The Story Behind the Nursery Rhyme: Bingo

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Bingo the Dog

Bingo is the dog (not the farmer)
Is Bingo the farmer or the dog? It’s a genuine question. On the internet. Here’s how we’d answer it. The first line of the rhyme is:

There was a farmer had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-o.

Now, if there was an extra comma, like this:

There was a farmer, who had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-o,
then we’d possibly agree that the farmer was called Bingo.

The Original words to Bingo

It began as a drinking song
Experts think the tune is Scottish - like Soundbops! It was first written down in 1780 by an actor called William Swords. It was originally a drinking song, and we think drinkers would take a glug of their lemonade at the end of each verse.
Over time, it became a nursery rhyme and a counting game. Singers spell out B-I-N-G-O in the first verse, and replace the letters one by one with a clap as the song goes on.

The Ingoldsby Legends

Leap o’er the stile
There was a Victorian comic writer (and clergyman) called Richard Barham. He wrote funny stories and poems for a magazine, and eventually put them all together in a book called The Ingoldsby Legends in 1840.

He wrote about a jackdaw who steals a Cardinal’s ring, and gave a recipe for salad, and wrote a pretend-old version of Bingo called A Franklyn’s Dogge. We call this a parody.

It is so convincing that many people still believe it was a Medieval poem.

Q. What’s a dog’s favourite instrument?
A. A trom-bone

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