(g hard). A title of address, as “Gaffer Grey,” “Good-day, Gaffer.” About equal to “mate.” (Anglo-Saxon, gefera, a comrade.) Many think the word is “grandfather.” (See Gammer.)
If I had but a thousand a year, Gaffer Green, If I had but a thousand a year.
Gaffer Green and Robin Rough.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894