The True Meaning of Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner, the true story

The true meaning of Little Jack Horner.


Little Jack Horner sat in the corner

Probably not what you would expect for a nursery rhyme.

Eating his Christmas pie,
He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum
And said "What a good boy am I!"

The Nursery Rhyme of Little Jack Horner

Was Jack Horner a real person?


On the surface we never really expect any nursery rhyme character to exist but remarkably Little Jack Horner actually did exist, and as opposed to other nursery rhymes he was a real person and what's more he really did 'Pull out a plum', even the pie was real, but whether he was a good boy or not, the answer I will leave for you to decide.

During his reign King Henry VIII ordered Thomas Cromwell to lead his men and demolish all monasteries in England because the King had broken away from the Catholic Church. Cromwell was tasked not only to pull down all catholic establishments but to plunder their chattels, hand over all the gold, silver and land to Henry VIII. Monasteries were a rich source of wealth in terms of cash and goods.

Today, we know Glastonbury for the famous rock concerts and festivals but in Henry's day it was a Benedictine Monastery. the largest and wealthiest Abbey in his Kingdom.

Liitle Jack Horner from Amazon

Who was Little Jack Horner?


Jack Horner Esquire was Steward to The Bishop of Glastonbury, Richard Whiting 1461 – 1539. The job of Steward was an executive position, very few men would be trusted to do this job. Jack Horner was privileged to run the household of the Bishop, administer the accounts of the Abbey and collect rents, taxes and fees from tenants, peasants and others connected within the manor of Glastonbury.

This vast estate had escaped King Henry VIII's army of demolition experts and pillagers but knowing that it was the very last religious property remaining in Somerset he had to accept that his days were numbered and he needed to act fast,it was only a matter of time before his entire livelihood would be harshly taken away.

He knew Henry VIII didn't mind a bribe or two so the Bishop took the decision to take full advantage of the shady side of King Henry. He made a plan and confided in one man that he could really trust, Jack Horner.

He tasked Horner with delivering a very special gift to the king, it was to be a very large top quality pie filled with nothing less than twelve title deeds relating to an assortment of English manorial estates owned that were owned by the Bishop.

Why use a pie to hide the documents?


All types of thieves and vagabonds roamed the streets of England. There was no police force and 'thief takers' were generally corrupt. It was all too common for travellers not only to be cautious but to be very creative in hiding their valuable goods in order they can thwart robbers. Personally I think it is questionable that a pie would really divert the attention of starving criminals, a tasty pie would be an added bonus!

However, the story goes that a pies was used to conceal the booty.


Jack Horner was no fool and did not believe that King Henry would even dream of accepting twelve title deeds for small properties instead of one the entire Abbey and all that land including those twelve other properties. There was also a threat that King Henry could turn on the messenger in revenge for the shear audacity.

Jack had to think very fast, he could not refuse do undertake the errand, nor could he argue with the Bishop. In Jack's mind the solution was obvious, he would simply steal the title deeds of the manor of Mells. It was prime real estate and certainly would be considered to be the real 'plum' out of those twelve other manors. It was the deeds to the property and land that was secreted in the plum pie.

King Henry did reject the pie, just as Jack Horner predicted but for self preservation he had to protect himself so he chose to hand over The Bishop to Henry VIII, he was subsequently arrested by the King's men, charged and convicted of treason, the crime he was accused of committing was that he acted against the crown by remaining loyal to Rome.

Henry VIII and his connection with Little Jack Horner
Henry VIII and his connection with Little Jack Horner | Source

What Happened to Jack Horner?


Little Jack Horner was very lucky indeed and appointed as one of the jury that sat in the trial of The Bishop of Glastonbury. He was to become one of the 'twelve good men and true' and he sat on the jury during the trial of Bishop Whiting who was found guilty and sentenced to death.

It was not a quick execution by any means, he was hung, drawn and quartered on Glastonbury Tor. This kind of torture was reserved for traitors.

Horner walked away a free man and retained his deeds, he then legally owned the property and indeed moved into the Manor of Mells it remained in the Horner family right up until the 20th century,

What was to happen to Glastonbury Abbey? King Henry sent his men to destroy it.

