Annotation:Major Molle

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X:1 T:Major Molle's (of the 9th Regt. of Foot) Reel M:C L:1/8 R:Reel N:"This may be Played Slow" C:Andrew Gow (1760-1803) B:Gow - Fifth Collection of Strathspey Reels (1809) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:Bmin B(ff>)e dcB^A|B(ff>)e Td2c2|B(ff>)^g (a/g/f/g/) af|ecAc {f}e2 dc:|| B>F F/F/F dBc^A|B>F F/F/F ~d2 cd|B>F F/F/F dBce|(cAA>)c {f}e2 dc| B>F F/F/F dBc^A|B>F F/F/F ~d2 cd|Bff>^g (a/g/f/g/) af|ecAc {f}e2 dc||

MAJOR MOLLE. AKA - "Major Malley's Reel," "Major Malley's March," "Major Molle's Birthday," "Major Moll's Reel," "Major Mole." Scottish (originally), Canadian, English; Strathspey ('Slow' indicated in Gow's version) or Highland Schottische, Reel. England, Dorset. Canada, Cape Breton. B Minor (Gow, Hardy): A Mixolydian (Athole, Balmoral, Cranford, Honeyman, Kerr, Lowe). Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB (Athole, Balmoral, Gow, Hardy, Lowe): AABB (Honeyman, Kerr): AABB' (Cranford). Composed by Andrew Gow (1760-1803), second son of the famous Scottish fiddler Niel Gow, and (according to Emmerson, 1971), "possibly superior to any written by other members of (his) family." It was first published as a strathspey in Niel Gow's 5th Collection (1809) as "Major Molle's of the 9th Regiment of Foot Reel." The 9th Regiment of Foot was formed in 1685 by James II as Colonel Cornwall's Regiment Of Foote, and fought in the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim and at the seiges of Limerick and Athlone during 1689-91. The badge of 'Britannia' was bestowed on the Regiment for its great bravery at the Battle of Almanza in Spain in 1707, during the Wars of the Spanish Succession. The Regiment earned the nickname 'The Holy Boys' supposedly from the fact that an ill-informed Spaniard, seeing Britannia on the Regiment's Colors during the Peninsular War, considered it to be a figure of the Virgin Mary such as is carried on banners in Roman Catholic countries during church processions. Later the unit saw service in the America where it was part of Burgoyne's ill-fated expedition to cut off New England from the rest of the colonies during the American Revolution. The regiment surrendered with their general at Saratoga, were paroled, and subsequently was stationed in the unhealthy West Indies where they were decimated by fever and tropical illnesses. Around the time Andrew Gow composed the tune the unit saw service as a heavy infantry battalion in the Spanish Peninsular Campaign, arriving in 1808 to fight in the battles of Rolica and Vimiero. It was withdrawn for a time on an expedition to the Low Countries, but returned to Spain and fought at Busaco, Salamanca, Vitoria, San Sebastian and the Nive.

George Molle (1773-1823), of Mains, Berwickshire, began his military career with the 94th regiment of foot in 1793, rising to Captain by 1795. He was stationed in India and Egypt where he was an Aide-de-Camp to General Sir Douglas Baird. He was wounded at the Battle of Seringapatam. In 1803 he returned to England with dispatches from Marques Wellesley, and it was at that time he came into contact with the Gows, for he was promoted to Major, and, in 1804, removed to the 9th Regiment of Foot. He served with that regiment for four years, first in Germany and then in Portugal. Molle was severely wounded at the Battle of Roleia (1808), the first battle of Campaign, fought in the year that he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. The promotion that came about when Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, recommended the major in his dispatches to Viscount Castlereagh following the battle, writing from Vimieiro, 20th Aug., 1808:


I avail myself of the delay which has taken place in the departure of the ship which will take my dispatches to England, to acquaint you, for the information of the Commander in Chief, of the death of that gallant officer, Lieut. Colonel Stewart of the 9th Regiment, in consequence of the severe wounds he received in the action of the 17th; and I request that you will, at the same time, represent to his Royal Highness the conduct of Major Molle, who was also wounded upon this occasion, was such during the action as to merit my warmest approbation; and I therefore beg leave to submit his name to the favorabe consideration of his Royal Highness, to succeed to the lieutenant colonelcy unfortunately vacated by the decease of Lieut. Colonel Stewart.

