This old nursery rhyme has come to mind as I have been thinking a lot about having big families. I will certainly share much more on why in an additional post, however I began to think what was the rhyme around and was it a put down on civilization who had actually many youngsters even ago then, together it appears to be today.

You are watching: What does the old woman who lived in a shoe mean


At an initial glance this would show up to it is in a purely nonsenserhyme yet in fact it has origins in history! There room numerous selections oforigin.
Debates end the an interpretation of the rhyme mainly revolve aroundmatching the old mrs with historical figures, together Peter Opie it was observed "forlittle reason various other than the size of their families".
One idea is believed that the character was based upon QueenCaroline, the wife of good Britain’s George II, who had eight children by him,seven of whom lived. George III, that was king after ~ him, was in reality hisgrandson, because his eldest son, Frederick, died prior to inheriting the throne,but had currently had children of his own, therefore they became the direct heirs (GeorgeIII) rather of George II"s various other children. The shoe refers to the BritishIsles.

Another version is believed to possibly be mommy Gooseherself that they insurance claim was Elizabeth Goose, or Vergoose, of colonial Boston. Shehad 6 children from her first husband, and, after the died, had actually four much more with asecond husband. At the time, she was acquiring pretty old, and it was tough forher to save up v 10 children. She literally “Had so plenty of children, shedidn"t recognize what to do.” The boot was the country she lived in.
*
Was the "old woman" actually a "he?" KingGeorge III (1738-1820) ascended come the brother throne in 1760. From nearly thestart of his reign, Parliament and also the typical people arisen a love-haterelationship with him that lasted till he essentially lost his power in 1810-- early out in large part to psychological illness.
During the most strained durations of this relationship, KingGeorge who began the men"s fashion because that wearing white powdered wigs, wasconsequently described as the old woman! pendant of “George III together the oldwoman” contend that the “shoe” represents great Britain, the “children” areParliament members, and the “bed” is a symbol because that the residences of conference whichhe compelled them to have sessions in. Some think the the names “Broth” and“Bread” referred to actual personages — maybe a prime minister or two. Theyalso suggest out that also today the “whip” is a term used both in the English Parliamentand the American conference to explain a member whose project is come ensure thatmembers "toe the party line". Together a allude of historic interest the wigs wornby ladies of the duration were so large and unhygienic the it became necessary toinclude mousetraps in their construction
Another believed along the same lines is the “old woman” to be theEnglish Parliament, who looked after she many colonial “children” in thefar-flung brother Empire. Conference whipped she misbehaving kids byappointing the much-hated James ns to the throne in the 17th Century. Theearliest published version in Joseph Ritson"s Gammer Gurton"s Garland in 1794 hasthe coarser critical line:
*
Still another thought is that it is based top top a so late 18thCentury eccentric one parent household in France, command at the helm by MargeryButtwhistle, a known village drunk and also prostitute. Ms. Buttwhistle is thought to have had in overabundance of 20illegitimate youngsters (fathered during her financially-focused liaisons) andwas can not and/or unwilling to bring them up in accordance with duration mores. Vainly vying for your callous mother"s attention, thechildren created the notorious “Shoe Gang” which especially targeted wealthyaristocrats in exile native revolution-torn Paris. They to be so-named due totheir targeting of their victims" footwear. When thieved, this trophies to be presented come Ms.Buttwhistle, that would barter them in exchange because that mead. The incredulous localinn goalkeeper who accepted this payment in kind stored the contraband in thecellar till it can be surreptitiously shipped as much as Bristol through clipper. Because of her day-to-day inebriated state, Buttwhistle wouldseldom leave the bar the a night, managing only to collapse in the cellar andsleep off her drunken excesses; with just the shoes because that company.

See more: What Country Eats The Most Vegetables ? Vegetable Consumption Per Capita


Iona and Peter Opie pointed to the version released inInfant institutes in 1797, which finished through the lines:
The hatchet "a-loffeing", castle believed, wasShakespearean, saying that the rhyme is substantially older 보다 the firstprinted versions. They then speculated the if this to be true it might have afolk lore definition and pointed come the connection between shoes and also marriage,symbolised by spreading a shoe as soon as a bride pipeline for she honeymoon. This later becamethe tossing the the bride’s bouquet, and the assumed that the woman who caughtit would be the beside marry.
One yes, really is wondering why us teach our youngsters some the theses nursery rhymes! yet they are a loved storage of mine childhood.