DESCRIPTION: "Ride a cock horse to Banbury cross To see a fine lady upon a white horse. Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, And she shall have music wherever she goes."
EARLIEST DATE: 1784 (Gammar Gurton's Garland, according to Opie-Oxford2)
KEYWORDS: nonballad music horse
FOUND IN: US(SE) Britain(England)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
BrownIII 140, "Banbury Cross" (1 text, a composite of "Banbury Cross," "Ring Around the Rosie," and an item about learning to ride (?))
Opie-Oxford2 29, "Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross" (2 texts)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #619, p. 247, "(Ride a cock-horse to Banbury cross)"; cf. #617, "(Ride a Cock Horse)"; #618, "(Ride a cock-horse)"
Jack, p. 176, "Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross" (1 text)
Dolby, p. 144, "Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross" (1 text)
NOTES: This little item has prompted the usual wild speculation: That the lady is Lady Godiva, or Elizabeth I, or one Celia Fiennes (fl. 1697). For documentation, see the Opies -- but note that their #28 and #30 are similar rhymes with different endings. If the piece is about any particular person, it has clearly been much modified.
To be sure, there are versions that are truly about an actual person. See "As I Was Going by Charing Cross": "As I was going by Charing Cross, I saw a black man upon a black horse, They told me it was King Charles the First, Oh dear, my heart was ready to burst" (because Charles was on his way to trial or execution). - RBW
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