From the recording The Music of Two American Centuries
For this rollicking song, I can do no better than to quote A.L. Lloyd’s notes for his 1956 Riverside album English Drinking Songs:
This is probably an Irish importation, brought to East Anglia by migrant potato-lifters. A brief song, it opens politely and proceeds on a rapid downhill slide into maudlin defiance, resembling a gent with sprigged waistcoat and churchwardens pipe striving to shore up his dignity while the world is slipping out of focus and into a happy haze.