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Wee Willie Winkie
By William Miller (1810-1872)
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this into us


WILLIAM MILLER

William Miller (1810-1872) - Scottish Lyricist and Poet - Wood Turner and Cabinet Maker

Rhyme and Reason - Transcription and adaptation from THE HERALD DIARY [Glasgow] - 3rd Sep. 2009

Glasgow Lord Provost Bob Winter unveiled a plaque yesterday, the 2nd of September, 2009,  in Dennistoun, [East End of Glasgow] to commemorate the life of William Miller, the poet who composed the legendary nursery rhyme 'Willie Winkie'. A talking point at the unveiling was the fact that the original text had Willie running through the town crying, "Are the weans in their bed, for it's noo ten o'clock". Slowly, over the years, many publishers of nursery rhymes changed it to 'eight o'clock', presumably to give parents a helping hand! …..

Other reports...

 ..... A bronze memorial has been erected on on the wall of the Tennents' Brewery which sits on the site of William Miller's former house in Dennistoun. It replaces a less elaborate one which previously marked the site.

...... Miller first published the famous rhyme 'Willie Winkie' in his 1842 collection within 'Whistle-binkie': Stories for the Fireside'. It subsequently re-appeared with a number of his other song lyrics and poems in a composite volume of 'Whistle Binkie' in 1853. 'Willie Winkie' of course went on to become known in many other countries, but in translated forms.

Miller was born in Glasgow in 1810 and spent most of his boyhood in what is now the city's Parkhead area. His ambition to become a surgeon was ended by serious illness and he was eventually apprenticed as a wood-turner. He became a skilled craftsman, developing a particular talent for cabinet-making. Early in his life he began writing poetry and children’s rhymes, mainly in the Scots language he used in everyday life. Miller never managed to make a career solely as a poet and continued to work as a cabinet-maker and wood-turner for most of his life. He died of Spinal Paralysis on the 20th of August, 1872 at 21 Windsor Street, Glasgow and was buried in the family plot in Tollcross Cemetery in an unmarked grave near the main entrance.

Friends and admirers raised a memorial stone by public subscription and it stands in the Glasgow Necropolis, near the Bridge of Sighs.

His other poems include 'A Wonderful Wean', 'Gree, Bairnies Gree', 'The Sleepy Laddie' and 'John Frost'.

Willie Winkie
by William Miller

Wee Willie Winkie rins through the toun,
Up stairs and doon stairs in his nicht-gown,
Tirlin' at the window, cryin' at the lock,
"Are the weans in their bed, for it's noo ten o'clock?"

"Hey, Willie Winkie, are ye comin' ben?
The cat's singin' grey thrums to the sleepin' hen,
The dog's spelder'd on the floor, and disna gi'e a cheep,
But here's a waukrife laddie that winna fa' asleep!"

Onything but sleep, you rogue! glow'rin' like the mune,
Rattlin' in an airn jug wi' an airn spune,
Rumblin', tumblin' round about, crawin' like a cock,
Skirlin' like a kenna-what, wauk'nin' sleeping fock.

"Hey, Willie Winkie -- the wean's in a creel !
Wambling aff a bodie's knee like a very eel,
Ruggin' at the cat's lug, and ravelin' a' her thrums--
Hey, Willie Winkie -- see, there he comes!"

Wearit is the mither that has a stoorie wean,
A wee stumpie stoussie, that canna rin his lane,
That has a battle aye wi' sleep before he'll close an ee ---
But a kiss frae aff his rosy lips gies strength anew to me.

This version, paraphrased for English readers, appeared in print around 1844.

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Up stairs and down stairs in his night-gown,
Tapping at the window, crying at the lock,
Are the children in their bed, for it's past ten o'clock?

Hey, Willie Winkie, are you coming in?
The cat is singing purring sounds to the sleeping hen,
The dog's spread out on the floor, and doesn't give a cheep,
But here's a wakeful little boy who will not fall asleep!

Anything but sleep, you rogue! glowering like the moon,'
Rattling in an iron jug with an iron spoon,
Rumbling, tumbling round about, crowing like a cock,
Shrieking like I don't know what, waking sleeping folk.

Hey, Willie Winkie - the child's in a creel!
Wriggling from everyone's knee like an eel,
Tugging at the cat's ear, and confusing all her thrums
Hey, Willie Winkie - see, there he comes!"

