Goosey, Goosey, Gander
DESCRIPTION: "Goosey, goosey, gander, Whither shall I wander, Upstairs and downstairs And in my lady's chamber." The ending varies
EARLIEST DATE: 1784 (Gammer Gurton's Garland)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 190, "Goosey, goosey gander" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #89, p. 86, "(Goose-a-goose-a, gander)"
Jack-PopGoesTheWeasel, p. 50, "Goosie, Goosie Gander" (1 text)
Dolby-OrangesAndLemons, p. 98, "Goosey, Goosey Gander" (1 text)
NOTES [204 words]: This is another Mother Goose rhyme I seem to vaguely recall hearing sung rather than recited, so I'm including it on that basis, though I'm anything but sure about this.
The early version, in Gammer Gurton's Garland, ends with instructions that the listener will find provisions in the lady's chamber; in the common version, it houses "an old man Who would not say his prayers" -- which the Baring-Goulds note is a relic of another nursery rhyme, "Old Father Long Legs."
Katherine Elwes Thomas, of the ever fertile imagination (and we know what was used as the original fertilizer) believes this refers to the militantly anti-Protestant Cardinal (David) Beaton, who in fact was thrown downstairs and killed in 1546. To be fair, it should be noted that he might be found in a lady's chamber; he was far from celibate.
Jack-PopGoesTheWeasel offers instead that it comes from the reign of Elizabeth I and the Papist Purges, with the ganders being priests, since all Catholic priests were male. (The problem with this, of course, is that all Protestant priests were male at that time, too.)
The Opies suggest that the modern version might be combined from several late eighteenth century rhymes, but do not list their origin. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.3
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.