Dalkeith Palace and the Scotts of Buccleuch

Dalkeith Castle existed in 1128, when Dalkeith was granted to the Grahams. It passed to the Douglases in 1328; Sir James Douglas was created 1st Lord of Dalkeith in 1369. The first Douglas Earl of Morton was created in 1458, and the castle was first made a "palace" by James the fourth earl of Morton in 1575. James VI had him executed in 1581, and celebrated the occasion by visiting Dalkeith a few days afterwards with two pipers playing before him.

The oldest known music definitely related to the building is the ballad The Laird of Logie, which survived into the 19th century with at least three different tunes. The version I've given renames the laird as Ochiltrie but is otherwise reasonably true to the facts. This was the last of many episodes in Scottish history in which aristocrats attempted to gain influence by holding the King hostage. The earl of Bothwell had tried to kidnap the king at Falkland in 1591, and tried again at Dalkeith on the 7th of August 1592 with help of the lairds of Burlie and Logie. Bothwell's story was that he was trying to get access to the king to ask his pardon; but he sensibly didn't stick around to persuade the king of that. The other two were captured. James pardoned Burlie but ordered Logie "to be tried by an assize and executed to the death" (acquittal was not an option). The maid who helped him escape and later married him was Margaret Vinstar or Weiksterne, who had come with the queen from Denmark on her marriage to James in 1590.

The Dukes of Buccleuch have been the biggest landowners in Midlothian for hundreds of years, and still are; their lands were enlarged further by the outright theft of the common lands of Dalkeith, the kind of expropriation carried out by many Scottish aristocrats in the years before the agricultural "improvements" of the 18th century. For about 150 years, they made a correspondingly large impact as patrons of music.

The Douglases of Morton fell on hard times, and in 1642 Francis Scott, second earl of Buccleuch, bought Dalkeith and its estates from them; his family took over the title of Lord Dalkeith in 1672. Francis married Margaret Leslie, the widow of Alexander Leslie (son of Alexander Leslie, earl of Leven, the Covenanting army commander) in 1646 when he was 19 and she about 5 years older; he died as a young man, leaving two daughters. The elder one, Mary (1647-1661) was married off as a child and probably died of bone cancer. Anna Scott (1651-1732) then inherited the immense family fortune in her own right.

Her mother, in pursuit of political influence, arranged a marriage in 1663 with the likeliest prospect in Britain, Charles II's illegitimate son James the Duke of Monmouth (1649-1685), when Anna was 12. The marriage also settled political scores on the other side: the Duke of Lauderdale helped arrange it to stop General Monck's son marrying Anna's money. James became Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch and Earl of Dalkeith. James's mother Lucy Walters had meanwhile split with the King, taken a string of lovers and died of syphilis. Many people doubted whether Charles was in fact his father:

If seventh sons do things so rare,
In you seven fathers have a share.

Anna was made Duchess in her own right in 1666. It's surprising that such a rich and powerful woman seems to be commemorated by only one small and little-known piece of music: the galliard My Lady Balclughe's Ayre from the 1675 Dalhousie Castle manuscript. The Duck of Monmoth's Jigg is from the same MS. Unlike any modern jig, it's in six-bar phrases, and resembles a "brawl" (or in the original French, "bransle"; there are many of them in Thoinot Arbeau's Orchesographie of 1589). The Duke of Monmouth's Jigg seems to be a different tune, though with the same structure. It's from Thomas Greeting's tablature instruction book for the flageolet of 1680, as is the odd tune La Monmouth by F. Grabu, which seems to be a misbarred minuet.

This was not exactly a love match. James spent vast amounts of his wife's fortune, had 4 children by his mistress Eleanor Needham, and fell in love with Henrietta Wentworth when he was 31 and she was 20, later describing Anna as "his wife by law" and Henrietta as "his wife before God". In his rakish youth he was involved in two murders, one in the company of General Monck's son the young Duke of Albermarle.

Love and Honesty, or the Modish Courtier, a ballad of 1676 by Roger L'Estrange, called for The Duke of Monmouth's Jigg as its tune (presumably Greeting's version). It well fitted his life at this time, expressing the same attitudes as the poems of his contemporary the Earl of Rochester.

But instead of settling down either into debauchery or respectability, Monmouth became a figurehead for the Protestant party in British politics, involved in a series of plots aimed at gaining the crown for himself (and more importantly, wealth and power for his backers). After defeating the Covenanters at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1679, he blew any goodwill this might have gained him from his father with one plot too many and was exiled in 1679. The Protestant broadside Monmouth and Bucleugh's welcom from the North, which comes idolatrously close to identifying Monmouth with Jesus Christ and Charles with God the Father, dates from the end of this exile; the tune is named as York and Albany's Welcome to England, from another propaganda sheet in favour of the other side, his uncle and bitter enemy the future James VII and II. That tune had a long history: most often known as Hey boys up go we, it was written for a satirical song by the English Royalist Francis Quarles in 1641, put in the mouth of a Roundhead character called "Anarchus", and was used for at least fifty political ballads in 17th century Britain.

