'There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile He found a crooked sixpence Against a crooked stile He bought a crooked cat Which caught a crooked mouse And they all lived together in a little crooked house.'
Throughout history, poetry and song have often been used to commemorate or satirise important historical battles, people or events. According to ‘Dunse History Society’ this traditional nursery rhyme commemorates the bloodless Battle of Duns, which took place in this area in 1639 during the Scottish Bishops’ Wars of 1639 and 1640. The ‘crooked man’ was Sir Alexander Leslie (1582-1661), later 1st Early of Leven and Lord Balgonie (1641), who led the Scottish army and would have been 57 at the time. Leslie ordered defences to be built on Duns Law. Contrary to the cat catching the mouse in the rhyme, there was no true battle as neither side wanted to fight. The Bishops’ Wars of 1639 and 1640 are viewed as the start of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1639-1652), or British Civil Wars.
Other sites suggest different origins for the poem. What do you think?
Visit the Dunse History Society's website to read more about this rhyme and explore a treasury of stories from Duns' fascinating past. http://www.dunsehistorysociety.co.uk/crooked_man.shtml