Old King Cole

"Old King Cole" was more than a nursery rhyme -he was a real person, and had a hand in shaping world history. King Coel, (that is the correct way to spell his name) was the 56 great grandfather of Orville Sutherland Cox. Here is the story.

At the time Jesus was crucified, some of the Jews talked of killing Lazarus who was raised from the dead by Jesus. (John 12: 10) About the time they stoned Stephen, the Jews put Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, Joseph of Arimathea and his daughter Anna on a ship without a rudder, oars, or sails, and turned it loose on the Mediterranean Sea.

Joseph of Arimathea was a brother to Heli, the father of Mary and grandfather of Jesus (Luke 3:23). Jesus was buried in Joseph's tomb.

The rudderless ship floated westward past Italy, then northward and landed at Marseille, France (then called Gaul). Some of them remained in southern France and Spain. Others walked northwest across France and crossed to Great Britain, at that time all part of the Roman Empire. Britain was divided into several kingdoms. One of the kings married Anna.

The Reader's Digest reported that the cobblestone foundation of the Christian Church Joseph built has been located near London.

A third great grandson of Anna was Coel, King of Colechester in southwest England about 275 AD. He is the widely known "Old King Cole, a merry old soul!" At that time the Roman Armies had been in England for over 200 years. Coel knew he could not conquer them with the sword, so he used music. He had 3 Fiddlers and he played the pipes -Scotchbag pipes, perhaps ? (King Coel did not smoke a pipe, because tobacco was not introduced into England until 1000 years later).

The Roman Officers liked to hear Coel's music. When the Roman Commander-in-Chief visited Colechester, he visited the King's palace. There he saw King Coel's beautiful Christian daughter, Helena, and married her. When their son Constantine became Emperor of Rome, he passed a law for everyone to become Christians. You might say King Coel with his music converted the world to Christianity.

-Orville Cox Day

The Encyclopedia Britannica Coel Hen ancestors and about Coel Hen talks about 3 Coels, with 'The Old" being about 200 years later than "The Magnificent" described above. I find no information to contradict the details of O. C. Day's information, just that the nursery rhyme was about the later Coel Hen, "The Old".
C. T. Cox      January 2008

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
    And a merry old soul was he .
He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl,
     And he called for his fiddlers three.

Every fiddler, he had a fiddle,
     And a very fine fiddle had he;
Oh, there's none so rare as can compare
     With King Cole and his fiddlers three