James continued plotting on his return, claiming to have a marriage contract between the King and his mother in a sealed lead box, which would have made him rather than his uncle the next in line for the throne. This non-existent evidence was backed up by a supernatural visitation from the ghost of Lucy Walters to a woman in Hatfield, publicized in a best-selling pamphlet. Charles's response was to exile his son again in 1683, suspected of a plot to kill his father; he took Henrietta abroad with him the second time, to the United Provinces under William of Orange. After Charles died in 1685, William, wanting the top job for himself, ordered Monmouth out of his country suggesting he join the army of the Emperor Leopold fighting the Turks. Instead he launched an invasion of England trying to depose his uncle. Defeated at the battle of Sedgemoor, his beheading was grotesquely botched. Monmouth gave Jack Ketch the executioner a large tip to do it right, but Ketch failed to sever his head after five swipes with the axe and had to finish the job with a knife.

His career was neatly summarized in the diary of John Evelyn for the day of Monmouth's execution:

Thus ended this quondam Duke, darling of his Father, and the Ladys, being extraordinily handsome, and adroit; an excellent souldier, & dauncer, a favorite of the people, of an Easy nature, debauched by lust, seduc'd by crafty knaves who would have set him up onely to make a property; tooke this opportunity of his Majestie being of another Religion, to gather a party of discontented; failed of it, and perished. He was a lovely person, had a vertuous & excellent Lady that brought him great riches & a second Dukedome in Scotland; Was Master of the Horse, Gen. of the K. his fathers Army, Gent: of the Bed chamber: Knight of the Garter, Chancellor of Camb: in a Word had accumulations without end: Se what Ambition and want of principles brought him to.

The last few years of Monmouth's life were marked by ferocious broadside ballads from both sides; the Bodleian Library ballad collection (now digitized and available on the Internet) contains about ten of them, and a whole volume of the nineteenth-century Roxburghe ballad collection is devoted to them. They read like the Daily Express set to music. Monmouth Routed must have been written within days of his defeat, before his execution. Its lugubrious melody was Aim Not Too High, also known as Fortune My Foe, one of seventeenth-century England's most popular tunes for doom-laden moralizing ballads. The balladeer seems to have had a different setting of the tune in mind than the one I've given; many notes need to be split to make the text fit.

The ever-topical John Playford published The Duke of Bucclugh's Tune in his Apollo's Banquet in 1687. It was the first published collection of Scottish music for the fiddle, and this tune may be the earliest in print to use the "Scotch snap" rhythm typical of the strathspey. This was the year that Anna got her property back, confiscated after her husband's execution, so perhaps it was just acceptable to celebrate him again by then. He was posthumously rehabilitated after King James was deposed a year later.

Anna married Charles, Lord Cornwallis in 1688; like Monmouth, he was mainly interested in spending her money, and left her in debt. She moved back to Dalkeith from London in 1701, having the palace remodelled into its present design; she outlived both her son and daughter-in-law, went back to London in 1714 and died in 1732. Every account of her describes her as cold and arrogant; she styled herself "Mighty Princess" and insisted on being served on bended knee.

The next Earl of Dalkeith was Monmouth's son James (1674-1705); most of the Earls of Dalkeith died young. His son Francis (1695-1751) became the second Duke of Buccleuch. There seems to be no music for either. Francis supported the Government in the '45, though Prince Charlie stayed a few nights in the palace; there is some music tenuously connected to Charles' stay in Edinburgh but none to his brief visit to Dalkeith.

The next three generations marked the zenith of the family's musical patronage, reflected in the title pages I have reproduced here from music anthologies they sponsored. Henry the third Duke (1746-1812) was brought up to have a cosmopolitan outlook, and was sent on his travels in 1764 for three years accompanied by Adam Smith as a personal tutor (much to the displeasure of the influential Enlightenment clergyman-intellectual Alexander Carlyle, who thought Smith had insufficient style for the job). He was kept out of Scotland by his family, so as not to grow too attached to it, until after he married Lady Elisabeth Montagu (b.1743) in 1767. On his return he became one of the most influential figures in all aspects of Scottish life; an agricultural improver, governor of the Royal Bank, president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons... and according to the Dictionary of National Biography, "he is said to have imitated James V of Scotland in paying visits in disguise to the cots of his humbler dependents, who always profited thereby".

