WHAT'S IN A NAME

This is from Ray Frank’s book “What’s in a Nickname.” “It has been asked many times where Presbyterian College received it’s nickname, Blue Hose. Several rumors exist. One story has it that the Presbyterian Scotch-Irish wore blue stockings in the Puritan beginnings of our country. Another says that a fierce war-like band of Scotch-Irish named the Hose painted their entire bodies blue before going into battle. Yet, probably the true story lies in a letter dated June 15, 1935, written by then athletic director Walter Johnson to an inquiring English professor in Virginia...[quoting from Walter Johnson’s letter] ‘It was about the second or third year, 1915, if I remember right, Stockings. I think it happened this way: I changed uniform colors to blue, wearing blue stockings and jerseys, and some sports writer started calling in his articles the Presbyterian College teams the Blue Stockings.’ ...In later years “Stocking” became abbreviated to “the Hose,” particularly in newspaper headlines, and was more or less officially adopted by the student body in the late 50’s.

From the 1996 PC football media guide (quoting from Hammett): “Johnson always insisted on the fact that his players wore long blue socks similar to stockings (after all, there were White Sox and Red Sox in baseball). Coach Johnson’s explanation may simply be coincidental to the fact that the phrase “Blue Stocking Presbyterian” goes back informally quite a few years in the denomination’s history.”

From the Oxford English Dictionary: “bluestocking” usually associated with overly-intellectual women, traces back to those who attended salons in England. There is some mention of the Bluestocking Parliament convened by Cromwell in 1653. According to Charles Coker’s (a retired professor), however, this parliament was not in fact Presbyterian, as the Presbyterians had been ejected from Parliament by Pride’s Purge in 1648. He cites Antonia Fraser’s “ Cromwell: The Lord Protector” (pp.431-50), W.S. Churchill’s “A History of England” (p.416), and the Oxford University Dictionary on Historical Principles (p.194b.1.a).

In an article by Walter Lingle (former president of Davidson and Presbyterian Scholar), published in the Christian Observer on Feb. 22, 1956 where he discusses the origins of the term Blue Stocking Presbyterians. He says that an early connection of Presbyterianism with the word blue or true blue occurs in Samuel Butler’s “The Presbyterian Knight,” where he speaks of “Presbyterian true blue.”