Miss Graham of Orchill’s Reel

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MISS GRAHAM OF ORCHILL’S REEL. Scottish, Reel. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The melody appears in Malcolm MacDonald’s Second Collection, dedicated to the Earl of Breadalbane. Orchill is in Perthshire, Scotland, site of the estate of the Graham family, a cadet branch of the family of the Dukes of Montrose.

Orchill House

The original house in Orchill was built in the early 18th century and is a traditional harled laird’s house with a Gothic tower and great hall. It is said that Mr. Graham of Orchill, also a fiddler, would visit Gow in nearby Dunkeld and stay up whole nights with him playing reels. On one occasion Niel exclaimed: “Troth, Orchill, you play weel;--be thankfu’, if the French should overturn our country, you and I can win our bread, which is mair than mony o’ the great folk can say.”

Miss Graham is presumably Margaret Anne Graham, daughter and heiress of William Graham of Orchill. A romantic story has it that Margaret became smitten with a young man named James Gillespie, a craftsman who had been engaged to work on the mansion-house at Orchill. Despite the fact that he had been born to poor parents and was of a much different social class, their love grew and she determined to make him her own. In due time, Margaret inherited and married James, who took the name James Gillespie-Graham of Orchill. James eventually became one of the notable Scottish architects of his age.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: MacDonald (A Second Collection of Strathspey Reels), 1789; p. 6.

Recorded sources:

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