Two tunes called Dalkeith House were written when Henry had the title: a jig published by John Anderson (1737-1808) in his second collection of 1791, and a reel by James McDonald published in Alexander McGlashan's third collection of 1786. The Duchess of Buccleugh's Favorite was named for Elisabeth, published in the Gow family's fourth collection in 1800; I've given Nathaniel Gow's version of it for the flute, published in 1812. Most tunes called "Favorite" were pre-existing melodies renamed, but this one seems to be original. The Duchess of Buccleugh's Strathspey is also for her, from the Gows' First Collection of 1784.

Charles William Henry (1772-1819), the fourth duke, only had the title for a few years. He married his cousin Harriet Catherine (1773-1814) in 1795 (in Lord Sydney's house, Grosvenor Sq, London). She died at Dalkeith House of "putrid sore throat", he died in Lisbon of consumption. There may be no music for either of them, but Walter Scott dedicated The Lay of the Last Minstrel to the Duke.

The fifth duke, Walter Francis (1806-1884) and his wife had more music dedicated to them than anyone else in the family, and I have not included all of it here. He was an influential politician and industrialist, who had Granton Pier built to handle the coastal shipping to Dundee and Aberdeen; he has an elaborate and tasteless Victorian Gothic monument on Parliament Square in Edinburgh. The Duke of Buccleugh's Favorite was published in a sheet by Nathaniel Gow with the remarkable attribution "composed by A.W. while asleep". A.W. would have been Nathaniel's brother Andrew. My guess is that he was hedging bets because he couldn't be sure if he'd really written it himself or was remembering somebody else's tune, in his family's grand tradition of wholesale plagiarism, both intentional and otherwise. The Duke of Buccleuch is a strathspey with an unusual 20-bar length by Nathaniel Gow. The Duchess of Buccleuch's Welcome to Scotland in 1829 was written by Neil Gow Junior after Walter's marriage in London to Charlotte Anne, daughter of Thomas Thynne, 2nd Marquess of Bath. Neil Gow Junior died young and this was published posthumously by his brother Nathaniel in 1837. The Duchess of Buccleuch's Reel is also by Neil Gow Jnr, from the same book. While these tunes can be played on the violin, their flat keys suggest they were mainly intended for the harp and piano, the popular instruments with ladies at the time, and they work extremely well on the modern lever clarsach, so I've given the full scores for them, as with The Duke of Buccleugh's Favorite. Another pair of tunes which must have been written for Walter and Charlotte's marriage was by Duncan McKercher, from his collection of 1830: His Grace the Duke of Buccleugh's Strathspey and The Duchess of Buccleugh's Reel.

The Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch is a pair of fiddle tunes by the most prolific of all composers of Scottish traditional music, William Marshall. They were published posthumously in 1845; Marshall's previous collection had been in 1822, so they must have been written for Walter and Charlotte.

Like The Earl of Dalkeith's March, most of the music I have traced for holders of the Earl of Dalkeith title was plagiarized by the Gows. The Countess of Dalkeith was exceptionally blatant; the Gows published it in their Fourth Collection in 1800, and that's the setting I've given here, but it had been published in the same year by William Marshall with an accompanying slow-air version as Kinrara, named after the Speyside cottage used as a summer residence by his patron the Duchess of Gordon. The Earl of Dalkeith's Reel was published under that name in the Gows' Third Collection of 1792, but had been printed forty years earlier by Robert Bremner as Collonel Crafurd's Reel. Perhaps they felt that since Earls of Dalkeith tended to pop off young, originality was wasted.

The fifth Duke's brother Lord John Scott (1809-1860) married Alicia Spottiswoode, later known as Lady John Scott, the songwriter and folksong collector. The harmonically odd tune The Duchess of Backlugh's Reel is from her manuscripts, typically with no indication of where she got it or who it relates to; most likely her sister-in-law, despite the archaic spelling.

Lord John Scott spent most his life in Warwickshire; he retired early from politics to devote his life to hunting, fishing and, on his visits to Scotland, yachting in the Forth from Granton. Lord John Scott's Strathspey is another tune from Neil Gow Jr's posthumous collection, again given in full piano score. Lord and Lady John Scott is a pair of tunes from William Marshall's posthumous 1845 collection (for the earlier history of the first tune and its surprising associations, see my Embro, Embro CD-ROM). Lord John Scott's March was published for the Highland pipes in Alexander Glen's 1860 collection, attributed to "D. McKeraher"; this was really Duncan McKercher, who published it as a keyboard piece in his 1830 collection, going to the high B beyond the pipe scale. It's an adaptation of an adaptation: it's based on Nathaniel Gow's Lament for his Brother, but that tune is itself a reworking of an Irish jig, The Gallowglass. All three are splendid tunes in their own right. I've included both McKercher's original and a pipe version earlier than Glen's, from Lady John Scott's manuscripts (though not in her handwriting). She said it was composed (she must mean arranged) by "McAlister", probably John MacAllister (1820-1886), piper to the Duke of Sutherland.

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Music of Dalkeith
Copyright © 2001, Jack Campin