Miss Pensy MacDonald

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MISS PENSY MACDONALD. AKA and see “Lady Belhaven('s),” “Miss McDonald (3)/Miss McDonald's (3).” Scottish, Reel. C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. See also O’Neill’s “Miss McDonald” for an Irish variant. “Miss Pensy MacDonald” was the older Scottish name, for the title in the Gow’s 2nd Collection of Strathspey Reels (1788) and Beauties of Niel Gow (1819) is "Miss Pensy Macdonald now Lady Balhaven's Reel." ‘Pensy’ was Penelope Macdonald, the youngest daughter of Ronald Macdonald of Clanranald and Flora Mackinnon. She married William Hamilton of Wishaw, 7th Lord Belhaven and Stenton in March, 1789, in Edinburgh, and they had several children. She was described (in John Kay's A series of original portraits and caricature etchings, Volume 2, Part 2) as "a lady much celebrated for her handsomeness of figure, her beauty and her accomplishments" Pensy (sometimes 'Penzie') died in May of 1816. “Miss Ferrier and Miss Penelope Macdonald of Clanronald, were rival belles,” says James Grant in his book Old and New Edinburgh, vol. 3, “the former married General Graham of Stirling Castle, the latter Lord Belhaven.” See also the tunes later composed in her honor, “Mrs. Hamilton of Wishaw” and “Mrs. Hamilton of Wishaw’s Strathspey.”

Penelope Macdonald Hamilton, Lady Belhaven and Stenton, c. 1790. By Henry Raeburn.



Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Gow (The 2nd Collection of Niel Gow’s Reels), 1788; p. 4. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 75.

Recorded sources:

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




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