Miss Sarah Georgiana Duff of Muirtown's Strathspey

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X:1 % T:Miss Sarah Georgiana Duff of Muirtown's Strathspey M:C L:1/8 R:Strathspey C:William Morrison B:William Morrison - Collection of Highland music, consisting of B:strathspeys, reels, marches, waltzes & slow airs (c. 1813, p. 22) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:Bb D/E/|F>B G/F/E/D/ B>FDF|E>F (G/F/)E/D/ cEC(D/E/)|{DE}F>B G/F/E/D/ B>FD>B| (A/B/c) Fe dBBD/E/| F>B G/F/E/D/ B>FDF|E>F (G/F/)E/D/ cEC(D/E/)| F>BGE Ac {B}AF|GE{d}ec d(BB)||g/a/|b>B e/d/c/B/ F<BD>B| E<gD<f cCC g/a/|b>B (e/d/)c/B/ F>B D>B|(A/B/c) Fe dBB g/a/| bBaA gGfF|eEdD cCC D/E/|(3DFD (3EGE (3FBG (3AcA|FeTd>c dBB||



MISS SARAH GEORGIANA DUFF OF MUIRTOWN'S STRATHSPEY. Scottish, Strathspey. B Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. Composed by William Morrison for Sarah Georgiana Duff of Muirtown, one of the eleven children (five sons and six daughters) of Major H.R. Duff and his wife, the former Sarah Louisa Forbes. Sarah Georgina (1800-1825) was the 2nd child and would have been aged twelve or thirteen when Morrison published his volume. Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus wrote in Memoirs of a Highland Lady that at the Northern Meeting of 1814 (a formal ball) "the two Miss Duffs of Muirtown, tall graceful girls, with a pensive air that makes them very attractive, were, I thought, the beauties of the room." They can only be the eldest Duff daughters, Amelia and her older sister Sarah, although they were quite young at the time: Amelia was twelve, and Sarah was fourteen. In August, 1825, she wed Captain Wemyss Erskine Sutherland of the 33rd Regiment, at Muirtown House, but tragically they both drowned a few months later in the loss of the steamship Comet.

The Comet (named for the Great Comet of 1811) was Scottish engineer Henry Bell's inspiration and the first commercially successful steamboat in Europe, plying passengers on the River Clyde between Glagow and Greenock. The original Comet was shipwrecked off Oban in 1820, but no loss of life (Bell himself was aboard), and he built a successor vessel, Comet II. On the 21st of October, 1825, she collided with the steamer Ayr off Kempock Point, Gourock, Scotland.  The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (March 25, 1826, p. 3) recorded:

The Ayr, we learn, had a light out upon her bow, but the Comet had none. As the night, however, was clear, it is obvious that a bad look out had been kept up, and most reprehensible neglect shown on both sides. At the moment the accident took place, those on the deck of the Comet were, it is said, engaged in dancing. The passengers who were below were in high spirits, amusing themselves telling and listening to diverting tales. The first stroke hit about the paddle of the Comet. The Captain and passengers immediately ran upon deck to see what was wrong; when – the next fatal stroke took place with such force, that the Comet filled, and in two minutes went down head foremost. The moment this look place, the Ayr, instead of lending any assistance, gave her paddles a back stroke, turned round, and went off to Greenock, leaving them to their fate.

Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus recorded in her Memoirs of a Highland Lady: "Among the lost was one of the pretty Miss Duffs of Muirtown, just married to her handsome soldier husband, and on their way to join his regiment; their bodies were found clasped together, poor things, beside many others unknown." See also note for "Mr. H.R. Duff's Favorite" for more on this family, for whom Morrision composed a number of tunes.

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