DESCRIPTION: "Hector Protector was dressed all in green; Hector Protector was sent to the Queen. The Queen did not like him, No more did the King, So Hector Protector was sent back again."
EARLIEST DATE: 1844 (Halliwell)
KEYWORDS: clothes royalty travel rejection
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 207, "Hector Protector" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #215, p. 145, "(Hector Protector was dressed all in green)"
Jack, p. 57, "Hector Protector" (1 text)
NOTES: Although this seems to be old, attempts to figure out what it means strike me as largely unsuccessful. The Opies don't even try to offer an explanation. Jack mentions Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector 1653-1658, but of course there was no King or Queen at the time, and so he concludes that the Lord Protector must be Richard Duke of York (died 1460), who was Lord Protector in the reign of Henry VI when that king went insane; Richard was hated by Queen Margaret of Anjou, who pulled Henry VI along with her during his more lucid moments, so the description more or less fits -- but it's a long time from the 1450s to the printing of the rhyme by Halliwell.
Katherine Elwes Thomas, who had a more fertile imagination than a whole college full of creative writing students, suggests that the poem refers to Henry VIII's "rough wooing" of Scotland, in which he tried to force the Scots to marry their baby queen Mary to his son Edward VI; her candidate for Hector Protector is Edward Seymour, then Earl of Hertford, later Duke of Somerset. Somerset was Protector after Henry VIII died, but, again, he wasn't a Hector. And he wasn't a Protector when he invaded Scotland. To be sure, neither the Queen Mother of Scotland nor King Henry VIII liked him much after his wooing failed while causing a lot of damage to Scotland, but surely the sense here is that King and Queen are monarchs of the same nation. And while Henry VIII lived three generations after Henry VI (he was in fact the great-grandson of Richard of York), that's still a long time for a rhyme to survive.
There is also the fact that neither Richard of York nor Edward Seymour was named Hector, but maybe the poet was just looking for an easy rhyme. - RBW
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