America's Dusty Files - December 18, 1719 - Thomas Fleet Publishes "Mother Goose's Melodies For Children
|A Year of Colonial American Frontier History|
Legends sometimes persist in history, and the origin of the Mother Goose rhymes is one of them. A popular legend in Boston is the origin of the rhymes, supposedly published by Thomas Fleet in 1719. A second, more credible, theory ascribes them to French author Charles Perrault.
Thomas Fleet (September 8, 1685 - July 21, 1758)
A native of Shropshire, England, Fleet learned the printing trade in Bristol, England before immigrating to Boston around 1712. He started a printing business and became successful, establishing a weekly newspaper called the Weekly Rehearsal in 1733. He changed the name of the paper to the Boston Evening Post in 1735.
Thomas Fleet's Legend
Local legend in Boston ascribes the publication of the rhymes to Fleet's mother in law, Elizabeth Vergoose, who sang nursery rhymes to Thomas' son Thomas, as he lay in his crib. Fleet copied the rhymes down and published them as "Mother Goose's Melodies for Children" in 1719. The book became popular, selling for two coppers.
The Charles Perrault Legend
This legend, which most historians feel is more credible, involves a French author that lived between 1628 and 1703. In 1697, he published a book entitled Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals, with the subtitle Tales of Mother Goose. The stories were traditional French tales that many believe have their origin in songs sung by Charlemagne's (c.742-814) mother. Perrault published this, and other, stories for children from 1697 through 1699.
A Year of Colonial American Frontier History