The origins of this song are uncertain, but it may date to 1864 and be inspired by the Franco-Prussian War.
This song was published in The Nursery Rhymes of England , collected by Joseph Ritson, published in 1803.
It was also suggested that the nursery rhyme is a coded reference to the contemporary political situation and especially to Richard Cobden’s efforts to repeal the Corn Laws.
The English fasces , representing strength through unity, was included in the design of this sheet music.
According to another theory, it may be a reference to an old punishment in which a child is placed in a closed sack made of nettles and beaten, with the rhythm matching the rhyme of the song.