Early broadsides reveal two different but related songs. “The Gown of Green” was printed in the early part of the 19th century, but that is not the song we have here. In the 19th century broadside, a sailor leaves his sweetheart for North America and marches from New York to Imos (sic) where bloody battles occur, whereas the song sung here is known on the broadside as “Answer to the Gown of Green” and relates the returning sailor being reunited with his sweetheart. So it seems that the Answer was the one taken up by the tradition and as such it has appeared in England and Scotland, but not in the USA or Canada.
Harry’s version is the one we give here but several of his siblings also knew and sang the song.