Old King Cole stoneware character jug designed by Leslie Harradine and produced by Royal Doulton of Lambeth, England, circa 1905. 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.