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nursery rhyme lyrics & origins
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Nursery Rhymes Lyrics and Origins

Elsie Marley's grown so fine

Nursery Rhyme Lyrics, Origins and History


Elsie Marley's grown so fine,
She won't get up to feed the swine,
But lies in bed 'till eight or nine!
And surely she does take her time.

The name Elsie Marley in the above nursery rhyme was changed from Eppie Marly which was used in the original nursery rhyme. The first part of the rhyme was also discarded but Scottish highlanders understood the hidden meaning behind innocent 'Elsie Marley'. The words to the original rhyme are as follows:

Eppie Marly

Saw ye Eppie Marly, honey,
The woman that sells the barley, honey?
She's lost her pocket and a' her money,
Wi' following Jacobite Charlie, honey.

Eppie Marly's turned sae fine,
She'll no gang out to herd the swine,
But lies in her bed till eight or nine,
And winna come down the stairs to dine.

Charles Edward Stuart - bonny Prince Charlie

Picture of Charles Edward Stuart
(Bonny Prince Charlie)


The 'Eppie Marly' versions remembers the history and events surrounding Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788) also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender and the Young Chevalier - the 'Jacobite Charlie' mentioned in the lyrics.

The word Jacobite comes from the name Jacob a derivative of James from the followers of the James V through to VII of the Royal House of Stuart. The Stuarts had been exiled in France and Italy for forty years and the Hanovarian King George II ruled England.

Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) laid claim to the thrones of Scotland, England and Ireland. He arrived in Scotland in 1745 to rally his Scottish supporters. He was a romantic figure and his presence immediately initiated various songs, poems and stories which encouraged men, women and children to rally behind his standard. King George II put the Duke of Cumberland in charge of his troops. The rebellion of the Scots and the claims of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) culminated in the Battle at Culloden Moor. The Scots were outnumbered. Cumberland gave orders for "No Quarter Given": in other words 'none shall live' - every wounded highlander was killed following the battle. The killing of Jacobites continued and men, women and children were butchered by musket, bayonet, the hangman's rope and many were burnt alive in their homes. Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) returned to Italy in 1746, where he spent his last years. He died in Rome on January 31, 1788. The rebellion and Bloody Culloden has never been forgotten, the events make it clear why direct reference to Bonnie Prince Charlie was such a dangerous one and why 'Eppie Marly' was replaced by Elsie Marley.

Elsie Marley's grown so fine


Note: A Rhymes lyrics and the perceived origins of some Nursery Rhymes vary according to location


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Written By Linda Alchin