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Twisted Stories Behind Nursery Rhymes

Let's go with some folklore today. 
We all grow up with nursery rhymes but do we know the hidden truth behind ?? 

Ladybird, Ladybird Fly Away Home

Ladybird, Ladybird is also about 16th Century Catholics in Protestant England and the priests who were burned at the stake for their beliefs.
Even though this one is immediately a little darker than the rest, discussing little red bugs houses being set alight, the real meaning behind it is even worse. As you can probably guess from what is trending, someone meets a sticky end, or in this case is burnt. ‘Ladybird’ is a derivative of the catholic term for ‘our lady’, and was believed to be used as a warning to Catholics who refused to attend protestant services as required by the act of uniformity

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane

Bah, Bah, a black Sheep,
Have you any Wool?
Yes merry have I,
Three Bags full,
One for my Master,
One for my Dame,
One for the Little Boy
That lives in the lane

Baa Baa Black Sheep is about the medieval wool tax, imposed in the 13th Century by King Edward I. Under the new rules, a third of the cost of a sack of wool went to him, another went to the church and the last to the farmer. (In the original version, nothing was therefore left for the little shepherd boy who lives down the lane). Black sheep were also considered bad luck because their fleeces, unable to be dyed, were less lucrative for the farmer.

The song is definitely not about black sheep, or even little boys – it’s about taxes! Back in the 13th century, King Edward I realized that he could make some decent cash by taxing the sheep farmers. As a result of the new taxes, one third of the price of a sack of wool went to the king, one third to the church and the last third to the farmer. Nothing was left for the shepherd boy, crying down the lane. As it happens, black sheep are also bad luck: the fleece can’t be dyed, and so it’s worth less to the sheep farmer. Baa Baa Black Sheep is a tale of misery and woe.

Georgie Porgie

Georgie Porgy pudding and pie

Kissed all the girls and made them cry

When the boys came out to play 

Georgie Porgie ran away

Georgie Porgie could be one of two men – either George Villiers (16-17th century) or Prince Regent George (late 18th century). 

The first was an up-start who wormed – or earned – his way into the court of King James I. George Villiers was likely a bisexual, who had an intense and fairly well-documented attachment to the king. King James was extremely fond of George, and gave him money and titles. While there is no sure, definitive proof of a homosexual relationship between the two, King James’s affection was without doubt. Either way, George still loved the ladies and was rumoured to be fond of seducing noblemen’s wives – sometimes without the consent of the ladies in question. This fact, together with well-known (and probably very necessary) ability to avoid confrontation, makes him a good fit for the nursery rhyme.

As much as George Villiers may seem like the perfect candidate, my money is actually on Prince Regent George. He was enormously fat, and notoriously gluttonous. He couldn’t fit regular clothes, but he certainly fits the rhyme. He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he definitely loved the ladies. The last couplet might refer to an incident where George attended a bare-knuckle boxing match which left one contestant dead. He ran away and hid himself, afraid of a potential scandal.


Three Blind Mice

Three blind mice,

Three blind mice,

See how they run,

See how they run!

They all ran after,

The farmer’s wife,

She cut off their tails,

With a carving knife,

Did you ever see,

Such a sight in your life,

As three blind mice?

In this role play of despair the ‘three blind mice’ are reference to the three nobleman who adhered to the protestant faith during the reign of Mary I, and were therefore convicted against plotting against the queen, who is represented by the farmer’s wife. To be fair – she didn’t actually have them dismembered and blinded like the rhyme suggests – they just burnt at the stake, so no biggy.

Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush

Here we go ’round the mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush.

Here we go ’round the mulberry bush,

So early in the morning. Local historian R.S Duncan suggests that the song originated from female prisoners at HMP Wakefield. A sprig was taken from Hatfield Hall in Stanley, Wakefield, which grew into a fully mature mulberry tree around which prisoners exercised in the moonlight

Ring a Ring o’ Roses

Ring-a-Ring o’Rosies,

A Pocket full of Posies,

“A-tishoo! A-tishoo!”,

We all fall Down!

