Captain Hugh Munro

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X:1 T:Captain Hugh Munro’s Strathspey M:C| L:1/8 R:Strathspey B:MacIntyre – Collection of Slow Airs, Reels & Strathspeys (1794) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Eb B/4c/4d/|e>EC>E B,>EG,>E|B,>E A/G/F/E/ DF FB/4c/4d/|e>EC>E B,>EG,>E| D/E/F B,>A GE E>Bc<d|e>EC>E B,>EB,>E|B,>E A/G/F/E/ DF FG/A/| BGEe cADc|B<GTF>A GEE||g|e>Be>g e>cBG| A>FGE DFFA|G<BE<e d<fB<a|g<bf<a g<ee<a|{a}g>edf e<cB<G| A<FB<E D<F FG/A/|G>EB,>_D {B,}GEE||

CAPTAIN HUGH MUNRO. AKA - "Captain Hugh Munro's Strathspey." Scottish, Strathspey. E Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Composed by expatriate Scottish dancing master Duncan MacIntyre (c. 1767-c. 1807), appearing in this 1794 collection published in London (where he taught dancing). MacIntyre appears to have Perthshire connections and may have been acquainted with the Gows, for they published several of his tunes (although the connection could have been through John and Andrew Gow's London branch of the family publishing business).

The tune perhaps honors Captain Hugh Munro (although there are other captains by the name), who served with the 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, raised in 1793. He and was with the regiment the next year when the unit saw action in the French Revolutionary Wars. In October, 1794, they marched by night to Nimeguen, the Netherlands, to bolster the city's defenses against French aggression. The 78th made a sortie (for the first time under fire), and successfully engaged the enemy with bayonets. Unfortunately, Munro was severely wounded when he was hit by a musket ball from the side, which passed through both eyes, leaving him blind at the age of 24. Munro had been engaged to Jane Munro of Novar, and the couple had planned to marry on his return from duty in the Netherlands, however, on his return home her father, Sir Hector Munro, forbid Jane to marry 'The Blind Captain', as he became to be known. She was willing to elope, but the arranged event failed, and the couple parted.

The following story is told on the Alness-PastPresent site [1] (Alness, Ross & Cromarty, near the Cromarty Firth, eastern Scotland)

"Hugh threw himself into the supervision of the building of the present Teaninich House striding out the sizes of the rooms himself. The room measurements do not square up precisely and are consistent with a blind person pacing the distances. He was not afraid of danger as he would often climb up to the roof and supervise things, much to the alarm of the builders."

"Although, he did not marry, the story is that he did have a daughter by an Ardross girl who had been a servant at Teaninich. When she was old enough, he brought her home to Teaninich and brought her up to be a lady and bought Balconie Estate for her. She in turn founded a school in the Chapel in Evanton, which became known as Miss Munro's school. Jane Munro of Novar, meanwhile had married, although her love for Hugh was still strong. When she found herself in failing health, she asked to see him once more. At a service in the Parish Church, she sat in the Novar balony. When she saw the Captain being led in to the Teaninich balcony, wearing his distinctive green glasses, Jane collapsed and died soon after."

"The Blind Captain founded Teaninich Distillery in 1817. At the time the Customs and Excise were trying to clamp down on illicit whisky distilling, so landlords were urged to set up legal distilleries. Teaninich's output increased 30 or 40 times by 1830 after the Excise act of 1823 reduced the fiscal burden on legal distillers."

Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - Glen (The Glen Collection of Scottish Dance Music, vol. 2), 1895; p. 31. MacIntyre (A Collection of Slow Airs, Reels & Strathspeys), 1794; p. 6.

Recorded sources: -

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