Brain Water

A website that makes your mind grow

Ring a ring o' rosies

Ring a ring o' rosies
A pocketful of posies
"Atishoo, Atishoo"
We all fall down!

Origins in English History
The lyrics to this nursery rhyme has its origins as a children's ring game. The period in history  dates back to the great plague of London in 1665 (bubonic plague). The symptoms of the plague included a raised red rash on the skin (Ring a ring o' rosies) and violent sneezing (Atishoo, Atishoo) A pouch of sweet smelling herbs or posies were carried due to the belief that the disease was transmitted by bad smells. The death rate was over 60% and the plage was only halted by the Great Fire of London in 1666 which killed the rats which carried the disease which had been transmitting it to water sources.

Hush a bye baby

Hush a bye baby, on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock;
When the bow breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Nursery Rhyme or lullaby?
The lyrics to this famous nursery rhyme were first published in 1765.
The words and lyrics to this song are often crooned to a baby in an effort to rock them to sleep. When repeating this song children often make a rocking motion with their hands and arms. The imagery conveyed appeals to a child's imagination! The origins and history of this nursery rhyme are said to originate from America and the habit of some Native Americans of placing a baby in the low branches of a tree allowing the young child or baby to be rocked to sleep.

Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner
Eating his Christmas pie,
He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum
And said "What a good boy am I!"

16th Century history origins of the nursery rhyme
Little Jack Horner was in fact reputed to be the Steward to the Bishop of Glastonbury. He was sent to King Henry VIII with a Christmas gift of twelve title deeds to manorial estates. Whilst on his way to the King Jack stole the deed to the manor of Mells (this being the real 'plum' of the twelve manors) which was in France. The remaining eleven manors were given to the crown but the manor of Mells became the property of the Horner family! The first publication date for the lyrics to this nursery rhyme is 1725.

Seesaw Marjorie Daw

Seesaw Marjorie Daw
Johnny shall have a new master
He shall earn but a penny a day
Because he can't work any faster

Origins and history in a game for children
A see-saw is one of the oldest 'toys' for children , easily constructed from logs of various sizes. The words of the nursery rhyme reflect children playing on a see-saw and often singing this rhyme to accompany their game. There was no such person that we can identify who had the name Margery Daw and we therefore make the assumption that this was purely used to rhyme with the words 'see-saw'. The last three lines appear to reflect the use of child labour in work houses where those with no where else to live would be forced to work for a pittance (a penny a day) on piece work (because he can't work any faster)

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man's hat;
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do,
If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you!

The charitable lyrics nursery rhyme!
The lyrics of this song were to associate the Christmas feast with geese which were traditional English Christmas fayre. The meaning that was conveyed to a child was that the festive period was where each should give to charity, according to their means...even if they could only give their blessing!

 Jack be nimble 

Jack be nimble
Jack be quick
Jack jump over
The candlestick.
 
Origin lost in the depths of time?
Unable to trace a commonly agreed upon origin for this particular nursery rhyme however could be connected to Black Jack, a pirate who was notorious for escaping from the authorities in the late 16th century. The words and lyrics of this nursery rhyme cannot be further analysed due to the brevity of the text of the lyrics but could be associated with the old tradition and sport of 'candle leaping' which used to be practised at English fayres.

Little Robin Red Breast

Little Robin Red breast sat upon a tree,
Up went pussy cat and down went he;
Down came pussy, and away Robin ran;
Says little Robin Red breast, "Catch me if you can".
Little Robin Red breast jumped upon a wall,
Pussy cat jumped after him and almost got a fall;
Little Robin chirped and sang, and what did pussy say?
Pussy cat said, "Meeow!" and Robin jumped away.
 
A traditional English nursery rhyme
The nursery rhyme lyrics are  merely teaching children about natural enemies of animals and makes good use of the English language by using similes (red breast). It has no basis in history for its origins. It does, however, introduce a child to onomatopoeia ( a word that sounds like its meaning) In this nursery rhyme the word 'meeow'  when pronounced conveys the actual sound of the word! The robin is a small brown bird with a bright red breast - hence the continuous reference to red breast. The robin is always associated with the Christmas season and featured on many Christmas cards showing a snow scene.

