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My Sow Has Pigged is an English game that was already described as ‘obsolete’ in the 19th century.A[p. 484] It seems to have been popular from the 17th to 18th centuries. It was at first a gambling game, and then a children’s game, and was played with a standard 52-card deck.

Other than that, the rules are not known. From several references, the aim of the game was to achieve a hand entirely composed of cards of the same suit, by swapping cards with other players. Thus it is similar (perhaps even the same game) as Whehee, but it is hard to say without knowing the exact rules.

A rhyme recited by the winner was:

Higgory, diggory, digg’d,
My sow has pigg’d.B[p. 114]


In 1603 Samuel Harsnett (1561–1631) — at the time archdeacon of Essex — listed it as “my sow hath pigd” amongst several other ‘Christmas games’ in his Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures.C[p. 116]

Thomas Middleton’s 1619 play The Inner-Temple Masque, or Masque of Heroes alludes to the game amongst several others, as part of a facetious ‘last will and testament’:

Item, I leaue to their old Aunt, my Sow h’as Pigd,
a Litter of Curtizans to breede vp for Shroue-tide.D

In 1621, the poet James Taylor included it in a list of games as “my-sow-pigg’d”; and in 1629, Thomas Crosfield mentioned it in his diary as “My Sewe has Pig’d”.

It is mentioned by Fanny Burney in her journal of 1770, alongside other card games that she played: “Pope Joan, my lady’s hole [later corrected by herself to ‘commerce’], or my sow’s Pig’d”.E[p. 121]

In (much) later sources it is said to be the same as “My Bird Sings”.F[p. 311]This reference also mentions “my hen hath laid”, but that is apparently a different game (see Circle Chases).


  1. (). ⁨⁩ (3rd edition). Dick & Fitzgerald⁩: New York, NY, USA.

  2. (). ⁨⁩. John Russell Smith⁩: London.

  3. (). ⁨⁩. Iames Roberts⁩: London.

  4. (). ⁨⁩. Iohn Brovvne⁩: London.

  5. Troide⁩, ⁨Lars E. (editor) (). ⁨⁩ volume 1: ‘⁨1768–1773⁩’. McGill-Queen’s University Press⁩: Kingston & Montreal. ISBN: 0-7735-0538-5.

  6. Taylor⁩, ⁨Edward S. (editor) (). ⁨⁩. John Camden Hotten⁩: London.


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