Title: A Collection of the newest Countrey Dances Performed in Scotland Written at Edinburgh by Da. Young. W.M. 1740

Location: GB-Ob

Reference: MS. Don. d. 54

RISM: 800273522

Date: 1740

Size: 25.5x18 cm


Manuscript collection of country dances, with both dance instructions and tunes. The manuscript features an ornate title page, with title written in intricate calligraphy: “A Collection of the newest Countrey Dances Perform'd in Scotland: Written at Edinburgh by Da. Young. W. M. 1740”. Above the title is inscribed “Rod.k MacLeod Principal of Kings College Aberdeen”. There is an alphabetical index on ff. 2-3v, and on f. 4 is written the following:

“Note that In the following Figures, the Directions for dancing the first Strain of the Tune play’d twice over; begin always with red Print Capitals; and the 2d. Strain with small red Characters. The Musick is adapted to the Violin, or Hautboy, and for the most part within the Compass of the German Flute.”

Each of the 48 tunes is written on a single page. Titles in intricate calligraphy are followed by dance instructions, and tunes (in treble clef) at the bottom of each page. As Young describes on f. 4, in the dance instructions the beginning of each strain is marked in capital letters in red ink, with the 2nd strain written in smaller red characters. Like Drummond Castle MS 1, the tunes are predominantly Scots airs and dance tunes, many referencing Scottish names and places. The country dance instructions are similar in style to English country dance collections such as those by Playford and Walsh, though several end with a reel.

The writing master David Young was an amateur violinist and composer, and a professional music copyist, who was also responsible for compiling Drummond Castle MSS 1 & 2, the McGibbon MS, and the MacFarlane MS. Johnson suggests that Young was born c. 1707 in Aberdeen, and he was likely the “Dav. Young” who studied arts at Marischal College, Aberdeen in 1722-6. Young had relocated to Edinburgh from at least 1740 to May 1743, when he married Catherine Campbell, and was back in Aberdeen in 1745-7, where the births of their three children were recorded. In 1748, he was one of the founding members of the Aberdeen Musical Society.

Presumably the manuscript made its way to Aberdeen with Young around 1745. Roderick MacLeod (1727-1815) was an Aberdeen academic, graduating from the university in 1746. At King’s College, Aberdeen, he was Professor of Philosophy (1749-1764), Sub-principal (1764-1800), and Principal (1800-1815). In 1750, MacLeod became a member of the Aberdeen Musical Society alongside Young.


Coupe, Rosemary, "David Young: Copyist, Collector, and Composer," Scottish Country Dancer No 6 (2008), 22-23.

Mackenzie, Alexander, History of the MacLeods (Inverness: A & W Mackenzie, 1889).

McGregor, Violinists and Violin Music in Scotland.

Waterston, Charles, ed., Biographical Index of former RSE Fellows 1783-2002 Part 2. K-Z (2006)

Links: ABC transcription by Jack Campin, Rosemary Coupe article, RISM page

View this manuscript's tunes in the full tune index