The Fiddler’s Companion

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Biographical Sketches


Of Early Scottish


Musicians and Musicsellers



(by John Glen, from a forward to The Glen Collection of

Scottish Dance Music, Edinburgh, 1891)




ROBERT BREMNER.  Robert Bremner is stated to have been born about the year 1720, although it is more likely that the event took place seven years previously.  The place of his birth is unknown. He is the earliest Scottish musicseller of whom we have any knowledge, and was probably a musician or teacher of music before starting in business.  The first mention of his name is in connection with a concert which he gave on 13th December, 1753, in the High School of Leith, and it would appear by the following advertisement that he began business as a musicseller on “July 11th, 1754. Robert Bremner at the sign of the Golden Harp opposite to the Head of Blackfriars Wynd Edinburgh sells all sorts of Musical Instruments viz Bass violins, violins &c. N.B. As the undertaker intends to serve Gentlemen and Ladies with everything in his way at the London price it is therefore hoped they will encourage him and whatever music is wanted that he has not shall be immediately sent for.” The same advertisement appears on the 15th of that month.

            Grove’s Dictionary and other sources have given earlier dates, which have been frequently copied by booksellers in their catalogues, and by many others.  These dates appear to be founded upon an assertion by W. Stenhouse, who says, “Bremner’s Thirty Scots Songs circa 1749.  This is  genuine copy of the first impression before Bremner went to London, it is extremely rare.  The title page was afterwards altered.”  The date given by Stenhouse will later on be found to be incorrect.  Bremner established himself in London in 1762 (which is a date earlier than that hitherto given), at th4e sign of the Harp and Hautboy, opposite Somerset House in the Strand, being the same sign as his Edinburgh shop, and both places of business he carried on until his death in 1789.  His first sign of the Golden Harp he appears to have retained only for one year.  When Bremner went to London, he appears to have left the Edinburgh business under the management of John Bryson, who was afterwards his successor.  This is inferred from the tenor of an advertisement issued in 1769, quoted in the notice of John Bryson.  Bremner, in 1759, removed from his shop near the head of Blackfriar’s Wynd to other premises at the Cross Well, which he occupied till his death, which occurred at Kennignton Gore, London, on 12th May 1789.  His extensive London stock was purchased by Preston & Son of 97 Strand.  Bremner published many works of Scottish music, besides other music much thought of in his day, among them Nicolo Pasquali’s “Thorough Bass,” “Bremner’s Rudiments of Music,” &c.

            That the date assigned by Stenhouse to the issue of the Thirty Scots Songs already alluded to is incorrect, may be proved from the following excerpt, taken from an advertisement which appeared on 23rd April 1757:--“In the Press, and speedily will be published Thirty Scots Songs some of which are for two voices, with a thorough Bass for the Harpsichord or Spinnet, the music taken from the most authentic sets extant.  The words from Allan Ramsay except a few never before printed.  Edinburgh, Robt. Bremner at the Harp and Hautboy.”  Subsequent advertisements announce the appearance of these songs by the beginning of July of that year.


NEIL STEWART. Is the next musicseller and dealer in musical instruments in Ediburgh, regarding whom there is any information.  The earliest notice observed of him, is in an advertisement, dated 14th November 1759, his place of business being then in the Exchange, as appears by an advertisement in February 1765, his shop then bearing the sign of the Violin and Guitar.  In July 1770, we find “Neil Stewart junior at his shop within the entry leading to Miln’s Square facing the Tron Church Edinburgh,” but whether this was the same individual using junior to distinguish him from another of the same name in Miln’s Square, or a son and successor of the Neil Stewart of 1759, is not certain.  There is no reference to a “senior” carrying on in the music line either immediately before or after 1770, nor so far as known has “junior” been appended to any music published by Neil Stewart.  The conjecture therefore is that they may be either one and the same person, or, what is more likely, father and son.  In May 1773, “Neil Stewart” removes to the Parliament Close, as the following announcement intimates:--“This is to inform the public that Neil Stewart has removed from his shop from Miln’s Square to the Parliament Close,” &c.: and from what follows it is apparent he was a teacher of dancing, “N.B. Neil Stewart who taught dancing in Newcastle upon Tyne for eight years &c has now opened school in partnership with Mr. M’Lean,” &c.  The partnership was dissolved in May 1775 having lasted two years only.  In another advertisement, November 1787, the business is announced as being carried on under the style of Neil Stewart & Company, and it is stated that one of the partners has lately been in London, selecting the “best and newest of every article in the music and musical instrument line.”  In the following year, the firm open new premises at No. 40 South Bridge Street in conjunction with those in Parliament Square, and from both of these shops they remove at Whitsunday 1792 to No. 37 South Bridge, Street, being the first south of the Cowgate Arch, east side,” where they remained until 1802, when they left if for a commodious warehouse on the flat immediately above entering by No. 39.  These premises they vacated in 1804, when they opened at No. 69 Adam Square, “next door to Mr. Spottiswood’s Carron Warehouse.”  In June of the following year, was advertised a sale of their whole stock, consisting of plates for printing music, &c., but it was postponed.  The sale took place in December 1805, when the whole stock of “N. Stewart & Co. Music Sellers No. 88 West side South Bridge” was sold off on the 9th and following days by R. Smith, auctioneer.  From 1787 onwards, the firm was styled at one time “N. & M. Stewart;” at another, “N. Stewart & Co.”  Whether its collapse was due to financial difficulties or to a natural termination, has not been ascertained.  The Stewarts carried on an important publishing trade, and many works on Scots music come from their establishment, including besides his own “collection of the newest and best reels or country dances,” those of Daniel Dow, Alexander M’Glashan, and the early publications of Marshall and Gow.  Neil Stewart, musicseller, married Catherine Butter on 18th October, 1772.  The marriage of Malcolm Stewart, musicseller to Dorothy Walker, was proclaimed on 25th November 1805—fourteen days before the sale of the stock in the South Bridge.


