Jean Kirkpatrick


Buccleugh Collection, MC,2.9.

Jean Kirkpatrick‘s name appears on the cover of this manuscript, followed by the village name, Shaws, which is near Drumlanrig, in what is now Dumfries and Galloway, sixty miles south of Glasgow. She was the paternal aunt of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, whose name also appears on the cover, and he appears to have inherited the manuscript for his library. It currently belongs to Lord Buccleugh. The manuscript was probably complied in the 1770s.

Jean seems to have been the youngest child of the family, and the cause of her mother’s death in childbirth. Apparently she did not marry, but looked after her father into old age. A letter from Jean Kirkpatrick to a Dr Cullen, regarding her father’s illness, can be read HEREHer father (b.1705) died soon after, on the 17th October, 1777. He had been the Member of Parliament for the burghs of Dumfries from 1736-38.

The manuscript is large, with seven pages of keyboard music, followed by fifty-four pages, headed “Tunes for the Guittar”. The most arresting composer named in the MS is that of Bach, in this case, J. C. Bach: the right-hand keyboard part of his Sonata Opus 5, No.1 appears without accidentals, in a curious arrangement for the guittar. It’s presence raises a number of questions: Did Jean Kirkpatrick play this as a solo, as written? Is it a planned, yet unfinished arrangement? Was there an accompaniment played on another instrument? Did she improvise or add the accidentals during performance?

Jean Kirkpatrick seems to have had two guittars, a regular one in C tuning, but also another in G Major tuning, GBdgbd’. James Oswald also had a guittar in G, yet it remains a little-known alternate tuning for the guittar. For this tuning to ring true, a larger instrument is required. Thanks to a student of mine, Alison Littleboy, I now have just such an instrument, made by Paul Doyle, Galway, Ireland. The G Major section contains a fine set of variations on The Lea Rigg, the tune Burns borrowed for his version of “My Ain Kind Dearie O”.

There are two or three hand scripts in the manuscript.

Jack Lattin, The East Nook Of Fife, Comely Garden Reel:

Roslin Castle, Maggie Lauder, O’er Bogie

Carrick Fergus, The Parson And His Boots, St Patrick’s Day In The Morning:

The following pieces appear arranged in Open D Tuning with TAB in my Mel Bay publication, Scottish 18th-century Guitar Tunes:

Carrick Fergus
Comely Garden Reel
Jack Latin
Lord Kelly’s Reel
Maggie Lawder
O’er Bogie
Roslin Castle
St Patrick’s Day In The Morning
The East Nook Of Fife
The Parson And His Boots
When I Followed A Lass

Here is the first recording of a guittar in G Major tuning, GBDgbd (normally C Major tuning). There is a small amount – but interesting – repertoire for the Guittar in G from James Oswald and, as here, the Jean Kirkpatrick manuscript. More to come. The tune of The Lea Ring was used by Burns for his tender poem, My Ain Kind Dearie O. Here it is subject to a few time changes and moods. The luthier is Paul Doyle, but sadly he delivered a guittar that was unplayable. Many thanks to Sebastian Nunez of Utrecht, for rendering it playable, and much improving the sound and tuning.

The next one is a baroque gigue, and a very fine one. No composer is named.

Ditto with this Allegro: