There Was an Old Woman Tossed up in a Basket

DESCRIPTION: "There was an old woman tossed up in a blanket" with a broom, many times higher than the moon. The singer asks what she's doing. She says she is brushing the cobwebs, or clouds, out of the sky. The singer asks to go with her, or says well done.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1784 (Gammar Gurton's Garland, according to Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes)
KEYWORDS: nonballad talltale
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South),Scotland(Bord))
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Williams-FolkSongsOfTheUpperThames, p. 228, "The Old Woman Tossed Up in a Blanket" (1 text) (also Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Ox 214)
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 144, "The Wee Wyfie" (1 text)
Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes 544, "There was an old woman tossed up in a basket" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #35, p. 50, "(There was an old woman tossed in a blanket)"
Montgomerie/Montgomerie-ScottishNurseryRhymes 175, "(There was a wee wifie rowed up in a basket)" (1 text)
Dolby-OrangesAndLemons, p. 37, "There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Robert Chambers, The Popular Rhymes of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1870 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 34, "The Wee Wifie" (1 text)

Roud #1297
cf. "Lilliburlero" (tune) (per Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes)
cf. "Slaves to the World" (theme: tossing in a blanket) and notes there
NOTES [157 words]: Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes: "Rimbault says this song is supposed to allude to James II.... In spite of the rhyming, the original wording was probably 'tossed up in a blanket Ninety-nine [instead of seventeen or nineteen] times as high as the moon', as in the William and Mary ballad, The Jacobite tossed up in a blanket." - BS
The Baring-Goulds report an even more extravagant story, connecting this to Henry V (reigned 1413-1422) and his invasion of France. But they add "The only trouble with this story is that there doesn't seem to be a word of truth in it." I couldn't have put it better myself. - RBW
Lyle-Andrew-CrawfurdsCollectionVolume2 p. xli: "Crawfurd supplied songs and rhymes for Robert Chambers ... it appears that the versions of 143 'Cow the Nettle Airlie' and 144 'The Wee Wyfie' ...." Chambers 1870 notes these to be from "recitations in Fife and Ayrshire." Crawfurd's versions are from Ayrshire (p. xxxix). - BS
Last updated in version 3.3
File: OO2544

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.