Mrs. Dalrymple of Orangefield

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MRS. DALRYMPLE OF ORANGEFIELD. Scottish, Reel (cut time). F Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. John Glen (1891) finds the earliest printing of this tune in Ayrshire fiddler-composer John Riddell's 1766 first collection (p. 4), published in Edinburgh by Robert Bremner.

Orangefield House, near the village of Monkton, south Ayrshire, was once known as Monkton House. It was rebuilt and renamed (in honor of William of Orange AKA King William II) by James Macrae (1684-1746) who had made fortune in India. Macrae had been born poor, but left his home for the sea and was away from Ayrshire for forty years, steadily working his way up until he became a renowned pirate-fighter and eventually President of Madras. In his youth he had been befriended by a poor joiner, Hugh McGuire, who had married his sister. When Macrae returned to Ayrshire he found McGuire impoverished, living with three daughters and a son. He purchased the small estate of Drumdow, near Stair, for the family and insured that his nieces and nephews received the best education possible. His wealth also made possible advantageous marriages for the girls (the nephew squandered his inheritance and died in a duel). One daughter, Elizabeth, married Lord Glencairn, and other James Erskine, Lord Alva, and the third and youngest, Christian, married Charles Dalrymple, Sheriff-Clerk of Ayr. Christian also became the heir to Macrae's estate of Orangefield, and, through marriage it came into the hands of Dalrymple. It was he and Christian who owned the property of Orangefield in the time of Robert Burns, a fellow Mason, and their son, James Dalrymple was a well-known friend of the poet. Dalrymple introduced Burns to Lord Glencairn (his brother-in-law) and Glencairn became an important patron of Burns. Although James Macrae had been a success in the world and had secured excellent marriages for his Ayrshire kin, their humble beginnings were sniffed at by some. Lord Cassillis is reported to have made the public comment during a drinking bout in Ayr that Lord Glencairn's wife was the daughter of a fiddler (he is recorded as having taunted "Your father-in-law had the best bow in the county" [1])--the comment did not go un-reposited however, for Glencairn's response insinuated the Lord Cassillis was descended from a gypsy--"Yes, and his masterpiece was Johnny Faa and the Countess of Cassilis." Glencairn referenced the famous ballad of "Johnny Faa", a gypsy, who, in the song, eloped with the Countess of Cassilis; the ballad gave rise to the local legend that the Lords Cassilis were descended from gypsys.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: John Riddell (Collection of Scots Reels, Minuets &c. for the Violin), 1782; p. 41.

Recorded sources:




Back to Mrs. Dalrymple of Orangefield[edit]

  1. James Murray, Kilmacolm: A Parish History 1100-1898, 1898, pp. 221-222.