Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home
DESCRIPTION: "Ladybug/Ladybird, Ladybug/Ladybird, Fly away home, Your house is on fire, Your children do roam." The extended version may instruct the insect to go to Flanders or elsewhere, and fly to the singer's love
EARLIEST DATE: 1951 (Opie-Oxford2)
KEYWORDS: bug home fire
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #467, p. 209, "(Lady Bird, Lady Bird)" (a short version in the text with a long addedum in the notes)
Opie-Oxford2 297, "Ladybird, Ladybird" (1 text)
Montgomerie-ScottishNR 15, "Ladybird" (1 very full text)
Jack, p. 95, "Ladybird, Ladybird" (1 text)
Dolby, p. 104, "Ladybird, Ladybird" (1 text)
MHenry-Appalachians, p. 243, (no title) (1 short text)
ADDITIONAL: Peter and Iona Opie, _I Saw Esau: Traditional Rhymes of Youth_, #164, "(Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home)" (1 text)
NOTES: Although most if not all of us think of this as a song about a bug, the second half of Opie's version is interesting: All the ladybug's children are gone except "little Ann(e), And she has crept under the warming pan."
The moment I saw that, I couldn't help but think of the Glorious Revolution of 1689 and the Hannoverian Succession of 1714. In 1689, it was alleged that James the Old Pretender had been snuck into the Queen's birth chamber in a warming pan, and had the boy been accepted as legitimate, then Anne, the last of the Stuarts, would never have been Queen.
What's more, the first known mention of this item, from Tom Thumb's Pretty Song Book, is from a period within living memory of the Hannoverian Succession.
I grant that it is almost certainly coincidence. But it's an interesting coincidence. Most of the political meanings assigned to nursery rhymes are based on completely undemonstrable equivalents and hidden names. Here, the names are not hidden.
Another story, related by Dolby, is that it is a charm against witches. - RBW
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