MARY GRAY. AKA and see "Willie's Wife." Scottish (originally), Canadian; Reel or Strathspey. Canada; Cape Breton, P.E.I. G Mixolydian. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Surenne): AAB (Athole, Davie, Gow): AABB (Bremner). John Glen (1891) finds the earliest appearance in print of this "double-tonic" tune in Robert Bremner's 1757 collection, although it also appears early in Neil Stewart's Collection of the Newest and Best Reels or Country Dances (Edinburgh, 1761) and the 1768 (James) Gillespie Manuscript of Perth. Mary Gray (or Grey) is the name of a Scottish country dance, mentioned by MacTaggart (1824) in an account of a country dancing school in his Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia (Flett & Flett, 1964). The reel also appears in the c. 1793 music manuscript collection of harpsichord player Miss Caroline Rachel Frobisher, of Montreal. The tune appeared in William Gunn's 1848 bagpipe collection as "Caillach Uillam" (Willie's Wife).
In earlier publications the melody is set as a reel, but it has also been played as a strathspey, primarily by Cape Breton musicians.
Source for notated version: pianist Maybelle Chisholm MacQueen (Cape Breton) [Cranford/Holland].
Printed sources: Bremner (Scots Reels), 1757; p. 81. Cranford (Jerry Holland: The Second Collection), 2000; No. 214, p. 79 (strathspey setting). Davie (Davie's Caledonian Repository), Aberdeen, 1829-30; p. 33. Gow (Complete Repository, Part 1), 1799; p. 13. Longman and Broderip's Compleat Collection of 200 Favorite Country Dances, 1781; p. 62. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 162. Surenne (Dance Music of Scotland), 1852; p. 122.
Recorded sources: Rounder Records 7057, Jerry Holland - "Parlor Music" (2005). David Greenberg - "Tunes Until Dawn."
See also listings at:
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recording Index