Guest author – Robbie Cheadle: Two nursery rhymes with an interesting history

 Aiken Drum

When my son Gregory was a small lad, we had a CD for the car which included a folk song/nursery rhyme called Aiken Drum. I had never heard this nursery rhyme before but we both enjoyed it a lot and this was the first nursery rhyme Greg learned off by heart.

The nursery rhyme originates from Scotland and is thought to date back to the Jacobite rising in 1715 and to be about the Battle of Sheriffmuir. Jacobitism was a political movement in Great Britian and Ireland between 1688 and 1746. The aim of the Jacobites was to restore the Roman Catholic Stuart King James VII of Scotland, II of England and Ireland and his heirs to the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland. The song was first printed in 1820 by James Hogg in his two-volume collection of songs about the Jacobite rising called Hogg’s Jacobite Reliques.

Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish historical novelist, playwrite and poet, referred to Aiken Drum in his gothic book The Antiquary. In the book, an old beggar refers to Aiken Drum with reference to the origins of what is believed to be a Roman fort. The beggar tells the antiquary, the character after who the book is named, that the fort was actually built by him and others for Aiken Drum’s wedding. He said that one of the stone masons had cut the shape of a ladle into the stone as a joke on the bridegroom.

But who or what was Aiken Drum? He is possibly a mythical creature called a “brownie”, a kind of fairy or elf that featured in folklore around Scotland and Northern England. Aiken Drum, the brownie, is also described in the 1825 poem, “The Brounie o Blednoch”, by William Nicholson.

The song, Aiken Drum, in general is about a man who lives on the moon, plays on a ladle and whose clothing is made of food and these are the lyrics:

“There was a man lived in the moon, lived in the moon, lived in the moon,
There was a man lived in the moon,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

And he played upon a ladle, a ladle, a ladle,
And he played upon a ladle,
and his name was Aiken Drum.

And his hat was made of good cream cheese, of good cream cheese, of good cream cheese,
And his hat was made of good cream cheese,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

And his coat was made of good roast beef, of good roast beef, of good roast beef,
And his coat was made of good roast beef,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

And his buttons made of penny loaves, of penny loaves, of penny loaves,
And his buttons made of penny loaves,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

And his waistcoat was made of crust pies, of crust pies, of crust pies,
And his waistcoat was made of crust pies,
And his name was Aiken Drum.

And his breeches made of haggis bags, of haggis bags, of haggis bags,
And his breeches made of haggis bags,
And his name was Aiken Drum”

I don’t have a picture of Aiken Drum but here are the Moon babies that I made for one of my Sir Chocolate books, the forthcoming Sir Chocolate and the Missing Moon and Stars.

I had a little nut tree

This nursery rhyme featured in a book that I was given when I was expecting my second, son, Michael. I always like the words and was quite fascinated when I discovered its origins.

The nursery rhyme is believed to refer to a visit undertaken by the Royal House of Spain to King Henry VII’s court in 1506. Although King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain had two daughters, the reference to “the King of Spain’s daughter” in the nursery rhyme is believed to be to Katherine of Aragon who was betrothed at the time to Prince Arthur, the heir to the throne of England. Katherine’s and Arthur were married at the ages of sixteen and fifteen, respectively. The marriage only lasted six months before Arthur died. It was believed that the marriage was never consummated and it was annulled by the Catholic Church in 1509. Katherine, who was betrothed to King Henry VIII, married him in April 1509 and the marriage lasted many years. They had one daughter, Mary, who was born in 1516. The marriage of Henry and Katherine never produced a male heir which led to Henry eventually casting her aside in favour of Ann Boleyn, who was pregnant at the time. Henry’s divorce of Katherine and remarriage to Anne helped to bring about the English Reformation.

Painting of Katherine of Aragon by Michael Sittow

The words of I had a little nut tree are as follows:

“I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg,
And a golden pear;
The King of Spain’s daughter
Came to visit me,
And all for the sake
Of my little nut tree.

Her dress was made of crimson,
Jet black was her hair,
She asked me for my nut tree
And my golden pear.
I said, “So fair a princess
Never did I see,
I’ll give you all the fruit
From my little nut tree.”

Sources:;;;;;; and

Sir Chocolate books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

Book 1: Sir Chocolate and the Strawberry Cream Berries story and cookbook


The blurb: Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet live in Chocolate land where you can eat absolutely everything. Join them on a fantastic adventure to find the amazing strawberry cream berry and learn how to make some of their scrumptious recipes at the same time.

