Mr. Walter Biggar's Strathspey

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MR. WALTER BIGGAR'S STRATHSPEY. Scottish, Strathspey (whole time). A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. There are a few Walter Biggar's the title may refer to. One Walter Biggar (1725-1802) of Woolmet was a merchant (also described as a 'linen manufacturer'). He married Mary Spence (born 1739 in Ophir, Orkney), daughter of David Spence, in 1770. He was an elderly man at the time McLaren published his collection, for a notice of his death appears in the Edinburgh Magazine in 1802, recording that he died "at his house, at Sciennes, near Edinburgh." In 1803 a government report on the linen trade was published, for which Biggar had testified, telling the committee that he was "concerned in the Linen Trade as a Manufacturer, in the Neighbourhood of Edinburgh, and dealt chiefly in Shirting and Long Lawn--that he had bee in Trade ever since the year 1749--that the Linen Manufacture is in a very declining state now." Biggar estimated that the trade had shrunk by a third to a half in the Edinburgh area since the peace with France had been concluded at the end of the 18th century.

His nephew, Walter Biggar, was born in Sciennes House, Edinburgh in 1764. He may or may not have been the Walter Biggar in Edinburgh who married in 1793 to Alicia (or Rachel) Heggie (it would seem by the dates that McLaren's strathspey "Mrs. Walter Biggar" was composes in her honor). Old Walter of Woolmet's grandson, also a Walter Biggar (1787-1867) was born in Edinburgh and married Anne (1784-1876), youngest daughter of "the late" James Duff in Banff in 1823. He settled in Banff in 1821 and founded the herring trade there. He may or may not have been the Walter Biggar who went bankrupt in 1836, according to a public notice of a meeting in Edinburge of his creditors in November of that year.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: McLaren (Collection of Strathspey Reels, etc.), 1794.

Recorded sources:




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