Incy Wincy spider

Incy Wincy spider climbing up the spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
Now Incy Wincy spider went up the spout again!

Finger nursery rhyme for children
A child will love trying to mimic the actions of this particular nursery rhyme. It assists them with improving manual dexterity whilst remembering the words of the song. The name of the spider seems to vary but 'Incy Wincy spider' is believed to be the correct and original version. The original history and origins of the Incy Wincy spider nursery rhyme cannot be traced, it is believed just to be a fun action rhyme that has survived the test of time.

Horsey horsey

Horsey horsey don't you stop
Just let your feet go clippetty clop
The tail goes swish and the wheels go round
Giddy up, we're homeward bound.

Nursery Rhyme using onomatopoeia
Introducing a child to onomatopoeia ( a word that sounds like its meaning) In this nursery rhyme the words in the lyrics 'swish' and 'clippetty clop' when pronounced convey the actual sounds! This technique is used in various children's books and comics and latterly Television programmes - just think of Batman and Robin with 'Zap' and Pow' etc. The expression 'Giddy up' was and is a term used by riders from way back in English history and has been adopted by many other countries.

..

Thirty days hath September

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty one
Except for February which has twenty eight!
(And twenty nine each leap year)
 
Nursery Rhyme - Aide Memoire!
The words and lyrics to this useful little nursery rhyme are probably used by many adults to prompt them into remembering how many days are in each month! The origins and history of the lyrics are obscure but use of olde English can date this rhyme back to at least the 16th century. When was the last time that you found yourself muttering the words to this nursery rhyme?

Cry Baby Bunting

Cry Baby Bunting
Daddy's gone a-hunting
Gone to fetch a rabbit skin
To wrap the Baby Bunting in
Cry Baby Bunting

The origins - lullaby lyrics for this nursery rhyme for a baby
The lyrics, origins and history to this nursery rhyme are not important - it was the sound of the music to accompany it! The song would be crooned to a young child as a lullaby. Perhaps to explain the disappearance of Daddy to a fretting child!

Star light star bright

Star light star bright,
The first star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

Nursery rhyme with American history and origins
The lyrics to this nursery rhyme are believed to be of late 19th century American origins and the lyrics allude to the fantasy that you can wish upon a star. This nursery rhyme has no doubt been used on many occasions to quieten a child ready for bedtime as they patiently look out of the window waiting for it to get dark enough to see the very first star!

The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are."
Pussy said to the Owl "You elegant fowl, 
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?"
 Said the Piggy, "I will"
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

What is a Runcible Spoon?
A traditional childrens poem , or folksong, as the lyrics have  been set to music on several occasions. The author was Edward Lear (1812 - 1888) and the first publication date was 1806. Some wonderful illustrated graphics have also been set to the words and lyrics of this poem helping to fire the imagination of a child! The burning question remains, however, what exactly is a runcible spoon? The most agreed upon definition of this term is that a runcible spoon is a kind of fork with three broad prongs or tines, one having a sharp edge, curved like a spoon, used with pickles, etc.

Little Boy Blue

Little Boy Blue come blow your horn,
The sheep's in the meadow the cow's in the corn.
But where is 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

Origins of the story
Unlike other Nursery Rhymes the words and lyrics cannot be closely connected to any historical figure in European history. There is, however, a doubtful theory that 'Little Boy Blue' could refer to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey dating back to English Tudor history (although the origins and lyrics cannot be connected to any events in his life). Neither does the rhyme have a moral objective or used to demonstrates any specific use of the English language. The most common belief is that the origins of this nursery are not based on actual events or people in history but  is merely a reflection of peaceful country life which would appeal to the imagination of a young child

Hey Diddle Diddle

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such fun
And the dish ran away with the spoon!

