Niel Gow (1727-1807)
Niel Gow (1727-1807)
Music-seller and composer
Niel Gow, who was born in Inver, Perthshire, was a fiddler and composer of traditional Scottish music. His great talents led him to be patronised by successive dukes of Atholl. He also played in the fashionable assembly rooms of Edinburgh. His portrait was painted twice by Henry Raeburn. Sitting playing his fiddle in the tartan breeches and hose of a highlander, his expression is that of profound introversion. Robert Burns described him as 'a short, stout-built, honest Highlander figure, with grayish hair on his honest social brow; an interesting face, marking strong sense, kind openheartedness, mixed with unmistrusting simplicity'. He died in Inver on 1 May 1807 and was buried in Little Dunkeld Churchyard. Later his headstone was moved to Dunkeld Cathedral.
Niel Gow is one of the famous Scots commemorated in our Archivists' Garden. The entry on Rose 'Glenfiddich' refers to his song 'Fare Well to Whisky'.
Marriage in 1768
Niel (here spelt Neil) Gow married Margaret Urquhart on 1 July 1768. There are two Old Parish Register (OPR) entries relating to his marriage. The first in the OPR for Little Dunkeld (his parish) for 17 June 1768 gives her surname as Orchard and states that they were 'proclaimed for the first time without any objection'.
Marriage entry for Niel Gow in the OPR for Little Dunkeld (23 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 373/2, page 59
The second in the OPR for Perth (her parish) gives his name as Neill and hers as Margaret Urquhart. They were married by Mr David Black minister.
Marriage entry for Niel Gow in the OPR for Perth (17 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 387/19, page 124
Testament of Niel Gow
National Records of Scotland, CC7/6/7 pp 140-145
View transcript (72 KB PDF)
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