Jon accredits this as “From Barry Dransfield. The tune is very old but this is the best use of it I’ve come across.”
Mainly Norfolk seems to indicate that there are several different ‘nonsense’ chorus variants and this one seems to be Dransfield’s. I’m also intrigued by Bert’s notes about the age and origins of the story. Although I’m wary of accepting it as the actual root, it at least shows a common and widespread tale that crosses different cultures. You’ll note it’s in the Child collection as well and has several alternate title including The Cursed (or Curst) Wife. Mudcat away here as well as there’s plenty more information including a Rabbie Burns version. Is it just coincidence that along with yesterdays, there was a whistling part to this? OK! So, the one yesterday is a modern addition by the Highwaymen and today’s is a much older part based on the idea that whistling summoned the Devil, but spooky none the less. As for the tune – William Of Orange’s marching tune? Flutes, whistles? OOooer!