Commonly thought to be about circling a rose bush, it’s actually to about the bubonic plague. The symptoms of the plague were a rosy red rash in the shape of a ring on the skin, and another was sneezing. People filled pockets and pouches with sweet smelling herbs (posies) as they believed the disease was transmitted by bad smells.
Ring a Ring o Roses, or Ring Around the Rosie, may be about the 1665 Great Plague of London: the “rosie” being the malodorous rash that developed on the skin of bubonic plague sufferers, the stench of which then needed concealing with a “pocket full of posies”. The bubonic plague killed 15% of Britain’s population, hence “atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down (dead).”

London Bridge Is Falling Down

London Bridge is falling down,

Falling down, falling down.

London Bridge is falling down,

My fair lady.

Not only the lengthiest of the nursery rhymes, but one with the most theories behind it. They range from the Vikings to Henry VIII, however one that really stood out was – and wait for it – the ‘child sacrifices’ theory.

Pop Goes the Weasel

Oranges & 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.

As charming as this rhyme begins, the nasty turn at the end is more than just child’s play. The ‘great bells of bow’ were used to time the executions at Newgate prison, which for many years were carried out by means of beheading. The poor soul awaiting execution would be kept on death row, and was informed by the warder the night before execution, hence ‘here comes a candle to light you to bed’. Executions commenced when the bells all started chiming, which in this rhyme is represented by the chit chat these bells seem to be enjoying, and finished when the bells stopped.

Lucy Locket

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, back 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. 


Pop Goes the Weasel

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.

Pop Goes The Weasel is an apparently nonsensical rhyme that, upon subsequent inspection, reveals itself to in fact be about poverty, pawnbroking, the minimum wage – and hitting the Eagle Tavern on London’s City Road.

Rub A Dub Dub

Rub a dub dub

Three men in a tub

And how do you think they got there?

The butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker

It was enough to make a man stare.

At first it’s a bit homoerotic… then we read the original, or at least the oldest known version:

Rub a dub dub

Three maids in a tub

And how do you think they got there?

The butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker

And all of them gone to the fair.

Well, it sounds like a peep show might be in town. Peep shows were a popular form of entertainment in the 14th century, and it appears that our friends have gone to catch a glimpse of the maids in the tub. Rub a dub dub…

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockleshells

And pretty maids all in a row.

This one has a bit of a sad, nostalgic ring to it – only increased when you realize that in some versions, ‘garden’ is replaced with ‘graveyard’. The Mary here is probably Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII and sister to Elizabeth I.

Henry VIII was initially married to Catherine of Aragon, and the couple had one child, Mary. But Henry wanted a son – and always true to the notion of killing two birds with stone, he decided to do this by getting into the pants of Anne Boleyn, one of his wife’s ladies in waiting. To cut a long story short, Henry was refused a divorce by the Pope – so he created the Anglican Church with himself at the head, thereby isolating himself from Catholic Europe. After divorcing Catherine and marrying Anne, he had one child with the latter – Elizabeth. Needless to say, that marriage didn’t work out either. Henry had Anne executed, and went through another couple of wives in an attempt to find a son.

After his death, the throne went to Mary, who promptly tried to make England Catholic again. So Mary went ‘quite contrary’ to England’s wishes – by this stage, a lot of people were happily Protestant. In the rhyme, ‘garden’ sounds a lot like Gardiner – the name of Mary’s only religious supporter. It could also be a dig at Mary’s own infertility, or if ‘garden’ is replaced by ‘graveyard’, a reference to the growing pile of dead Protestants.

Given that silver bells, cockleshells and maids are also terms for torture devices of the age, it no longer seems such a pretty little rhyme. 

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again!