Fantasy Nursery Rhyme! Origins and history
The first known date of publication for the lyrics of this nursery rhyme is 1765.
Completely nonsensical rhyme whose sole aim is to fire the imagination of a child with impossible actions which are, however, very easy and amusing for a child to envision! Walt Disney uses this type of imagery in animated films to great effect! The term 'Hey diddle diddle' was a colloquialism used in much the same vein as "hey nonny no" which can be found in traditional British folk songs. The original title was known as 'High Diddle Diddle' but has been changed to 'Hey Diddle Diddle' during the course of time.

There was a crooked man

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house

The origins  and lyrics of the Nursery rhyme in British history
The content and lyrics of this nursery rhyme have  a basis in history. The origins of this nursery rhyme originating from the English Stuart history of King Charles 1. The crooked man is reputed to be General Sir Alexander Leslie of Scotland. The General is one of those who signed the Covenant securing religious and political freedom for Scotland. The 'crooked stile' being the border between England and Scotland. 'They all lived together in a little crooked house' refers to the fact that the English and Scots had come to an agreement. The lyrics reflect the times of old England with reference to the animosity between the English and the Scots. The word crooked is pronounced as 'crookED' the emphasis being placed upon the 'ED' in the word. This was  common in olde England and many references can be found in this type of pronunciation in the works of William Shakespeare.

The Lion and the Unicorn

The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn all around the town.
Some gave them white bread, and some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake and drummed them out of town.

Origins in British history
The lion and the unicorn lyrics date from 1603 when King James VI of Scotland became James I of England unifying the Scottish and English crowns . The virgin Queen Elizabeth 1 named the son of Mary Queen of Scots, James, as her heir. The new union of the two countries required a new royal coat of arms combining those of England which featured two lions, and Scotland, whose coat of arms featured two Unicorns. A compromise was made thus the British coat of arms has 
one Lion and one Unicorn.

Goosie Goosie Gander

Goosie goosie gander where shall I wander,
Upstairs, 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.

Obscure morality Nursery Rhyme
Goosie, goosie gander - an attention grabber to a nursery rhyme which uses alliteration in the lyrics designed to intrigue a child. The 'lady's chamber' is a room that no longer exists today but English history refers to a high born lady having her own chamber, which was once referred to as a solar. The origins of the nursery rhyme are said to date back in history to the 16th century and refer to Catholic priests hiding in 'Priest Holes' ( very small secret rooms found in great houses in England) to avoid persecution from zealous Protestants who were completely against the old Catholic religion. If caught the priest and also members of any family found harbouring them would be executed. The moral to the story and in the lyrics is to point out that something unpleasant would occur to anyone found not saying their prayers!

What are little boys made

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of !"
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of!"

The lyrics!
The origins and history of this nursery rhyme date back to the early nineteenth century - the battle of the sexes was raging even then! The lyrics obviously reflect this, but what is the meaning of 'snips and snails'? Many meanings have been suggested but the one that has the most credibility is that the original words were in fact 'snips of snails' snips meaning 'little bits of' No redemption there for describing what little boys are made of' !

Georgie Porgie

Georgie Porgie pudding and pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.

The Early Battle of the Sexes?
A Nursery Rhyme demonstrating the different attitudes between the sexes! Even at a very early age children in Britain would play a game called 'Kiss Chase' - in fact the girls would actually chase the boys and then kiss them! their were no tears from the girls but the boys fought like mad to get away! The origins and history of the lyrics to this nursery rhyme are English and refer to George (Georgie Porgie),  the Duke of Buckingham, from 17th century English history. His dubious moral character was much in question! This, however, was overlooked due to his friendship with King Charles II until the parliament stopped the Kind intervening on his behalf - at this point all of the jealous husbands vowed to wreak their revenge causing Georgie Porgie to 'run away'!

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.

