Rock a Bye Baby Rhyme

Nursery Rhyme – American & English History
Origins of words to “Rock a bye baby” in American history
The words and lyrics to the “Rock a bye baby” rhyme are reputed to reflect the observations of a young pilgrim boy in America who had seen Native Indian mothers suspend a birch bark cradle from the branches of a tree. Thus enabling the wind to rock the cradle and the child to sleep!  This rhyme is also known as “Hush a bye baby” which is the correct title. The confusion regarding these lyrics occurred due to the popularity of the old Al Jolson classic song “Rock a bye my baby with a Dixie melody!”


Origins of words to “Rock a bye baby” in English history dating back to the 1700’s

The story of the Nursery Rhyme relates to a family who lived in a tree house which was formed within a massive Yew tree. The Yew Tree concerned was believed to be nearly 2000 years old. The family were charcoal burners who lived in Shining Cliff Woods, Ambergate, Derbyshire in the 1700’s. The ancient occupation of Charcoal Burning would be conducted by people who actually lived in the woods. Just like like this family. Their names were Kate and Luke Kennyon and they lived in what was locally called the ‘Betty Kenny Tree’ – a colloquialism for Kate Kenyon. The Kenyons had 8 children and a tree bough was hollowed out to act as a cradle for their children! Shining Cliff Woods was owned at the time by the Hurt family. The Kenyons were favoured by the Hurts who commissioned the artist James Ward of the Royal Academy to paint their portraits. The Yew tree still exists but was severely fire damaged by vandals in the 1930s. More information may be located on the Amber Valley Borough Council website.

Out grateful thanks go to James Hamilton for providing us with the lead to the English origins to Rock a Bye Baby.


Rock-a-bye, baby
On the treetop
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
But mama will catch u
Cradle and all

Baby is drowsing
Cozy and fair
Mother sits near
In her rocking chair
Forward and back
The cradle she swings
And though baby sleeps
He hears what she sings

Hush a by baby
Up in the sky
On a soft cloud
its easy to fly
Angels watch keep watch
Over as u sleep
So hush a by baby
Dont make a peep

Rock a by baby
Do not u fear
Never mind baby
Mother is near
Wee little fingers
Eyes are shut tight
Now sound asleep
Until morning light


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