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The True Meaning of Little Jack Horner

Little Jack Horner, the true story

the-true-meaning-of-little-jack-horner

The true meaning of Little Jack Horner.


Little Jack Horner sat in the corner

Probably not what you would expect for a nursery rhyme.

Eating his Christmas pie,
He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum
And said "What a good boy am I!"

The Nursery Rhyme of Little Jack Horner

Was Jack Horner a real person?


On the surface we never really expect any nursery rhyme character to exist but remarkably Little Jack Horner actually did exist, and as opposed to other nursery rhymes he was a real person and what's more he really did 'Pull out a plum', even the pie was real, but whether he was a good boy or not, the answer I will leave for you to decide.

During his reign King Henry VIII ordered Thomas Cromwell to lead his men and demolish all monasteries in England because the King had broken away from the Catholic Church. Cromwell was tasked not only to pull down all catholic establishments but to plunder their chattels, hand over all the gold, silver and land to Henry VIII. Monasteries were a rich source of wealth in terms of cash and goods.

Today, we know Glastonbury for the famous rock concerts and festivals but in Henry's day it was a Benedictine Monastery. the largest and wealthiest Abbey in his Kingdom.

Liitle Jack Horner from Amazon

Who was Little Jack Horner?


Jack Horner Esquire was Steward to The Bishop of Glastonbury, Richard Whiting 1461 – 1539. The job of Steward was an executive position, very few men would be trusted to do this job. Jack Horner was privileged to run the household of the Bishop, administer the accounts of the Abbey and collect rents, taxes and fees from tenants, peasants and others connected within the manor of Glastonbury.

This vast estate had escaped King Henry VIII's army of demolition experts and pillagers but knowing that it was the very last religious property remaining in Somerset he had to accept that his days were numbered and he needed to act fast,it was only a matter of time before his entire livelihood would be harshly taken away.

He knew Henry VIII didn't mind a bribe or two so the Bishop took the decision to take full advantage of the shady side of King Henry. He made a plan and confided in one man that he could really trust, Jack Horner.

He tasked Horner with delivering a very special gift to the king, it was to be a very large top quality pie filled with nothing less than twelve title deeds relating to an assortment of English manorial estates owned that were owned by the Bishop.

Why use a pie to hide the documents?


All types of thieves and vagabonds roamed the streets of England. There was no police force and 'thief takers' were generally corrupt. It was all too common for travellers not only to be cautious but to be very creative in hiding their valuable goods in order they can thwart robbers. Personally I think it is questionable that a pie would really divert the attention of starving criminals, a tasty pie would be an added bonus!

However, the story goes that a pies was used to conceal the booty.


Jack Horner was no fool and did not believe that King Henry would even dream of accepting twelve title deeds for small properties instead of one the entire Abbey and all that land including those twelve other properties. There was also a threat that King Henry could turn on the messenger in revenge for the shear audacity.

Jack had to think very fast, he could not refuse do undertake the errand, nor could he argue with the Bishop. In Jack's mind the solution was obvious, he would simply steal the title deeds of the manor of Mells. It was prime real estate and certainly would be considered to be the real 'plum' out of those twelve other manors. It was the deeds to the property and land that was secreted in the plum pie.

King Henry did reject the pie, just as Jack Horner predicted but for self preservation he had to protect himself so he chose to hand over The Bishop to Henry VIII, he was subsequently arrested by the King's men, charged and convicted of treason, the crime he was accused of committing was that he acted against the crown by remaining loyal to Rome.

What Happened to Jack Horner?


Little Jack Horner was very lucky indeed and appointed as one of the jury that sat in the trial of The Bishop of Glastonbury. He was to become one of the 'twelve good men and true' and he sat on the jury during the trial of Bishop Whiting who was found guilty and sentenced to death.

It was not a quick execution by any means, he was hung, drawn and quartered on Glastonbury Tor. This kind of torture was reserved for traitors.

Horner walked away a free man and retained his deeds, he then legally owned the property and indeed moved into the Manor of Mells it remained in the Horner family right up until the 20th century,

What was to happen to Glastonbury Abbey? King Henry sent his men to destroy it.

