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 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).
Dick, William Brisbane (). The American Hoyle (3rd edition). Dick & Fitzgerald: New York, NY, USA.
Halliwell-Phillipps, James Orchard (). Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales: A sequel to the Nursery Rhymes of England. John Russell Smith: London.
Harsnett, Samuel (). A declaration of egregious popish impostures to with-draw the harts of her Maiesties subiects from their allegeance, and from the truth of Christian religion professed in England, vnder the pretence of casting out deuils. Practised by Edmunds, alias Weston a Iesuit, and diuers Romish priestes his wicked associates. Where-vnto are annexed the copies of the confessions, and examinations of the parties themselues, which were pretended to be possessed, and dispossessed, taken vpon oath before her Maiesties commissioners, for causes ecclesiasticall. Iames Roberts: London.
Taylor, Edward S. (editor) (). The History of Playing Cards, with Anecdotes of their use in Conjuring, Fortune-Telling, and Card-Sharping. John Camden Hotten: London.