10 Creepy Truths Behind Nursery Rhymes

I always let Bella listen to nursery rhymes ever since she was still months old. This way, she will be able to familiarize them until she grows. But as I listen to these nursery rhymes, there are some which seems to send a double meaning- mean and sinister thoughts, that is. Just like the Goosey Gander who took an old man by the left leg because he didn't say his prayers and many others. I just found out that there are really some nursery rhymes whose roots are not very good for our little loves to learn. Let us look into what these nursery rhymes are and their creepy history.

 Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a 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 is not an egg at all. He is a drunk person or is associated with being drunk. When one "falls down drunk", it would be hard to fix him. Also, it is said to be huge a cannon placed on top of a tower during the English Civil War. It was hit by the enemy and couldn't be fixed at all.

 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

This is about a gay sex scandal between King Charles I and George Villiers, the 1st Duke of Buckingham. Villiers was a lover of Anne of Austria, the Queen Consort of France but of course he chose King Charles I instead. This explains why "girls" cry. But then, the relationship of King Charles and Villiers were cut off and he would run away when people who are against their relationship come to chase him. 

 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

This is Queen Bloody Mary who killed Protestants. The garden actually refers to growing cemeteries filled with dead Protestants. Silver bells refer to a device that crush the thumb and cockle shells were torture devices attached to the genitals. The maiden is the other name of the guillotine used to behead people.

 London Bridge is Falling Down

London Bridge bridge is falling down, down
Falling down down, falling down, down
London Bridge bridge is falling down, down
My fair lady.

This refers the second wife of King Henry VIII of England, Anne Boleyn who was accused of adultery, incest and treason. That is why the fair lady is falling down.

 Ring Around the Rosey

Ring around the rosy; A pocketful of posies
"Ashes, Ashes"; We all fall down!

Well, this is not fun at all! It is about the bubonic plaque with rosy red ring-shaped rash during the Great Plague of London in 1665. The posies refer to the herbs inside the pockets of the sick. And when they die, they are cremated- ashes, ashes!

 Jack and Jill

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.

Jack is King Louis XVI and Jill was Queen Marie Antoinette who were both beheaded. Only that the King was beheaded or "broke his crown" first before the Queen. Other stories say that it is about two lovers who goes to the hill to make love (pail of water is an idiom for sex). Jack got killed with a rock that fell on his head that happened before Jill gave birth. Meanwhile, Jill died in childbirth.

 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.

This is about the wool tax imposed in the 17th century. The master is the king while the dame refers to the monasteries who both claim their proceeds. This rhyme is about corruption.

 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

Again, this is about Bloody Mary who liked to kill Protestants. The three blind mice refers to three Protestant bishops who plotted a plan against her. She found out and burned the three in the stake. The cutting or tails represents the burning.

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 the Eagle,
That’s the way the money goes; Pop! goes the weasel.

This one refers to the Cockney community. Pop means to "pawn" while weasel refers to a coat. In their time, one needs to own a suit no matter how poor he is so he have something to wear on a Sunday. They'll pawn their suits on a Monday and get it back on a Sunday. There is also heavy drinking and repression during that time.

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

Peter's wife was said to be a harlot. In order to keep his wife, he did not just hide her but killed her first and then hid her body inside a pumpkin. The rhyme has its roots in America which also  warns women about infidelity.

Surprised? Maybe you are if you did not have any idea that the above nursery rhymes have those not-so-good roots! So, will you still let them listen to these nursery rhymes? This means that moms should always sift everything for our little loves even when it comes to nursery rhymes. Well, goes you'd stick to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Don't worry, we will also share to your the good history of other nursery rhymes. What are your comments about the above nursery rhymes?


  1. Rock-a-bye baby is a really bad one. I was starting to sing that one to my baby one night and mid-way through the song I thought "wait what am I about to sing?". That was a big revelation to me. I stick with twinkle little star, row-row your boat, ABC's and a few cultural songs in other languages.

    You're right that we have to be aware of the things we think to be kid-friendly, even nursery rhymes...this is also why I don't let my kids watch TV or movies or even look at books or have toys/dolls just because they are supposedly "for kids".

  2. LOL. Maybe these shouldn't make me laugh. ;) But they did. And I'm also going to stop saying nursery rhymes.

  3. wow...that's totally interesting!!!

  4. Rock A Bye baby is about a royal family lying about the birth of a baby or suspected fraud of a birth of a baby. That the baby wasn't the queens, but either an unrelated child or one of the kings illegitimate children.


  5. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha - words fail me!!

  6. I see it as passing down history in an easy to remember way....singing.
    Life isn't pretty or perfect and children need to know that.
    Were these songs sang to you as a child?
    Did you grow up all messed up in the head because of them?
    Probably not...but as an adult you researched them and learned a little history....well done to your parents I say :) Well done :)

  7. This is so interesting (and a little disturbing! lol!) I knew about "Ring around the Rosey" but not the others. So weird!

  8. Oh my! I'll stick to five little monkey.