The earliest version of “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” first known as “Mistress Mary, Quite contrary” was recorded in the “Pretty Song Book” a collection of nursery rhymes published by Tommy Thumb, dating back to about 1744.

The origins of “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” are uncertain. The character of Mary has been most often related to Bloody Mary or Mary Tudor, first daughter of Henry VIII who later became England’ Queen Mary I.

This is a reliable theory as “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” nursery rhyme originated in England.

Other sources claim that the song is about Mary Queen of Scots. There are also some other religious associations regarding the silver bells in the song representing the Catholic “sanctus bells” or “altar bells”.

“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” Lyrics

Modern Version:

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

“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” Original Version:

Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells,
And so my garden grows.

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