Mrs. MacLeod of Raasay (1)

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X:1 T:Mrs. MacLeod of Rasay N:”Favourite Reel” M:C L:1/8 R:Reel B: Joseph Lowe - Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, B:book 6 (1844 - 45, p. 1) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:A c/B/|A2 {g}a2 {g}fefa|eccB c2 (cB)|A2{g}a2 {g}fefa|ecBA B2 (Bc)| A2{g}a2 {g}fefa|eccB c2 (ce)|fgfe {g}f2 (3efg|afec B2 Bc|| AAcA ecca|eccB c2 (cB)|AAcA ecca|ecBA B2 (Bc)| AAcA ecca|eccB c2 (ce)|fgfe {g}fefg|afec {c}B2B||



MRS. MACLEOD (OF) RAASAY. AKA and see “Miss McLeod of Raasay,” “Miss McCloud,” "Miss McLeod's Reel (1)/Miss MacLeod's Reel (1)," "Miss MacLeod of Ayr," "Broone Coo (Da)" (Shetland), "Hop High Ladies (the Cake's All Dough)" "Enterprising Boxer." Scottish, Reel or Scottish Measure. Scotland, Isle of Skye. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part (Gow): AB (Balmoral, Honeyman, Lowe, Surenne): AABB (Perlman, Sumner): AA'BB' (Athole, Skye). Gaelic titles (including puirt a beul names) are “Seann Ghille na'n Car” (The Old Boy with a Twist), “Dha Ceat an Eilean Ilich” (Kate of Islay), and “Na 'm biodh trì sgillinn agam” (If I Would have Three Pence). Composed by Sir Alexander MacDonald, according to Keith Norman MacDonald, editor of the Skye Collection. When played as a jig the melody is "The Campbells are Coming (1) (The)" is the obvious ancestor to the famous American fiddle tune known variously as "Hop High Ladies," "Hop Light Ladies" or other titles. Gow said he had received the tune from Mr. McLeod (of Raasay) who described it as “an original Isle of Skye reel.” The Laird of Raasay in Nathaniel Gow’s (1761–1831) time was the 12th, James MacLeod (1761–1724) who lived contemporaneously. In 1786 James inherited several western islands, including Rassay and the family seat of Raasay House (built c. 1750), and enlarged it in 1790, adding a seven-bayed front block. It was in celebration of James’ birth that piper Angus Mackay of Gairloch, hereditary heir of a rich piping tradition, composed the pibroch “MacLeod of Raasay’s Salute” (six daughters had come before James, so there was cause in the feudal society of the island for rejoicing!). [It was Angus’s son, however, John Mackay of Raasay (1767–1848), for a time piper to the mature James Macleod, who we are in debt to for much of the older piping repertoire. He learned his craft not only from the Mackay pipers at Gairloch, but from the last of the hereditary pipers at Dunvegan. Unfortnately, toward the end of James’ life, Mackay found he was unable to support his family on the island and considered emigrating. This was forstalled when the position of piper-footman was found for him in Drummond Castle, near Crieff in Perthshire, to which the family walked with all of their belongings on the back of two highland ponies. John had four sons all of whom became pipers of note, althought the third son, Angus (1812–1859) was the one who continued to advance the repertory.] Florianne, or Flora Maclean of (the Isle of) Muck, married James around 1805. She, along with four sons and a daughter, survived him although her husband’s improvements to the estate had cost the family dearly and they were deeply in debt. James and Flora’s children were eventually forced to sell their holdings, and several emigrated to Australia. James’ sister, Mrs. Martin of Attadale, died on the same day in 1824 as did he, also at Raasay House.

Despite James’s dates matching Nathaniel’s, the tune appears to be older and quite probably was composed in honor of his mother, Jane MacQueen, daughter of Angus MacQueen, 3rd Laird of Totrome (c. 1690–1771), who married John MacLeod, 11th of Raasay. It was this family that James Boswell (Laird of Auchenlech) and Dr. Johnson warmly stayed with during their tour of the Hebrides in 1773. Johnson wrote:

Our reception exceeded our expectation. We found nothing but civility, elegance and plenty. After the usual refreshments,and the usual conversation, the evening came upon us. The carpet was then rolled off the floor, the musician was called in, and the whole company was invited to dance; nor did ever fairies trip it with greater alacrity. The general air of festivity which predominated in this place, so far remote from all those regions which the mind has been used to contemplate as the mansions of pleasure, struck the imagination with a delightful surprise, analogous to that which is felt at an unexpected immersion from darkness into light. When it was time to sup, the dance ceased, and six-and-thirty persons sat down to two tables in the same room. After supper the ladies sang Erse songs, to which I listened as an English audience to an Italian opera, delighted with the sound of words which I did not understand. The family of Raasay consists of the laird, the lady, three sons and ten daughters. More gentleness of manners, or a more pleasing appearance of domestic society, is not found in the most polished countries.

Boswell himself remarked:

Here at all our meals we are entertained by the bagpipes. Rassay’s piper after old MacCrimmon is considered the best in the Hebrides; he has gained the prize from the Highland Society. Our evenings are spent in the enlivening amusement of reels, as we have a pianoforte, accompanied by Raasay with a fiddle.

