Panmure Violin Manuscript 1

Location: GB-En

Reference: MS 9454

Date: 1670 - 1680 [circa]

Size: Oblong octavo

Extent: 41 folios


In c. 1670-80, four violin manuscripts were compiled for the use of two Scottish upper-class households: the Kerrs of Newbattle, Earls of Lothian (Midlothian) and the Earls of Panmure (Angus). They are linked by their principal copyist, the "Panmure scribe", whose script dominates all four manuscripts, as well as most of the lyra-viol and vocal portions of the Cockburn manuscript of 1671, and other items from the Panmure collection also dated c. 1670-80: a treble part-book containing dances by Christopher Simpson; and a set of part-books made up of three-part court airs and dances by Simpson, Jenkins and others (the Panmure Ensemble Part-books).

The hand seems to have belonged to a professional musician, with a clear, confident script using a thick-nibbed pen. It features consistently well-formed and fairly uniform notes, clefs and decorative flourishes, and similar Italic writing throughout.

McCart, Stell, and Holman have argued that the “Panmure scribe” was Jafery Banister (d. 1684), an English court violinist active from 1662, likely brother of the more famous court violinist John Banister (c. 1630-1679). Some 23 pieces across the four Panmure and Newbattle violin manuscripts are variously attributed to Banister, "Mr B", "Br" or simply "B", with a further three specifically attributed to Jafery Banister in Panmure Violin MS 2 (ff. 1-2). Stell suggests that the more ornate "Jafery Banest[er]" on f. 1v might be his signature, also pointing to the significance of Jafery’s career as a teacher, and his request from the court for a leave of absence to travel abroad in 1684, six months before his death, perhaps indicating some time spent in Scotland.

McGregor argues that a Scottish identity of the Panmure scribe is perhaps more likely given the amount of Scottish repertoire in the manuscripts, including many unpublished tunes, and pieces named for upper-class Scots. He notes that a number of Scottish violers (i.e. bowed string players) serving successive Lord Chancellors and High Commissioners in Scotland in the second half of the seventeenth century, some of whom were wealthy and well connected, had links to England, and would have required a dual repertoire of vernacular and courtly music.

Panmure Violin MS 1 is a substantial and well-presented volume, in what appears to be its original leather binding. The “Panmure scribe” features most prominently in the volume, in the first 53 pieces on ff. 1-25v, and the first 10 in the reversed portion running from ff. 41v-34v. Two additional hands seem to have copied material at a later date, immediately following each of the Panmure scribe’s sections. Hand B has copied 14 pieces, appearing on ff. 26v, 27v-30, 32v-34. Stell identified this hand as belonging to Harie Maule, whose signature and probably script also appears in the Panmure Ensemble part-books, and another treble part book in the collection. Hand C has copied four vernacular tunes, on ff. 26v-27 and ff. 34v-35. It is confident and clear, but with a tendency to look somewhat rushed.

The first section in the hand of the Panmure scribe predominantly consists of court dances, including many overlaps with the other Panmure and Newbattle manuscripts, and with attributions to [John] Banister, [Davis] Mell, [William] Clayton, and ‘Baptist’ [i.e. Jean-Baptiste Lully]. Some of these pieces might have a local provenance, including a scordatura version of the 3/2 hornpipe “the Baggpipe tune”, (also found in Newbattle violin MS 1), and “My Rothus Ayre”, probably named for John Leslie, 1st Duke of Rothes (c. 1630 - 1681), Lord High Commissioner in 1663, and Lord Chancellor of Scotland in 1664-81.

The final (reversed) section of the manuscript is in the hand of the Panmure scribe. Like Newbattle MS 2, this section is introduced by two “Preludem” – four-bar technical exercises in B♭ major and F major respectively. There follow five vernacular tunes, each presented with at least one variation.


Holman, Four and Twenty Fiddlers, 365-6.

McCart, The Kers and the Maules.

McCart, “The Panmure Manuscripts".

McGregor, Violinists and Violin Music in Scotland, 221-5, 392-6.
Includes transcription of nine tunes from Panmure violin MS 1.

Stell, Sources, 71-7, 140-1.

Links: NLS Catalogue

View this manuscript's tunes in the full tune index