The Complete Repository, Part 1
by Gow, Niel & Sons

Tunes list

Copy details


Edinburgh, Gow & Shepherd, 16 Princes Street


Gow & Shepherd


Edinburgh, Gow & Shepherd, 16 Princes Street; London, John Gow, 31 Carnaby Street, Golden Square






Glasgow University Library (GB-Gu)




The Complete Repository was published in four parts by Nathaniel Gow in partnership initially with William Shepherd in Edinburgh (1799-1813), and also sold by Nathaniel’s brother John in London after c.1805. Around this time they published a second edition of the first part, where the title was extended to advertise “the dances arranged in medley’s [sic] in their respective keys”. Gow had the book engraved and printed by Walker and Anderson (1815-1816) after William Shepherd ceased trading in 1813, then entered partnership with Robert Purdie at some stage until the early 1820s. He published with J M Galbraith in 1826-1828, and Alexander Robertson in the 1830s (SBTI, and Kidson). The first part ran to four editions, and the subsequent parts to three, with some slight changes in titles. Part Second was entitled 'Complete Repository of Original Scots Tunes Strathspeys Jigs and Dances', until Purdie’s early 1820s editions, 'corrected and improved by Nathaniel Gow', when ‘Jigs’ were dropped from the title. The music was re-engraved for Purdie’s third edition, but looks almost identical.


From the 2nd edition, p.1: 'In presenting the present to the Public, which is the first time those tunes in the Stile as played by Niel Gow and Sons have been in print, it has been the Object of the Publishers to preserve them for the Amateurs of that Stile of Music in their native Simplicity, and free from the Corruption of Whim or Caprice.' p.8: 'The following are a choice Collection of the best original Scots Dances, arranged as Medleys, A Strathspey and Reel following alternately in their respective Keys, as the frequent changing the Key more or less has been found to offend the Ear. The Publishers thought it proper to keep the Slow Tunes by themselves, that they might not interrupt the Medleys. [...] The Tunes in the Medley’s [sic] marked thus *** may be played Slow when not danced.' The accompaniments mostly offer simple basslines: single lines, octaves, and dyads; and some small piano notes. One slow strathspey (‘Strathglass House’, p.34) is ‘Not to be Danced, as it ought to have been amongest the Slow Tunes at the begining of the Book, but was omited' [sic]. The first and second edition titlepages have, 'NB. 80 of the Tunes will suit the German Flute and the whole may be adapted for Military Bands.' This rubric is not in parts 2-4. The second edition has been reset with very slight differences in the text from the first: slurs have been added, and the spacing is less elegant. From the second edition onward, ‘The Braes of Tullymet’ has natural signs on the trills to counteract the E flats implied by the 'G minor' key signature.


38 p




33 x 24.5





Biographical info

Niel Gow (1727-1807), father of the famous Gow family, lived in Inver near Dunkeld. (Glen 2, viii-xiv; Grove; Alburger; Murdoch, 41-48) Gow's fourth son Nathaniel (1763-1831), violinist and Edinburgh publisher, was perhaps the most famous of the siblings; but his brothers William, John and Andrew also traded in music (John and Andrew in London). Nathaniel's son, Niel Junr., lived 1795-1823.

Other locations

GB-Gu Ca12-y.37 (2nd & 3rd edition)
GB-Gu Ca12-y.38 (2nd edition)
GB-Gu Ca12-y.39 (1st edition)
GB-GU Ca12-y.40 (2nd edition)
GB-Gm 8783 (1st edition)
GB-Gm 8787 (1st edition, signed by Miss Isabella Murdoch in 1809; not the first impression as it mentions Part Second)
GB-Gm 8788 (3rd edition: Purdie, 70 Princes Street [1815-1827])
GB-Gm 8789 (3rd edition: Purdie, 83 Princes Street [c.1828-37] - a pencil note refers to Humphries and Smith for date information)
Numerous other extant copies: locations include
GB-DRu Fleming SF.538(b)
GB-SA Finzi Collection