Perthshire Hunt (The)
X:1 T:Perthshire Hunt M:C L:1/8 R:Reel C:Miss Stirling of Ardoch S:Gow – 2nd Collection of Niel Gow’s Reels (1788) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:A F|TE2 CE A,ECE|A,ECE FB,B,F|TE2 CE A,AcA|ceBd cAA:|| e|(c/B/A) eA fAeA|(c/B/A) ec fBBe|(c/B/A) eA fAeA|TE>FAB cAAe| (c/B/A) eA fAeA|(c/B/A) ec fBBd|ceAc dfB>c|TEFAB cAA|]
PERTHSHIRE HUNT, THE. AKA – "Perth Hunt (1) (The)." AKA and see "Boyne Hunt (1),” "Highland Skip (2)," "Molly Maguire (2)," "Niel Gow's Reel (1)," "Persian Hunt (The)," “Popcorn (The),” "Richmond Hill (2)," “Sailor’s Trip to Liverpool (The).” Scottish, Canadian; Reel. Canada, Cape Breton. A Major (most versions): D Major (Miller, Ross): C Major (Jones). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Surenne): AAB (most versions): AABB (Honeyman): AABB’ (Athole). The melody was composed by Miss Stirling of Ardoch, Magdalene Stirling (1765–1846) of Ardoch, Perthshire, around 1788. The Stirlings were an old Perthshire family, a branch of whom held lands in the parish of Muthill. Magdalene was a friend of Niel Gow and his son Nathaniel, who published a few of her compositions in their publications. She also published compositions under her own name. Hunter (1988) notes its opening "is one of the best examples of the use of the upstroke beginning to reels."
Caoimhin Mac Aoidh (1994) maintains the tune was commissioned for the Perthshire Hunt Ball, an annual social event sponsored by the Perthshire Hunt, a gentleman's club. George Penny, in his Traditions of Perth, Containing Sketches of the Manners and Customs (1836, p. 41) explains the origins:
Horseracing and archery were formerly much practiced in this quarter. It is a well authenticated fact, that the affair of 1745 [i.e. Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite rebellion] was concocted at the Perth races, which, prior to that period, were attended by noblemen from all parts of the kingdom. The disastrous events of that year put a stop to these amusements, and scattered the Scottish gentry to different parts of the continent; the effects of which were felt for 30 years. About 1784, the exiled families began to return, and many of the forfeited estates being restored, a new impulse was given to the country. Many of the gentlemen formed themselves into a body, styled the Perthshire Hunt, and a pack of fox hounds was procured, and placed under the management of an experienced huntsman. Their meetings were held in October, and continued for a week, with balls and ordinaries every day. When the Caledonian Hunt held their meetings here, the assemblies continued for a fortnight. The present excellent racecourse was formed after the enlargement of the North Inch, and for a time the Perth Turf was among the best frequented in Scotland. Although races have continued to be held pretty regularly, they have lately greatly declined in point of attraction; seldom extending beyond two days, where they formerly occupied a week.
In America the melody was published in Baltimore by George P. Knauff in his Virginia Reels, volume II (1839) as "Richmond Hill," and in Ireland the reel is well-known by the title “Boyne Hunt (1).” A few 19th century English musicians' manuscripts give the title as "Persian Hunt (The)," a corruption of the title "Perthshire Hunt."