From Davy Jones’s Locker to the Flying Dutchman: The Origin of a Nautical Legend

By | May 4, 2019

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Flying Dutchman on SpongeBob SquarePants. Source: (

Many people will recognize Davy Jones as the name of the tentacle-faced villain of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Others may remember him from an episode or two of SpongeBob SquarePants. Both works loosely based their characters on the nautical superstitions of the 18th and 19th centuries; however, the true origin of the legend may go back even further.

The phrase “Davy Jones’s Locker” is often used to describe the ocean floor, which is the final resting place for many sailors, as well as their ships, who were lost at sea. Due to this connection with death, “Davy Jones’s Locker” represents the afterlife for pirates and seaman. By extension, Davy Jones is often associated with the devil or thought to be a god of the seas. However, the origins of the legends surrounding Davy Jones and his infamous Locker are disputed among historians.

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The Flying Dutchman bursts from the ocean depths. Source: (

In most iterations of the legend, Davy Jones is the captain of a ghost ship named the Flying Dutchman, doomed to sail the seas for eternity without ever making port. Some believe the stories were based off a pirate captain from the 1630s named David Jones; however, most historians doubt this conclusion as David Jones simply was not famous enough to have achieved such notoriety.