It may not seem feasible that someone could be separated from one’s true love for three years and not be certain it’s him/her when they met again. But people in the 1800s began work, whether in factory, on farm or the sea, at a very young age indeed, and three years separation would change one’s appearance from child to adult.
Job Francis (71) sang Faithful Nancy to Cecil Sharp at Shipley, Sussex, 22 April 1908. I have no idea what ‘pleats and tallies’ are in the final verse. Explanations welcome!