One local historian, R.S. Duncan, also the warden at Her Majesty’s Prison in Wakefield, believes the rhyme actually originated with prisoners at the facility. The inmates took a sprig from a golf club and planted it in the yard. Once it grew, they exercised around it for a period of time every day.
These days, the prison exclusively housed male inmates, though, at the time, it was the females who supposedly planted the tree. Others yet believe that the rhyme is a joke about the issues with the silk production industry in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Lengthier Version
The theory about the rhyme alluding to the king’s loss of his petition for divorce may make sense when dissecting the shortened version. However, there is a much lengthier version of the rhyme which could make one think twice.
In it, Old Mother Hubbard really does go to the store to get her dog something to eat, but when she returns, the dog is dead. But then, she goes to get him a coffin and comes back to find him laughing and alive. It is still very possible that the cupboard in the shortened version represents the Catholic Church, and the doggie, King Henry VIII.
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
The mulberry bush, or the mulberry tree, is actually a real thing. In fact, there are plenty of species of plants that use the name. But does this popular childhood nursery rhyme actually have anything to do with plants?
The rhyme was first recorded in the 19th century by a man named James Orchard Halliwell. Still, there are a few different theories behind the origin of the rhyme and children's game that's often played along with it. The game is designed to teach a young child to mimic certain actions, like stretching, catching, or kicking a ball.
Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie
"Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie" was first recorded in 1841 with the lyrics “Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry, when the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away.”
James Orchard Halliwell published a version of the poem in his book as well, with a spin on the lyrics, including the name Rowley Powley, and using a more specific type of pie — pumpkin, to be exact. Over the years, the rhyme evolved from a jingle to a taunt used on playgrounds everywhere. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it started out on negative grounds.
Whatever the true meaning behind the words of this rhyme is (which no one can ever be absolutely certain) there’s no denying it evolved into a taunt used by children everywhere. Kids have used the verse to try and shame larger children, and also anyone who may have a different sexuality than themselves.
The origins of the words are said to refer to George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham and an English courtier. He was said to be one of King James I’s lovers, though of course, there was never any type of proof of the supposed relationship between the two men.