Lady Doll Sinclair

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LADY DOLL SINCLAIR. AKA and see "King of France (The)," "Lady Doll St. Clair's Reel," "Matt Molloy's (3)," "Matt Peoples' (1)," "Miss Henny MacKenzie," "Miss Hetty McKenzie." Scottish, Reel. A Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. John Glen (1891) finds the earliest appearance of the tune in print in Scotland in Robert Bremner's 1757 collection (p. 1). However, it appeared around the same time in volumes by London music publishers John Johnson (dated variously 1753 and 1758) and David Rutherford under the title "Lady Doll St. Clair's Reel" (the name St. Clair is undoubtedly pronounced 'Sinclair').

There have been several Baronetcies held by families named St. Clair or Sinclair in Scotland. One candidate for the person of the tune title is Lady Dorothea Sinclair (1739-1818), the only of Alexander Sinclair, 9th Earl of Caithness, and Lady Margaret Primrose. In 1759 she married James Duff, 2nd Earl Fife, although it was an unhappy marriage, culminating in Dorothea attempting to shoot her husband, and a legal separation. They had no issue.

The tune appears in James Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion (vol. 8, 1760, p. 26) as "King of France (The)/King of France He Run a Race (The)", described in The Songs of Robert Burns as "an unintelligible Jacobite song". Burns used the melody for his song "Amang the trees, where humming bees," which was probably written as a compliment to the famed Dunkeld, Perthshire, fiddler-composer Niel Gow, whom Burns had visited in 1787, as it extolled the virtues of pibroch, strathspeys and reels instead of the Italian fashion. Burns may have based his verse on an earlier song: See King of France (The) for more.

Irish versions of the reel can be found as "Matt Molloy's (3)" and "Matt Peoples' (1) [1]." See also related untitled Irish reels in Breathnach CRÉ II (No. 237) and CRÉ III (No. 121), and an untitled Highland in the Feldman & O'Doherty's Northern Fiddler (1979, p. 82b).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Bremner (Scots Reels), 1757; p. 1. Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland, vol. 4), 1976; 19. Henderson (Flowers of Scottish Melody), 1935. Hunter (Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 242. Johnson (200 Favourite Country Dances, vol. 8), 1758; p. 21. Laybourn (Köhler’s Violin Repository, Book 2), 1881-1885; p. 190. John McLachlan (Piper’s Assistant), 1854; No. 56, p. 32. Rutherford (Rutherford's Compleat Collection of 200 Country Dances, vol.2 ), 1760; p. 83.

Recorded sources: Temple TP034, The Battlefield Band - "Home Ground" (1989).




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