I’ve long held the unsubstantiated theory that the nursery rhyme is the bowdlerized version of a darker true story…
Jack and Jill had to go up the hill because a rich and powerful land baron had bought up all the high ground and then constructed a dam on the only stream flowing into the valley. The kids were the leaders of a student protest movement and were starting a “Free the Fetch” direct-action campaign of radical non-compliance in order to overthrow the monopolistic trust company that was hoarding what should be a common-good shared resource.
Pinkerton Agents were escorting the couple off the private property when Jack “accidentally” fell and suffered severe head trauma. Jill claimed to have been detained and sexually assaulted before being roughly thrown off the premises but the local magistrate (the land baron’s son-in-law) summarily determined her story to be without merit.
A local balladeer wrote a stirring protest song that championed the couple’s actions but under mysterious circumstances he shortly decided to sell the rights to the song to a publishing company owned by the land baron. A hastily released version with gentler melody and revised lyrics is the basis for what we know today. The actual details are lost to the mists of time, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!