Miss Erskine of Barjarg

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MISS ERSKINE OF BARJARG. Scottish, Reel (cut time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. John Glen (1891) finds the earliest appearance of this tune in print in Ayrshire fiddler-composer John Riddell's 1782 second collection (p. 53), printed in Glasgow by James Aird. It seems likely that the tune also was included in Riddell's first collection of 1766 (his second collection was an expansion of his first). James Erskine (1722-1796) of Barjarg and Alva, was a Baron of the Exchequer in 1754, Knight-Marshall of Scotland in 1758, and Lord of Sessions in 1761, and took the title of Lord Barjarg. He married the Margaret, the second 'daughter' [1] of James MacCrae, a Captain who had made a huge fortune in India and who returned to his native Ayrshire. As a wedding gift he gave the couple the estate of Alva, after which James Erskine changed his title to Lord Alva. He sold the Barjarg property (located in Keir parish, Dumfries) to Rev. Andrew Hunter, D.D. or Abottshill, Ayrshire in 1772.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Riddell (Collection of Scots Reels, Minuets, &c.), 1782; p. 53.

Recorded sources:




Back to Miss Erskine of Barjarg[edit]

  1. Margaret, although sometimes recorded as James MacCrae's daughter, was actually on of his three nieces. His sister had married a poor carpenter named McGuire, and a young James MacCrae had been partially raised by his sister and her husband before he ran away to sea. He never forgot their kindness. When he returned to Ayr he found his sister had died, but he used his wealth to bestow the modest estate of Drumdow on McGuire, and paid the dowries of his three nieces, endowing them well to insure very advantageous marriages.