James Webster's Music Book, 1831 - 1839

Scope and Content

James Webster's Music Book - 1831 - 1839.

This is one of several significant music manuscripts gifted to the University by John Murdoch Henderson. Annotations made by him at the beginning of this volume state that The pieces are copied mainly from Robert Mackintosh's 3rd collection (1796) [R. Mackintosh, A third book of sixty-eight new reels and strathspeys ] and Neil Gow's 4th collection (1800) [Neil Gow, Fourth collection of strathspey reels]. There are some pieces also from R. Petrie [Collections of strathspey reels etc (1790, 1795, 1800, 1805)], S. Fraser [Captain S. Fraser, 30Highland Airs (1795); Airs and Melodies (1816)], John Morison [A collection of new strathspey reels (2 collections published in 1797 and 1815, respectively], William Morrison [A collection of Highland music (Inverness, 1812)], John Thompson [this ref. has not been traced; the note may refer to G. Thompson's Select collection of original Scots airs (1793 - 1818), or Thompson's, music publishers, Compleat collections (1758 - 1780)], J. Gow [John Gow, son of Neil Gow], D. Grant [A collection of strathspey reels (Elgin, 1790)], and a few unpublished pieces by Edward MacDonald .

The items are numbered serially, and the title of each piece, often with its composer, is given. At least one other hand, in addition to Webster's, can be identified in the original compilation of the MS. Supplementary or explanatory notes in black or red pencil, have been added by Henderson; and the titles alphabetically indexed by him in the first four pages.

Henderson's references are usually to the printed sources cited above, but also include the MS collections of Alexander McLaren and James Paterson (GB 231 MS 2424 and GB231 MS 2426), which he also presented to the University Library. Other collections mentioned are those of John Anderson, c 1789 and 1790; John Bowie, 1789; Robert Bremner, 1751 - 1761; Isaac Cooper, 1783; John Clarkson, 1803; Daniel Dow, c 1775 and 1776; Charles Duff, c 1740 and 1790 (including compositions by John MacDonald, dancing master, Dundee); Joseph Lowe, 1844; Patrick McDonald, 1784; William McGibbon, 1742, 1746, 1755 and 1768; Alexander McGlashan, 1780, 1781, 1786; Daniel McLaren, 1794; William Marshall, 1781; Peter Milne, several editions; James Oswald, 1743 - 1759; R. Purdie, 1823; Robert Ross, 1780; Neil Stewart, 1761 and c 1772. For further details on these collections see, G.S. Emmerson, Rantin' Pipe and Tremblin' String, a history of Scottish dance music (1971).

Administrative / Biographical History

James Webster (fl 1831 - 1839) James Webster (fl 1831 - 1839), according to a MS note at the end of the volume, lived at Alehouse Hill, in the parish of New Deer, Aberdeenshire, but nothing more is known of him.

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, 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 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

Descriptive list available in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: speclib@abdn.ac.uk). Contents of this list searchable online, from the Historic Collections database ( http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/library/).

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/library/

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: speclib@abdn.ac.uk) 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

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Related Material

James Webster (fl 1831 - 1839) The Moir manuscript, 18th c (GB 231 MS 2427). This collection of 18th century reels, strathspeys, etc. was owned by James Webster (fl 1831 - 1839), of Alehouse Hill, Brucklay, New Deer in 1839. It was also gifted to the University in 1963, by John Murdoch Henderson (1902 - 1972)

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 to the University of Aberdeen and helped create 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 as with 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 arrangement 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: http://www.nefa.net/index2.htm). 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)


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