Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Davy Jones’s locker n.

also Davey’s locker, David Jones(es), Davy Jones, Davy Jones’s chest-lid, Davy Jones’s dock-yard, Davy’s locker, Jones’s locker, old Davey, old Davy
[at best Davy Jones represents the spirit of the sea, at worst he is the ocean’s own devil (thus Smollett cit. 1751 and Dickens, Bleak House, 1853: ‘If you only have to swab a plank, you should swab it as if Davy Jones were after you’); either way it is in his ‘locker’ that drowned seamen are stowed. The ety. remains obscure, but DSUE suggests that Jones refers to Jonah whose own ‘locker’ was the belly of the whale. Davy, it is proposed, may have been added by Welsh sailors]

a watery grave; thus a metaphor for death in general.

The four years voyages of Capt. George Roberts 89: Russell told them they should not [i.e. take away the author], for he would toss them all into Davy Jones’s Locker if they did.
[[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 71: I’ll be damned if it was not Davy Jones himself: I know him by his saucer-eyes, his three rows of teeth, his horns and tail, and the blue smoak that came out of his nostrils [...] This same Davy Jones, according to the mythology of sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the evil spirits of the deep, and is often seen in various shapes perching among the rigging on the eve of hurricanes, shipwrecks, and other disasters, to which sea-faring life is exposed: warning the devoted wretch of death and woe].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: David Jones’s locker, the sea.
[UK]C. Dibdin ‘The Greenwich Pensioner’ in Collection of Songs I 172: Sav’d from Davy’s locker, / We put to sea again.
[UK] ‘Poor Jack’ Garland of New Songs 2: The Danes and Spaniards too, / Went tumbling to old Davy.
[UK] ‘Jolly Jack of Dover’ Jovial Songster 77: Down you go to Davy Jones, and learn from him to dive now.
[UK]M. Edgeworth Belinda (1994) 395: There’s no use in sounding for him, master, he’s down in Davy’s locker long ago.
[UK]Derby Mercury 11 Aug. 4/1: We’ll repel the proud Foe, / Or to Davy we’ll go.
[UK]J. Davis Post Captain (1813) 46: I would not exchange you for all the pearls, gold and silver in Davy Jones’s locker.
[UK] ‘The Cabin Boy’ Collection of Eng. Ballads 96: Alack! I’m lost at sea, / Why sure in Davy’s locker, / There’s room enough for me.
W. Maginn ‘The Eve of St. Jerry’ in Mackenzie Odoherty Papers 100: My flesh and bones go to David Jones.
[UK]Jack the Giant Queller 12: We may expect one moment to be hung, / Sent to the Bay, or Davy Jones’s locker.
[UK]London Minstrel 18: He tumbled in Old Davy’s locker, / And then he got liquor enough.
[UK]D. Jerrold Black-Ey’d Susan II ii: Here’s one of us for old Davy!
[UK]Leicester Jrnl 4 Dec. 4/5: May old Davy Jones sink me in his locker.
[UK]‘The Fourpenny Mot’ in Libertine’s Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) I 150: Sheer off, or I will to old Davy you pitch, / Why what have you done with your bowsprit, you b—h?
[UK] ‘Nights At Sea’ in Bentley’s Misc. Nov. 614: I warn’t a-going to let the ould fellow think I was afeard of Davy Jones.
[UK]W.J. Neale Paul Periwinkle 289: If that young gentleman doesn’t pay a visit to Davy Jones’s dockyard for repairs, I know nothing about the matter.
[UK]Comic Almanack Aug. 324: There is no reason right why Jones’s kid / Should be consign’d to Davy Jones’s locker.
[Ind]Bellew Memoirs of a Griffin I 75: The colonel [...] having the fear of Davy’s Locker before his eyes.
[US](con. 1843) Melville White-Jacket (1990) 178: He will say to you, ‘Let them bear down upon me, then, before the wind; anything that smacks of life is better than to feel Davy Jones’s chest-lid on your nose.’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 29: DAVY’S LOCKER, or Davy Jones’ locker, a nautical phrase for death, for the other world.
[UK]Reade & Boucicault Foul Play I 79: Seaton [...] asked him where he had sprung from. ‘Me!’ said Wylie, jocusely, ‘why I hailed from Davy Jones’s locker last.’.
[US]W.H. Thomes Slaver’s Adventures 238: ‘Let’s send ’em to Davy Jones’s locker,’ some of the men exclaimed.
[UK] ‘Davy Jones’s Locker’ India-Rubber Face Song Book 2: He address’d each mate: What’s life, d’ye see, when our liberty’s gone, / Much nobler it were for to die, / So now for old Davy—then plunged in the main.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 30 May 22/1: For, if the sextant’s lost a hand, and the quadrant’s down so low, / It’s body and bones to Davy Jones – we’re duty bound to go.
[US]G. Davis Recoll. Sea-Wanderer 334: I may anchor ashore some day, if some fair maid will take me for what I am, but if not I shall find a berth in the Sailors’ Snug Harbor, or it may be in Davy Jones’ locker.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘A Respectable Young Man’ in Roderick (1972) 270: It was war to the death — or Davy Jones — between ’em.
[US]J.S. Wood Yale Yarns 137: Had he not shown a little sand [...] where would they all have been today? ‘Why, in Davy Jones’s locker,’ says Little Jack.
[UK]J. Masefield ‘One of the Bosun’s Yarns’ in Salt-Water Ballads 20: Our boats were bashed and bust and broke and gone to Davy Jones.
[US]Comic Section N.-Y. American and Journal 13 May 1: I do not admire that Davy Jones’ locker.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 247: It would be a fine piece of sail-making if that young man got grabbed by Davy Jones after I took all this trouble for him.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ Mother of the Hoboes 17: The runaway husband had met with his just deserts by being consigned to Davy Jones’ locker.
[US]V. Lindsay Golden Whales of Calif. 99: And way down deep, / Where fishes throng, / By Davy Jones’ big deep-sea door.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 361: Then you have a beautiful calm without a cloud, smooth sea, placid, crew and cargo in smithereens, Davy Jones’ locker. [Ibid.] 580: Mr Bloom could easily picture his advent on this scene – the homecoming to the mariner’s roadside shieling after having diddled Davy Jones.
[Aus]L. O’Neil ‘Knots’ in Dinkum Aussie and Other Poems 133: [as excl.] Oh, Davy Jones devour my bones! / You haven’t the sense to learn!
[US](con. 1910s) L. Nason A Corporal Once 105: That port don’t get opened till we get to the other side, or to Davy Jones’ locker.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 97: Half the world’s shipping was locked up by blockade and a good half of what was free lay in Jones’s Locker.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Death’s Passport’ in Goodstone Pulps (1970) 112/1: By rights, Kensington should have been a skeleton festooning Davy Jones’ locker.
[US]Mad mag. June–July 11: Eat at Davy’s Locker.
[US]S. Longstreet Flesh Peddlers (1964) 332: The Davey Jones Pool Company.
[US]W.C. Anderson Penelope 110: That’s one thing we don’t have in Davy Jones’ locker.
[Aus]S. Gore Holy Smoke 52: Here’s the father and mother of a storm blowin’, the boat halfway down to Davy Jones.
[NZ]R.H. Morrieson Predicament 210: Man the Lifeboats! We’re going down with all hands and the cook. Down to Davy Jones’s locker.
[UK]Kirk & Madsen After The Ball 146: Bearing their hapless victims to Davy Jones’ Locker.
[US]N. Stephenson Cryptonomicon 296: He heads downhill. Towards the bow. Towards Davy Jones’s Locker.