Helping to date the tune is its mention by Sir John Graham Dalzell in 1781. "Melody is truly the soul of music," he said, "I have been twice present at convivial entertainments when the best compositions by the most celebrated performers were heard without emotion. Yet the moment an excellent, lively and inspiring tune—Mrs. McLeod of Raasay's reel—commenced, a party of dancers started up to enjoy it; nor was this a novelty."

If Norman MacDonald’s attribution of the composition of “Mrs. MacLeod” to Sir Alexander MacDonald is correct, then there are two Alexander MacDonalds (of Skye), father and son, to consider. The son lived from c. 1745 to 1795, and became Lord MacDonald (there is a portrait of him and his brother James as boys, one with a fowling piece, the other with a golf club, painted by Jeremiah Davison 1695–1745). He was an amateur fiddler and composer of several tunes {see “Lord MacDonald (4)”}, and probably the Sir Alexander MacDonald who composed “Mrs. MacLeod.” The father lived from 1710–1746, and came from a staunch Jacobite family. However, he prevaricated when Bonnie Prince Charlie tried to enlist him in the cause in 1745, and even ended up sending men to fight on the government side when it was clear that the tide had turned against the Stuarts [Frank McGlynn, The Jacobites, 1988, suggests this was due to an arrangment with the government to avoid prosecution for a 1739 scheme to deport some of his tenants to work as drudges for the southern plantations of North America.]

Other MacLeod spouses who may possibly have been (but not likely) the “Mrs. MacLeod” of the title were the wives of John MacLeod’s father, Malcolm MacLeod, 10th of Raasay, who married, firstly, in December 1713 at Tarradale in Ross-shire, Mary, daughter of Alexander Mackenzie of Applecross. She died around 1745 after giving Malcolm four children, and it is unlikely that she was Sir Alexander MacDonald’s “Mrs. MacLeod” for she died the same year he was born. Malcolm MacLeod took a second wife, Janet MacLeod. on May 10th, 1748. She was the daughter of one of his tenants at Osgaig and became known as Bantighearna Dhubh Osgaig. Boswell (Journal of Our Tour to the Hebrides) gives this anecdote about her:

Old Raasay had most absurdly married again after the year 1746. His widow, by whom he had several children, lives in a small comfortable house, which was built for him just adjoining to the old castle of the family. She has a good farm gratis and the interest of 400 pounds by way of jointure. Mr. Charles took us to her house. She was a stout fresh looking woman very plainly dressed and could not speak a word of English. She treated us with cream and barley bread. It was not amiss to see the difference between her housekeeping and that of Raasay's. Folly on the one side and probably interested cunning on the other, had produced the second marriage.

However, the Dunvegan Papers indicate that Janet MacLeod, was a worthy woman very much concerned for the welfare of her family and estate. She bore "Old Raasay" another eight children. When Malcolm died he was succeeded by his son John, the eldest son from his first marriage (who played host to Boswell and Dr. Johnson at Raasay House, as above).

See also Irish and American versions under the alternate titles listed above. Irish versions generally are in the key of ‘G’ and the parts are reversed from the Scottish original. An early Irish recording of “McLeod of Raasay” was by Ballybay, County Monaghan, piper Robert William “Willie” Clarke (1889–1934) for Columbia Records of London in 1928, for a series of records entitled “The Pipes of Three Nations” (which included a Highland piper and a Northumbrian small-piper).


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - "Communicated (composed?) by Mr. McLeod (of Raasay). An original Isle of Skye reel" (Gow); Elmer Robinson (b. 1910, Mount Pleasant, West Prince County, Prince Edward Island; now resident of Woodstock) [Perlman]; the 1823–26 music mss of papermaker and musician Joshua Gibbons (1778–1871, of Tealby, near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire Wolds) [Sumner].

Printed sources : - Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 304 (appears as "Mrs. McLeod of Rasay"). Emmerson (Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String), 1971; No. 52, pp. 141–142. Gow (Fifth Collection of Strathspeys, Reels), 1809; p. 36. Honeyman (Strathspey, Reel and Hornpipe Tutor), 1898; p. 18. Hunter (The Fiddle Music of Scotland), 1988; No. 249. Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 1), c. 1880; Set 5, No. 2, p. 5 (appears as "Mrs. McLeod"). J. Kenyon Lees (Balmoral Reel Book), c. 1910; p. 10. Joseph Lowe (Lowe's Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Jigs, book 6), 1844-45; p. 1. MacDonald (The Skye Collection), 1887; p. 8. Perlman (The Fiddle Music of Prince Edward Island), 1996; p. 98. Stewart-Robertson (The Athole Collection), 1884; p. 6. Sumner (Lincolnshire Collections, vol. 1: The Joshua Gibbons Manuscript), 1997; p. 91 (appears as “Miss McCloud of Raasay”). Surenne (Dance Music of Scotland), 1852; p. 11.

Recorded sources : - “The Caledonian Companion” (1975). “Melodeon Greats” (1978). Bob Smith’s Ideal Band – “Ideal Music” (1977). “Fiddlers Three Plus Two.”

See also listing at :
Alan Snyder's Cape Breton Fiddle Recordings Index [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Alan Ng's Irishtune.info [3]



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