There Was a Crooked Man

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"There Was a Crooked Man"
Nursery rhyme
Published 1842
Songwriter(s) Unknown

"There Was a Crooked Man" is an English nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 4826.[1]


Original version:

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.


The rhyme was first recorded by James Orchard Halliwell in the 1840s and gained popularity in the early twentieth century.[2] One legend suggests[3] that this nursery rhyme originated in the once prosperous wool merchant’s village of Lavenham, about 70 miles northeast of London, having been inspired by its multicolored half-timbered houses leaning at irregular angles as if they are supporting each other. Other sources[4] state that the poem originates from British history, specifically the period of the English Stuart King Charles I of England (1600–1649). The crooked man is reputed to be the Scottish General Sir Alexander Leslie, who signed a covenant securing religious and political freedom for Scotland. The "crooked stile" in the poem was the border between England and Scotland. "They all lived together in a little crooked house" refers to the fact that the English and Scots had at last come to an agreement, despite continuing great animosity between the two peoples, who nonetheless had to live with each other due to their common border.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ "Roud Folksong Index S299349 There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile". Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. English Folk Dance and Song Society. Retrieved May 20, 2016. 
  2. ^ I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), p. 289.
  3. ^ Taylor, Bob (12 September 2011). "Lavenham, England: Part one of four great little places". Washington Times. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  4. ^ Alchin, Linda (2013). "There was a Crooked Man". The Secret History of Nursery Rhymes (2nd ed.). Surrey, UK: Neilsen. 
  5. ^ "The Crooked Man: 5 Things to Know". 1 October 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "Conjurer 2 Spinoff 'The Crooked Man' in the Works". 14 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.