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Little Jack Horner

Updated on September 13, 2018

The Rhyme

Another well known nursery rhyme which has a deeper meaning is, "Little Jack Horner",

The Rhyme goes like this:

Little Jack Horner sat in the corner
Eating his Christmas pie,
He put in his thumb and
pulled out a plum
And said "What a good boy am I!"

Take Note

Many nursery rhymes and childhood ditties have a far deeper meaning.

They have a cadence and sound so innocuous to our ears we repeat them without thinking, making the assumption that they are just words that rhyme.

In by gone days people had to be a bit careful what they said about powerful people, or questionable actions. Being arrested and killed for 'treason' was common. And any question of authority was treason.

To mask what they would say, they'd reduce them to a child's 'nursery' rhyme. They'd chant them as if they were silly nonsense.

If done properly, even the persons being spoken about might not be aware of what was being said.

The rhyme would go viral, and by the time the meanings were revealed it would be too late to say anything, or try to stop the repetition, or even learn who invented that rhyme..

The Rhyme of Little Jack Horner is one of these.

It tells a rather wicked story.

The Abbot's Plan

When Henry VIII was King of England, due to the fact the Catholic Church had a lot of power, he created his own Church, the Anglican.

Having split his kingdom from the Catholic Church, he began to confiscate Church Property.

At this time, Richard Whiting was the Abbot of the Church at Glastonbury.

Thinking he could avoid losing everything, he decided to give a portion of Church property to the King. He assumed this voluntary gift would appease Henry VIII.

Abbot Whiting, decided to bake the titles of twelve valuable manors into a pie. He would give it to his trusted steward, Thomas Horner, and dispatch him to the King with this gift.

In those days, it was usual to hide treasures in a pie, just as wrapping a gift is today. To send the King this pie was perfectly acceptable.

Where the Jack Enters

Handing the pie to Thomas Horner, the Abbot felt that everything would be taken care of. He felt Henry VIII would get the pie, open it, see the twelve titles, accept them and consider the Abbot was bowing to his authority.

That is all the Abbot assumed.

However, Thomas Horner was dishonest. He knew what was in the pie, knew where it was going and so, decided to help himself.

Behaving as a knave (Jack) Horner opened the pie, took out the best title, sealed the pie and conveyed it with the eleven remaining titles to Henry VIII.

Henry was very pleased with his Eleven Titles, which of course, got back to the Abbot, who, of course made it public knowledge that he had sent twelve titles.

The Rhyme means;

The knave, 'Jack' Horner, secretly,
(in a corner) put his ‘thumb’ into the
pie and plucked
out the ‘plum’.

To this day, the Horner family continues at Mells Manor.... which is the plum.


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    • qeyler profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      you are very welcome

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      thanks for your help. And what an interesting story behind the rhyme.

    • qeyler profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      repeated word son

    • qeyler profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks. I try

    • I_Write profile image


      8 years ago

      And all this time I wondered why the plum hadn't be baked!

      Wow awesome hub!

    • kaltopsyd profile image


      8 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      Wow, that's pretty interesting. Who knew these nursery rhymes had such historical meaning. Thanks again for the info.


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