ROBERT ROSS.  Robert Ross now follows as the third Edinburgh musicseller.  The first notice of Mr. Ross (who was evidently a professional musician) is the following advertisement, of date 7th June 1769:--“New Music—Just published and to be had at the house of Mr. Ross Playhouse Close Cannongate—Two favourite airs sung by Mr. Tenducci in the Royal Shepherd viz Coming through the Broom &c (Bremner, page 25) and Thro’ heaven’s good pleasure &c—At the same place—Musick copied in the most correct manner.”  On 31st January of the following year, Ross opened a music shop at the back of the Fountain Well, where he carried on business until 1785, when he moved to a more commodious shop at the head of Carrubber’s Close.  There he remained until 1805.  He probably retired in that year, but continued to follow the profession of musician, which he seemingly never abandoned when he went into business, as an advertisement in 1775 announces his concert, and tickets to be had at his shop back of Fountain Well.  He resided at Shakespeare Square, where a Robert Ross under that designation is to be found until 1811.  A Robert Ross died in 1808, aged 60, and he is believed to have been the same individual, although for some reason, possibly on account of a portion of his stock still remaining at his house unsold, his name was retained in the Directory.  His widow died in December 1820, at the age of 80.  Ross did not publish to any extent, but his name is associated frequently with others on the title pages of music announced for sale at his shop.  He published, in 1780, a book of reels and country dances, which is noticed in its proper place.  This work was subsequently reissued by John Hamilton, musicseller, North Bridge, Edinburgh.


CORRI AND SUTHERLAND.  The writer has not been able to trace any additions to the music selling trade in Edinburgh between 1769 and 1783.  In the latter year it was announced, that a “New music book and stationary shop was to be opened at the North Bridge by Messrs. Corri and Sutherland.”  Dominico Corri, the principal partner, and his wife, were engaged in Italy to sing at the “Gentlemen’s Concerts” in Ediburgh, where they arrived in 1771.  The date 1781, mentioned in Corri’s Memoirs, published in the “Singer’s Preceptor,” issued in May 1811, is evidently a printer’s error.  Corri was of a speculative turn of mind and catered for the public.  He opened, in 1776, Ranelagh Gardens, situated at the Kirkbraehead—a site now occupied by Queensbury Steet—and in the following year Comely Garden.  He became Manager of the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh, and experienced the almost invariable fate of his predecessors, being sequestrated in 1779.  In 1778, he was obliged to live in Abbeyhill, to protect himself against his creditors.  The musicselling business, established in 1783, was carried on until 1790, when it was dissolved by the death of James Sutherland, who was the acting partner.  It has not been ascertained whether Sutherland was a musician or not.  In the advertisements announcing the dissolution, Sutehrland’s partner is designed as John Corri, Dominico having probably made use of his son’s name to protect the firm form his own creditors.  Whether that is the case or not, the business terminated on Sutherland’s death.  Corri, in the “Singer’s Preceptor,” already referred to, states that his connection with Edinburgh lasted for eighteen years, a statement which would bring us from 1771 to 1790.  A firm styled “Corri & Co.” commenced business in January, 1791, but it is not certain that Dominico was one of the partners.  Corri was an accomplished singer.  He published several works of his own composition, but they do not come under the classification of Scottish Dance Music.  They were all issued by the firm of Corri and Sutherland, who had a most extensive business in their day, among their publications being the first work issued by Niel Gow.  Corri’s wife, besides being a singer, was also a teacher of drawing.  Dominico Corri died at Hampstead, on 22nd May 1825, in the 790th year of his age.


JOHN BRYSON.  John Bryson, the successor of Robert Bremner, who died in London in May 1789, probably purchased Bremner’s Edinburgh stock, as he carried on business in the same premises at the head of Old Assembly Close, behind the Cross Well.  Bryson was probably twenty-three years of age when he became manager of Bremner’s Edinburgh shop, on the latter’s settlement in London.  This may be inferred from the purport of the following advertisement, which appeared on 1st March 1769:--“Proposals for publishing by subscription twelve songs for a Voice and Harpsichord. Composed by Cornforth Gilson.  Subscriptions to be taken in by Mr. Bryson at Mr. Bremner’s shop,” &c.  In the year 1811, he removed to No. 429, at the head of Bank Street, and in the following year to No. 16 Bank Street, where, according to the Edinburgh Directory, the business was carried on up to the year 1821.  His death, however, was announced on 5th March 1818, as appears by the following notice in the Courant:--“Died at his house Castle Hill on the 28th February Mr. John Bryson Music Seller Bank Street Edinburgh.”  The age is not stated, but probably he was about 80.  Among his publications were “Abraham Macintosh’s Collection of Rees,” &c. also a “Curious Selection of Favourite Scots Tunes with variations for a German flute or violin with a bass for the Harpsichord;” and a number of songs in sheets, along with a variety of other music.  As to whether John Bryson was himself a musician, the editor has been unable to gain any information.


JOHN RIDDELL.  The earliest name that has come down to us as a composer of Scottish Dance Music, is that of “John Riddell of Air,” as the name is spelt in the second edition of his collection, which was published by James Aird, Glasgow, in 1782.  The late Dr. David Laing, in his Introduction to Blackwood’s edition of Johnson’s “Scots Musical Museum,” gives the tile of the first edition as follows:--“A Collection of Scots Reels or Country Dances and Minuets with two particular slow tunes, with a bass for the Violin, Violincello, or Harpsichord.  Composed by John Riddle at Ayr, and Sold by Himself there; likewise by Mr. Robert Bremner in Edinburgh also at his Shope at the Harp and Hautboy, opposite Sumerset House in the Strand, London. Price 5s.  Enter’d Stationers Hall. Wm. Edward, Scult.  Dun Cameron Prints it Edinburgh.”  The work is an oblong quarto of 45 pages, and Dr. Laing places the date of it about 1776, a date which is apparently erroneous.  In the first Directory published by Peter Williamson in 1773, the name of neither the engraver nor the printer of Riddell’s work appears, nor does either occur in any of the subsequent issues.  In all likelihood, Riddell’s collection was out ten or twelve years before the date assigned by Laing, and several of this tunes even earlier.  In the “Introduction to the Ballads and Songs of Ayrshire, 1846,” Riddell is stated to have been the composer of “Jenny’s Bawbee” and “Stewarton Lassies,” and there is probably some truth in the assertion, although his name has not been found associated with these tunes by any other authority.  The same introduction refers to several incidents in his life, and to some of his pupils, and states that it is believed Riddell was blind from his infancy.  It contains no reference, however, to either his birth or death.  In Cromek’s Reliques, Burns refers to the tune of “Finlayston House” in the following terms:--“This most beautiful tune is I think the happiest composition of that bard born genius John Riddel of the family of Glencarnock at Ayr.”  Whether Riddell had any connection with the Glencarnock family has not been ascertained, but the names of his parents, as well as the dates of his own birth and death, are contained in Ayr Parish Register as follows:--“John, son lawful of James Riddell, wigmaker, Air, and Susanna M’Culloch his spouse, was born on Tuesday 2nd September, 1718.”  5th April 1793, Died John Riddle, Musician, aged 76 years and six months. Fever.”

