Lady Ann Erskin's Reel
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LADY ANN ERSKIN'S REEL. Scottish, Reel. C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. John Glen (1891) finds the earliest appearance of this tune in print in Robert Bremner's 1757 collection. The melody was also printed in Longman and Broderip's Compleat Collection of 200 Favorite Country Dances (London, 1781). Lady Anne Erskin was the eldest daughter of the Earl of Buchan and sister of Thomas Alexander Erskine , Viscount Fenton, Sixth Earl of Kelly, born at Kellie Castle in Fife in 1732 and familiarly known as "Fiddler Tam" (although actually he was a well-trained violinist and composer, who studied abroad with Johann Stamitz). Although Thomas had a reputation as a dissolute, he was very proud and fond of his sister, who, at a young age, moved to Bath in Somerset and was converted to Methodism after attending worship at the Countess of Huntingdon's chapel. There is also a much repeated story regarding Lady Ann's chance meeting with the preacher, Rowland Hill. She was passing by one day when she noticed him preaching to a crowd, and, having heard of him she stopped her carriage to listen. Hill saw the crest on the carriage and recognized the noble crest on the door, and, recognizing an opportunity and extemporizing quickly, he began to act as if he were an auctioneer. He asked what Satan was willing to bid for her soul, and what Christ was willing to offer, then asked Lady Ann to choose. Reportedly she was so overcome by the performance she descended weeping from her carriage and was 'saved'.
Erskine's father died in 1767 and she became increasingly involved with the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion. During the last few years of the Countess's life, the two lived together and Erskine transacted correspondence on her behalf.
In her will, the Countess left all her chapels in trust to Erskine and several other trustees. It was decided that Erskine should live at the main chapel at Spa Fields in London and have the direct responsibility of prividing itinerant ministers for the Connexion.
Erskine died om 1804 after a long illness and was buried at Bunhill Fields in London.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Bremner (Scots Reels), c. 1757; p. 86.