In phrases

go to Davy Jones’s locker (v.) (also go to Davey’s locker, ...Davy Jones, ...old Davey)

to die.

[UK] ‘The Tight Little Navy’ Tegg’s Prime Song Book 6: They must strike or go to old Davy.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London II 449: You must trim the boat, and sit steady, or we shall all go to Davey’s locker.
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 279: What a pity it would be if the dollars, after all, should go to Davy Jones’s locker!
[US]‘Geoffrey Crayon’ Tales of A Traveller (1850) 430: It’s a thousand pities [...] if he has gone to Davy Jones’ locker.
[UK]‘Alfred Crowquill’ Seymour’s Humourous Sketches (1866) 151: The cry of the whole crew was, that they were all going to Davy Jones’s locker.
[US]Melville Moby Dick (1907) 82: He shrinked and sheered away from whales, for fear of afterclaps, in case he got stove and went to Davy Jones.
[US] ‘Poor Jack’ in Jack Tar’s Songster 6: If to old Davey I should go [...] You will never hear of me more.
[US]W.H. Thomes Slaver’s Adventures 179: Lift the old feller up [...] and lets see if he’s gone to Davy Jones’s locker.
[US](con. 1875) F.T. Bullen Cruise of the ‘Cachalot’ 236: So glad, so glad you blonga life! No go Davy Jonesy dis time, hay?

In exclamations

by the bones of Davy Jones!

(Aus.) a mild oath.

[Aus]‘Henry Handel Richardson’ Aus. Felix (1971) 30: Crust first, and though you burst, By the bones of Davy Jones!