The most common modern lyrics are:
- Georgie Porgie, Puddin' and Pie,
- Kissed the girls and made them cry,
- When the boys came out to play
- Georgie Porgie ran away.
Origins and meaning
The first recorded version of the rhyme was collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid-19th century with the lyrics:
- Rowley Powley, pumpkin pie,
- Kissed the girls and made them cry;
- When the girls began to cry,
- Rowly Powley runs away.
However, the version with Georgie Porgie was known to George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) in his childhood and so may be at least as old.
There are various theories that link the character Georgie Porgie to historical figures including George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592-1628), Charles II (1630-1685, reigned from 1660) and George I (1660-1727, reigned from 1714), but there is no evidence to corroborate such claims.
There is a further theory, equally unsubstantiated, but traditional in families which supported the Stuart line to the throne, that this is an old Jacobite rhyme that relates to the 1745 rebellion of mainly Scots. In this account the rhyme relates to King George II. It incorrectly implies that as the Jacobite army headed further and further south ("When the boys came out to play"), King George fled England for the safety of mainland Europe ("Georgie Porgie ran away"). Similarly, the convention of using "ie" instead of "y" or "ey" at the end of words is prevalent in Scotland.
Also, the Great Fire of London started in Pudding Lane and is reported to have finished at Pye Corner. In this hypothesis, "The Boys" may refer to the firefighters of the time and Georgie Porgie was the fire itself.
- I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 185-6.
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