Nursery Rhymes

John Cook he had a little grey mare

The words and lyrics of the nursery rhyme 'John Cook he had a little grey mare' bears no historical reference to a person called John Cook.

The rhyme does, however, make reference to Shooter's Hill, a suburb of London located at Blackheath on the the highest point in south London at 432ft.

Shooter's Hill takes its name from the practice of archery there during the Middle Ages when it was obligatory for every grown man to become proficient in the use of the bow and arrow.

The road follows the route of the Roman Road, Watling Street, which linked London with Roman settlements in north Kent. It was later used as a route for horse-drawn mail-coaches linking London with Dover. These coaches are mentioned by Charles Dickens as "lumbering up Shooter's Hill" in 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Shooter's Hill also has a darker side to its history. An entry in Samuel Pepys diary dated 11th April 1661 mentions "the man that hangs upon Shooter's Hill". It was customary to execute criminals at Gibbet Field on this high point of London and their bodies were left to rot as a warning to any would-be criminals.
 

John Cook he had a little grey mare
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

John Cook he had a little grey mare,
Hee haw, hum;
Here legs were long and her back was bare,
Hee haw, hum!

John Cook was riding up Shooter's Bank,
Hee haw, hum;
The mare she began to kick and to prank,
Hee haw, hum!

John Cook was riding up Shooter's Hill,
Hee haw, hum;
His mare fell down and made her will,
Hee haw, hum!

The bridle and saddle were laid on the shelf,
Hee haw, hum;
If you want any more, you may sing it yourself,
Hee haw, hum!

John Cook he had a little grey mare
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

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