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This page was last edited on 21 May 2017, at 17:17. This article is about the traditional poems or songs for children. The term Mother Goose rhymes is interchangeable with nursery rhymes. From the mid-16th century nursery rhymes begin to be recorded in English plays, and most popular rhymes date from the 17th and 18th centuries. The oldest children’s songs of which we have records are lullabies, intended to help a child sleep.
Lullabies can be found in every human culture. Many medieval English verses associated with the birth of Jesus take the form of a lullaby, including “Lullay, my liking, my dere son, my sweting” and may be versions of contemporary lullabies. However, most of those used today date from the 17th century. A French poem, similar to “Thirty days hath September”, numbering the days of the month, was recorded in the 13th century. From the later Middle Ages there are records of short children’s rhyming songs, often as marginalia. From the mid-16th century they begin to be recorded in English plays.
The first English collections, Tommy Thumb’s Song Book and a sequel, Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, are both thought to have been published by Mary Cooper in London before 1744, with such songs becoming known as ‘Tommy Thumb’s songs’. Many nursery rhymes have been argued to have hidden meanings and origins. English nursery rhymes were actually written in ‘Low Saxon’, a hypothetical early form of Dutch. Medieval taxes were much lower than two thirds. There is no evidence of a connection with slavery. Given the recent recording the medieval meaning is unlikely.
No evidence that it is linked to the propaganda campaign against the Catholic Church during the reign of King Henry VIII. The more recent campaign is more likely, but first record is very late. The song may be based on a song about the king of France. No evidence that it refers to any historical character and is originally a riddle found in many European cultures. The story about the cannon is based on a spoof verse written in 1956. No evidence that it stretches back to early medieval era and poem predates the French Revolution. The rhyme may have been adapted to satirise Thomas Horner who benefited from the Dissolution, but the connection is speculative.