Brown Bess name origin?

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jbwilliams3

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I’ve always been partial to the opinion that the name came from the generic German term for a military longarm Braun Buss or strong gun. It was certainly stronger than the lighter civilian arms. Remember the three George’s were Hanoverian, George I never even learned English, most documents were translated to German so he could read them.
Braun or strong is where our term brawny comes from.

He touches on that in the article, though it was beyond the scope of that relatively short piece to flesh out the "false etymologies." I think the English slang origin is definitively more likely.
 
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I too read the article and agree with the author....not because I know a lot about the subject but because it fits in with how soldiers think and talk.
 
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I printed out the explanation from the Royal Armouries guy; makes perfect sense. Modern day re-enactors or what ever all have an opinion, like something else we all have! Studying history is fascinating!
 
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A pickle is a tool used on early weapons.
Regarding the people speak causing a change of name, can you say “motor”? In english today - including British TV it is pronounced “Mow - a” the letter t has, or is being, lost. Where I was born, a common phrase was “taint yorn sizzun”

Musket demonstration at fort niagara.
Dressing a grenadier.

The demonstrator said that the British army standard for the brown bess was 4 rounds per minute. (15 seconds a shot.) The best he had heard of or seen was 6 shots a minute.
 
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Apparently, "Brown Bess" is a very old combination of slang terms, with "Brown" meaning common/everyday/plain, and "Bess" being a stereo typical peasant or commoner, woman' name, especially if that woman were involved in prostitution. Today though, over time some of the old slang has changed or lost meaning. For one example, "sluttish" today means a woman of "loose sexual morals" but a few centuries ago, it mean "slovenly", and didn't have the sexual connotation that it has today [I've been taught]. It's this loss of meaning that has caused some of the confusion, or theories that "brown" somehow was due to color, and "Bess" was somehow connected to Queen Elizabeth aka Queen Bess....,

So IF we used modern American slang back when the musket became the primary , we might call the Brown Bess musket something like, "plain Jane". Note how many of our former service members will remember during their service being taught how their rifle was their new "girlfriend", and to care for that rifle as good or better than a girlfriend.

Here is an article that I found that seems to give a good account of where the name stems for the British service musket(s) that span three centuries:
History of The Term Brown Bess

LD
Very interesting. It is funny how much slang for a “plain” or “promiscuous” woman filters down throughout history, and the different things that these slang terms are applied to.
 

AtlatlMan

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I'm inclined to believe the Brown Bess as Plain Jane theory, with the added connotation of slang for ladies of easy virtue that have been an eternal fixture of the soldierly profession.

I remember as a kid watching Tales of the Gun and Ian Hogg advancing a connection between the highwayman Dick Turpin and his horse, Black Bess. An interesting suggestion, but most soldiers aren't generally fixated on other men's horses as opposed to certain other things...
 
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I think the origin story of the Bess is lost in the mists of time.


I don’t think so. People often over think this issue. The soldiers gave the musket a ‘nick name’ or short name, its as simple as that. The meaning behind Brown Bess, is pretty much that of a 17th and 18th century street whore in England, and i will not go into any more detail as to what that name was chosen.

French muskets were called Charleville’s in the America.
 
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