Did you know?
Steve Voake spent eight years as head teacher of Kilmersdon Primary School in Somerset, England; known as the "Jack and Jill" school because it is said that the original well referenced in the rhyme is in the grounds of the school.
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.
However, Kilmersdon is just one claimant to this particular nursery rhyme.
Some say that Jack and Jill is a reference to the 17th Century English King (also King of Scotland and Ireland), Charles I, who tried to reform the taxes on liquid measures by reducing the volume of a 1/2 pint of beer, commonly known as a Jack, while keeping the tax the same. If this is the case, Jill would be a reference to a "gill", pronounced jill - a now out of use term for a 1/4 pint measurement. Charles was beheaded in 1649 on the grounds of high treason, which just goes to show that you shouldn't mess with the English about important issues such as beer (or the many other conflicts that led to his execution)!
Another theory is that the rhyme is a reference to Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette, who lost their heads during the French Revolution. Apparently, the first known publication date for "Jack and Jill" is 1795, which fits with this theory.
Others contend that Jack and Jill is a reference to Norse mythology which tells of Hyuki and Bil. You can read more about this in the "BookBrowse Says" linked from The Sea of Trolls.
Yet others, especially those in Somerset, hold that the rhyme originates in Kilmersdon, Somerset and is linked to the last name Gilson, which probably originates in the area.
This article was originally published in April 2006, and has been updated for the
March 2007 paperback release.
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