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Chris Brown, contributing to the online forum Mudcat Café, wrote in 2010 “Jacobs Well is found in lots of different versions on both sides of the Atlantic. All the versions stem from an original by Joseph Grigg (c1720-1768), a minister in London who retired early to St Albans. The text, based on John 4 v5-15, is about the difficulties faced by the Evangelical Revival in the mid 1700s. As people have said the first printing of text and tune together was in 1801 by John Beaumont, who was a musician and Methodist preacher from Holmfirth in Yorkshire.”
The carol was printed at various times by broadsheet printers and is found currently in oral tradition in the repertoire of carol singers in Yorkshire and Derbyshire.