"This Old Man"
is an English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...
Children's song may be a nursery rhyme set to music, a song that young children invent and share among themselves, or a modern creation intended for entertainment, use in the home, or education...
, counting and nursery rhyme
The term nursery rhyme is used for "traditional" poems for young children in Britain and many other countries, but usage only dates from the 19th century and in North America the older ‘Mother Goose Rhymes’ is still often used.-Lullabies:...
with a Roud Folk Song Index
The Roud Folk Song Index is a database of 300,000 references to over 21,600 songs that have been collected from oral tradition in the English language from all over the world...
number of 3550.
Origins and history
The origins of this song are obscure. The earliest extant record is a version noted in Anne Gilchrist
Anne Gilchrist OBE FSA was a British folk-song collector.Anne Geddes Gilchrist was born in Manchester, to Scottish parents. She had a musical upbringing and was related to Rev Neil Livingston, who compiled a psalter. After meeting Sabine Baring-Gould she became involved with folk music and joined...
's Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society
(1937), learnt from her Welsh nurse in the 1870s under the title "Jack Jintle" with the lyrics:
My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but one,
And I can play nick-nack upon my own thumb.
With my nick-nack and pad-lock and sing a fine song,
And all the fine ladies come dancing along.
My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but two,
And I can play nick-nack upon my own shoe.
With my nick-nack, etc.
The more familiar version begins:
This old man, he played one,
He played knick-knack on my thumb;
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.
This old man, he played two,
He played knick-knack on my shoe;
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.
This version was included in Cecil Sharp
Cecil James Sharp was the founding father of the folklore revival in England in the early 20th century, and many of England's traditional dances and music owe their continuing existence to his work in recording and publishing them.-Early life:Sharp was born in Camberwell, London, the eldest son of...
and Sabine Baring-Gould
The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould was an English hagiographer, antiquarian, novelist and eclectic scholar. His bibliography consists of more than 1240 publications, though this list continues to grow. His family home, Lew Trenchard Manor near Okehampton, Devon, has been preserved as he had it...
's English Folk-Songs for Schools
, published in 1906. It was collected several times in England in the early twentieth century with a variety of lyrics. In 1948 it was included by Pete Seeger
Peter "Pete" Seeger is an American folk singer and was an iconic figure in the mid-twentieth century American folk music revival. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead...
and Ruth Crawford in their American Folk Songs for Children
and recorded by Seeger in 1953. It received a boost in popularity when it was adapted for the 1958
The year 1958 in film involved some significant events.-Events:* February 16- "In the Money" by William Beaudine is released on this date. It would be the last installment of The Bowery Boys series which began back in 1946....
film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is a 1958 American 20th Century Fox film based on the true story of Gladys Aylward, a tenacious British maid, who became a missionary in China during the tumultuous years leading up to World War II...
by composer Malcolm Arnold
Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold, CBE was an English composer and symphonist.Malcolm Arnold began his career playing trumpet professionally, but by age thirty his life was devoted to composition. He was ranked with Benjamin Britten as one of the most sought-after composers in Britain...
as "The Children's Marching Song", which led to hit singles for Cyril Stapleton
Cyril Stapleton was an English violinist and jazz bandleader.Born in Mapperley, Nottingham, Stapleton began playing violin at age 7, and played on local radio at the age of 12. He performed on the BBC Radio often in his teenage years, and played in film orchestras accompanying silent films...
and Mitch Miller
Mitchell William "Mitch" Miller was an American musician, singer, conductor, record producer, A&R man and record company executive...
The term "Paddywack" was used from at least the early nineteenth century to describe an angry person, specifically a "Brawny Irishman". From at least the 1970s sensitivity over possible racism has meant that the song is often sung as "Knick-knack patty-whack", particularly in the United States.