Finlayston House

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FINLAYSTON HOUSE. Scottish, Slow Air (whole time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody was composed by amateur fiddle-composer John Riddell of Ayr (1718-95), son of a wig-maker and his wife, and first appeared in his first collection of Scots Reels published in Edinburgh by Robert Bremner, c. 1766. It was the music for the Scots poet Robert Burns' ("rather indifferent lyric," according to Collinson {1966}) elegiac song "Fate gave the word-the arrow sped," and poet Robert Burns thought much of the tune, writing in Cromck's Reliques: "This most beautiful tune is I think the happiest composition of that bard born genius John Riddell of the family of Glencarnock at Ayr" (in fact, there is no conclusive evidence that Riddell had any connection with the Glencarnock family). The tune was later published by Riddell himself in his second collection of 1782 (p. 55), an elaboration of his collection, although the latter volume was published in Glasgow by James Aird.

A song in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (1790, p. 280), "A Mother's Lament for the Death of Her Son," is directed to be sung to "Finlayston House."

Finlayston (or Finlaystone) House, on the Firth of Clyde near Glasgow in Renfrewshire, was the seat of the Earl of Glencairn. The 9th Earl, William Cunningham, was a patron of Robert Burns, who dined at Finlaystone and scratched his name on a window pane. He wrote a lament for the Earl when he died in 1791, and named his son after him. Finlayston House is the seat of the Chief of the MacMillan clan.
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