Sir Charles Douglas's Strathspey

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X:1 T:Sir Charles Douglass C:Niel Gow M:C| L:1/16 R:Strathspey B:Niel & Nathaniel Gow - A Fourth Collection of Strathspey Reels & c. (1800) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D B2|:SA3DF3D A2D2D2B2|A2D2F2D2 (FGA2)Td4|AD3TF3D AD3A3F|GB3FA3 EEE2TB2:| A2d2-d3f {f}e3d{d}c3B|Ad3d3f e3f {ef}g2e2|Ad3-d3f e2c2d2A2|Bd3F2d2 EEE2TB2| A3d-d3f {f}e3dc3B|Ad3-d3f e3g {a}g2fe|fa3ef3 df3Bd3|Ad3Fd3 EEE2TB2S||



SIR CHARLES DOUGLAS. AKA and see “Caillich Odhar (1)," "Chailleach Odhar," "Dunn Carline (The).” Scottish, Strathspey (whole time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. Composed by Nathaniel Gow (1763-1831), probably, as Regency era dance and music researcher Paul Cooper suggests[1], not in honor of naval hero Sir Charles Douglas, 1st Baronet of Carr (1727-1789), but rather in honor of Sir Charles Douglas, 6th Marquess of Queensberry (1777-1837). Cooper points to the likelihood that Gow's compositions would be directed to the potential patronage of a living person rather than a deceased admiral. Gow's strathspey was published in 1800 and seems to have been popular in Edinburgh at the time, then filtered to London society a few years later. Notley finds mention of it being played and danced to at aristocratic balls around 1803, after which it quickly faded from reports of such events.

Sir Charles Douglas, by the time Gow published his tune in 1800, had been a baronet for some 17 years, having inherited the baronetcy of Kelhead in 1783 upon the death of his father. In 1803 he married Lady Caroline Scott (1774-1854), the third daughter of Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, with whom he had eight daughters. His marriage coincides with the tune's appearance in London balls of that year. Later Douglas acquired the title of Marquess of Queensberry, and also acted as Lord Lieutenant of the County of Dumfries, Colonel of the Dumfries Militia, and director of the Scottish Academy, among other honors. He died in his home at St. James's Place, London in December, 1837. For twenty years he was a representative peer for Scotland.


Additional notes



Printed sources : - Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 213. Gow (Fourth Collection of Niel Gow’s Reels), 2nd ed., originally 1800; p. 4. Alexander Mackay (A Collection of Reels, Strathspeys and Slow Tunes…Chiefly composed by Alexander Mackay, Musician Islay), c. 1822; p. 15. O’Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. III), c. 1808; p. 48.

Recorded sources : - Jerry O’Sullivan – “O’Sullivan meets O’Farrell” (2005).




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  1. See Paul Cooper's article on "Sir Charles Douglas" at Regency Dances [1].