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Little Jack Horner

Updated on April 25, 2021

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

What today are known as 'Nursery Rhymes' have far deeper meanings.

The cadence and easy words sound innocuous and the rhymes make it easy to repeat without thinking. The assumption is that these are just words a collection of silly words that rhyme.

This is as far from truth as one might go.

In early days people had to be a careful what they said about powerful people, or questionable actions.

Being arrested and killed for 'treason' was common. Questioning authority was treason.

To mask what they would say, the information woule be reduced to a child's 'nursery' rhyme. They'd chant them as if they were silly nonsense to make a child smile.

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

The rhyme would go 'viral'. By the time the meanings were revealed it would be too late. One couldn't stop the repetition as little children would sing or chant the 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 and wanted to divorce his first wife, he was refused permission by the Catholic Church.

As the Church had a lot of power, he created his own Church, the Anglican.

Once the Anglican was established Henry VIII began to confiscate Church Property. The Church had a great deal of property.

Richard Whiting was the Abbot of the Catholic 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 believed everything would be taken care of. 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 to live at Mells Manor.... that is the 'plum'. which 'Jack' took from the pie.


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