Earl of Elgin (1)
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EARL OF ELGIN . AKA and see "Duchess D. of Richmond's Strathspey (The)." Scottish, Strathspey. E Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. The strathspey, composed in the relatively rare British Isles fiddle key of E major, has been credited to Nathaniel Gow, but is a composition of fiddler-composer William Marshall (who named it "Duchess D. of Richmond's Strathspey"). There is no attribution either to Nathaniel or to Marshall in the Gow's 3rd Collection (1792, where it is printed as "Earl of Elgin") however, the preceeding tune in the publication is called by the similar title "Earl of Elgin's Favorite Strathspey" which does appear with composer credits to Nathaniel. It is also in the key of E major, as is "Earl of Elgin," and this is certainly enough confusion to result in Nathaniel's having been attributed the composition of both tunes.
The title probably references Thomas Bruce (1766-1841), 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th of Kincardine, whose story is a somewhat tragic one-see note for "Miss Nisbet of Dirleton." He became earl at the age of five, upon the death of his older brother, William, and resided at Broomhall, near Rosyth, Fife. Bruce was educated at Harrow and Westminster, and, after studying for a while at St. Andrews he proceeded to the continent, where he studied international law at Paris and military science in Germany. After completing his education, Bruce entered the army, although this seems pro-forma, as his entire career was as a diplomat. At the time this tune appeared in Gow's 3rd Collection, 1792, Elgin was appointed envoy at Brussels.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 49. Gow (Third Collection of Niel Gow's Reels), 1792; p. 5 (3rd ed.).