            On computing the difference between the Old and the New Style, and comparing the dates, we may plainly see that both of these entries refer to the same individual.  When Robert Bremner published in his Collection of 1757 “The Merry Lads of Air,” John Riddell was 39 years of age, a circumstance which strengthens the supposition that the first edition of Riddell’s “Collection” must have been issued considerably before 1776.  Riddell’s name appears among the list of subscribers to the first and third Collections of Niel Gow’s “Strathspey Reels,” &c.  John M’Gill, another Ayrshire muscian, born in 1707, and said to have composed the tune bearing his name (now known as “Come Under my Plaidie”), is said to have been associated with Riddell.


DANIEL DOW.  Daniel or Donald Dow first comes under our notice in connection with a series of concerts (probably annual) which he was in the habit of giving.  The earliest advertisement discovered appears under date 30th March 1765,--“Mr. Dow’s Concert of Vocal and Instrumental Music  on 2nd April. Tickets to be had at the Old Coffee House, and at Mr. Dow’s rooms, first Turnpike within the head of Blackfriars Wynd left hand and second door.”  In an announcement in 1768, his address is given as, “Mrs. Low’s, inside of the Entry opposite to the Meeting House within the foot of Blackfriar’s Wynd.”  In 1771, his address is “Mr. Dow’s lodgings, first scale stair within the head of the Fleshmarket Close, fifth door upstairs.”  In the year following he moves to the fourth door; in 1774, he returns to Mrs. Low’s; and in 1777, his house is situated in the middle of “Todrick’s Wynd.”  Dow was no doubt a teacher of music, although no advertisement to that effect has been discovered.. Dr. David Laing was informed by Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, who had it from his mother, that when she was a young girl, Dow taught music, particularly the guitar.  Joshua Campbell of Glasgow, who advertises that he “proposes to teach the guitar having returned from Edinburgh where he had been at some expense in perfecting himself under the best masters,” may possibly have been one of Dow’s pupils.

            Dow appears to have been a man of considerable energy and attainments.  His concerts were usually held in St. Mary’s Hall, Niddry’s Wynd, Edinburgh.

            Of the several books which he published no advertisements appear in the newspapers, but a notice appears in the November and December numbers of the Edinburgh Magazine and Review for 1773, which contains the tunes “Athol House and Ossian’s Hall,--a New Reel,”  In a foot note appended to this reel is found, “Inscribed to Sir James Clerk of Pennycuick ‘Ossian’s Hall’ a new country dance composed by Mr. Dow.  This piece and the former by the same composer are inserted at his desire.”  His various publications of Strathspeys, Reels, Jigs, and Minuets. &c., probably did not appear until after his marriage, which took place in December 1774, to Susanna Small, from Kirkmichael, Perthshire, of which place he himself is believed to have been a native.  Dow died from fever, at the age of 51, in January 1783, and is buried in the Canongate Churchyard, Edinburgh.  He was survived by his widow and four children, for whose benefit a concert was given, shortly after his death, in St. Cecelia’s Hall.

            Regarding the dubiety attaching to his Christian name, it may be pointed out that in the Marriage Register for 1774 he is called “Donald,” but on all his books, as well as in the Recorder’s entry relating to his death, he is named “Daniel.”  Many of his tunes are excellent and great favourites, such as “Athol House,” “Bonnie Annie,” “Comely Garden,” “Donald Dow,” and “Monymusk.”  The two latter he named respectively “Lady Charlot Murray’s Reel” and “Sir Archibald Grant of Monemusk’s Reel.”  It is important to observe that Nathaniel Gow and others changed the names of several of Dow’s tunes, when including them in their own collections.


JOSHUA CAMPBELL.  Joshua Campbell, musician in Glasgow, who published three collections, two of which are of dance music, is brought into notice through his advertisement in 1762, which is as follows:--“Joshua Campbell Musician proposes to teach the guitar having been at some expense at Edinburgh in perfecting himself with the best masters there.  Ladies and gentlemen that want to be taught the above instrument shall be carefully attended by the above person who will be found in the third close above Bell’s Wynd Glasgow.”  Probably Daniel Dow was one of Campbell’s teachers, although none of Dow’s advertisements have been found so early as 1762.  The next notice observed of Campbell is an announcement of a concert of music, on Friday, 29th January 1779, in the Assembly Hall, after which there was to be a ball; tickets 2.6 each, and the advertisement concludes thus:--“Just Published by the said Joshua Campbell a large collection of Scots Tunes with new variations never before in print adapted for the Violin and German Flute with a bass for the Violincello and a Thorough bass for the Harpsichord.  Likewise a collection of new reels composed by himself, a number of which he has conferred on the new raised Regiments in Scotland.—Price of the first Collection 5s and the Reels 5s 6d both of which may be had of any of the Music Shops in Glasgow or of the Publisher at his house first close above the Blackfriar’s Wynd High Street Glasgow.”

            In 1788, James Aird, Junior, Glasgow, advertises—“Just now published Joshua Campbell’s Collection of the Newest Scots Reels &c price 5s.”  This book is probably the one republished, with additions, in 1798 by Urbani and Liston, Edinburgh.

            What are Campbell’s own compositions can only be surmised from their titles, or from the fact of their having first appeared in his collection, as he never put his name to any of them.