Weary is the mother who has a dusty child,
A small short little child, who can't run on his own,
Who always has a battle wi' sleep before he'll close an eye
But a kiss from his rosy lips gives strength anew to me.

 

WILLIAM MILLER
Spouse: ISABELLA MCKAY
Marriage: 03 SEP 1837 Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland
Extracted marriage record for locality listed in the record.

1841 Scotland Census
Name: Wm Miller
Age: 30
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1811
Gender: Male
Where born: Lanarkshire, Scotland
Civil parish: Glasgow St James
County: Lanarkshire
Address: East Russell Street
Occupation: Turner
Parish Number: 644/1
Household Members: Name Age
Wm Miller 30
Isabella Miller 25
Stephen Miller 3 1/2
Sarah McKay 55
Isabella McKay 45
Barbara McKay 20
Margaret Sutherland 35
Sarah Sutherland 12
Christina Sutherland 9
George Macken 30
William Macken 30
Peter Cousin 15
****************************
1851 Scotland Census
Name: Stephen Miller
Age: 13
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1838
Relationship: Grandson
Father's Name: William
Gender: Male
Where born: Glasgow, Lanark
Parish Number: 644/1
Civil parish: Glasgow St John
County: Lanarkshire
Address: 103 Graeme Street
Occupation: Wood Turner (app)
Household schedule number: 35
Line: 1
Roll: CSSCT1851_160
Household Members: Name Age
Sarah McKay 68
Margaret Sutherland 46
William McKay 40
Sarah Sutherland 21
Stephen Miller 13

Name: Sarah McKay
Age: 68
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1783
Relationship: Head
Gender: Female
Where born: Fairburn, Rosshire
Parish Number: 644/1
Civil parish: Glasgow St John
County: Lanarkshire
Address: 103 Graeme Street

1851 Scotland Census
Name: William Miller
Age: 40
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1811
Relationship: Nephew
Gender: Male
Where born: Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Parish Number: 644/1
Civil parish: Glasgow St Paul
County: Lanarkshire
Address: 139 High Street
Occupation: Wood Sawer
Household Members: Name Age
Isabella McKay 56
William Miller 40
Isabella Miller 37
*********************************
1861 Scotland Census
Name: William Miller
Age: 50
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1811
Relationship: Head
Spouse's name : Isabella
Gender: Male
Where born: Glasgow, Lanark
Registration Number: 644/2
Registration district: High Church
Civil parish: Glasgow Barony
County: Lanarkshire
Address: 19 Salamanca St
Occupation: Wood Turner
ED: 112
Household schedule number: 34
Line: 1
Roll: CSSCT1861_99
Household Members: Name Age
William Miller 50
Isabella Miller 45 Wife
Stephen Miller 23 Son
Robert Cousin 17 Nephew

Name: Isabella Miller
Age: 45
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1816
Relationship: Wife
Spouse's name : William
Gender: Female
Where born: Glasgow, Lanark
Registration Number: 644/2
Registration district: High Church
Civil parish: Glasgow Barony
County: Lanarkshire
Address: 19 Salamanca St
************************************

1871 Scotland Census
Name: Stephen Miller
Age: 33
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1838
Relationship: Head
Spouse's name : Isabella
Gender: Male
Where born: Glasgow, Lanarkshire
Registration Number: 644/6
Registration district: Blythswood
Civil parish: Glasgow Barony
County: Lanarkshire
Address: 52 Renfield St
Occupation: Wood Engraver Employing 7 Man
ED: 23
Household schedule number: 107
Line: 3
Roll: CSSCT1871_133
Household Members: Name Age
Stephen Miller 33
Isabella Miller 33 Wife
Elizabeth Miller 5
Isabella McKay Miller 3
Jessie Cousins Miller 1
Agness McKenzie 22
George Sharp 43
Robert Cave 21
Maryann Misa 40
Jessie Cools 25
Johanna Munro 20
Ellen Taylor 23
Magg McCulloch 21
Elizabeth McComber 19
Catherine McLean 23
Catherine Scott 17
Maryann Calder 22
J B McKenzie 36


Register of Death

Other Poems

08 Cockie-Leerie-La
09 Lady Summer
10 Hairst
11 John Frost
12 Chuckie
13 Ye Maun Gang To The School
14 The Queen O' Bonny Scotland's A Mither Like Mysel'
05 The Wonderfu' Wean
06 Spring
07 Our Ain Fire-End


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