The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #42119   Message #610476
Posted By: little john cameron
15-Dec-01 - 01:02 PM
Thread Name: WHY 4 & 20 Blackbirds baked in a pie?
Subject: RE: BS: WHY 4 & 20 Blackbirds baked in a pie?
Ok ah'll bite,here's whit ah came up wi' oan the net.

The 24 blackbirds reflect 24 hours in a day; the king is the sun, the queen is the moon.
King Henry VIII is the king, Catherine of Aragon is the queen, and Anne Boleyn is the maid.
The blackbirds are--get ready for this--manorial deeds baked in a pie.
During the period when Henry VIII was taking over the property of the Catholic Church, the abbot of Glastonbury is said to have sent his steward to London with a Christmas gift intended to appease the king--a pie in which were hidden the deeds to twelve manorial estates.
The steward, Thomas Horner, is alleged to have opened the pie and extracted one deed, that of the manor of Mells, where his descendents still live. This may be the origin of the aforementioned Little Jack Horner nursery rhyme.

The song commemorates the publication of the first English bible, with the blackbirds being the letters of the alphabet set in pica type ("baked in a pie").
Personally My own uneducated opinion is that this interpretation is dubious, since the 24-letter alphabet only existed between the 10th and 11th Centuries. (W appeared in the 11th Century to condense UU, and J in the 15th Century as an initial form of I.)

Best ah could dae oan the spur o' the moment ljc