            In the first Glasgow Directory, published in 1783, is found the entry, Joshua Campbell “teacher of music” High Street, and in Jones’s Glasgow Directory for 1787, he is styled “ringer of the Music Bells and teacher of Instrumental Music.” The first mention of his receiving salary in the capactiy of Bell-ringer is November 1786, when he reveived a year’s pay, £20.  In the year previous no name is given in the Chamberlain’s books the entry standing to “the ringer of the M Bells.”  He continued to receive his salary regularly till November 1800, and in February 1801 is found the following curious entry—“A quarter’s salary paid to the late Joshua”—most likely to his representatives.  His successor was John Weir.  No record of his dealth can be found, although it is known that he died between November 1800 and February 1801.

            Senex in his Reminiscences (p. 145) says, “They (the bells) consisted originally of twenty-eight in number, and in my younger days were played upon by old Joshua Campbell.”  The information about Joshua’s salary was kindly afforded the Editor by Mr. Nicol, the City Chamberlin of Glasgow.


ALEXANDER M’GLASHAN.  Alexander M’Glashan, who from his stately and dressy appearance acquired the name of “King M’Glashan,” was long connected with the musical professions in Edinburgh.  He is found residing at the back of Bailie Fyfe’s Close in 1759.  He was in the habit of giving concerts annually, and his advertisements relating to such events are to be found with great regularity from 1766 to 1779.  Mr. M’Glashan announces in the former year as follows:--“Mr. M’Glashan’s Concert in St. Cecelia’s Hall on Wednesday 26th March.  Tickets at Bremner’s, and Stewart’s and at Mr. M’Glashan’s house in Morocca Close, Lawnmarket.”  In the following  year he is at the same address, but in 1768 he changes to “Trunk Close first entry, right hand down the Close,” and next year he moves to Barringer’s Close, which he leaves in 1771 for “Skinner’s Close first turnpike third door right hand down the Close.”  There he resided till his death.  His last concert was a joint concern along with Reinagle, the performance being in St. Cecelia’s Hall.  On 15th march 1780 he published his first collection.  It is announced as follows:--“Just Published Price 5s Strathspey Reels—A Collection of Strathspey Reels with a Bass for the Violincello or Harpsichord by Alexander M’Glashan Musician in Edinburgh.  The Publisher humbly hopes that this Collection, so much wanted will be acceptable to the Public, as he flatters himself that upon comparing it with others of the kind it will be found preferable to any yet printed.  Edinburgh Printed for the Publisher and Sold by Mr. Stewart at his Music Shop Parliament Square &c.”  In September of the following year he published his collection of Scots Measures, Hornpipes, Jigs, Allemandes, Cotillons, and the Fashionable Country Dances.  No other announcement occurs till May 1786, when the following advertisement appears:--“Just Published a Second Collection of Strathspeys, Athole Reels &c. with a Bass for the Violoncello or Harpsichord by Alex. M’Glashan.”  Stewart was publisher of all his collections, and this last work seems the only one that had been subscribed for, as M’Glashan says,--“Subscribers will please send for their copies to any of the Music Shops or to the Publisher’s house in Skinner’s Close Edinburgh.”  In a memoir of Nath. Gow by “J.M.G.” (Joseph M’Gregor), written over 50 years ago, it is stated that Gow received lessons from M’Glashan on the violin, and that he played the violincello in the band of the assemblies of which the latter was leader.  He also states, that on the death of M’Glashan, the leadership was conferred on Nath. Gow’s brother, William, who held it till his death.  William Gow died April 1791, but M’Glashan’s death occurs six years later—in May 1797.  Both are buried in Greyfriar’s Churchyard.  M’Gregor’s memoir of Gow, whether written from information supplied by the Gow family or otherwise, contains other errors, which will be subsequently noticed in this work.  M’Glashan is reputed to have been an excellent musician and composer, but throughout his works it is to be observed that he makes no claim to the latter appellation.


ANGUS CUMMING.  The only information obtained regarding this musician is contained (1) in an advertisement,—issued in March 1780—which runs as follows:--“Strathspey Reels.—On Wednesday next the 22nd instant will be published, price Five Shillings—A Collection of Strathspey or Old Highland Reels, with a Bass for the Violincello and Harpsichord by Angus Cumming, Musician at Grantown in Strathspey.  The Publisher flatters himself, from the advantage he has enjoyed of being in that country where this species of Scots Music is preserved in the greatest purity, and by cultivating in with the greatest care and assiduity from his earliest years, that this Collection will not be found altogether unworthy of the approbation of the Public.—To be had at the Shop of Mr. Donaldson, bookseller, and at the house of Mr. McDonald, Musician, Castlehill, to either of which places such Subscribers as have not yet received their copies will please to send:” and (2) in the preface to the first edition of his collection, where it is stated that  “The Publisher follows the profession of his forefathers; who have been for many generations Musicians in Strathspey;” and he mentions that he had spent several years in forming this collection.


JAMES AIRD.  James  Aird followed the occupation of Music Seller in Glasgow.  An advertisement of Joshua Campbell’s, of January 1779, proves the existence of several music shops in Glasgow; but in what year Aird began business has not been ascertained.  The Editor has a copy of Joshua Campbell’s book, and he has given a facsimile of the title page bearing Aird's address as Candleriggs.