A Nursery Rhyme explaining consequences through its lyrics
A clever set of lyrics encouraging a child to apply logic to the consequences of their
actions. Perhaps used to gently chastise a child and explain the possible events that might follow a thoughtless act. The references to horses, horseshoe, riders, kingdoms and battles indicate the origins of this nursery rhyme were probably set in English History

Hickory, Dickory Dock

Hickory dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
The mouse ran down
Hickory dickory dock

Participative Nursery Rhyme reflected in the lyrics
A nonsense song using alliteration and allowing a small child or even a baby to mimic the sound of a clock chiming one at the appropriate point in the lyrics. Obviously intended to introduce children to the rudiments and importance of telling the time. The origins and history are unknown but the first publication date for this nursery rhyme is 1744.

Pease pudding hot

Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold,
Pease pudding in the pot - nine days old.
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot  - nine days old.

Pease pudding hot - the origins of the lyrics based on a traditional British dish
The pease pudding referred to in the lyrics of this nursery rhyme is a dish which is still enjoyed in Britain today. It is a smooth, thick sauce, (referred to as a pudding in the rhyme for the sake of alliteration) which has a dark yellow colour and is made from dried peas. Pease pudding is traditionally served hot with boiled bacon or a form of sausage called a saveloy.

Thirty days hath September

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
All the rest have thirty one
Except for February which has twenty eight!
(And twenty nine each leap year)

Nursery Rhyme - Aide Memoire!
The words and lyrics to this useful little nursery rhyme are probably used by many adults to prompt them into remembering how many days are in each month! The origins and history of the lyrics are obscure but use of olde English can date this rhyme back to at least the 16th century. When was the last time that you found yourself muttering the words to this nursery rhyme?

The Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts all on a summer's day;
The Knave of Hearts he stole the tarts and took them clean away.
The King of Hearts called for the tarts and beat the Knave full sore
The Knave of Hearts brought back the tarts and 
vowed he'd steal no more.

The Queen of Hearts lyrics
The origins of the title the 'Queen of Hearts' can be found in the work of Lewis G. Carroll in his book entitled 'Alice in Wonderland' first published in 1805. In more recent history the term was used by Princess Diana during a famous interview as her preference to the title  the Queen of Hearts to that of Queen of England. Princess Diana is now lovingly referred to as the Queen of Hearts

The lion and the unicorn

The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn all around the town.
Some gave them white bread, and some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake and drummed them out of town.

Origins in British history
The lion and the unicorn lyrics date from 1603 when King James VI of Scotland became James I of England unifying the Scottish and English crowns . The virgin Queen Elizabeth 1 named the son of Mary Queen of Scots, James, as her heir. The new union of the two countries required a new royal coat of arms combining those of England which featured two lions, and Scotland, whose coat of arms featured two Unicorns. A compromise was made thus the British coat of arms has 
one Lion and one Unicorn.

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 thing in your life,
As three blind mice?

The origins of the 'tale'!
The origins of the lyrics to this nursery rhyme are in English history. The 'farmer's wife' refers to Queen Mary I, otherwise known as 'Bloody Mary' the reference to 'farmer's wife' alludes to the massive farming estates which she possessed and those of her husband, Philip of Spain. The 'three blind mice' were three noblemen who were plotting against the Queen - she did not have them dismembered and blinded as inferred in the rhyme - but she did have them burnt at the stake!

Baa baa black sheep

Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!
One for the master, one for the dame,
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.

Educational reasons of the nursery rhyme lyrics
The reason to the words and history to this song were to associate wool and wool products with the animal that produces it, not to mention the sound that a sheep would make! The first grasp of language for a child or baby is to imitate the sounds or noises that animals make onomatopoeia (words sound like their meaning e.g. baa baa). The first publication date for the lyrics to this famous nursery rhyme can be dated back to 1744.

Rock a bye baby

Rock a bye baby on 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 all.

Origins in American history
The words and lyrics to this nursery rhyme are reputed to reflect the observations of a young pilgrim boy in America who had seen Native Indian mothers suspend a birch bark cradle from the branches of a tree enabling the wind to rock the cradle and the child to sleep. The rhyme also hold a warning on the choice of bough!

