Was there a William Gunn manuscript?

The painting shown of Michael McCarfrae, piper to the Duke of Hamilton stands out from all the other early portraits of pipers being the only one which also shows his small collection of pipe music. Not only that but the volume in the middle is clearly labelled ‘Gunn’s Pipe Music’. It is possible to speculate on the identity of the other volumes, McCarfrae had acquired some of Angus MacKay’s manuscripts and the other two volumes probably are those and their current whereabouts are known

What though does raise a question concerns the volume labelled ‘Gunn’. William Gunn the pipemaker had first published his ‘The Caledonian Repository’ a collection of light music in 1848. The printed volume measured 5.9 x 9.7 inches with the binding at the shortest side. Even if it had been professionally bound and the size of McCarfrae’s hand in the picture is vaguely proportionate the volume shown in the painting is too large to be the printed volume.

This therefore poses two questions. Presumably Gunn would have initially compiled a manuscript version of his collection prior to it being typeset for publishing and was this it? If not had Gunn compiled a further manuscript of tunes which remained unpublished. Either way it would seem that a volume by Gunn had come into the hands of Michael McCarfrae and presumably prior to William Gunn’s death in 1867.

Gunn’s testament is fairly comprehensive and he left his ‘Big Bagpipe’ along with his Highland Dress to his son and what he described as his ‘Small Ivory Bagpipe’ to his grandson. His ‘lathe, tools and stock in trade’also get a mention but nothing about either the book or any manuscripts. In the case of McCarfrae we do know what happened to those volumes his hand was resting on following his death in August 1876 at Brodick. His manuscripts and medals valued in the inventory at £20 were left to the Duke of Hamilton.


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