Real meaning of Jack and Jill
There are several speculative meanings to the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill - which do you think is the real meaning?
The true story behind Jack and Jill
There are several speculations as to the real meaning behind the nursery rhyme Jack & Jill.
Although the original comprised the following simple four lines
|Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
A later verse was added seeming to provide a more happy ending.
|Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.
This verse was modified to;
|Up Jack got and down he trot
As fast as he could caper;
And went to bed and covered his head
In vinegar and brown paper.
Then came yet another couple of verses but rarely used.
When Jill came in how she did grin
Now Jack did laugh and Jill did cry
Jack & Jill nursery rhyme relates to the French Revolution 1793
One of the meanings is attributed to Jack being King Louis XVI of France and Jill is wife, Queen Marie Antoinette.
It relates to the execution of French Monarchs where Jack and Jill went up the hill – being steps to the guillotine,
Jack (King Louis) was the first of the two to be beheaded, he lost his crown and Jill (Marie Antoinette's head) came tumbling after.
King Charles and his taxes
King Charles I tried to increase the taxes on liquid measures in his favour but Parliament voted against the tax reform. However, not being undermined by parliament Charles ordered a mandate that the volume of a 'Jack', which was ½ pint be reduced whilst the tax remained the same.
So although parliament voted against a tax increase, as far as King Charles was concerned they didn't vote against the reduction of the measure of a Jack, so 'Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after'. A 'Gill' is ¼ pint, when the Jack fell down, the Gill followed.
Even today, pint glasses in the UK have a half pint mark with the crown etched above it.
The ale was often watered down and there is speculation that the line "fetch a pail of water" related to this element.
Any old Jack and Jill
Even today some people use the term 'Jack and Jill' as a term of 'anybody'. An exclusive restaurant might not want to let 'any old Jack & Jill' in.
William Shakespeare made reference to Jack and Jill in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Jack shall have Jill; Nought shall go ill (end of act three).
Again Shakespeare mentions Jack and Jill in Love's Labour's Lost "Our wooing doth not end like an old play; Jack hath not Jill".
So, the real meaning of Jack and Jill is open to interpretation; was it the horrors of the French Revolution?, the reduction of liquid measures Jack and Gill or could it be an innocent moral story?
Jill laughed at Jack's accident and was caught by their mother who whipped her ...which made Jack smile!