This piece is based on the traditional sea chantey, "Faithless Nancy Dawson," also known as "A-Rovin," from the lyrics of the chorus:
Since rovin's been my ru-i-in,
We'll go no more a-rovin',
With you fair maid."
The song is apparently associated with the well-known London dancer and actress Ann Newton (1728-67), whose stage name was Nancy Dawson. She became famous for dancing a solo performance of a hornpipe between acts in a 1759 revival of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera at London's Covent Garden Theatre. (text continued in download)