“Wee Willie Winkie Runs Through the Town”


"Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town, Upstairs and downstairs in his night gown, Rapping at the window, crying through the lock, Are the children all in bed, for now it's eight o'clock?"


Opie-Oxford2: "'Willie Winkie, as may be seen in Jacobite songs, was a nickname for William III (d.1702), and according to Robert L. Ripley the rhyme refers to that king." - BS

The Baring-Goulds also note that "Wee Willie Winkie was the nickname given to William Prince of Orange" (who became William III in 1689). But they doubt its political significance. And, if they are correct in attributing it to William Miller, they are almost surely right in questioning it. Who would be writing concealed verse about William III in the reign of Victoria? - RBW


  1. Opie-Oxford2 529, "Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town" (1 text)
  2. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #813, p. 303, "(Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town)"
  3. Montgomerie-ScottishNR 132, "(Wee Wilie Winkie)" (1 text)
  4. Roud #13711
  5. BI, OO2529


Author: William Miller?
Earliest date: 1841 (Whistle-Binkie, according to Opie-Oxford2)
Keywords: nonballad children