The Register of Dances at Castle Menzies 1749
The original manuscript of these dance descriptions is kept in the A K Bell Library in Perth. I would like to thank the City Archivist and the staff of the Local Studies Section of the Library for their unfailing courtesy. A particular mention of the staff member who was flicking through the register while I completed the paper work to look at it one day and casually remarked that any document containing titles such as O'er the Watter to Charly; You'r Wellcome Charly Stuart and He'll Aye be Wellcome Back to say nothing of The Priest & His Books and dated 1749 (only three years after Culloden) would probably have been considered seditious by the Government and its supporters. A whole research project there for someone?
I have attempted to copy the text exactly as given, spelling inconsistencies included, with two minor exceptions. The manuscript generally uses the ampersand (&) for “and” but in some cases adopts the Greek “alpha” (α): I have used “&” in all cases. The other is that the writer used an almost shorthand form for “the” resembling an extended “§” or paragraph mark: I have not attempted to reproduce this and have used “the” throughout.
Beside the 18 dances set out in detail, the author uses that technique so infuriating even today of referring to figures or movements as being “as in” some other dance with which the reader is obviously expected to be familiar. The additional dances referred to are Lads of Dunce; Jamaica and Ranting Highland Man. In one case (The Mighty Pretty Valley or Reel of Tulloch) details are given of how the music is to be played.
There is one very small portion of a page missing and I believe the gaps can be filled intuitively but have marked my interpretations clearly between [square brackets].
The Register of Dances at Castle Menzies, 1749
1) The Menzies's Rant or Reel Don ne Marachan
1st man turns 2 d woman & casts off, then the 1st woman does the same then the 1st pair goes figure of eight through the 2 d pair; then the 1st man sets to the 2d woman & turns her, then the 1st woman the same; then the 1st pair goes four hands round with the 2d pair & right & left
2) O'er the Watter to Charly
1st man follows the 1st woman, & she follows him back again; then the 1st pair dances down between the 2d pair, & up gain, & then turn each other half round; then the 1st man leads off the 2d woman to aside as in Lads of Dunce, & the 1st woman the 2d man & then turns each other; then the 1st and 2d woman leads through the 1st and 2d man, then the 1st and 2d man leads through them back to their own side again, then the 1st pair crosses over & figurs in, & goes right and left with the 2d pair
3) General Stuart's Reel or the New Way of Gil Don
1st man sets to the 2d woman & casts off, then the 1st woman does the same, then the 1st man turns the 3d woman by the right hand & goes half round his partner, who was turning the 2d man by the right hand then the 1st man turns the 2d woman by the left hand, while the 1st woman turns the 3d man by the left hand; then the 1st pair setts cross, & then to each other, & reels att the side.
4) The Montgomerie's Rant a Strathspey Reele
1st pair goes back to back & casts off then back to back again & 2d woman casts up, & the man down, then reels above & below then the 1st pair sets hand in hand to the 2d woman then to the 3d man then to the 3d woman & then to the 2d man; then leads out att the sides
5) Couteraller's Rant a Strathspey Reel
1st pair joins cross right hands & 1st woman turns under her own right arm, then they join cross left hands & the 1st man turns under his own left arm, then the 1st pair leads down & up between the 2d pair & casts off, then leads down between the 3d pair & casts up, then goes figure of eight, the man on the womans's side & the woman on the man's side, (setting en passant to each other) & then foots it into their own places
6) You'r Wellcome Charly Stuart
1st pair sets to each other & casts off then the 2d pair does the same then goes cross hands, back again & casts off, then sets cross, & reels att the sides
7) Saw You Charly Coming or Fye Father Fee Him
1st pair leads down between the 2d pair & casts up, then the 1st & 2d woman the 1st & 2d man falls back then leads forward & goes four hands half round, then falls back & leads forward again & turns partners
8) He'll Aye be Wellcome Back Again
1st man sets to the 2d woman & turns her the 1st woman does the same then the 1st pair dances down two couple & up again (the woman going down the midle the man behind backs, & returning the contrary way) then casts off; then the 1st man turns the 3d woman, then his own partner half round, then turns the 2d woman, the 1st woman does the same on the man's side att the same time; then the 1st pair leads out at the sides
9) Open the Door to Three
1st & 2d woman leads forward then falls back then leads through the 1st & 2d men; then repeats the same & the 1st & 2d man leads through them back to their places again; then the 1st pair crosses over two pair down, & crosses up one pair & falls into their places then the 1st man leads the 2d & 3d man forward, while the 1st woman does the same on the woman's side, then the 1st man turns the 3d woman & falls in between her & the 2d woman, the 1st woman in the meantime turns the 2d man & falls in between him & the 3d man & leads forward as before & turns his partner, then they go six hands round with the 2d and 3d pair then back again to their own places
10) Cope's March
1st man goes figure eight round the 2d & 3d man & returns the same way to his own place, then the 1st woman does the same on the woman-side, then the 1st pair cross over two pair & leads up the middle & casts off
11) The Infare or Will Ye Marry Kitty
1st man sets to the 2d woman & turns his partner with cross'd hands as in Jamaica then the 1st woman sets to the 2d man & then turns her own partner as above, then the 1st pair casts down one couple & turns each other half round as before; then the 1st woman goes round the 3d woman & comes into her own place; the 1st man does the same round the 3d man at the same time
12) The Mighty Pretty Valley or Reel of Tulloch
1st man foots it half round the 1st woman then half round the 2d woman, then half round the 3d woman while 1st woman does the same on the men's side; then sets to each other; then reels on each side & falls into their own places between the 2d and 3d pair, then they dance round as in The Ranting Highlandman.
Nota: there's only 3 parts of this tune play'd, the two f[irst] parts twice over: the 3d part four times.
13) The Priest & His Books
1st man leads up the 3d woman to the top & she casts off, then the 1st woman does the same, then both 1st and 3d pair dances down the middle; & the 3d pair turns each other round while the 1st pair dances up again & casts off; then the 1st pair leads down between the 3d pair and casts up.
14) Lady Mary Menzies's Reel
1st pair goes cross hands round with the 2d pair then back again & casts off, then the 1st woman and the 1st man leads up and sets to the 2d pair then leads down and sets to the 3d pair; then the 1st woman turns the 2d man & sets to her partner, then turns the 3d man and sets again to her partner who was doing the same on the woman's side: then reels at the sides, & falls into their places.
15) Thirtieth of Aprile
1st man follows the 1st woman down two pair then she follows him back again, then the two first pair change places & go round “flafing” their hands then the first [pair] fall into their own places.
16) Miss Clemy Stewart's Reel
[1st man] casts off & turns the 3d woman then the 1st woman [does] the same, then cross hands above & below, the 1st pair sets cross & reels at the sides.
17) Mr. Jack Stewart's Reel
1st man sets to the 2d woman then the 1st woman sets to the 2d man, then cross over two pair lead up through the middle sett & cast off then the 1st pair goes four hands round, above & below & reels at the sides.
18) The Bleu Ribbon
1st man goes figure eight round the 2d man & the 3d woman the 1st woman does the same round the 2d woman & 3d man then the 1st pair leads forward to the 2d pair then leads up & casts off, then does the same below and casts up; then the 1st woman goes round the 2d man & turns her partner, who was doing the same round the 3rd woman then she goes round the 2d woman then the 1st pair leads out att the sides