Just attended a Zoom talk about nursery rhymes and their history - really interesting talk. Here's some of the info I learned:
Little Tommy Tucker sings for his supper,
What shall we give him? Brown bread and butter.
How shall he cut it without a knife?
How shall he marry without a wife?
Little Tommy Tucker
a Little Tommy Tucker was an orphan in the 1800s. They had to sing for their supper and to try to get money to survive. The last few lines showed that orphans rarely climbed the ladder to get a better life.
Pop Goes The Weasel
Represents the grinding poverty in London in Victorian times. It uses Cockney rhyming slang. The Eagle pub is in City Road, London and this pub is still there and has the rhyme painted on the walls inside. It refers to people pawning their clothes to get through the week and then reclaim it at the weekend to go to church.
Sing a song of sixpence
Pays homage to baking live birds in a pie to play a practical joke on their friends. But in reality they baked different parts of the pie seperately and put the whole thing together so that the birds could fly out. However, in reality what some of them would do is place the birds inside the napkins and the birds would fly out. Either way, they would shit all over the place as they flew around the room as they were by this time terrified!
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Refers to the Plantagenet king Edward 1st who had no money so he taxed the wool trade (called the "great custom"). He was a very unpopular king. He is "The Master" of the rhyme, the dame is his Queen and the little boy is the farmer himself.
There were loads more but I don't want to spend all day typing this - check out this website http://www.rhymes.org.uk/ - it has loads of info about nursery rhymes.
Enjoy your day!