Ride Away, Ride Away

Ride away, ride away,
Johnny shall ride,
And he shall have pussy-cat
Tied to one side;
And he shall have little dog
Tied to the other,
And Johnny shall ride
To see his grandmother.

Ride Away, Ride Away


Ride away, ride away is believed to have originated during the early 18th century in the rural English countryside. The Lancashire Historical Society archives revealed a fascinating find in 1806: a manuscript holding a version of the rhyme. This discovery suggests that the rhyme might have been a well-loved folk song within the local rural communities of the era.

The first known printed version of the rhyme can be found in a collection titled “The Nursery Rhymes of Old England,” published in 1840 by renowned children’s literature author and illustrator, Thomas Duffield. Duffield’s collection was groundbreaking in its time, as it was among the first to compile and document traditional nursery rhymes from various parts of the country.

The rhyme’s popularity grew significantly after it was included in the famous “Mother Goose’s Melody,” a collection compiled by John Newbery and published around 1765. This collection reached a wider audience, contributing to the spread of Ride away, ride away across the British Isles and beyond.

Meaning and Interpretation

While the origins and history of Ride away, ride away can be traced with some certainty, its meaning remains open to interpretation:

A tale of adventure: The rhyme describes a young boy named Johnny, who embarks on an exciting journey to visit his grandmother, with his cat and dog as companions. The story could be intended to entertain children with a sense of adventure and whimsy, allowing them to imagine themselves as Johnny, exploring the world with their beloved pets.

A symbol of unity and harmony: In the context of the 18th-century rural English society, the image of a child riding with a cat and dog tied to either side could symbolize unity and harmony. Cats and dogs are often portrayed as natural enemies, yet in the rhyme, they journey together peacefully. This interpretation might have been used to teach children the importance of overcoming differences and working together towards a common goal.

A reflection of rural life: At the time when the rhyme was first popular, many families in rural England relied on their animals for companionship and assistance with daily tasks. In this interpretation, the character of Johnny and his journey with his pets may represent the close bond between humans and animals in rural communities, as well as the importance of valuing and protecting these relationships.