"Mary Had a Little Lamb" is an English language nursery rhyme of nineteenth-century American origin. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 7622.
The nursery rhyme was first published (as opposed to written) by the Boston publishing firm Marsh, Capen & Lyon, as an original poem by Sarah Josepha Hale on May 24, 1830, and was inspired by an actual incident.
As a girl, Mary Sawyer (later Mrs. Mary Tyler) kept a pet lamb, which she took to school one day at the suggestion of her brother. A commotion naturally ensued. Mary recalled::"Visiting school that morning was a young man by the name of John Roulstone, a nephew of the Reverend Lemuel Capen, who was then settled in Sterling. It was the custom then for students to prepare for college with ministers, and for this purpose Mr. Roulstone was studying with his uncle. The young man was very much pleased with the incident of the lamb; and the next day he rode across the fields on horseback to the little old schoolhouse and handed me a slip of paper which had written upon it the three original stanzas of the poem..."