This song is often thought to be derived from the song Scarborough Fair, named The Elfin Knight by folklorists and collectors, including James Madison Carpenter who recognised the connection. Source singers usually call the song An Acre of Land. However, the resemblance is superficial. Both songs have similar agricultural phrases and also describe a series of impossible tasks. It seems possible that someone who knew the song Scarborough Fair decided to rework it as a simpler song, without the man-woman dialogue. The song in this Acre of Land form has been found often in England but hardly at all elsewhere.
Mr Cox’s tune cannot be traced in the Carpenter collection, which is a pity as it is the only version collected in Gloucestershire.