kids

Nursery rhyme origins.

I’d never really thought about the rhymes me and the girls sing before. Not in any more detail than to remember the words.. One day we where watching Mother Goose Club on youtube ( My OH really dislikes it but the girls love it)  and Ring Around the Rosy came on, my OH’s dad said “I don’t know why they still sing this its about the plague!” Which caused me to look into the origins of some of the rhymes we sing! 

Lucy Locket

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Lucy Locket lost her pocket

And Kitty Fisher found it.

Not a penny was there in it,

Only a ribbon around it.



Both Lucy and Kitty were real people, in the 18th century. Lucy Locket was a barmaid and some-time prostitute. When one of her wealthy lovers (the ‘pocket’) lost all his money, she dropped him like a hot potato, only to learn afterwards that her rival, Kitty Fisher, had taken up with him despite his poverty (‘not a penny’). The spat between the two ladies was well known at the time, as Kitty taunted Lucy for dropping her lover. Kitty claimed she had found a ribbon around him – a serious jibe at Lucy, as prostitutes at that time kept their money tied around the thigh with a ribbon. 


Oranges and Lemons

Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St Clemens,
You owe me five farthings
Say the bells of St Martins,
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey,
When I grow rich
Say the bells of Shoreditch,
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney,
I do not know
Says the great bell of Bow,



Here comes a candle to light you to bed

And here comes a chopper

To chop off your head!

Chip, chop, chip, chop

The last one is dead!



The second part of this rhyme is a clue to the purpose of the first part – the poor fellow ends up dead! The bells belong to famous churches in London; it’s possible that these were the churches a condemned man would pass, on his way to his execution.

St Clemens, the first church, is likely that in Eastcheap. The Eastcheap docks saw the unloading of cargo from the Mediterranean – often including oranges and lemons. But not only fruit was unloaded at Eastcheap: it was also the dock at which condemned men would disembark, to begin their final journey.



Pop Goes the Weasel

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Half a pound of tuppenny rice
Half a pound of treacle
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop goes the weasel.
Up and down the City Road
In and out of the Eagle
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop goes the weasel.



Every night when I go out 

The monkey’s on the table

Take a stick and knock it off,

Pop goes the weasel.



A penny for a ball of thread

Another for a needle

That’s the way the money goes,

Pop goes the weasel.


“Pop goes the weasel” seems at first glance to be a nonsense rhyme, one without any purpose behind it at all – but really it’s an account of poverty, pawnbroking, minimum wage, and a serious night out on the town.

The ‘weasel’ in the rhyme is a winter coat, which has to be pawned – or ‘popped’ – in exchange for various things. The first verse describes the cheapest food available; the narrator of the poem has no money, so ‘pop’ goes the weasel. The second verse describes a night out at a music hall called the Eagle Tavern, which was located on the City Road. But music halls – and drinks – cost money. Pop goes the weasel. The third verse is a bit more obscure than the first two; a monkey is slang for a tankard, while knocking off a stick was slang for drinking. The last verse probably refers to the narrator’s day job.

So this little nonsensical ditty is actually about struggling to make ends meet. It’s still an upbeat tune, letting the reader see that a night on the town is well worth the week of terrible food, wages and general living conditions.

Ring Around the Rosy

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Ring-a-ring o’ roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down

or

Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down

“Ring Around the Rosie” Though its lyrics and even its title have gone through some changes over the years, the most popular contention is that the sing-songy verse refers to the 1665 Great Plague of London.“The rosie” is the rash that covered the afflicted, the smell from which they attempted to cover up with “a pocket full of posies.” The plague killed nearly 15 percent of the country’s population, which makes the final verse—“Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down”—rather self-explanatory.* Although this is debated, and some people have said its wrong, I dont know personally ..

MARY, MARY, QUITE CONTRARY (1744)

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Mary, Mary quite contrary
how does your garden grow?
with silver bells and cockle shells
and pretty maids all in a row.

Contrary” is one way to describe a murderous psychopath. This popular English nursery rhyme, which reads like a solicitation for gardening advice, is actually a recounting of the homicidal nature of Queen Mary I of England, a.k.a. Bloody Mary. A fierce believer in Catholicism, her reign as queen—from 1553 to 1558—was marked by the execution of hundreds of Protestants. (Silver bells and cockle shells are torture devices, not garden accouterments.)

Humpty Dumpty

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humpty isnt really an egg, the rhyme is about a canon from the english civil war

Jack and Jill

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Jack and Jill went up the hill,
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down,
And broke his crown;
And Jill came tumbling after.

This poem originated in France. The characters refer to King Louis XVI, Jack, and his Queen Marie Antoinette, Jill. Jack was beheaded (lost his crown) first, then Jill came tumbling after during the Reign of Terror in 1793.

we love nursery rhymes, and both girls know most of the words to most of them. we like singing wind the bobbin up, but can never find it anywhere! so many people haven’t heard of it.