Pat a cake Pat a cake

Pat a cake, Pat a cake, baker's man
Bake me a cake as fast as you can; 
Pat it and prick it and mark is with a 'B', 
And put it in the oven for baby and me. 

The origins and lyrics
The origins and lyrics of this nursery rhyme are unknown, but the tradition of decorating cakes with the name or initial of a child is still adhered to today! 

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!

American origins...
The lyrics of this nursery rhyme (unlike so many others) are not based in Europe, but in America. This rhyme is known of by British children but is only in recent years that it has become clear exactly what a pumpkin is! As it is not indigenous to the British shores the vast majority of the British population have never eaten pumpkin! The tradition of dressing up for Halloween (and the subsequent use of the pumpkin for making lanterns) together with 'Trick or Treat' 

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

Origins and history of the Nursery Rhyme
Little Miss Muffet was a small girl whose first name was Patience. Her father, Dr. Muffet, was an entomologist (someone who studies insects). Whilst eating her breakfast one day she was frightened by one of his spiders and ran away! This particular Nursery Rhyme reputedly dates back to the 
late 16th century! Unlikely story!

This little piggy

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went... 
"Wee wee wee" all the way home...

Action nursery rhyme for baby or young children
The lyrics for this particular nursery rhyme include action based words where the little piggy is each one of the child's toes! The last line is used to accompany the child being tickled by the teller of the rhyme! This is a typical rhyme which will be passed down from one generation to another - it has no origins in history! The lyrics for this nursery rhyme were first published in 1728.

Tom Tom the pipers son

Tom Tom the pipers son
Stole a pig and away he ran,
The pig was eat and Tom was beat
And Tom went roaring down the street.

Origins of a Scottish nursery rhyme?
The words and lyrics of this nursery rhyme were not based on a person in Scottish history (pipers son). The term 'piper's son' could allude to any piper in the British army and the origins of this tale probably date back to the 18th century  It is a children's nonsense rhyme which has an obvious moral. The imagery used in the phrase 'went roaring down the street' is very strong and would indicate to a child that Tom's punishment was severe!

Pussycat, pussycat

"Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?"
"I've been up to London to visit the Queen."
"Pussycat, pussycat, what did you dare?"
"I frightened a little mouse under her chair"
"MEOWW!"

The origins of the nursery rhyme!
The origins of this rhyme goes back to the history of 16th century Tudor England. One of the staff of Queen Elizabeth I had an old cat which tended to roam throughout one of her castles. On one occasion the cat went underneath the throne and the cat's tail brushed against the Queen's foot, startling her. But 'Good Queen Bess' had a sense of humour and declared that the cat may wander through the throne room on condition it kept it free of mice!

Here's the church

Here's the church, and here's the steeple
Open the door and see all the people.
Here's the parson going upstairs,
And here he is saying his prayers.

Visual impact! An action based Nursery rhyme
Children love this nursery rhyme as it combines lyrics and words with actions. This also improves the manual dexterity and coordination of a child whilst firing their imagination. An oft repeated song ending with the hands clasped together as if in prayer! Probably steeped in English history where the architecture of churches and its steeple dominated the skyline of all towns.

Ding dong bell

Ding dong bell, pussy's in the well
Who put her in? Little Johnny Flynn
Who pulled her out? Little Tommy Stout
What a naughty boy was that, try to drown poor Pussycat,
Who ne'er did any harm
But killed all the mice in the Farmer's barn!

Nursery Rhyme lyrics with a moral theme
The origins of this nursery rhyme date back to the 16th century. Shakespeare uses the phrase in the Tempest - Act I, Scene II:
"Sea nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! Now I hear them - Ding, dong, bell."
The lyrics were used to encourage a child to understand that it was unacceptable and cruel to harm any animal that had done no harm. Teaching morality at an early age. Introducing a child to onomatopoeia ( a word that sounds like its meaning) In this nursery rhyme the lyrics and words "ding dong"  when pronounced 
convey the actual sounds!

