6 Facts About Mother Goose Rhymes That Make Them Really Creepy

13 May

Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes get handed down from generation to generation. But why? They really don’t make sense in modern times and people get half the words wrong anyone. It’s just something parents read to kids because their parents read it to them. Maybe the tradition would stop if people knew the true origins behind some of these rhymes. Here are some facts about Mother Goose rhymes that make them really creepy.

Humpty Dumpty Is Based On A True Story

According to Katherine Elwes Thomas in The Real Personages of Mother Goose, Humpty Dumpty refers to King Richard III of England. Ricahrd’s reign ended on the battlefield when he fell off his horse and was slain by the enemy. He was said to have shouted “My kingdom for a horse!” He didn’t get one. Instead he got a children’s rhyme that usually associated with a giant fat egg falling off a wall.

Ring Around The Rosy Is About A Plague

Ring around the rosey

The little rhyme that involves holding hands and dancing in circles is actually about a subject that wouldn’t make a person either happy or want to touch another. The rhyme got it’s start around the London Plague of 1664. Rosy refers to the rash that the plague creates on the skin and posies were herbs used to fight off the disease. Take a guess what “all fall down” alludes to.

Jack And Jill Is About A Beheading

Put a guy and a girl together, send them out to fetch water, and there are bound to be rumors. There are several theories about Jack and Jill but the most popular also has to do with two other famous historical figures. Jack and Jill are said to signify the 18th century Louis XVI of France, who was deposed and beheaded (and therefore “lost his crown” much like Jack), and his Queen, Marie Antoinette (who them came tumbling after him). The words and lyrics were made a little bit easier for children and the story actually has a happy ending. Getting your head cut off isn’t exactly the best image for kids.

Jack Be Nimble Is About Fortune-Telling


There is good reason Jack is jumping over that candle stick; its was a crude form of fortune telling for many centuries. Stories go that a person would jump over a lit candle on the floor and if the candle remained lit good luck was supposed to follow. Not sure how Jack made out, but it couldn’t have been too great since the rhyme is only one sentence.

Little Jack Horner Is About Stealing

Pie eating contest

It seems little old Jack wasn’t such a good boy after all. The Christmas pie he was eating wasn’t even really his and he was much more interested in it’s contents (hint – not the fruit). The rhyme is supposedly about about Thomas Horner, a steward to Richard Whiting who served as the last abbot of Glastonbury before the dissolution of the monasteries. The story goes Whiting sent Horner to London with a huge Christmas pie which held the deeds to a dozen manors baked inside. During the journey, Horner opened the pie took one of the deeds and ended up keeping the house. That sure beats rum cake.

Mother Goose Herself Is Kind Of A Mystery

There really wasn’t a Mother Goose. Well there might have been but the stories vary. According to The Annotated Mother Goose, a french writer named Charles Perrault published a collection of fairy tales in 1697 called Tales of My Mother Goose. The book contained several popular stories including Little Red Riding Hood and over time My Mother Goose become just Mother Goose. The other possibility (and the one that seems to be the more accepted) is that Elizabeth Foster Goose is actually Mother Goose. Foster married a man named Goose and along with the marriage came Goose’s ten kids from a previous marriage. Several years later, one of those kids married a printer who loved listening to “Mother Goose” recite rhymes and songs to the youngest children and grandchildren so he printed a book called Mother Goose’s Melodies.

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6 Responses to “6 Facts About Mother Goose Rhymes That Make Them Really Creepy”

  1. Dana May 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Hi, just wanted to point out that the “posies” in “Ring around the Rosey” may also refer to the small bouquets of flowers called nose-gays that people kept with them so they could escape the stench of the rotting corpses. Fun Fact!!

    • nOOb Dad May 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

      Oh I might need them when taking public transportation. Seriously, how do people not know when they stink?!?

  2. fcchkr May 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Please get facts straight:
    http://www.snopes.com/language/literary/rosie.asp

  3. Rob May 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Ring a roses was most likely NOT about the plague, this was an interpretation of an already existing rhyme. Not to mention the symptoms don’t actually fit the great plague very well at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_a_Ring_o'_Roses

  4. Neo May 17, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Humpty Dumpty was actually a large canon that sat on top of “St. Mary’s Wall Church” in Colchester, England.

    They say that a shot from an enemy canon weakened the wall under Humpty, and it fell to the ground.

    They tried to move it to another part of the wall, but “all the kings horses and all the kings men” couldn’t lift it.

    http://www.famousquotes.me.uk/nursery_rhymes/humpty_dumpty.htm

    • nOOb Dad May 17, 2011 at 10:05 am #

      Then who is this jerk egg that’s been pretending to be Humpty all these years?!?