What are the lyrics to 'Mary Mary Quite Contrary'?

Just who the contrary Mary was is unknown, but we all know the rhyme's famous lyrics

Mary Mary Quite Contrary lyrics illustration
Published: June 1, 2022 at 4:34 pm
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How old is the nursery rhyme 'Mary Mary Quite Contrary'?

The nursery rhyme 'Mary, Mary, quite contrary' dates back to the 18th century, despite the theory it is about May 1 of England (Bloody Mary). It is said that the 'how does your garden grow' line refers to her lack of heirs while 'Quite contrary' is about failure to reverse her father, Henry VIII's reverse ecclesiastical changes. the last line 'pretty maids in a row' apparently signifies her miscarriages.


However this is just one theory. Other theories - or perhaps contenders is a better word - for the dubious honour of being poor old contrary Mary include Mary I's cousin, Queen Mary of Scots and even the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

For a long time the first line started with 'Mistress Mary', not 'Mary Mary'

What are the lyrics to Mary, Mary, quite contrary?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row


Illustration by William Wallace Denslow

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