Neil Gow's House
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NEIL GOW'S HOUSE. Scottish, Strathspey. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. Composed by Aberdeenshire fiddler-composer Alexander Walker (b. 1819), in honor of the master Scottish fiddler, Niel Gow (1727-1807). Niel (note Gow spelled his name differently than it appears in Walker's collection) Gow's house is in Inver, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, a small village about one and a half miles from Dunkeld on the opposite side of the river Tay. The following is from a biographical sketch of Gow .
At one time all the land round Inver was tenanted by one farmer who sublet the cottar houses to the occupants but in 1748 the farmer, James Johnston, gave up the cottar houses and the cottars thereafter paid their rents directly to the Duke of Atholl. The census of 1778 shows that the cottars of Inver held no land but Niel Gow is said to have had about one acre of ground. He complained to the Duke about a large tree which grew in the middle of his croft which, he maintained, affected the fertility of about half of his acre; the 4th Duke was a tree lover and refused to have it taken down. However Niel waited until the Duke was away in London and then felled the tree himself. Immediately the Duke returned, Niel called on him and placing 30/- on his desk said: "This is the money for the bark of the tree you telt me tae tak doon." "What tree was that?" asked the Duke. "The one on my croft," said Niel. "I never said to take down that tree," said the Duke becoming very angry. "Hech, your Grace was as fu' as the Baltic when ye said it," said Niel calmly picking up the cash again and leaving the Duke to cool off. Note that the money was from the bark of the tree - a valuable commodity at that time used for the production of tannin, and in 1778 Dunkeld had three tanneries.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Walker (A Collection of Strathspeys, Reels, Marches, &c.), 1866; No. 81, p. 28.