            Aird’s first announcement, which appears in December 1779, is in the following terms:--“James Aird at  his Shop, the corner of Gibson’s Wynd, New Street, Glasgow, &c.—At the same Shop may be had, &c.,--also the following Musical Instruments, Spinets, Violins, German Flutes, fifes, hautboys, Clarionets with books of instructions and a great choice of Songs, &c.—N.B.  J. Aird removes at Whitsunday next to the Shop presently possessed by Mr. Alexander Givan, Mr. M’Nair’s Land, New Street, being the Shop immediately above the Close.”  In June 1780, the following notice appears:--“Music, Stationary, &c.  James Aird Junr. Has removed from his Shop, the corner of Gibson’s Wynd to that formerly possessed by Mr. Alexr. Givan, next door to Messrs. M’Callum and Wylie’s Candle Shop in Mr. M’Nairs Land, New Street, &c. &c.  Wanted for the above Shop a stout young man willing to engage for some years as a apprentice fo the copper plate Printing.”  The announcement of the publication of his First Selection was made in August, 1782.  It is as follows:--“Just Published and to be had at James Aird’s Shop in King Street, Glasgow, 1:--A Selection of 200 Scots English Irish and Foreign Airs, adapted to the Fife, Violin, or German Flute Vo. 1st price 3s; 2:--John Riddel’s (in Air) Collection of Scots Reels, &c. the 2nd Edition greatly improved for the Violin, German Flute or Harpsichord, 5s; 3. Cumming’s Strathspey Reels for the Violin, German Flute, with a Bass for the Harpsichord or Piano Forte 5s, &c. N.B. Vol. 2 of the Selection is near finished, and will be delivered to Subscribers at 3s each copy.”  He likewise informs his customers that he prints his own music by an able hand from Edinburgh.  It may be stated that the three works referred to in the advertisement just quoted were published before Aird left New Street, as the two latter bear that address, and refer to the first mentioned work.  Volume 2nd of the Selection appeared three weeks after the same advertisement.  In Tait’s 1st Glasgow Directory, in 1783-4, the entry stands, James Aird, toy and musick shop, King Street.  Niel Gow’s First Collection (issued in 1784) was to be had of Aird.  No further information is to be found until 1788, when this announcement is made:--“A Sale of Music Books and Musical Instruments, &c.  There is to be sold off immediately, considerably lower than usual (here follows an enumeration of the articles).  For further particulars enquire at James Aird Junior at his room in Mr. M’Nair’s Land, New Street, Glasgow, who will show the above articles to any who intend to purchase.  N.B. Subscribers for J. Airds’s 3rd Selection of 200 Airs will please call or send for their Subscription copies. Non subscribers may also be served at 3s 6d each,” &c.  In less than a month thereafter a similar advertisement appears containing, in addition, notice of the publication of “Joshua Campbell’s Collection of the Newest Scots Reels, &c (price 5/) & a Collection of Strathspeys for Violin or Spinet by Malcolm M’Donald (price 2/6).” In March and July 1792, we find Aird’s business was located in New Wynd, Glasgow, and in December 1795 the sale of his stock was announced in these terms:--“Music, Musical Instruments, Plates, &c.  To be exposed to sle within the Shop of the deceased Mr. James Aird, Music Seller, King Street, Glasgow, on Monday the 28th curt. [enumeration]” “Wm. Mudie, Auctioneer.”  Aird’s 4th Selection was published in 1794; and in the following year he died of fever aged 45, and was buried on 15th September in the High Church Yard, Glasgow.  M’Fadyen issued the 5th Selection in 1797.  The 6th Selection appeared later on.


ROBERT MACINTOSH.  The earliest notice of Robert Mackintosh, alias “Red Rob,” is to be found in Peter Williamson’s Directory ofr 1773-74, where his profession and address are given as “Musician, Skinner’s Close.”  He removed in 1774 to Trunk Close.  In February 1775, in conjunction with Mr. Muschet, he gave a concert of vocal and instrumental music.  In 1780, he announces a concert, for which tickets were to be had at his house in Barranger’s Close.  Shortly afterwards, he advertises a public class for the violin, stating his terms, &c., as follows:—“Admittance to the public class one guinea per quarter only.  Any gentleman may have a private hour, either at his own lodging or at Mr. Mackintosh’s house in Barranger’s Close, at one guinea per month.”  His residence in 1782 is in Burnet’s Close.  In 1783 he gave a concert of vocal and instrumental music, at which Mr. Salomon, a celebrated musician of his time, performed several favourite pieces.  “Tickets 3/- each at Mr. Mackintosh’s lodgings Advocate’s Close.”  Before the close of the year he published his first book, which, along with airs, minuets, and gavottes, contains some excellent reels.  In December 1788, he advertises as follows:--“Music Teaching, Robert Mackintosh begs leave most respectfully to inform his friends and the public, that he has again taken up his residence in Edinburgh after an absence of three years during which period he led the band in the Gentlemen’s Concerts at Aberdeen.”  “Apply at Bremner and Stewart’s Music Shops.”  It was probably while residing in Aberdeen that he became acquainted with Andrew Sherrefs, the author of “Jamie and Bess,” &c., and to whose song, “A cogie o’ ale and a pickle ait-meal,” he composed the air.  Mackintosh announced his second book of reels, &c., in February 1793, and the work appeared about two months later, under dedication to Mrs. Campbell of Lochnell; “to be had at his house in Skinner’s Close.”  Towards the end of 1794 he advertises a new march, dedicated to Sir Robert Stirling, “to be had at his house head of Skinner’s Close and at Mr. Stewart’s Music shop,” where is is also announced that several other pieces by him are to be had.  In 1796, he advertises a third book, which appeared in April of that year, dedicated to Mrs. Oswald of Auchencruive.  Whether Mackintosh gave annual concerts has not been ascertained, but in 1798 he advertises that “his ball (in place of a concert) is fixed for Tuesday the 13th in Bernard’s Room Thistle Street &c; Tickets 5/ each at Hyndford’s Close and Stewart & Co.  Tea will be provided.”  In 1796, he set the music to a song called “Athol Brose,” written by a young Edinburgh gentleman; and in the following year he conducted the orchestra of the Theatre Royal, on the occasion of the performance of “Jamie and Bess,” for the benefit of Andrew Sherrefs, M.A.  Mackintosh left Edinburgh about 1803 and went to London, where he resided in Little Vine Street, Piccadilly, and published his fourth book.  According to Stenhouse, he died in London in February 1807.  Stenhouse states that he was an excellent performer on the violin.  However that may be, his numerous compositions stamp him as a musician of the first order in Scottish music.

            In his Memoir of Nathaniel Gow, prefixed to the posthumous collection of Niel Gow, Junior, issued in 1837, Joseph M’Gregor has seriously erred regarding certain of his dates:  these inaccuracies we desire to set to rights.  To quote M’Gregor’s own words:--“At an early age he (i.e. Nathaniel Gow) was sent to Edinburgh, where he continued the study of the violin, first under Robert M’Intosh, or Red Rob, as he was called, until the latter, from his celebrity, was called up to London.  He next took lessons from M’Glashan….who was in high estimation as an excellent composer of Scottish airs, and an able and spirited leader of the fashionable bands…Gow’s first professional appearance, it is believed, was in the band conducted by King M’Glashan, in which he played the violincello.  After the death of M’Glashan, he continued under his elder brother William Gow, who succeeded as leader,--a situation for which he was well fitted by his bold and spirited style.”

