Wee Willie Winkie Runs Through the Town
DESCRIPTION: "Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town, Upstairs and downstairs in his night gown, Rapping at the window, crying through the lock, Are the children all in bed, for now it's eight o'clock?"
AUTHOR: William Miller (source: _Songs for the Nursery_); "Air by Rev. W. B." (source: _Whistle-Binkie_)
EARLIEST DATE: 1841 (_Whistle-Binkie_, according to Opie-Oxford2)
KEYWORDS: nonballad children
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 530, "Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #813, p. 303, "(Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town)"
Montgomerie-ScottishNR 132, "(Wee Wilie Winkie)" (1 text)
Jack, p. 228, "Wee Willie Winkie" (2 texts)
Dolby, p. 92, "Wee Willie Winkie" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: _Songs for the Nursery_ (Glasgow, 1846), p. 1, "Willie Winkie"
_Whistle-Binkie_, (Glasgow, 1878), Vol I, pp. 320-321, "Willie Winkie"; also _Whistle-Binkie_, (Glasgow, 1878), Vol II, pp. 301-302, "Willie Winkie"
NOTES: Opie-Oxford2: "'Willie Winkie, as may be seen in Jacobite songs, was a nickname for William III (d.1702), and according to Robert L. Ripley the rhyme refers to that king." - BS
The Baring-Goulds also note that "Wee Willie Winkie was the nickname given to William Prince of Orange" (who became William III in 1689). But they doubt its political significance. And, if they are correct in attributing the poem to William Miller, they are almost surely right in questioning it. Who would be writing concealed verse about William III in the reign of Victoria?
It is noteworthy that Katherine Briggs, An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblines, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures, 1976 (I use the 1977 Pantheon paperback), p. p. 429-430, doesn't even mention this hypothesis. And yet, she notes that the original was in Braid Scots ("Wee Willie Winkie runs through the toun, Up stairs and down stairs in his nicht-goun, Tirling at the window, crying at the lock, Are the weans in their bed, for it's now ten o'clock?"). The Scots might have held resentment against William III, who overthrew the Stewarts, longer than the English did. - RBW
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