Colonel Robertson of Strewan's Welcome Home
COLONEL ROBERTSON OF STREWAN'S WELCOME HOME. AKA and see "Wearmouth Lads." Scottish, Jig. E Dorian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The jig is attributed to the great Perthshire fiddler Niel Gow (1727-1807) in honor of Colonel Alexander Robertson of Struan (also Strowan) in Perthshire. However, it earlier appered in the 1770 music manuscript collection of Northumbrian musician William Vickers under the title "Wearmouth Lads," a reference to a town in north-east England (now called Sunderland).
Many of the Robertson lands in Perthshire had been annexed as a result of the family's involvement in the Rising of 1745, and the remainder eventually devolved upon Alexander, who obtained a restitution of the Strowan in 1784. This was perhaps in part due to his service in the 82nd Hamilton Regiment. The 82nd was raised in 1778 by the 8th Duke of Hamilton for service in the war in North America (the American Revolution). Landing at Halifax, Nova Scotia, the force was detailed to build a fort on the Penobscot River, Maine, to interrupt Boston shipping and to protect the loyalists to the north. Paul Revere led an attack on the fort which laid siege for several weeks before being driven off by British reinforcements. The fort, however, was a loss and was abandoned by the Redcoats. The 82nd next saw service in the Carolinas assisting Cornwallis at Yorktown, and, after the surrender, the troops returned to Halifax. As part of the pay-out of the regiment the 82nd received a large land grant in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, which was divided up into lots. Many soldiers sold their lots, while others visited them-only to promptly return to Halifax to re-enlist. Some fifty actually decided to settle in the county. Colonel Robertson did not, however, although Robertson Island, Pictou County, Nova Scotia (also known as Big Merigornish Island), is named for him since it was his share of the grant. He did sent relatives and other settlers to the island and caused a large house to be built on it (called Struan House). Alexander instead resided in the Barracks at the West End of Loch Rannoch, and although he built a large mansion at Mount Alexander, he never occupied it. Colonel Alexander Robertson died unmarried in November, 1822, and the estate and Chief-ship passed to another Robertson branch.
The news of the return of the Robertson estates in 1784 must have struck a responsive chord in Perthshire, as evidenced by Gow's composition and the song below, by poetess Maighriread NicGriogair of Struan (whose brothers settled in New York before the American Revolution). The last stanza goes:
'S èibhinn naidheachd ri chluinntinn
Gun d' fhuair gach oighre am fearann
Nix o thionndaidh a' chuibhle
'S gun deach 'n t-aonta ud thairis
Sàr-cheann fine bha cliùiteach
As fhiach a chuir siud an aithris
Tighearna Shruthain o'n ghiubhsaich
Thighinn gu dùthchas a sheanar
The news is exciting to hear
That each heir has been granted land
Now that the Wheel has turned
So that the Act has been approved;
The excellent chieftain who was renowned
Is worthy of this account;
The Laird of Struan from the pinewood
Is to come into his ancestral heritage
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Gow (Second Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 1788; p. 12 (3rd edition).