Those who believe the rhyme has something to do with Mary Queen of Scots think that the “spider” is, in fact, John Knox, infamous religious reformer. Plus, there was a pretty big gap between the publication of the poems and the death of Dr. Thomas Muffet.
The rhyme appears in a number of works today in different forms, including “Along Came a Spider” by James Patterson.
Little Miss Muffet
Little Miss Muffet is an excellent precursor to realizing how girls, women, and fully grown men handle seeing spiders in unexpected places.
The first recorded version of the rhyme dates back to the 19th century in England and was printed in an 1805 publication titled "Songs for the Nursery." It tells the tale and of a young woman who’s just trying to enjoy her cottage cheese outdoors on a nice day but gets startled by the sight of a spider.
The True Story
Interestingly enough, Little Miss Muffet is based on a real person: Patience, daughter of Dr. Thomas Muffet, who passed away in 1604.
Muffet was a physician and entomologist who authored a book about insects. And, of course, the rhyme has somehow also been rumored to be connected to Mary, Queen of Scots.
Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
Now, this rhyme has a pretty good chance of being based on Bloody Mary — it even has her name in the title, twice. Of course, there are a few other theories about the origins of this popular nursery rhyme, most of which have some historical or religious significance.
The difference between this and the other ones previously on the list is that this one's darkness is a bit hidden rather than laid out on the surface to see.
"Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?" That is the first line of the most famous variation of the rhyme that floats around today. The original version isn't so different, simply beginning with “Mistress Mary” instead.
Many say the rhyme is a religious allegory of Catholicism, while others say the silver bells and cockle shells refer to Bloody Mary's torture devices. Yikes!