Humpty Dumpty wasn’t a real person; nor was he an odd, fragile egg-shaped thing. It turns out that Humpty Dumpty was a cannon. Owned by the supporters of King Charles I, Humpty Dumpty was used to gain control over the city of Colchester during the English Civil War. Once in Colchester, the cannon sat on church tower until a barrage of cannonballs destroyed the tower and sent Humpty into the marshland below. Although retrieved, the cannon was beyond repair. Humpty the cannon was a feared and effective weapon – as the full rhyme demonstrates:

In sixteen hundred and forty-eight

When England suffered pains of state

The Roundheads laid siege to Colchester town

Where the King’s men still fought for the crown.

There one-eyed Thompson stood on the wall

A gunner with the deadliest aim of all

From St Mary’s tower the cannon he fired

Humpty Dumpty was his name.

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again!

And you though it was all about an egg? A 19th century illustration in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass created this myth. When Alice talks to Humpty Dumpty on the wall, the illustrator – apparently at a whim – made him egg-shaped. Given the popularity of the book, a generation of kids grew up thinking that Humpty Dumpty was a nonsense rhyme about an egg, rather than a fearsome killing machine.

Jack & Jill 

Jack and Jill” a bit yourself when you were younger, turning what you thought was an innocent poem into something a little bit naughty. But its origins aren’t as clean-cut as you probably imagined. One of the most common theories surrounding the story’s origin is that it’s about France’s Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, who were both found guilty of treason and subsequently beheaded. The only problem is that those events occurred nearly 30 years after “Jack and Jill” was first written. The more likely possibility is that it’s an account of King Charles I’s attempt to reform the tax on liquid measures. When Parliament rejected his suggestion, he instead made sure that the volume was reduced on half- and quarter-pints, known as jacks and gills, respectively.


No, there’s nothing particularly inflammatory about the lines “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo, Catch a tiger by his toe.” But there is when you consider that the word “tiger” is a relatively new development in this counting rhyme, as a replacement for the n-word. Even with the lyrical switch-out, any reference to the poem still has the ability to offend. In 2004, two passengers sued Southwest Airlines was for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress, following an incident where a flight attendant used the rhyme in a humorous fashion during takeoff when she told passengers: "Eeny meeny miny mo, Please sit down it's time to go.” (The court sided with the airline.)


One interpretation of this famous lullaby is that it is about the son of King James II of England and Mary of Modena. It is widely believed that the boy was not their son at all, but a child who was brought into the birthing room and passed off as their own in order to ensure a Roman Catholic heir to the throne.


Considering that some of today’s classic nursery rhymes are more than two centuries old, there are often several theories surrounding their origins—and not a lot of sound proof about which argument is correct. But of all the alleged nursery rhyme backstories, “Ring Around the Rosie” is probably the most infamous. 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.


o many, “Old Mother Hubbard” is not a mother at all—nor a woman. The poem is speculated to have been written as a mockery of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, whose refusal to grant an annulment to King Henry VIII, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, led to his political downfall.

For want of a Nail 

For want of a nail the shoe was lost
For want of a shoe the horse was lost
For want of a horse the rider was lost
For want of a rider the battle was lost
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail

This simple rhyme is a reminder for children to think of the possible consequences of their actions. It has often been used to illustrate the chain of events that can stem from a single thoughtless action.

Goosey Goosey Gander

Goosey, goosey, gander,
Whither dost thou wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady's chamber.

There I met an old man
Who wouldn't say his prayers;
I took him by the left leg,
And threw him down the stairs

While Mother Goose seems like a kind, grandmotherly sort, the gander in this rhyme appears to be quite a bastard. This sixteenth century rhyme is a reminder to children to always say their prayers.

It's Raining, It's Pouring

It's raining, it's pouring
The old man is snoring
He went to bed and he bumped his head
And couldn't get up in the morning 

In this strange nursery rhyme, the man apparently was careless in going to bed and didn't wake up. We can only assume it's a message to be cautious when you're on your way to bed.

