[Sca-cooks] water and "plums"

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sat Nov 29 07:08:49 PST 2008

> Including more information on this Jack Horner story. That was quite  a 
> "plum".  But did simply having possession of the deed also give you 
> possession of the property? I'd have thought that all the Abbot would 
> have to do was simply say that the deed was meant for the King. Or  that 
> the deed itself would have had words added to it transferring  ownership 
> to the King.  Either way, taking something from the King  would seem to be 
> a rather dangerous thing to do.
> Stefan

"Plum" is a joke.  The estate includes lead mines and plumbum is Latin for 
lead (thus the chemical symbopl Pb).

BTW, the heirs of Mells deny that there is any truth in the nursery rhyme. 
Richard Whiting, the Abbot of Glastonbury, may have tried to appease Henry 
VIII with the deeds, but it didn't stop Henry from dissolving the 
monasteries and siezing their lands.  Had Whiting's steward, Jack Horner, 
actually taken the deeds, it is likely Henry would have had him for treason 
and simply taken them back.  It is much more likely that Horner served his 
King well in accounting for the monastery properties and was rewarded for 
his service.  As another piece of contemporary doggrel goes:

"Hopton, Horner, Smyth and Thynne,
When the Abbots went out, they came in."

The legal theory is that all land was owned by the Crown and that title to 
hold and use was deeded to individuals and their heirs until the title was 
revoked.  This is the initial basis of the fief in the feudal system. 
Changes of ownership tend to be recorded to prevent falsification of 
documents, deciets and frauds.  The transfer of land between Whiting and 
Henry would have been a transfer between Church and Crown, thus between two 
sovereign powers and the deeds would have been a courtesy for proper 
recording of the transfer.  Had a deed been stolen and the property assumed 
by the thief, I'm fairly certain he would have been invited to meet the 

If you're interested in the historical sources for nursery rhymes, I would 
suggest "The Annotated Mother Goose."


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