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 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.
According to British legend, some think the rhyme was written about King Cole who lived in the town of Colcester in Essex England in the third century AD. It was claimed he was the father of St. Helena who later gave birth to the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor.
Then again, others think the rhyme was written after Sir Walter Raleigh brought tobacco from the New World in 1585. Yet others think the "pipe" was not refering to a smoking pipe but rather a flute because of the last lyrics of the rhyme "Oh there's none so rare, as can compare with King Cole and his fiddlers three. That suggests he played the flute along with the fiddlers. .
Then there's King Coel of Northern England, but that's another story.