Book 2: Sir Chocolate and the Baby Cookie Monster story and cookbook7

The blurb: Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet find a lost baby cookie monster. Join them on an adventure to return the baby to its mother and learn how to make some of their delicious recipes at the same time.

Book 3: Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Dough Bees story and cookbook

A greedy snail damages the flower fields and the fondant bees are in danger of starving. Join Sir Chocolate on an adventure to find the fruit drop fairies who have magic healing powers and discover how to make some of his favourite foods on the way

You can purchase the Sir Chocolate books from:

Amazon    TSL Books

or you can buy them in South Africa directly from the authors by emailing Robbie Cheadle at

8About Robbie and Michael Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books.

Find and follow Robbie

Robbies inspiration blog     Goodreads     Facebook

Twitter: @bakeandwrite




About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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40 Responses to Guest author – Robbie Cheadle: Two nursery rhymes with an interesting history

  1. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:
    Thank you, Sue Vincent, for having my boys and I over for a visit to your lovely blog, Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you, Sue, for hosting the boys and I on your super blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ritu says:

    Fascibating stuff!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Delightful Robbie and you did a great deal of research.. have shared of course and will put in the Blogger tonight. hugs x

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This was delightful. LOVE the rhymes and the plans you have in the works. Doubt that I want to wander about with haggis bags.. but then again, I don’t have to now, do I? HA!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Oh this brought back memories of my childhood.. and this very same nursery rhyme we would sing as children.. I did not know all the history behind it though. So thank you to both of you Sue and Robbin… The little Little Nut tree too..

    Love those Moon Babies Robbie… 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Tina Frisco says:

    I’d love to hear Aiken Drum sung, Robbie. The lyrics have a catchy beat. And your Moon babies are so sweet ~ literally, I’m sure 🙂 Lovely post, Sue and Robbie 💛

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Mary Smith says:

    Really interesting post, Robbie. Some years ago I wrote a magazine feature about William Nicholson who wrote the Brownie of Blednoch. I’d be happy to send it to you if you would like to read it.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I was raised on Nursery Rhymes and still love them. Thanks for sharing the rhymes and a bit of history as well. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Oh how interesting I have just been doing research for ‘Oranges & Lemons’ I shall have to get myself into gear and get it posted. Loved this thanks for sharing it Sue and loving your Moon Babies Robbie 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I would love to see that post. I am going to pop in and follow you so I don’t miss it. I wrote a lemon recipe the other day and used Oranges & Lemons as part of the introduction. I didn’t research the full history though.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Pingback: From Sue Vincent’s Blog ~ Nursery Rhymes with deep meanings | Rose English UK

  12. Sue, ‘I had a little nut tree’ brought back pleasant childhood memories. Thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Barbara says:

    I remember both of these poems which we recited as children. But I had completely forgotten the words to Aiken Drum, thank you for a lovely reminder and the history behind them. Those Moon Babies are very very cute.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. dgkaye says:

    I’m not familiar with those nursery rhymes, but nonetheless, fabulous post and I enjoyed the mini history of the Tudor house. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I was not familiar with either of these nursery rhymes, and especially enjoyed learning the history – and the fact that they are family favorites. LOVE the sweet little Moon Babies, Robbie – they would be adorable for a baby shower, wouldn’t they? What makes them sparkle?
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Madelyn, as I said in my comment to Debby, these are very British nursery rhymes so obviously are not that well known in the US. I would love to know what nursery rhymes are popular in your neck of the woods. Thanks for your comment about the moon babies – I am going to use them for a baby shower soon. I used edible shimmer powder to make them shine. They will go with this verse of Mike and my book:
      “These tiny babies, all shimmering and sweet;
      Were curled up tightly and deeply asleep;
      The man on the moon, with his great cheese head;
      Woke up and saw them and got out of bed.”

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – 19th April 2017 – Hugh Roberts, Darlene Foster, Sue Vincent, Robbie Cheadle, C.S. Boyack, Jaye Marie | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  17. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Enjoy this post by guest author Robbie Cheadle appearing on Sue Vincent’s blog

    Liked by 2 people

  18. We had an old record of nursery rhmes as kids by Wally Whyton and that featured ‘Aitkin Drum.’ It is fascinating to learn of its origins.
    I love your little moon babies, Robbie, they look scrumpptious! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Charli Mills says:

    An interesting look at two nursery rhymes through the historical lens. I enjoyed learning of these and Robbie’s scrumptious books.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi. I’m visiting from Robbie’s site. These are two nursery rhymes I’ve never heard of. Thanks for the share.

    Liked by 1 person

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