Rock-a-Bye, Baby

Rock-a-bye, baby,
In the tree top.
When the wind blows,
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will come baby,
Cradle and al

The American roots of this odd rhyme come from a young pilgrim who saw Native American mothers hanging cradles in trees. When the wind blew, the cradles would rock and the babies in them would sleep.

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

Peter , Peter , pumpkin-eater,
Had a wife and couldn't keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well

This nursery rhyme also has it's roots in America, unlike most that started in England. It was a different time back then for women, and for views on divorce, too, which is why this rhyme served to warn young girls about infidelity. Peter's wife was supposedly a harlot, and Peter's remedy for the situation was to kill her and hide her body in a giant pumpkin shell.

Sing a Song of Sixpence

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?

This rhyme most certainly originated long ago, before PETA existed. It was likely based on a spoof by a court jester who thought it would be hilarious to trick the king by putting live birds into a pie shell. At the time, cooked blackbirds were considered a delicacy and would have been served to the king.

The King Was in his Counting House

The king was in his counting house counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose! 

This is actually a continuation of "Sing a Song of Sixpence" and refers to what common folk imagined that royalty did all day. The live birds that were put in the pie are back for revenge in this verse.

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her;
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd to swallow a bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat;
Fancy that to swallow a cat!
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady that swallowed a dog;
What a hog, to swallow a dog;
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow,
I don't know how she swallowed a cow;
She swallowed the cow to catch the dog,
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat,
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird,
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse...
She's dead, of course! 

These absurd lyrics were written by Rose Bonne and made popular in 1953 by Burl Ives. A woman who has a relatively small problem makes it progressively worse, which ultimately leads to her death.

Old Mother Hubbard

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare
So the poor little doggie had none

or alternatively:

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor daughter a dress.
But when she got there
The cupboard was bare
And so was her daughter, I guess! 

This rhyme is reputedly about Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Wolsey refused to facilitate a divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon for King Henry VIII. The King wanted a divorce so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. The doggie and the bone in the rhyme refer to the divorce, the cupboard is a reference to the Catholic Church and Wolsey is Old Mother Hubbard. The divorce was later arranged by Thomas Cramner and resulted in the break with Rome and the formation of the English Protestant church.

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet, sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away 

Little Miss Muffet was written in the sixteenth century by Dr. Muffet, the stepfather of a small girl named Patience Muffet. Dr. Muffet was an entomologist famous for writing the first scientific catalog of British insects.

Solomon Grundy

Solomon Grundy
Born on Monday
Christened on Tuesday
Married on Wednesday
Ill on Thursday
Worse on Friday
Died on Saturday
Buried on Sunday
That is the end of Solomon Grundy.

This rhyme was originally collected by James Orchard Halliwell and published in 1842. Solomon Grundy is more widely known now as a D.C. Comics character.

A Wise Old Owl

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?

This rhyme does not appear to have any hidden historical references, but carries a valuable message that holds true today.

Three Blind Mice

Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice

The vicious farmer's wife in this rhyme is believed to refer to Queen Mary I, the daughter of King Henry VIII. Mary, a staunch Catholic, was so well known for her persecution of Protestants that she was given the nickname "Bloody Mary." When three Protestant bishops were convicted of plotting against Mary, she had them burnt at the stake. However, it was mistakenly believed that she had them blinded and dismembered, as is inferred in the rhyme.

Little Bo Peep

Little Bo peep has lost her sheep
And doesn't know where to find them.
Leave them alone and they'll come home,
Bringing their tails behind them.

Little Bo peep fell fast asleep
And dreamt she heard them bleating,
But when she awoke, she found it a joke,
For they were all still fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook
Determined for to find them.
She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they left their tails behind them.

It happened one day, as Bo peep did stray
Into a meadow hard by, 
There she espied their tails side by side
All hung on a tree to dry.

She heaved a sigh, and wiped her eye,
And over the hillocks went rambling,
And tried what she could,
As a shepherdess should,
To tack again each to its lambkin.

