In order to understand this nursery rhyme, "See Saw Sack-a-day", you need to know a little history about the British throne. The Dukes of Monmouth, Richmond and Grafton were all illegitimate sons of King Charles II. Charles II had no legitimate children. The "pious brother" was Charles' actual brother, who thus became King James II after Charles died.

Interestingly, this rhyme has some modern significance. Diana, the Princess of Wales descended from the Dukes of Grafton and Richmond. Prince William, Diana's son, is in line for the throne. If he becomes king one day, he'll be the first heir of King Charles II to become a monarch.


Halliwell (a collector of nursery rhymes in the 19th century) wrote the following about this rhyme: "Taken from MS. Douce, 357, fol. 124. See Echard's 'History of England,' book iii, chap. 1." MS Douce was written circa 1642.

See Saw Sack-a-day - 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 Rhymes of England" 5th edition (1886), collected by James Orchard Halliwell and illustrated by W. B. Scott.

Photo: Wikipedia