One, two, three, four, five

One, two, three, four, five.
Once I caught a fish alive,
Six, seven, eight, nine ,ten,
Then I let it go again.
Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite?
This little finger on the right.

The lyrics of the nursery rhyme
The lyrics of this nursery rhyme are not based on origins dating back in history. This is an education rhyme with the lyrics devised with the specific intention of teaching a child to count.

Doctor Foster

Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain.
He stepped in a puddle right up to his middle
And never went there again!

The History behind the words and lyrics!
The origins and history of this Nursery Rhyme are in England, which is clear due to the reference to the English county of Gloucestershire (Doctor Foster went to Gloucester). A warning to a child in days gone by, prior to modern roads, that what could appear to be a shallow puddle could in fact be far deeper! An attempt to keep a child clean and safe! The origins of this nursery rhyme are reputed to lie in English history dating back to the Plantagenant reign in the 13th century when King Edward 1 was reputed to have visited Gloucester and fell from his horse into a large muddy puddle! He was so humiliated by this event that he refused to ever return to the town of Gloucester ever again!

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?

The origins and history of 'A wise old owl'
The origins and history of this nursery rhyme is vague but its meaning
is not, it basically would be told to a child in an attempt
to instil the wisdom of observing and keeping quiet! The association of the lyrics of this nursery rhyme derive from the saying 'a wise old owl' based on an owl's behaviour of watching and patiently waiting when hunting its prey
"Children should be seen and not heard!"

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.

Origins of lyrics in British history
The Old Mother Hubbard referred to in these nursery rhyme words and lyrics allude to the famous Cardinal Wolsey. Cardinal Wolsey was the most important politician and churchman of the Tudor history period in 16th century England. Cardinal Wolsey  proved to be a faithful servant but displeased the King, Henry VIII, by failing to arrange the King's divorce from Queen Katherine of Aragon which would enable him to marry Anne Boleyn. The King was the "doggie" and the "bone" alludes to the divorce (and not money as many believe) The cupboard relates to the Catholic Church 

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.

The origins and history of the lyrics
'Who killed cock robin?' is better described as a British folksong rather than a nursery rhyme.  The Death of Cock Robin is frequently taken as a Robin Hood analogue and the ready offers of help following this event, as described in the lyrics, reflect the high esteem that the legendary figure of 
Robin Hood was, and is, still held

What are little boys made of

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails
That's what little boys are made of !"
What are little girls made of?
"Sugar and spice and all things nice
That's what little girls are made of!"

The lyrics!
The origins and history of this nursery rhyme date back to the early nineteenth century - the battle of the sexes was raging even then! The lyrics obviously reflect this, but what is the meaning of 'snips and snails'? Many meanings have been suggested but the one that has the most credibility is that the original words were in fact 'snips of snails' snips meaning 'little bits of' No redemption there for describing what little boys are made of'

Old King Cole

Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he;
He called for his pipe in the middle of the night
And he called for his fiddlers three.
Every fiddler had a fine fiddle, and a very fine fiddle had he;
Oh there's none so rare as can compare
With King Cole and his fiddlers three.

Nursery rhyme lyrics based in history origins dating back to 3rd century
Old King Cole ruled part of Britain in the third century. He is reputed to have built the English town of Colchester. In Colchester there is the site of a  Roman gravel pit which is still known today as 'King Cole's Kitchen.'  
Cole or "Godebog" was a Dark Age British King, and, a descendant of Britain's pre-Saxon & pre-Roman royal house. The Tudor Kings, starting with Henry VII, claimed to descend from this royal lineage in attempt to further  legitimise the Tudor claim to the English throne.

Wee Willie Winkie

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown,
Tapping at the window and crying through the lock,
Are all the children in their beds, it's past eight o'clock?