Little Bo Peep doesn't seem to refer to anyone or event in history, but is a warning about the consequences of irresponsibility.

Little Boy Blue

Little Boy Blue come blow your horn,
The sheep's in the meadow the cow's in the corn.
But where's the boy who looks after the sheep?
He's under a haystack fast asleep.
Will you wake him? No, not I - for if I do, he's sure to cry

Little Boy Blue may refer to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (1475-1530). Wolsey was an arrogant and wealthy self-made man and had many enemies in England. After obtaining his degree from Oxford at the age of fifteen, he was dubbed the "Boy Bachelor." The words "come blow your horn" likely refer to his incessant bragging.

The Big Ship Sails

The big ship sails on the ally-ally-oh
The ally-ally-oh, the ally-ally-oh
Oh, the big ship sails on the ally-ally-oh
On the last day of September.

The captain said it will never, never do
Never, never do, never, never do
The captain said it will never, never do
On the last day of September.

The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea
The bottom of the sea, the bottom of the sea
The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea
On the last day of September.

We all dip our heads in the deep blue sea
The deep blue sea, the deep blue sea
We all dip our heads in the deep blue sea
On the last day of September.

The origins of this depressing dirge are unknown. However, there is speculation that it refers to the Manchester Ship canal, which was built for ocean-going ships and opened in 1894. It is the eighth-longest ship canal in the world, and is only slightly shorter than the Panama Canal.

Who killed Cock Robin?

"Who killed Cock Robin?" "I," said the Sparrow,
"With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin."
"Who saw him die?" "I," said the Fly,
"With my little eye, I saw him die."
"Who caught his blood?" "I," said the Fish,
"With my little dish, I caught his blood."
"Who'll make the shroud?" "I," said the Beetle,
"With my thread and needle, I'll make the shroud."
"Who'll dig his grave?" "I," said the Owl,
"With my pick and shovel, I'll dig his grave."
"Who'll be the parson?" "I," said the Rook,
"With my little book, I'll be the parson."
"Who'll be the clerk?" "I," said the Lark,
"If it's not in the dark, I'll be the clerk."
"Who'll carry the link?" "I," said the Linnet,
"I'll fetch it in a minute, I'll carry the link."
"Who'll be chief mourner?" "I," said the Dove,
"I mourn for my love, I'll be chief mourner."
"Who'll carry the coffin?" "I," said the Kite,
"If it's not through the night, I'll carry the coffin."
"Who'll bear the pall? "We," said the Wren,
"Both the cock and the hen, we'll bear the pall."
"Who'll sing a psalm?" "I," said the Thrush,
"As she sat on a bush, I'll sing a psalm."
"Who'll toll the bell?" "I," said the bull,
"Because I can pull, I'll toll the bell."
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.

This English folksong is believed to reference the death of Robin Hood and reflects the respect that common folk has for him.


It’s raining, it’s pouring,
The old man’s snoring.
He got into bed
And bumped his head
And couldn’t get up in the morning.

Children of the mid-twentieth century used to amuse themselves on rainy days by imagining the deaths of the elderly and putting their fantasy to a jaunty tune. 

He couldn’t get up because he was dead, not extra tired from bumping his head in the night. Dead. 


There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Just a poor women trying to feed her kids right? Wrong. Read the ending of the original version.

When she came back 
They were a'lying dead
She went to the wright
To get them a coffin
When she came back
They were a'lying laughing
She gaed up the stair
To ring the bell
The bell-rope broke
And down she fell

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes;
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.

In this rhyme a maid’s nose is pecked off by blackbirds, because she made a blackbird pie. In the original rhyme, it’s not birds that are baked into the pies, but “four and twenty naughty boys”


Notice how close this one is to Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater. Just read this one. Today’s murder crimes are yesterday’s nursery rhymes. 

Eeper Weeper, chimney sweeper,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her.
Had another, didn’t love her,
Up the chimney he did shove her.