all my eye and Betty Martin phr. (also all in my eye and Betty, …and Elizabeth Martin, all my eye (and) Betty (Martin), my eye Betty Martin, oh Betty Martin, that's my eye (and Betty Martin)) [ext. of all my eye phr.; Betty Martin herself continues to be a source of controversy. Partridge suspects that she was a late 18C London character and that no record of her exists other than this catchphrase. Jon Bee (1823) and Hotten (1860) refer to the alleged Lat. prayer, Ora pro mihi, beate Martine (‘Pray for me blessed Martin’), i.e. St Martin of Tours, the patron saint of publicans and reformed drunkards. It has yet to be found in any version of the liturgy. Writing in 1914, Dr L.A. Waddell suggests another Latinism, O mihi Britomartis (‘O bring help to me, Britomartis’), referring to the tutelary goddess of Crete. More likely is the idea, proposed in Charles Lee's Memoirs (1805), that there had once been ‘an abandoned woman called Grace’, who, in the late 18C, married a Mr Martin. She became notorious as Betty Martin, and all my eye was apparently among her favourite phrases. A northern version of the phr. has Peggy Martin; while cit. 1959 offers a one-off var.]
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