach to the people, and tell them to stop sinning, or God will destroy them. If that part of the post so far off, I seriously doubt the credibility of any of it.

      • profile image

        Ayden 

        5 years ago

        Thank You for telling more about Davy Jones. You are well appreciated.Please add more about sea legends

      • profile image

        bible for dummies 

        5 years ago

        Jonah is not the devil in the bible

      • profile image

        mark 

        5 years ago

        i have the map

      • profile image

        pretty girl 

        6 years ago

        find the truth

      • profile image

        wera 

        7 years ago

        stories picture alsome but I shall find out the truth about davy jones locker ;)

      • profile image

        SpanishMonkeys 

        7 years ago

        Davy Jones was always my favorite in Pirates of the Caribbean, and I wanted to find out more about the actual legend. :) This was very informative. Thanks!

      • profile image

        Javaring 

        7 years ago

        Wow, that was awesome! Thankyou very much for educating me about davy Jones, I apreiate it. I've wanted to know this information for so long. Great job. =D

      • nu-flowerchild profile image

        nu-flowerchild 

        8 years ago from Baton Rouge, Louisiana

        I found this very informative. At first I thought Davy Jones was really something made up out of the blue because the first time, and every other time, I heard a reference to him and his locker was on SpongeBob. lol. I am just finding out that this is an old legend. The things you find out everyday. ;) Thanks for sharing.

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