The origins of the nursery rhyme
The origins of the words and lyrics to this nursery rhyme were to allow children to associate every day tasks with their own lives. Before the days of radio, TV and indeed the Internet and also due to levels of illiteracy within the population great reliance was made on the Town Crier who was paid to walk the streets crying out the latest news and information. 'Wee willie winkie' was a child's 
version of the Town Crier! The author of the nursery was William Miller (1810 - 1872) and the first publication date of the lyrics was in 1841.

Mondays child

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Traditional Nursery Rhyme lyrics
The words and lyrics of this nursery rhyme poem were used to introduce a child to the order and the different days of week. The wording guaranteed to ensure that a child would take a keen interest in which day that they were born on! Sunday was traditionally referred to as the 'Sabbath day' in the religion of Christianity. This is the only reference to history for the origins of this nursery rhyme poem

Two little dicky birds (Fly away Peter, fly away Paul)

Two little dicky birds sitting on a wall,
One named Peter, one named Paul.
Fly away Peter, fly away Paul,
Come back Peter, come back Paul!

The origin?
No specific origins in history could be traced for this popular children's nursery rhyme! Neither could any other verses be traced!  What is also unusual is that although the rhyme only has four lines there are two titles for it - the obvious 'Two little dicky birds' and the more obscure 'Fly away Peter, Fly away Paul' 
which is also used!

Mary Mary quite contrary

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

The origins are steeped in history...
The Mary alluded to in this traditional English nursery rhyme is Mary Tudor, or Bloody Mary, who was the daughter of King Henry VIII. Queen Mary was a staunch Catholic and the garden referred to is an allusion to graveyards which were increasing in size with those who dared to continue to adhere to the Protestant faith. The silver bells and cockle shells were colloquialisms for instruments of torture. The 'maids' were a device to behead people similar to the guillotine.

Twinkle twinkle little star

Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are?
Up above the world so high , like a diamond in the sky
When the blazing sun is gone, when he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light, twinkle, twinkle all the night.
Then the traveller in the dark, thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go, if you did not twinkle so.
In the dark blue sky you keep, and often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye, 'till the sun is in the sky.
As your bright and tiny spark lights the traveller in the dark,
Though I know not what you are - twinkle, twinkle little star.

Nursery rhyme imagery
The words and lyrics of this beautiful nursery rhyme is more like a poem and as such makes good use of the simile ' like a diamond in the sky' . The authors were sisters Ann and Jane Taylor. The first publication date was 1806. The lyrics  draw a comparison of the twinkling of the star to the shutting or blinking of the eye providing a perfect illustration of clever imagery and excellent use 
of the English language.

Mary had a little lamb

Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day, which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb at school.
And so the teacher turned it out, but still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about till Mary did appear.
"Why does the lamb love Mary so?" the eager children cry;
"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know" the teacher did reply.

Increasing use of language
The words and lyrics of this  American nursery rhyme would appeal to a young child and introduces imagery and the use of similes (white as snow) as part of use of the English language. The words also convey the morale that love is reciprocated! We can find no specific connection in history for the origins of this nursery rhyme but the origins are American as the lyrics were written by 
Sarah Hale, of Boston, in 1830.

Ride a cock horse

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes

Ride a cock horse - English history origins
The lyrics of this nursery rhyme relate to Queen Elizabeth I of England (the fine lady) who travelled to Banbury (a town in England) to see the new huge stone cross which had just been erected. The lyrics 'With rings on her fingers' obviously relates to the fine jewellery which would adorn a Queen. The words 'And bells on her toes' refers to the fashion of attaching bells to the end of the pointed toes of each shoe! Banbury was situated at the top of a steep hill and in order to help carriages up the steep incline a white cock horse (a large stallion) was made available to help with this task. When the Queen's carriage attempted to go up the hill a wheel broke and the Queen chose to mount the cock horse to reach the Banbury cross. Her visit was so important that the people of the town had  decorated the cock horse with ribbons and bells and provided minstrels to accompany her - "she shall have music wherever she goes". The big cross at Banbury was later destroyed by anti - Catholics.