I had an enquiry this morning from one of my ecumenical opposite numbers about the song A Partridge in a Pear Tree. She had heard that this was a sort of catechetical song of the Catholic Underground during penal times. This is an explanation that I have heard, too, but I have to say that I don't find it remotely convincing. The only thing that it might teach is a child to count backwards from ten; what one might want a child to learn is not that there are seven sacraments so much as what those sacraments are—children would learn that there are seven anyway.
Several of these sorts of crypto-Catholic practices were described in Fr Mark Elvins' book Old Catholic England, and I hesitate to say that I think that lots of these connections are simply fantasy, romantic invention, but, having hesitated [……], there, I'm afraid that I do think that they are just that.
I'd be interested to hear if anyone knows any more about it: I'd be very pleased if any sort of real connection were made between these things and the recusant period.