Old King Cole character jug produced in the United States circa 1960. "Old King Cole" is a British nursery rhyme first attested in 1708. The question of this jolly monarch's identity has been a subject of speculation for centuries. He is described in the popular nursery rhyme as "a merry old soul" fond of his pipe, glass and fiddlers three. The twelfth century chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth, records that the town of Colchester takes its name from a monarch named Coel who lived in the third century. Yet another explanation of the rhyme is given by Sir Walter Scott who claimed that the Old King was in fact the fabled father of the giant Fyn M'Coule. The most likely origin, however, was a Reading merchant named Colebrook who is found in Thomas Delaney's "Historie of Thomas of Reading". Known as Old Cole, this merchant was extremely rich and had no less than 140 servants and 300 poor people working for him. The head of one of King Cole's fiddlers forms the top of the handle. "Old King Cole" is inscribed around the rear of the jug.