Sir John Cathcart's Reel
X:1 T:Sir John Cathcart’s Reel M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel B:John Riddell of Ayr – Collection of Scots Reels, Minuets &c. B:for the Violin (1782, p. 27) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:C e|c2 (ed) cAGE|D/D/D (EC) DA,A,A|c(fed) cAG(e|ga)gf Te2d:| (e/f/)|gc (a/g/f/e/) gc (a/g/f/e/)|defg afde|gc a/(g/f/e/) gccG|Aagf Te2d(e/f/)| gc (a/g/f/e/) gc (a/g/f/e/)|defg afde|cGEG cde(f|ga)gf Te2d||
SIR JOHN CATHCART'S REEL. Scottish, Reel (cut time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. Composed by Ayrshire fiddler-composer John Riddell (1718-1795), printed in his 1766 collection (p. 27) and reprinted in the 1782 edition. The tune title honors Sir John Cathcart (1731-1783), 3rd Baronet of Carleton, Ayrshire. He married Margaret Hamilton on Christmas Eve, 1764. The couple remained childless, and he died in 1783, the year after Riddell issued his second collection. See also other tunes Riddell composed for the family, "Miss Betty Cathcart's Reel" and "Lady Cathcart of Earlston."
Sir John's father was also a Sir John Cathcart, 2nd Baronet. His second wife was Elizabeth Kennedy, daughter of the Sir John Kennedy of Culzean, whom he married in 1729. Carleton Castle is the ancient seat of the Cathcart's, located on a knoll halfway between Girvan and Ballantrae. In the fifteenth century it was held by yet another Sir John Cathcart, who is 'remembered' in the ballad "May Collean" AKA "Faus Sir John." The song describes how the laird of Carleton was wont to marry fair ladies for their money, then drowning them in the sea from a high precipitous crag called Gamesloup; he did this seven times. The 2nd Bart. of Carleton was not the first Cathcart to marry a daughter of Culzean, however, for the murderous ancient Sir John was undone by his final wife, May Kennedy of Culean, who, to save herself, pushed him off the cliff.