This nursery rhyme can be found in print, in a shorter version, as early as 1626…
There was a monkey climbed up a tree,
When he fell down, then down fell he.
There was a crow sat on a stone,
When he was gone, then there was none.
There was an old wife did eat an apple,
When she had eaten two, she had eaten a couple.
There was a horse going to the mill,
When he went on, he stood not still.
There was a butcher cut his thumb,
When it did bleed, then blood did come.
There was a lackey ran a race,
When he ran fast, he ran apace.
There was a cobbler clouting shoon*,
When they were mended, they were done.
There was a chandler making candle,
When he them stripped, he did them handle.
There was a navy went to Spain,
When it returned, it came again.
Thanks and Acknowledgements
This rhyme can be found in The Nursery Rhymes of England, collected and edited by James Orchard Halliwell (1843) and The Nursery Rhyme Book, edited by Andrew Lang and illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke (1897).
Halliwell wrote about this rhyme in 1843, "From MS. Sloane, 1489, fol.19, written about the year 1600. Mr. Wright informs me this relates to events in the reign of James I."