Rhymes trivia quiz
nursery rhyme lyrics & origins
Rhymes trivia quiz
nursery rhyme lyrics & origins

Nursery Rhymes Lyrics and Origins

Jack Sprat

Nursery Rhyme & History


Origins to words of Jack Sprat can be found in British History!
The Jack Sprat alluded to in this English poem is reputed to be King Charles I (1625-1649) and Henrietta Maria, his Queen (1609-1669). Apparently, when King Charles (Jack Sprat) declared war on Spain, parliament refused to finance him (leaving him lean!) So his wife imposed an illegal war tax (to get some fat!) after the angered King (Jack Sprat) dissolved Parliament.

The Robin Hood Legend!
Another interpretation of the Jack Sprat Nursery rhyme relates to the story of Richard I (Richard the Lionheart 1157 - 1199) and his younger brother King John (1166 - 1216). Both of whom feature strongly in the traditional legend of Robin Hood.

Prince John, Richard the Lionheart and the Ransom!
In 1189 John (Jack Sprat) married Joan, the ambitious and greedy daughter and heiress of the Earl of Gloucester ("Joan ate all the fat"). When King Richard went on Crusade, from 1190 to 1194, John attempted to take the crown of England - a ruthless and treacherous usurper). On his return from the Crusades King Richard was taken hostage by Duke Leopold demanding a ransom of 150,000 marks. John reluctantly had to raise the ransom, leaving the country destitute for years and reducing John's inheritance ("They picked it clean"). The ransom was paid and Richard was released. John was crowned King of England following the death of Richard in 1199. He had his marriage to Joan annulled, she was never acknowledged as queen. She then married again to Geoffrey de Mandeville and her third husband was Hubert de Burgh.

king charles I - jack spratt rhyme

The picture is of King Charles I
whose constant disputes with the Parliamentarians lead to the English
Civil War and his execution


Jack Sprat rhyme aka Jack Spratt

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They licked the platter clean

Jack ate all the lean,
Joan ate all the fat.
The bone they picked it clean,
Then gave it to the cat

Jack Sprat was wheeling,
His wife by the ditch.
The barrow turned over,
And in she did pitch.

Says Jack, "She'll be drowned!"
But Joan did reply,
"I don't think I shall,
For the ditch is quite dry."

Jack Sprat rhyme aka Jack Spratt


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


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Written By Linda Alchin