He invalided to England to recover, but was back with the Regiment later in the Peninsular Campaign and was in action near Oporto. By 1809 the 9th Foot had been reduced and was pulled from action, although Molle suffered another tragedy. His wife gave birth to a son in Sicily, and the infant died the next year at Molle's service station, Gibraltar. George soldiered on and in 1813 became Lieutenant Colonel of the 46th Foot, and the next year was brevetted to Colonel of the regiment. George next found himself stationed with the regiment in the colony of New South Wales, Australia, where, in 1814 he took the oath of office of Lieutenant Governor. He and his wife were active in the public life there, patrons of the Female Orphan School and members of the committee for the Civilization, Care and Education of Aborigines. A Mason, Molle undertook to establish a Lodge in the country. However, Molle was one of those who resisted the integration of emancipists (convicts who had received condition or absolute pardons) into the free society of the community. A tract of 500 acres was granted to the Molles in 1817, which he named "Catherine Field" and he set about developing the estate. George served as Magistrate for the region, and ran the court from his home. However, Molle also had trouble in New South Wales: he and his officers complained of high prices and asked Governor Macquarie (and old friend who had served with Molle on Baird's staff) for higher pay. Relations between Macqurie and Molle continued to sour, helped along by a printed lampoon of Molle in 1816 and accusations back and forth. Macquarie's recourse was to finally ask for the 46th to be relieved, although, fortunately for him, the 48th arrived in August, 1817, as scheduled, and the 46th Foot removed to Madras. It was there that Molle died in September of 1823 at Belgaum. George's son William Macquarie took over operations of the property after his father left. Molle is remembered in the region by the Molle Islands, in the Whitsundays, a part of the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland; originally the Molle name was actually attached to a nearby deepwater passage between them and the mainland called Port Molle. Another member of the family (and namesake), a Captain George Molle, entered service in the old regiment, the 9th Foot, and was killed at the age of 26 in 1845 at the Ballte of Ferozshah.

In his brief return to England in 1803-1805 he must have come into contact with Andrew Gow and perhaps other members of the family. It is noted in one of their publications that the melody "Miss Welch/Miss Welsh" was communicated by the Major. The English novelist Thomas Hardy (who, beside his literary accomplishments was also an accordion player and fiddler), from the English county of Dorset, mentions the tune in his classic novel Far From the Madding Crowd (1874):

However, the occurrence seemed to have become known to few, for it had not interrupted a fiddler who had lately begun playing by the door of the tent, nor the four bowed old men with grim countenances and walking-sticks in hand, who were dancing 'Major Malley's Reel' to the tune.

The melody was known to Hardy as a reel or country dance tune, for it appears in his family manuscript collection of melodies used for dancing in Dorset. The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society gives that "Major Mole" as a strathspey can be used as an alternate tune for Tullochgorm. The tune was also rendered as a Highland Schottishe for dancing (see Kerr's Merry Melodies), and as a march tune (See "Major Malley's March", as recorded by the Battlefield Band, who had it as a march from guitarist and fiddler Ged Foley. The band writes "although it is supposed to be from Devon [Ed.: from the Hardy Family manuscripts, where it is a reel], we harbour the suspicion that it might originally be Breton"). See also "Miss Welch/Miss Welsh," 'communicated' by Molle to the Gows.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Anonymous (’’A Companion to the reticule), 1833; p. 25 (as "Major Molle's Birthday"). Battlefield Band (Forward with Scotland's Past), 1988; p. 45. Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 273. Cranford (Jerry Holland's Collection), 1995; No. 37, p. 11. Glen (The Glen Collection of Scottish Music, vol. 2), 1895; p. 50. Gow (Fifth Collection of Strathspey Reels), 1809; p. 15. Honeyman (The Strathspey, Reel, and Hornpipe Tutor), 1898; p. 23 (appears as "Major Mole"). Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; No. 1, p. 19. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 2), c. 1880's; No. 60, p. 9. J. Kenyon Lees (Balmoral Reel Book), c. 1910; p. 6. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 2), 1844–1845; p. 18. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 47. Trim (Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy), 1990; No. 22 (appears as "Major Malley's Reel").

Recorded sources : - BEJOCD-28, The Mellstock Band - "The Dance at Pheonix: Village Band Music from Hardy's Wessex and Beyond." Fiddlesticks cass., Jerry Holland - "Lively Steps" (1987). Flying Fish FF-250, The Battlefield Band - "Home is Where the Van Is" (1981). Green Linnet GLCD 1171, Simon Thoumire Three - "March, Strathspey and Surreal" (1996).

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index [1]

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