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Although there are several copies printed in the seventeenth century none of them can definitely be dated prior to the 1670s. This ballad is quite likely the original and it continued in cheap print throughout the following two centuries. A 17th century rewrite followed hot on the heels of the original and some time in the eighteenth century it was rewritten and extended in Scotland, probably by a broadside hack. The ballad has been popular and widespread in oral tradition throughout the last three centuries and more on both sides of the Atlantic, especially in the USA.