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These are regional nicknames for various supernatural beings, probably short for ‘Robin’. Dobbs was used for a brownie in Sussex, dobby in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and dobie in Northumberland. The latter was proverbially stupid, according to Henderson (1866: 209). However, according to Francis Grose (late 18th century), a dobie was a wild moorland spirit who could control deer, and jumped upon travellers. Outdoor ghosts were also sometimes called ‘dobbies’ in Lancashire (Bowker, 1883: 152); some haunted the sands and coves of Morecambe Bay. In County Durham, the Shotton Dobby appeared at births or deaths in the village, as a goose, dog, horse, donkey, or cow (Brockie, 1886: 50–1). In the Yorkshire Dales, holed stones are called ‘dobbie stones’; small ones are hung at doors and windows, larger ones built into drystone walls.

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