The Moir manuscript, 1790

Scope and Content

Collections of over 100 reels, strathspeys, and songs, compiled by, or belonging to, Catharine Jean Moir, of Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, 1790. The volume may have been a music practice book, as it includes notes for exams of rests on pauses of time, of the Graces and their Character, and a Gamut for the Harps.

This is one of several significant music manuscripts gifted to the University by John Murdoch Henderson, and is heavily annotated in his hand, throughout. An index to the tunes, prepared by him, is prefixed to the collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

Catharine Jean Moir (fl 1790) Catharine Jean Moir (fl 1790) lived in Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, c 1790, but nothing more is know of her life and works.

James Webster (fl 1831 - 1839) James Webster (fl 1831 - 1839), lived at Alehouse Hill, Brucklay, in the parish of New Deer, Aberdeenshire, but nothing more is known of his life and works.

John Murdoch Henderson (1902 - 1972) John Murdoch Henderson, son of Charles Henderson, farmer, and Mary Jane Murdoch, was born in New Deer on 31 March 1902, and graduated from the University of Aberdeen, MA 1926. He taught for several years in the south of Scotland, before returning to Aberdeen where he taught Science and Mathematics at Frederick Street School, and, latterly, Ruthrieston School. A gifted composer, and an authority on Scottish fiddle music, he wrote The Flowers of Scottish Melody: a First Companion to the Scottish Violinist and Pianist (Glasgow: Bayley & Ferguson, 1935), and arranged J. Scott Skinner's The Scottish Music Maker: Skinner: a choice selection of strathspeys, Scots reels, schottisches, double jigs, waltz tunes, song airs, pastorals, marches, quicksteps, hornpipes ... arranged for the violin (Glasgow: Bayley & Ferguson, 1957). He was also a prolific collector of music for the fiddle and pipes, and during his life made several significant manuscript deposits to the University of Aberdeen.

His printed music collection was bequeathed to the National Library of Scotland in 1975/6, and duplicates from this collection were transferred to Aberdeen University, where they form the University's John Murdoch Henderson Collection. A further collection of his papers was deposited more recently in the North East Folklore Archive, Aden Country Park, Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire, by his family. See Related Units of Description for further details.


Single item

Conditions Governing Access

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Gifted to the University in 1963 by John Murdoch Henderson, MA (Aberdeen, 1926), Aberdeen.

Other Finding Aids

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures

Custodial History

In 1836 this volume belonged to James Webster (fl 1831 - 1839), of Alehouse Hill, Brucklay, Aberdeenshire. It was given to James Murdoch Henderson [? mid 20th c], by the daughter of Mr Mill, schoolmaster at New Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire. Mr Mill's paternal grandmother was a Webster.


No accruals expected

Related Material

James Webster (fl 1831 - 1839) James Webster's Music Book, 1831 - 1839 (GB 231 MS 2421). Also gifted to the University in 1963 by John Murdoch Henderson

John Murdoch Henderson (1902 - 1972) John Murdoch Henderson Collection (University of Aberdeen, Special Libraries collection: ref. Hend inst (instrumental); and Hend voc (vocal)). Originally bequeathed to the National Library of Scotland in 1975/6, duplicates of items already in stock came at Henderson's request to the University of Aberdeen and formed this Collection. The collection was accumulated between 1908-1960, with a contents date range of 1780-1935. Composers represented range from Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) to Joshua Campbell (fl. 1762). Famous Scottish composers feature strongly, including Nathaniel Gow (1763-1831), son of Neil Gow (1727-1807), Robert Mackintosh (1745-1807), and J. Scott Skinner (1843-1927). Music from the Highlands, mainly for the fiddle and some for the bagpipe, are well represented in the Collection, with famous Scottish composers for the fiddle forming a core of the musical volumes. Scots songs, particularly those from the Jacobite era, feature strongly in the vocal arrangements of the Collection. Works in English and Gaelic are also represented.

John Murdoch Henderson Collection (North East Folklore Archive, Aden Country Park, Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire, Scotland UK AB42 5FQ: This collection, which includes several untitled manuscripts, original copies of 19th century fiddle and pipe tune publications, posters advertising local shows and dances in the early 1900s and several photographs from Henderson's own album, was deposited in the North East Folklore Archive in November 1999, by his nephew, Murdoch Paterson.

Papers of John Murdoch Henderson, c 1920 - 1972 (National Library of Scotland Manuscripts Division: ref. MSS 21669 - 713)

Moir family, Aberdeenshire Papers of Moir family, Stoneywood and Scotstown, Aberdeenshire, 1831-1913 (GB 231 MS 2736/1-10)

Papers relating to history and genealogy of Gill family and Moir family (GB 231 MS 2841)

Papers of Moir family, Peterhead, 1688-1857 (GB 231 MS 2909/1-7)


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Additional Information

This material is original