Thanks for your comments, Strumelia! Actually, just as you thought, Bob Ridley DID originate in America as a minstrel song, and crossed the pond over to Britain in the nineteenth century minstrel craze. Not all songs travelled westward across the Atlantic!
This is very cool! Bob Ridley was a very popular mid-1800s American 'minstrel era' song, as sung here by the Canebrake Minstrels:
I never realized the song was 'imported' to America.
Wonderfully played and sung, John!