There's another version of this rhyme that can be found in The Counting-out Rhymes of Children (1888) by Henry Carrington Bolton:
Bolton explains that children would play a game whereby they would be able to learn their future professions (for boys) or their husbands' future professions (for girls). They would take a number of cherry stones (pits) and point to each one while reciting a word of the rhyme. Whichever one the child ended up on would be his, or her husband's, future profession.
Then the child could go on with the following lines to determine what type of garment the bride and groom would wear to the wedding, what they'd drive to the wedding, where they'd live after they were married, and finally, when they'd get married...
Silk, satin, muslin, rags,
Coach, carriage, wheelbarrow, cart,
Palace, castle, cottage, barn,
(Or Big house, little house, pigsty, barn,)
This year, next year, three years, never.
Barbara used this rhyme for "fortune-telling" too. She wrote:
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor,
Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.
referred to what you would become later in life.
Thanks and Acknowledgements
Many thanks to Monique Palomares for the great illustration!
MP3: Jason Pomerantz