            Mackintosh, as previously stated, left Edinburgh for London in 1803, where he resided till his death in 1807.

            That Gow could have taken lessons from M’Glashan after 1803 was an impossibility, as the latter died in 1797; neither could William Gow have succeeded M’Glashan after his death as William Gow died in 1791, but it is probable that M’Glashan retired from the leadership about the last mentioned date, and that William Gow held it for a short time.

            Instead of Nathaniel Gow being taught my M’Glashan after Mackintosh went to London, it is more than likely to have been after he went to Aberdeen.

            By his wife, Margaret Mill, Mackintosh had 13 children, born between 1767 and 1797.  Three of these were named Robert, the first being born in 1771, the second in 1774, and the third in 1797.  The second and third Roberts were alive at the same time.  The former (who followed the musical profession) married an “Edward” Johnston, and on 18th January 1799 a son was born to them, named James.

            The Editor ascertains from Mr. James M’Intosh, of Boatlands, near Coupar-Angus, Forfarshire, that he is the great-grandson of James M’Intosh (a brother of Red Rob), who followed the vocation of blacksmith at Tinereoch, in the Vale of Athole (near Tullymet), and had five sons, all of whom were violin players. Of these, John was at one time bandmaster to the 42nd Highlanders (Black Watch), and afterwards settled as a musicseller in Dublin.  Another, David, was pipe-major to the 93rd Highlanders; he died in Portugal.  The other three nephews did not follow the profession of music.


PATRICK MACDONALD.   Patrick MacDonald was born in the Manse of Durness, Sutherlandshire, on 22nd April 1729.  His grandfather and father were musically inclined.  The latter, the Rev. Murdo Macdonald, to whose memory Rob Donn composed an elegy, was a man of wonderful talents, and he taught his children the principles of music, besides encouraging them in that art.

            Mr. Murdo’s career is worthy of notice.  He was born on 3rd May 1696, educated at St. Andrews, licensed to preach the Gospel of 25th September 1725, and ordained minister of Durness on 28th September 1726.  On 23rd May 1728,  he married Agnes, daughter of the Rev. Patrick Cooper of Pittenweem, by whom he had four sons and seven daughters.  He dept a Diary extending to 7 volumes, and which contains numerous entries of remarkable interest.  It was during his ministry that Robert Calder, usually called Rob Donn, the bard of the Reay country, composed his songs; and the poet’s intercourse with the family was, no doubt, of mutual advantage.

            Patrick and his brother Joseph (who was born on 26th February 1739) were at an early age the pupils of Kenneth Sutherland of Cnocbreac, who was known for his remarkable skill in violin-playing.  Joseph was the more apt pupil, however, and in addition to being a good violinist, he had some ability as a vocalist.  His father relates that, at the age of eight, Joseph led the psalmody in church.

            Their sister Flora, afterwards married to Dr. Touch, minister of St. Cuthbert’s Chapel of Ease, equaled, if she did not excel, her brothers as an instrumentalist; and the father not infrequently held a musical evening, when the musicians of his family competed with one antoher, not only in playing airs, but also in composing them.  Joseph excelled in composition, and not a few of his airs enjoyed the distinction of having the songs of the local poet made to suit them.

            Joseph was educated at the Grammar School of Haddington, the master of which was a friend of his father’s.  Receiving an appointment in India, he proceeded thither in 1760, leaving a collection of airs,—compositions of his youth—as a parting gift to one of his sisters.  In Persia he got the natives to make for him two or three whistles (Feadain meaghra) on which he practised, and thereby revived and sustained his recollections of the airs he used to play.  His career in India, however, was destined to be short; for in 1762 he was seized with a malignant fever, from which he did not recover.  A Treatise on the Theory of the Scots Highland Bagpipe written by him, was discovered in Bengal by Sir John Murray Macgregor, Bart., and delivered by him to Patrick, who published it in 1803.  From the preface to the collection of Patrick Macdonald, published in 1784 (which is referred to in the Chronological List appended to this work), it may be inferred that the whole of the North Highland Airs—eighty-six in number—were those given by Joseph to his sister.

            Patrick (the subject of this article) was in 1737 sent to his grandfather’s at Pittenweem, where he spent some time.  On his return home, his father took charge of his education, and in 1747 sent him to the University of Aberdeen.  He was duly licensed a preacher, and on 12th October 1756 was presented to Kilmore, where he laboured as a minister of the parish for the long space of sixty-nine years.  He was married to Barbara M’Donald, bu whom he had a family of nine sons and four daughters.  He died father of the Church, on the 25th of September 1824.  His ministerial office appears to have deterred him from becoming a bagpipe player like his brother Joseph, but in his handling of the violin, he is acknowledged to have been unexcelled among his presbyterial brethren.  An anecdote is related of him, that being in Ediburgh on the one occasion as a member of the General Assembly of the Church, he was urged by Stabilini (who was indisposed) to act as his substitute for the evening.  He agreed to do so, and it is said that he executed his part so well that his audience were charmed and delighted.  It is also said that there was some talk of his clerical brethren taking him to task for this performance in a playhouse, but that the general esteem in which he was held saved him from being brought to book.


ROBERT RIDDEL of Glenriddel.  Robert Riddel of Glenriddel was a gentleman of antiquarian tastes, and a musical amateur.  He was a descendant of the famous Sir Robert Lawrie of Maxwelton, the successful opponent of the Dane who brought over the whistle and challenged the Bacchanalians of his time to contest the same over their wine; and at his house at Friars Carse the whistle was last contended for, as celebrated by our National Bard, Robert Burns, in his well-known poem of “The Whistle.”  Riddel was an intimate and esteemed friend of Burns.

