Lady Dunbar of Northfield's Reel
X:1 T:Lady Dunbar of Northfield's Reel C:William Christie (1778-1849) N:Christie was a dancing master, fiddler N:and composer from Cuminestown, Aberdeenshire. M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel Q:"Con Spirito" B:Christie - Collection of Strathspeys, Reels, Hornpipes, B:Waltzes &c. (Edinburgh, 1820, p. 22) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Bb F|~B2 dc (BA).G.F|GE ec (dc).B.A|BdfB Acfc|dBcA T(B>A)GF|.G.E.e.E .F.D.d.D| (EC)FE (ED).C.B,|.C.D.E.F .G.A.B.c|dBcA B3|| f|dBfd bfdB|c(fTf=e) ~f2 ga|bgab afga|(bg) =eg (f_e).d.c| dBbB cAaA|(BG) cB (BA).G.F|GE eE FD ce|dBcA B3||
LADY DUNBAR OF NORTHFIELD'S REEL. Scottish, Reel (cut time). B Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. "Lady Dunbar of Northfield's Reel" was composed by William Christie (1778-1849), a dancing master, postman, song collector and fiddler-composer of Cuminestown, Aberdeenshire. Lady Dunbar was Helen Penuel Cumming-Gordon (1777-1819), daughter of Sir Alexander Penrose Gordon-Cumming, 1st Baronet, and Helen Grant, of Rafford, Moray, and one of a number of siblings (not all of whom survived to adulthood). She married Sir Archibald Dunbar, 6th Bt of Northfield. The couple themselves had thirteen children.
Lady Dunbar was peripherally involved in an incident that formed the basis of Lillian Hellmans play The Children's Hour (1934). She had recommended to her mother, Dame Helen Cumming Gordon, a newly established school run by Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods, on her experience of Jane's sister Margaret's employment as the best governess she had ever employed in her own household. Lady Dunbar also sent two of her own children to the school as day scholars, and Lady Cumming Gordon recommended the school to other distinguished familys. However, the school only existed a few months, for on Nov. 14th, 1810, Lady Cumming Gordon removed her granddaughter from the school on the grounds of her allegations of the teachers' lesbian relationship. This caused the other parents to hasten to remove their children as well, and Jane and Marianne were faced with ruined finances and reputations. The two women sued Lady Cumming Gordon in the Court of Session, which ruled against them in June, 1811. Even thought that verdict was reversed in February, 1812, and Dame Cumming Gordon was ordered to pay damages, the reputations of the two teachers were irreparably damaged. One never taught again, while the other had to go to London to find part-time employment at a school where she had taught before.