Scotch MS tunes, 1730 - 60, associated with the Christie family of Banff

Scope and Content

Scotch MS tunes, 1730 - 60, associated with the Christie family, of Banff.

This collection of c 195 folk tunes, mainly Scots, 1730 - 1760, is associated with the Christie family, of Banff (see Custodial History, below, for further details), but thought to have originated from the family of James Christie, farmer, Montquhitter, Aberdeenshire (see Administrative History, above).

An index to the tunes, compiled by William Walker, is bound at the end of the volume; and marginal notes and annotations, made by William Walker (1840 - 1931) and J. Murdoch Henderson (1902 - 1972), are entered throughout. A note listing the contents of Henry Playford's collection of Scots Tunes, 1700 - the earliest collection in substantial form - extremely rare - no second copy known , with reference also to Laing's Introduction to Scottish Music Museum p. xc and to McGibbon's Collection, p. 95 is entered in the front of the volume - in an unknown hand.

Administrative / Biographical History

Christie family, of Montquhitter (fl 18th c - 19th c) The origin of this collection of tunes may be traced to the family of James Christie, farmer, of Montquhitter, Aberdeenshire. He was the father of Reverend Alexander Christie (d 1816), Scottish Episcopal minister of Keith, 1781 - 1800, and Old Deer, 1800 - 1812; James Christie (fl 1817), gamekeeper to John Cumine, of Auchry, who published Instructions for Hunting, Breaking, Pointers, and Finding Out Game ... to which is subjoined humerous poems and songs chiefly in the Buchan Dialect (Banff: J. Davidson, 1817); and William Christie (c 1778 - 1849), dancing master, who arranged and published A collection of strathspeys, reels, hornpipes, waltzes, etc., arranged as medleys for the harp, piano forte, violin and violoncello (Edinburgh: W. Christie, 1820); and with his son, William Christie (1816 - 1885), Dean of Moray, collected the ballads which were subsequently published in Traditional ballad airs, arranged and harmonised for the pianoforte and harmonium, from copies procured in the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray, edited by William Christie, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas, 1876-81).

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

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Acquisition Information

Bookplate states that this collection was gifted to the University 1963, by William Walker (1840 - 1931). It seems likely that it was, in fact, passed by William Walker to John Murdoch Henderson (1902 - 1972), some time prior to Walker's death in 1931, and deposited by John Murdoch Henderson in 1963, along with other manuscripts which he gifted to the University at this time.

Other Finding Aids

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

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

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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

Acquired by William Walker (1840 - 1931) c 1873. Annotations made by him in the volume provide some details on its provenance: I got this manuscript from Mrs Paterson, Mackie Place, some time about 1873. Her step-daughter was married to Mr Christie, Procurator Fiscal, Banff, whose father's name [Mr James Christie, Writer in Banff, 1802] is inscribed on one of the old fly leaves, preserved at end. It was a tradition in the family that the music was written out by James Christie's grandfather, who was considered a fiddler of some local repute about the middle of the eighteenth century. It is an interesting collection, and the titles are redolent of north country song, some of the words of which I have in manuscript, taken down from the singing of byegone generations. WW.

Further research on its contents and provenance was undertaken in 1963, by John Murdoch Henderson (1902 - 1972), school teacher and collector of Scottish music, who states that Almost 80 of the tunes in this work are copied into a manuscript collection of 746 airs collected by James Paterson, Longmanhill, Bannfshire. I have not managed to establish that Mrs Paterson, Mackie Place, was the wife of either this James Paterson (which is likely), or of his son, James S. Paterson, Lathven. Besides numbering the 195 airs, I have supplied 1. Titles to nos. 83, 127, 156, 175, 177, 181, 182, 184; 2. Corrected titles to nos. 78, 95, 104, 135; 3. A further 37 titles to William Walker's index; 4. The first 7 bars of music to no. 56. There are incisions on ff 74/78 and 83/84 and at least one leaf is missing at the end. J. Murdoch Henderson, May 1963.


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Related Material

Collection of Scottish folk-songs and ballads with music, Monquhitter, Aberdeenshire, c 1818 (GB 231 MS 0793).

Miscellaneous and critical observations: especially upon the Hebrew tongue and the Bible, 1808 [believed to have been written by Reverend Alexander Christie (d 1816), of Keith and Old Deer] (GB 231 MS 0794)

Papers relating to the history and genealogy of Christie family, Bowers family, and Guthries family (GB 231 MS 1067)

Collection of 168 compositions, including melodies from Italian opera and oratorio, 1735 (GB 231 MS 2423). Association with the Christie families of Banff and Montquhitter, may suggest common ownership with the present collection and GB 231 MS 2426.

Euterpe et Terpsechore; being a selection of Scotch Strathspeys and Reels, 18th c (GB 231 MS 2426). Association with the Paterson families of Cullen and Banff, may suggest common ownership with the present collection and GB 231 MS 2423.

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: 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 family.

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


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