Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  English Folklore  Index  Previous  Next 


WE have no reliable information of the birth, parentage, or education of Margery Daw, but we have a nursery rhyme which clearly indicates that she must have been a sloven--perhaps an ancient picture of a literary lady, who was by her sad habit reduced to extreme necessity.

See saw, Margery Daw,

clearly indicates a lazy woman rocking herself either in deep thought, or for want of thought.

Sold her bed and lay on the straw;

this was stage the first of her degradation. She sold her straw and lay in the smut, the second and final stage, which may well induce the poet to inquire--

Was not she a dirty slut?

Another version of Margery's story is more distinct as to her

See saw,
Margery Daw,
Sold her bed
And lay on the straw;
She sold her straw,
And lay upon hay,
So piskies came
And carried her away.

A friend, in writing to me on this dirty Cornish saint, is disposed to regard St Margery Daw as a very devout Roman Catholic, and to refer the version of her story which I have given first to the strong feeling shown by many Protestants against those pious women who rejected the finery of the world, and submitted for the sake of their souls to those privations which formed at one time the severe rule of conventual life. Margery and the fairies are supposed to have left England together at the time of the Reformation, but she has left her name to several Cornish mines.

Next: The Fairy Revels on the "Gump" St Just