Marquis of Huntly's Highland Fling (1) (The)
X:1 T:Marquiss [sic] of Huntly's fling  M:C| L:1/8 R:Country Dance B:Preston's 24 Country Dances for the Year 1796 Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:D A|d<df>d g>ef>d|B<Be>B c>AA>c|d<df>d g<ef>d|B>e d/c/B/A/ d2D:| |:B|A>D F/E/D A>Bd>f|g>ef>d e>dB>d|A>D F/E/D A>B d>b|a>fe>f d2:|]
MARQUIS OF HUNTLEY'S HIGHLAND FLING , THE. See "Flax in Bloom (The)," "Maids of Erin (The)." Scottish, Strathspey or Fling (whole time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Surenne, White): AABB (most versions): AABB' (Athole): AABBCCDD (Martin). Composed by George Jenkins Sr. who was a friend or at least a correspondent of the Gows (perhaps, like them, from Perthshire, although his country of origin is obscure). He is recorded to have been a teacher of "Scotch Dancing" in London about the year 1794, and was sometimes employed by the Duchess of Gordon. He died in 1798. One of his sons, the youngest surviving child, was also named George, and was, like his father a dancer and dancing master; they were probably Scottish, although the younger Jenkins seems to have spent most of his time in England. The Kentish Gazette of May 8, 1792, recorded that at the Duchess of Gordon's Ball: "the two young Jenkins's, habited in the garb of their country, were called on for a Scots dance, which they executed with universal applause; this was followed....with a much admired Scots measure by the elder Jenkins". The younger Jenkins is also mentioned in association with the Duchess of Gordon, who seems to have been a patron to the son, as she was to the father. At some point the younger Jenkins was connected to the British rulers, and is mentioned as a "Teacher to the Royal Family" and "Teacher of Dancing to her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales". George the younger became even more closely associated with the Gows through his marriage in 1820 to Mary Gow, the third daughter of fiddler-composer, music publisher and bandleader Nathaniel Gow (1763-1831). One of the Jenkins's also published music and dance collections, such as New Scotch Music, consisting of Slow Airs, Strathspeys, Quick Reels, Country Dances (1797), perhaps the work of the father, and George Jr.'s The Art of Dancing (London, 1822).
In his book A Story to Every Dance (2018), Mats Melin notes that the first two written descriptions of the dance Marquis of Huntly's Highland Fling appear in Aberdeenshire dance student Frederick Hill's 1841 dance notebook, "each is attributed to a different teacher; one starts witht he right foot while the other starts with the left. It is plausible that the Marquis of Huntly's was one of the first Fling routines with specifically choreographed or arranged steps to a specific tune".
The tune, the title of which was the first use of the term 'Highland fling', appears in his First Collection of New Scotch Music &c. of 1793, dedicated to the Prince of Wales. It also appears in Issac Cooper of Banff's (b. 1755-d. 1804, 1806, 1810 or 1811, although sometimes the year of his death is given as late as 1820) Collection of Strathspeys, Reels and Irish Jigs for the Piano-Forte & Violin to which are added Scots, Irish & Welch Airs Composed and Selected by I. Cooper at Banff (London, Edinburgh, c. 1806). Christine Martin (2002) says the Highland Fling is the oldest Highland dance, and is said to have been based on the rutting of stags (and as such, is related to fertility dances). The Gows published it in Repository, Part Second, usually dated 1802, although the Purdie edition (i.e. the third edition, from the 1820's) contains the note that it was composed by "the late Mr. Geo. Jenkins," a reference to Jenkins Sr., as Jenkins Jr. was still alive. Jenkins Sr. composed a few good reels and strathspeys, but John Glen (1895) was of the opinion that "a number of his tunes do not possess the true Scottish character."
Canon James Goodman's "Maids of Erin (The)" is a version of "Marquis of Huntley's Highland Fling " with the parts reversed. The second part of the tune appears as the first part of the Irish "Denis Murphy's Slide (1)", as it does in the reel "Flax in Bloom (The)." "Marquis of Huntley's Highland Fling (1)" is similar to the port a beul "S' ann an Ile'" (It was on Islay).
- Oxford Journal, March 17th, 1798.
- Quoted by Paul Cooper, "Paper 22: Nathaniel Gow (1763-1831)" , accessed 8/7/2020.
- Mats Melin, A Story to Every Dance, 2018, p. 15.