Mr. MacNeil of Oakfield

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MR. M’NEIL OF OAKFIELD'S REEL. Scottish, Reel. F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The composition if credited to J. Boick in Köhler’s Violin Repository vol. 2 (c. 1883). 'Oakfield' is the anglicised name for Auchendarroch, home of the Campbells of Auchendarroch. John MacNeil was a trustee who handled the affairs of Archibald Campbell of Blackhouse and Finlaystone, who made a fortune in the West Indies. Archibald died in 1825 and leaving his fortune to his son, Alexander, with instructions in his will that the trustees should purchase a property for his heir. They did that, in curious circumstances (related in Alastair Campbell's A History of Clan Campbell, vol. 3, 2004, p. 176):

[MacNeil's] instructions were that they should purchase a property for Alexander, and they did so in 1835 when they bought Oakfield...from John MacNeill, who resigned as a trustee. The price paid was an extraordinary one: it used up virtually all the legacy and left Alexander and his descendents perennially short of cash. By the time the remnants of the estate were sold in the 1950's, the rent over the entire period had still not been paid back the original purchase price...apparently MacNeil had been persuaded by a friend to invest the legacy in a scheme being promoted by one Jacob Rothschild. This was before the success of the Rothschilds and the scheme failed disastrously with the loss of the entire fortune. MacNeil was appalled, as were the other trustees whose negligence had allowed this to happen. MacNeil's only asset was Oakfield of which the true value in no way equalled the loss, so a scheme had to be cooked up to protect the trustees from the charge of flagrent neglect. Accordingly, Oakfield was put on the market with an upset (minimum) price which had been set at the valuation of the Duke of Hamilton's factory, who happened to be one of the trustees. The trustees had agreed that they would purchase at this price provided there were no higher bids from elsewhere. Hardly surprisingly, there were no outside bids and Alexander became the new proprietor; the trustees were off the hook.

John MacNeil was married to the eldest daughter of Sir Hay Campbell (1734-1823), of the Edinburgh bar.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Laybourn (Köhler’s Violin Repository vol. 2), 1881-1885; p. 159.

Recorded sources:




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