I Had a Little Lairdie
DESCRIPTION: The singer had a little manikin/husband/lairdie. She dressed him, and sent him riding to town on her thumb (or he's no bigger than her thumb). She sent him to the garden for sage but found him kissing Madge in the kitchen.
EARLIEST DATE: 1784 (Joseph Ritson, _Gammer Gurton's Garland: or, The Nursery Parnassus_, according to Opie-Oxford2)
KEYWORDS: nonsense husband wife
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Greig #161, p. 2, ("I had a little lairdie That sat upo' my thoom") (1 fragment)
GreigDuncan8 1563, "I Had a Little Lairdie" (1 text)
Opie-Oxford2 234, "I had a little husband" (2 texts)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #64, p. 70, "(I had a little husband)"
ADDITIONAL: Robert Chambers, The Popular Rhymes of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1870 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 21, ("I got a little manikin, I set him on my thoomiken")
Robert Chambers (Edited by Norah and William Montgomerie), Traditional Scottish Nursery Rhymes (1990 selected from Popular Rhymes) #104, p. 64, ("I gat a little mannikin, I set him on my thoomikin")
NOTES: The inimitable Katherine Elwes Thomas claims that the little husband was Philip II of Spain, one of whose four wives was Mary Tudor, the first reigning queen of England (1553-1558). It's certainly true that Philip II quickly abandoned Mary, but that seems an insufficient reason to link that event to this much later song.
Halliwell made the much more reasonable suggestion that this is part of the tale of Tom Thumb, and cites a Danish parallel. Still, even this is just speculation. - RBW
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