Henry VIII and his connection with Little Jack Horner

Henry VIII and his connection with Little Jack Horner

The Monasteries That King Henry VIII Destroyed

An example of the Monasteries that were dissolved by King Henry VIII, the list is by no means comprehensive as there were over 800 religious houses existed before the Reformation. Almost every town, of every size, had at least one abbey, priory, conv

AbbeyAreaYear It Was Destroyed

Abingdon Abbey

Abingdon

1538

Bardney Abbey

Bardsey Abbey

1538

Bardsey Abbey

Aberdaron

1537

Barking Abbey

Barking

1539

Basingwerk Abbey

Holywell

1536

Bath Abbey

Bath

1539

Battle Abbey

Battle

1538

Beauvale Charterhouse

Hucknall

1539

Beaulieu Abbey

Beaulieu

1538

Belvoir Priory

Belvoir

1539

Binham Priory

Binham Priory

1539

Bisham Abbey

Bisham

1539

Blackfriars, Derby

Derby

1538

Blackfriars, Leicester

Leicester

1536

Blackfriars, Newcastle

Newcastle Upon Tyne

1536

Bolton Abbey

Bolton

1540

Bourne Abbey

Bourne

1536

Boxgrove Priory

Boxgrove

1536

Bradley Priory

Bradley

1536

Breadsall Priory

Breadsall

1536

Breedon Priory

Breedon On The Hill

1539

Bridlington Priory

Bridlington Bridlington

1538

Brinkburn Priory

Brinkburn

1536

Brooke Priory

Brooke

1535/6

Buckfast Abbey

Buckfastleigh

1539

Buckland Abbey

Buckland Abbey

1539

Buildwas Abbey

Buildwas

1538

Byland Abbey

Byland By Wass

1536

Calke Priory

Calke

1538

Canons Ashby Priory

Canons Ashby

1538

Cardigan Priory

Cardigan

1536

Carmarthen Friary

Carmarthen

1538

Carmarthen Priory

Carmarthen

1536

Cartmel Priory

Lower Allithwaite

1536

Castle Acre Priory

Castle Acre

1537

Charterhouse London

Londom

1537

Christchurch Priory

Christchurch

1539

Cirencester Abbey

Cirencester

1539

Cleeve Abbey

Cleeve

1536

Colchester Abbey

Colchester

1539

Croyland Abbey

Croyland

1539

Croxden Abbey

Croxden

1538

Croxton Abbey

Croxton Kerrial

1538

Dalby and Heather Preceptory

Old Dalby

1538

Dale Abbey

Dale Abbey

1538

Darley Abbey

Darley

1538

Delapré Abbey

Northampton

1538

Dore Abbey

Abbey Dore

1536

Dudley Priory

Dudley

1539

Dunstable Priory

Dunstable

1540

Easby Abbey

Easby

1537

Egglestone Abbey

Barnard Castle

1540

Ewenny Priory

Ewenny

1536

Eye Priory

Eye

1537

Folkestone Priory

Folkestone

1535

Forde Abbey

Thorncombe

1539

Fountains Abbey

Lindrick with Studley Royal and Fountains

1539

Furness Abbey

Barrow in Furness

1537

Garendon Abbey

Shepsted

1536

Gisborough Priory

Gisborough

1540

Glastonbury Abbey

Glastonbury

1539

Grace Dieu Priory

Thringstone

1538

Greyfriars, Leicester

Leicester

1538

Great Malvern Priory

Malvern

1539

Gresley Priory

Church Gresley

1536

Hailes Abbey

Stanway

1539

Halesowen Abbey

Halesowen

1538

Haltemprice Priory

Willerby

1536

Haughmond Abbey

Huffington

1539

Haverholme Priory

Ewerby and Evedon

1539

Hexham Abbey

Hexham

1537

Holy Trinity Priory

Aldgate, City of London

1532

Jarrow Priory

Jarrow

1536

Jervaulx Abbey

East Witton

1537

Kidwelly Priory

Kidwelly

1539

King's Mead Priory

Derby

1536

Kirby Bellars Priory

Kirby Bellars

1536

Kirkstall Abbey

Kirkstall

1539

Lacock Abbey

Lacock

1539

Lanercost Priory

Burtholme

1538

Langdon Abbey

Dover

1538

Langley Priory

Leicester

1536

Launde Priory

Leicester

1539

Leicester Abbey

Leicester

1538

Leicester Austin Friary

Leicester

1538

Lenton Priory

Lenton

1538

Lewes Priory

Lewes

1537

Lindisfarne Priory

Holy Island

1536

Llanthony Priory

Crucorney

1538

Maenan Abbey

Llanddoged and Maenan

1536

Malmesbury Abbey

Malmesbury

1536

Margam Abbey

Margam

1538

Mattersey Priory

Mattersey

1538

Michelham Priory

Arlington

1537

Milton Abbey

Milton Abbas

1539

Monkwearmouth Abbey

Sunderland

1536

Mount Grace Priory

East Harsley

1539

Neath Abbey

Dyffryn Clydach

1539

Nettley Abbey

Hound

1536

Was Jack Horner a naughty boy?

Comments

Marcy Louis Suliman on October 19, 2015:

Cool thanks it helped my to make my homework once more thanks so much

kelleyward on February 09, 2012:

Very interesting and creative way to present this story. I found this to be interesting and beautiful. Can't wait to share it with others!

john horner on November 15, 2011:

thanks for the story !!!