Lieutenant A. Stewart
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LIEUTENANT A. STEWART. Scottish, Pipe Reel. A Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Composed by Perthshire fiddler Duncan McKercher (1796-1873), the so-called "Dunkeld Paganini" (whose family history has it that he once danced on a table to the playing of Niel Gow). In his own 1824 collection McKercher notes that Lt. Stewart was with the 94th Regiment.
Alexander Stewart's birth date is given variously as 1789 (birth records), 1791 (service papers) or 1792 (gravestone) in Drumachary in the parish of Fortingall, Perth. He was the illegitimate son of Robert Stewart of Garth, by Elizabeth McGregor (McKercher composed several tunes for the extended Stewart of Garth family in his collection). Like many illegitimate sons of the gentry, Alexander was destined for a career in the military, which he joined at an early age as an Ensign in the 90th Foot in May, 1807, at age 16 or 17. He soon saw action at the invasion of Martinique in the West Indies, and was promoted to Lieutenant in the 96th regiment in Dec. 1808. He was awarded the Military General Service Medal and was the only officer in the Regiment to get the medal with the single clasp for Martinique. The 96th was renumbered the 95th Regiment in 1815, but with the wind-down of the army after the defeat of Napoleon Alexander was placed on half-pay in 1819 and assigned to a Veterans Battalion. However, at the end of the year in 1823 the 94th Foot was revived and its officers were recruited principally from the half pay lists. The regiment went to Gibraltar shortly after its formation and then Malta before returning home in 1834. While in Gibraltar Alexander was promoted to Captain, his terminal rank, and he sold his commission in 1837 and left the army.
It was while he was in Gibraltar that Alexander married Sarah Janet Orr McKenzie, with whom he had three daughters. At some point Sarah must have died, for Alexander emigrated to Canada with at least one of his daughters and there married a second time, in 1842, to a Canadian native, Anna Maria MacNab of Hamilton, who was considerably younger than he. She was also politically connected, being the younger sister of Allan Napier MacNab, a prominent politician. Alexander was appointed to civil service posts in his later years and died in 1858 in his home in Garth Cottage in Hamilton.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 30. David Glen (David Glen's Collection of Highland Bagpipe Music, Book 8), c. 1890's (?), p. 13. McKercher (Collection of Original Strathspeys and Reels), Edinburgh, 1824; p. 4.