John Menzies Esq. of Chesthill's Strathspey

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JOHN MENZIES ESQ., OF CHESTHILL'S STRATHSPEY. Scottish, Strathspey (cut time). F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Composed by Perthshire fiddler-composer Duncan McKercher, the "Dunkeld Paganini," whose collection contained numerous tunes for the Pertshire Highland landed families such as the Menzies, Irvines and Stewarts. His collection was dedicated to Lady Menzies of Castle Menzies, whom he thanked for her patronage.

The estate of Chesthill, Perthshire, came into the Menzies family when it was purchased by Colonel James Menzies of Culdares early in the 18th century. The Colonel was a staunch Jacobite, however, and was exiled to North America after the suppression of the Rising of 1715. Later in the century, in 1784, the estate passed to Alexander Menzies, principal Clerk of Session, who occupied and improved the property, and left it to his daughter. She married Joseph Stewart of Foss, who as a consequence of inheritance added the name Menzies. Their son was the John Stewart Menzies (d. 1868) of McKercher's tune title, a Gaelic-speaker who succeeded to the estate on the death of his mother, sometime before 1824. Alexander Stewart, in his book A Highland Parish said this of John:

In his younger days he lived a somewhat loose and dissolute life, but in his later years he settled down to more orderly habits and wielded considerable influence in the affairs of the county.

His own daughter, Alexandra Stewart, wrote in her book Daughters of the Glen that her father was "a notorious lecher" who fathered several illegitimate children, and claimed that her father displaced her from her home at Woodend to make way for his mistress and her child. John was sued by a Miss Christian Stewart for "seduction and for damages" for herself and her two children, although she did not prevail in the eight-year litigation in the House of Lords. Lest he be entirely demonized, it is also recorded that he was generous enough to have endowed a church, manse and school for the surrounding community at Cambusvrachan (although in clearing land for the manse an ancient round fort called Castullan na Fian was destroyed.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Duncan McKercher (A Collection of Original Stathspeys and Reels), Edinburgh, 1824; p. 10.

Recorded sources:




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