            In 1787, Riddel published “New Music for the Piano Forte or Harpsichord, composed by a gentleman,"—which was advertised as follows by James Johnson on the same day on which the first volume of the Scots Musical Museum made its appearance:--“Where also may be had a Collection of Reels, Minuets, Marches, and Scots Songs with variations for the Harpsichord by a Gentleman—Price 4/.”  He also published a “Collection of Scotch, Galwegian, and Border tunes for the Violin, &c., Selected by Robert Riddell of Glenriddell Esq. Price 7 sh.”:--a work which Johnson advertised in May 1794, about a month after Riddel’s death (which occurred on 21st April).  For three songs written by Burns he composed the airs,--“The Blue-eyed Lassie”; “Nithdale’s Welcome Hame”; and “The Day returns, my bosom burns.”  Mr. David Laing in his introduction to Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum, states that “Mr. Riddell was an excellent man but no musician, as I have been assured by a competent judge whose partiality to the Author would have made him very sensible of any merit his compositions might possess.”  Mr. Sharpe, in addition to this note, says with reference to a poem, “The Bedesman of Nithside,” 1792, 4to, with a vignette, by Captain Grose—“Sir Walter  Scott told me that this production puzzled him—it was much too good for the one, and much too bad for the other.”  Whether the above be or be not a true estimate of Riddel’s musical abilities, his reels and other dances which the Editor has seen in various Collections have little or no merit. 


MALCOLM M’DONALD.  Malcom M’Donald published four collections of Strathspey Reels, &c.  The first of these, as its title-page indicates, was entirely made up of his own exclusive compositions; but the subsequent three contain a number of tunes which are unquestionably the productions of other musicians.  Many of the tunes composed by, or attributed to M’Donald, are of that strange wild nature so characteristic of the compositions of Daniel Dow.

            Of M’Donald’s personal history little or no authentic information can be obtained.  The place of his birth is unknown.  His second and subsequent collections, however, bear on them that, at the time of their appearance, he resided “at Dunkeld.” The present editor has been informed that his residence was at Inver, in the Parish of Little Dunkeld; and in the list of Subscribers to Niel Gow’s Second Collection, we find the entry “Mr. Malcolm Macdonald, Inver.”

            In a footnote appended to M’Donald’s Reel “Lady Haddo,” in Part II of “The Beauties of Niel Gow” (a work published by Nathaniel Gow), we are informed that M’Donald played the violoncello to Niel after the death of the latter’s brother Donald Gow.

            M’Donald is said to have died at Inver, but we can find no record of the date of his death.  He is supposed, however, to have predeceased Niel Gow by a few years.  The Parish Registers of the locality were burned or otherwise destroyed about the beginning of the present century, for the supposed purpose of preventing information being procured regarding the ages of persons required to join the Volunteers, Fencibles, or Militia of that period.


JOHN BOWIE.  John Bowie, Musician, Perth, and for some time musicseller there, is first found advertising in July 1785 as follows:--“John Bowie, Musician, Perth, tunes Harpsichords, Piano Fortes &c.”  Nothing more appears until he advertised his collection four years later; and then again, in 1797, he announces a single sheet containing “Four new Tunes composed by John Bowie, Huntingtower, near Perth, one of which is the much admired new Strathspey called the Loyal Farmers, with addition of the Slow Set of the Braes of Mar &c.”  In 1801 he issued another single sheet—“Just published and Sold at the Music Shops A New Strathspey called the Perthshire Yeomanry and Lady Herriot Hay’s Reel composed by John Bowie, Author of Miss Murray of Ochtertyre’s Strathspey, and others so much danced of late, to which is added three Favourite New Tunes &c.”

            John Bowie commenced business as a Musicseller in 1803, as the following advertisement shews—“Music Shop Perth J. Bowie Musician having entered into Partnership with T. Hill George Street begs leave to inform the Nobility, Gentry and Public, that he and his partner will constantly have on hand an assortment of all kinds of Music and Musical Instruments &c.”  The Mr. T. Hill here referred to was the father of Mr. D.O. Hill, R.S.A.  Bowie appears also to have been in the habit of giving balls in conjunction with this brother; they advertise on March 16th 1807 “J. & P. Bowie’s Annual Ball on Thursday the 26th current. Tickets 3s each from Mr. Thomas Hill Stationer George Street,” &c.  The music shop of Bowie & Hill was next door to that occupied by Thomas Hill (Bowie’s partner), who carried on therein a separate business as a bookseller and stationer.  Other advertisements show that the music business was continued by Mr. Hill after Bowie’s death.  An advertisement of th date 3rd October 1816 runs as follows:--“T. Hill Bookseller Stationer & Music Seller Perth…a Large assortment of Piano Fortes from the best London Makers, and other Musical Instruments, with Sheet Music in its greatest variety at the lowest prices &c. P.S. Piano Fortes lent out by the month.”  Peter Bowie, the brother of John, in the preceding month announces that he “Commences teaching on Monday the 16th current, and that he devotes his whole time to teaching the Piano Forte (having declined to perform at balls &c)…Orders left at his house Atholl Street or at Mr. John Ross junior grocer, &c. N.B. Musical Instruments tuned on reasonable terms.”  Peter’s resolution to give up ball playing was doubtless owing to his brother’s death.  Bowie died in 1815, in his 56th year, and was buried in Tibber More (his native place), near Perth.


JOHN ANDERSON.  John Anderson, who published two books of Highland strathspeys, country dances, English and French dances, &c., the first of which he dedicated to the gentlemen of the Musical Society of Greenock, cannot be traced either by advertisements or otherwise; and whether he is the same person who started a music warehouse in Perth about 1793, and continued there till 1798, is very doubtful, from the fact that no copy of either of his two collections has been seen bearing a Perth address.  Nor can he be identified with the Anderson who was associated with James Johnson the engraver, afterwards  as a partner of the firm of Walker & Anderson, engravers.  That Anderson composed much cannot be said, as in his earliest book there are only four tunes, and the variations to the Marquis of Huntly’s Farewell, to which he has adhibited his name, and seven others in his second publication, which was probably issued between 1790 and 1794, as one of the tunes therein contained—“Buff and Blue,”—was composed by Captain Riddell, who died early in the latter year.  This work bears the names of only two Edinburgh musicsellers on the title page, viz., Johnson & Co., and Bryson.  A copy of the Second Collection is in the British Museum.


