|Tommy Tucker from Kate Greenaway's Mother Goose 1881|
Sings for his supper.
What shall we give him?
White bread and butter.
How shall he eat it
Without e'er a knife?
How will he marry
Without e'er a wife?
This nursery rhyme was first published in 1829.
Around that time 'Tommy Tucker' was the colloquial name for an orphan so this rhyme is about how the orphans sang for their supper. Orphans, who were considered the lowest of the low, had to beg for their food on the streets and that is what is meant by 'singing for his supper'.
White bread and butter sounds fine but, the fact that he didn't have a knife to cut it up shows that orphans owned nothing and because of their low status within the community, it was unlikely that an orphan would ever marry.
Poor little Tommy Tucker.