In the introduction to The Nursery Rhyme Book, you can read, "Bessy Bell and Mary Gray were two young ladies in Scotland long ago. The plague came to Perth, where they lived, so they built a bower (cottage) in a wood, far off the town. But their lovers came to see them in the bower, and brought the infection of the plague, and they both died."

Perth was actually about seven miles away from where they lived. No one knows how they really got the plague. It all happened in about 1645.

Bessy Bell and Mary Gray - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Notes

*Lea is an area of open land sometimes in a meadow.

There's a Scottish ballad about Bessy Bell and Mary Gray that this rhyme originally came from.

Bessy Bell and Mary Gray - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Comment After Song Image

Thanks and Acknowledgements

This rhyme can be found in The Nursery Rhyme Book, edited by Andrew Lang and illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke (1897). The illustration is from The Real Mother Goose (1916), illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright.

Let us know what you think!

If you feel any comment below is inappropriate, please email us. Thanks!