4 thoughts on “PS 012 – Scourie’s March”

  1. Ronald Black offers this suggestion:

    Don’t you think this will be “Scourie’s March”, i.e. Gen. Hugh Mackay of Scourie, the loser at the battle of Killiecrankie? The Gaelic for Scourie is Sgobhairidh, probably Old Norse skógr “wood” + àirigh “sheiling”.

    By an extraordinary coincidence, Ronald Smith and Ronald Black have independently and for different reasons homed in on the same individual. Yesterday, I asked Ronald Smith to confirm how he reached his conclusion. He responded:

    I think the line of reasoning went thus:

    ‘Square’ is likely ‘Squire’. This followed from realizing Campbell’s ‘R’ looks like a ‘T’ to us, and that ‘Taes’ is actually ‘Raes’, which looks like ‘Reays’; so the title may be ‘Squire Reay’s March. (How was Reay pronounced? Possibly like ‘Rae’).
    Such a person would be a younger son of Lord Reay, who was a prominent person – but is also somewhat of a diminuitive label, especially if applied to a relation rather than the actual son.

    Seeing the reference to Hugh MacKay in The Grameid, where he is identified as a relation of Lord Reay (a penny dropped!), and reading there of his agressive military campaign against James, and of course his defeat at Killiecrankie, I wondered if the tune’s name could refer to him, possibly in a sarcastic or mocking way. It seems unlikely so seasoned a soldier as himself would adopt such a label. The tune itself might not share this tone, but simply be one associated with him. Or it might refer to the rout which concluded the battle… a ‘March’ it certainly was not, nothing to be proud of.

    The music has none of the characteristics I associate with a Cumha – it is more in the style of Black Donald’s March (PS 177) which some sources call ‘Lochiel’s March’. The source spellings suggest that ‘March’ in this case is an English rendering of Pìobaireachd or Fàilte.

    Scourie led thousands of Highland soldiers through Scotland in 1689–90, covering many hundreds of miles, chasing a Jacobite army that lacked bold leadership and the support of many clans. His fluency in Gaelic and warrior-like performance after an embarrassing defeat at Killiecrankie may well have earned him the accolade of a pibroch in his name. Between 3 and 18 July 1690, Scourie was responsible for building a timber fort on the shores of Loch Linnhe, which he called Fort William in honour of Britain’s new Protestant king, William III. As Ronald Smith points out earlier in this discussion, The Grameid, gives us a contemporary view of Hugh MacKay:

    He of Scourie, born near the waters of Thule, and speaking the native tongue, forces men to arms, and fills the plains with terror, and, more fierce than the Hyrcanian tiger, he attacks his country, and the father of it, who had bestowed upon him the highest military rank.

    The ‘father of it’ who made Scourie a major-general and a Privy Councillor of Scotland in 1685 is King James II and VII. In 1688, a disaffected Protestant establishment overthrew King James, replacing him with his Dutch son-in-law, William of Orange. Throughout the civil unrest that followed, culminating in Culloden, the allegiance of Highlanders was divided. Pipers and Gaelic poets supported both sides, kinsmen fighting each other through loyalty to leaders who, like Scourie in 1688, switched sides.

    This cultural context gives me confidence to revise the title of this page, which for the last 9 months has been ‘PS 012 – Square Reas [Squire Reay’s] March’. Warm thanks to the two Ronalds for providing a convincing solution to one of pibroch’s puzzles.

  2. Thank you Ronald. Your interpretation is more compelling than any other I’ve encountered, so I have updated the title of this page, adding [Squire Reay’s] in square brackets but leaving Colin Cambell’s spelling so that search results for it will rank highly.

    In Roderick Cannon’s edition of Joseph MacDonald’s treatise (1994, p.36, footnote 10.1), he observes a degree of similarity between the doubling of the “second motion” of Squire Reay’s March, and Joseph’s “Exercise of Ludh Sleamhuin” (ff 6v-7r). To my mind, Joseph’s exercise resembles Macintyre’s Salute (PS 6) more closely.

  3. It may be that the name refers to General MacKay, a supporter of William of Orange, who was defeated at Killiecrankie in 1688 by Graham of Claverhouse.

    The following extract from ‘The Grameid’ refers to him:

    “…Already has he ((William of Orange) seized the crown torn from the father’s
    brow, and holds the sceptre proudly, though treason yielded it
    to him, and now wages war against his father-in-law. Mackay
    threatens Lochaber with a host of English, Dutch, and traitor
    Scots, and is already on the Spey vowing doom to his King and
    country. He of Scourie,i born near the waters of Thule, and
    speaking the native tongue, forces men to arms, and fills the
    plains with terror, and, more fierce than the Hyrcanian tiger, he
    attacks his country, and the father of it, who had bestowed upon
    him the highest military rank,^ and had given him his first com-

    1 General Mackay was a younger son of Mackay of Scourie, a branch of
    Lord Reay’s family, which ‘ long enjoyed extensive possessions in the northern
    counties of Scotland.’

    2 2 Mackay received his first commission in 1660, in the Royal Scots, termed
    Dumbarton’s Regiment. Probably the Duke of York (James, brother of Charles II, later James II) gave him his commission.
    He was promoted to the command of the Scotch-Dutch Brigade in 1680, and in
    1685 he came, at the desire of James the Second, with his corps, to aid in sup-
    pressing Monmouth’s Rebellion. He arrived too late, but the King advanced
    him to the dignity of a Privy Councillor in Scotland. — Alemoirs, Prem. Notice.

    98 PANURGI PHILOCABALLI [362-382 (The Grameid)

    … et sceptris impune potitis
    Exultat fidens, et proditione nefanda
    Regna tenet, socerumque inj usto Marte fatigat.
    Et nunc Abriacis M’Kaius imminet arvis
    Agmine Saxonidum, et Batava comitante caterva,
    Et profugi versis Scoti circumdatus armis,
    Hand procul undantem Speyae subsidit ad amnem

  4. An earlier mis-reading of this name had it as ‘Square Taes (Campbell’s ‘R’ looks a bit like a ‘T’ to us) and even inspired the conjecture that it referred to people with ‘square toed-shoes’, possibly Covenanters or Parliamentarians in the Civil War.

    I think ‘Square’ is a mis-spelling of ‘Squire’, in which case the name would refer to a young son of Lord Reay.

Leave a Reply