The Monasteries That King Henry VIII Destroyed

Abbey
Area
Year It Was Destroyed
Abingdon Abbey
Abingdon
1538
Bardney Abbey
Bardsey Abbey
1538
Bardsey Abbey
Aberdaron
1537
Barking Abbey
Barking
1539
Basingwerk Abbey
Holywell
1536
Bath Abbey
Bath
1539
Battle Abbey
Battle
1538
Beauvale Charterhouse
Hucknall
1539
Beaulieu Abbey
Beaulieu
1538
Belvoir Priory
Belvoir
1539
Binham Priory
Binham Priory
1539
Bisham Abbey
Bisham
1539
Blackfriars, Derby
Derby
1538
Blackfriars, Leicester
Leicester
1536
Blackfriars, Newcastle
Newcastle Upon Tyne
1536
Bolton Abbey
Bolton
1540
Bourne Abbey
Bourne
1536
Boxgrove Priory
Boxgrove
1536
Bradley Priory
Bradley
1536
Breadsall Priory
Breadsall
1536
Breedon Priory
Breedon On The Hill
1539
Bridlington Priory
Bridlington Bridlington
1538
Brinkburn Priory
Brinkburn
1536
Brooke Priory
Brooke
1535/6
Buckfast Abbey
Buckfastleigh
1539
Buckland Abbey
Buckland Abbey
1539
Buildwas Abbey
Buildwas
1538
Byland Abbey
Byland By Was
1536
Calke Priory
Calke
1538
Canons Ashby Priory
Canons Ashby
1538
Cardigan Priory
Cardigan
1536
Carmarthen Friary
Carmarthen
1538
Carmarthen Priory
Carmarthen
1536
Cartmel Priory
Lower Allithwaite
1536
Castle Acre Priory
Castle Acre
1537
Charterhouse London
Londom
1537
Christchurch Priory
Christchurch
1539
Cirencester Abbey
Cirencester
1539
Cleeve Abbey
Cleeve
1536
Colchester Abbey
Colchester
1539
Croyland Abbey
Croyland
1539
Croxden Abbey
Croxden
1538
Croxton Abbey
Croxton Kerrial
1538
Dalby and Heather Preceptory
Old Dalby
1538
Dale Abbey
Dale Abbey
1538
Darley Abbey
Darley
1538
Delapré Abbey
Northampton
1538
Dore Abbey
Abbey Dore
1536
Dudley Priory
Dudley
1539
Dunstable Priory
Dunstable
1540
Easby Abbey
Easby
1537
Egglestone Abbey
Barnard Castle
1540
Ewenny Priory
Ewenny
1536
Eye Priory
Eye
1537
Folkestone Priory
Folkestone
1535
Forde Abbey
Thorncombe
1539
Fountains Abbey
Lindrick with Studley Royal and Fountains
1539
Furness Abbey
Barrow in Furness
1537
Garendon Abbey
Shepsted
1536
Gisborough Priory
Gisborough
1540
Glastonbury Abbey
Glastonbury
1539
Grace Dieu Priory
Thringstone
1538
Greyfriars, Leicester
Leicester
1538
Great Malvern Priory
Malvern
1539
Gresley Priory
Church Gresley
1536
Hailes Abbey
Stanway
1539
Halesowen Abbey
Halesowen
1538
Haltemprice Priory
Willerby
1536
Haughmond Abbey
Huffington
1539
Haverholme Priory
Ewerby and Evedon
1539
Hexham Abbey
Hexham
1537
Holy Trinity Priory
Aldgate, City of London
1532
Jarrow Priory
Jarrow
1536
Jervaulx Abbey
East Witton
1537
Kidwelly Priory
Kidwelly
1539
King's Mead Priory
Derby
1536
Kirby Bellars Priory
Kirby Bellars
1536
Kirkstall Abbey
Kirkstall
1539
Lacock Abbey
Lacock
1539
Lanercost Priory
Burtholme
1538
Langdon Abbey
Dover
1538
Langley Priory
Leicester
1536
Launde Priory
Leicester
1539
Leicester Abbey
Leicester
1538
Leicester Austin Friary
Leicester
1538
Lenton Priory
Lenton
1538
Lewes Priory
Lewes
1537
Lindisfarne Priory
Holy Island
1536
Llanthony Priory
Crucorney
1538
Maenan Abbey
Llanddoged and Maenan
1536
Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury
1536
Margam Abbey
Margam
1538
Mattersey Priory
Mattersey
1538
Michelham Priory
Arlington
1537
Milton Abbey
Milton Abbas
1539
Monkwearmouth Abbey
Sunderland
1536
Mount Grace Priory
East Harsley
1539
Neath Abbey
Dyffryn Clydach
1539
Nettley Abbey
Hound
1536
An example of the Monasteries that were dissolved by King Henry VIII, the list is by no means comprehensive as there were over 800 religious houses existed before the Reformation. Almost every town, of every size, had at least one abbey, priory, conv

Was Jack Horner a naughty boy?

Did Jack Horner intentially decieve his employer for his own gain?

  • Yes, he stole the land and conspired against The Bishop
  • No, he was sent on a fools errand and protected himself
See results without voting

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Comments 3 comments

john horner 5 years ago

thanks for the story !!!


kelleyward 4 years ago

Very interesting and creative way to present this story. I found this to be interesting and beautiful. Can't wait to share it with others!


Marcy Louis Suliman 13 months ago

Cool thanks it helped my to make my homework once more thanks so much

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