And Richard yelled “Pell-mell!”….
The following is from an article by Dave Kiffer in a newspaper from Ketchikan in Alaska. “And wasn’t it Richard III who used the phrase “pell-mell” to describe rapid advancement of troops or some such thing. Of course, Richard III’s too rapid advancement led him to spending a few centuries buried under a parking lot. Or so say people who have nothing better to do than run around DNA testing bones they find under parking lots. So it goes.”
The statement that Richard III used the phrase ‘pell-mell’ brought me up sharply. He what? According to Merriam-Webster, the word dates from 1590, a good hundred years after Bosworth. According to the Free Dictionary it dates from 1570-80, from the Middle French pelemele, Old French pesle mesle, rhyming compound based on mesler, to mix. I have not investigated further.
Now I was taught at school that the London street Pall Mall was named after a game, called pell-mell/pall-mall, that was played with a long ‘alley’. Something along the lines of a bowling alley. That’s debatable, apparently, because Wiki says it was a game similar to croquet or golf. The above illustration makes the game seem like a cross between golf and basketball, while others definitely show an alley (the mall?) with a single large croquet hoop stuck in the ground. Anyway, the naming of the street Pall Mall definitely happened in the 17th century.
Wiki also quotes: In 1630, the area’s first court for playing pall-mall (a mallet-and-ball game similar to croquet and golf) was laid out north of the highway, in an area known as St. James’s Field (later Pall Mall Field). Archibald Lumsden received a grant in September 1635 “for sole furnishing of all the malls, bowls, scoops, and other necessaries for the game of Pall Mall within his grounds in St. James’s Fields and that such as resort there shall pay him such sums of money as are according to the ancient order of the game.”
Now, a little more delving takes the game back to 16th-century France. See http://www.golfika.com/hisgen_e.html. So we’re getting closer to Richard’s time. But did it really go back to then? How old was this game? And might Richard have used the phrase? Well, as I have never heard it being assigned to him, I think not. I can’t even picture him using it, because in my mind it’s the wrong era. So where did Mr Kiffer get the idea that Richard did?
Postscript. Well, thank you Esther (see comment below) for solving the problem. It seems we have Shakespeare to credit for the connection between Richard III and ‘pell-mell’. So, in a way, Richard did yell “Pell-mell!” – but only courtesy of the Bard.