CHARLES DUFF.  Charles Duff, who published his Collection bearing his name, was a Musician.  He is stated to have been the leader of the Musical Dociety in Dendee fro some time.  As to whether he combined the teaching of dancing with music at any time, there is no information.  His brother Archibald, however, was a dancing master in Montrose and Aberdeen.  For reasons deduced from the title page of his Collection, it may be presumed that the work was published in 1792, or perhaps a short time before that date, though no advertisement has been discovered relating to it.  Duff includes in his Collection a number of tunes composed by John M’Donald, late dancing master, Dundee, which were probably given to him by that individual, or purchased at the sale of M’Donald’s effects, which took place on Thursday, the 22nd October 1789.  Prolonged search has failed to make known where Duff was born, whether in Dundee or about that locality.  The John M’Donald above referred to, advertised in June 1782 for a person properly qualified in playing ball music on the violin &c., and it is believed that Duff obtained that situation.  In 1798, there appears the advertisement, that “Charles Duff, Musician, begs to inform the public that he will remove at Whitsunday next from Dundee to Montrose.”  When he again returned to Dundee is not ascertained, but about ten years afterwards (January 1808), the following announcement appears:--“Charles Duff Musician and James Chalmers Bookseller No. 3 Castle Street Dundee have commenced business jointly in the music line.”  The firm’s name is to be found in the Dundee Directory for 1809, as Duff and Chalmers, Music shop, Castle Street.  In March 1810, Duff and Chalmers opened a new shop near the bottom of Castle Street, Dundee, and towards the end of that year the following advertisement appears:—“New Music—Speedily will be published, A Selection of Minuets, Slow Scottish Tunes, &c., Dedicated to Miss Russel of Blackhall,” &c., &c., a work which Duff states to have been the result of his professional efforts during twenty-five years.  He advertised in July 1811, that he leaves town to tune pianos in the districts of Montrose, Aberdeen, Brechin, and Forfor.  Four years later, he informs us that he has begun business on his own account:—“Music warehouse—Charles Duff Musician intimates that he has dissolved Partnership by mutual consent and that he has opened on his own account on the west side of Castle Street adjoining to the Theatrem: &c., and he also makes reference to the knowledge which Alexander Duff, his nephew, has attined in music and tuning, &c.  Duff again advertises in August 1817, that he “will close his instructions in Music on Saturday the 8th and will resume teaching on Monday 14th September.”  In the Dundee Directory for 1818, the entry “Charles Duff Music-Seller 30 High Street” appears, shewing that he has removed from Castle Street; and an advertisement, of date November 10th, indicates another change of address, “Charles Duff, Musician, Music-Saloon opposite the English Chapel, Nethergate, Dundee.”  In March 1821 he makes this announcement, “Sale of Music and Musical Instruments.  Charles Duff respectfully intimates to his numerous friends and the public.  A Sale of his stock of musical instruments at a reduction of price, &c., and that the sale will continue till Whitsunday.  Charles Duff will remove to the flat above Mrs. Wallace, Brewer, South side of the English Chapel.”  Duff’s address appears in the Dundee Directory for 1822, and he probably died about that time, as all further trace of him has been lost.  The editor has seen a bill granted to him in November 1821, and has been informed by one of his pupils that he died an old man in the twenties.  Duff was frequently employed at concerts and balls.


ROBERT PETRIE.  Robert Petrie was born at Kirkmichael, Perthshire, in February 1767.  His father was named John Petrie, and his mother Elizabeth Read; and he was baptised as “Robertus.”  There is little known of his early history; but he was regarded in and about his native place as an excellent violin player, although from his personal habits and propensities he has been described as a “ne’er-dae-weel.”  He was much employed at balls, weddings, &c., and was associated with a partner, by name John Fleming, who played the violoncello on such occasions.  Both Fleming and Petrie are said to have participated with the Hon. William Maule in one of thos mad freaks which were so characteristic of the latter.  On this occasion a mock resurrection had been organized and was performed in the churchyard of Logie, Dundee.  Fleming it is said afterwards regretted having been concerned in the frolic, and he declared that none of those who took part in it would die a natural death.  To verify his prophecy, he kept a book, in which he might record the various deaths.  So far as Maule and he himself were concerned, however, his prediction proved wrong; but (whatever had been the fate of the rest of their associates) we know that Petrie was found dead one morning in the end of August or beginning of September 1830 by the side of a small stream.  He had suddenly expired when on his way home from a party.

            Petrie is mentioned as having taken part in a competition for violin playing held in Aberdeen about 1822.  Feeling himself somewhat handicapped in the course of it by his opponents, he expressed to his friend Flemming his doubts as to the final result.  Fleming, however, reminded him that he had still one tune to play ere the final decision would be made—“The Ewie wi’ the crookit horn.”  This Petrie performed so well that amid the plaudits of the audience he was declared the first prize-winner.  The cup awarded him, however, never reached Kirkmichael—a fact probably to be attributed to the irregularity of his habits.


ABRAHAM MACINTOSH.  Abraham Macintosh, a son of “Red Rob” and Margaret Mill, was born in Edinburgh on 15th June 1769.  In early life he followed his father’s profession; and in December 1792, he published a collection of thirty new strathspey reels, &c., of which he was the composer.  A few stray tunes bearing the name of Mackintosh, junior (But whether this refers to Abrham or to his brother Robert, it is impossible to say, as the latter never published any collection), are also to be found in other collections, one of these being “Buckingham House” or “Athole Brose,” which appears in his father’s third book.  It is repeated almost note for note in Gow’s Collection, and it has sometimes been erroneously attributed to that composer (although he never claimed it), on account of its being styled “Neil Gow’s favourite.”  From 1793 to 1797, Abraham Mackintosh, according to “Aitchison’s Directory,” resided in Todrick’s Wynd’ there is no trace of him after the latter year in Edinburgh, but he is subsequently found in Newcastle, where he was professionally employed as a teacher of dancing, though probably he also continued as a musician till the year 1807.  In the beginning of this century, he published other two books or collections, and a sheet or two.