Tune of the Day: Lord Seaforth
The earliest appearance of this strathspey in print is in Angus Cumming's 1780 collection; the melody is also known as “Highland Plaid” when played as a reel.
The MacKenzies of Seaforth were an old Jacobite family whose lands were forfeited after the uprising of 1715, the then 5th Earl, William, escaping to the Western Isles, then to France. William’s son Kenneth wisely stayed out of Bonnie Prince Charlie's 1745 rebellion, in token of which Seaforth honors and holdings were partially restored. However, the tune is probably dedicated (going by its date of first publication) to Kenneth’s son, also Kenneth MacKenzie, who entered the army, was raised to the peerage in 1766, and was created Earl of Seaforth in 1771. Seaforth raised a Regiment in that year from among his own clan, and was appointed their colonel. They carried the name of the 78th or Ross-shire Regiment of Highlanders, but when time came for the unit to debark for India a mutiny arose over grievances of pay and promises (not the least of which was that they should not serve in the dangerous tropical climate), and they encamped on Arthur’s Seat, refusing to budge. A settlement was finally negotiated, and the Regiment descended from their encampment on the height with Seaforth at their head. They did not go to India, at least at first, but rather to the channel islands of Guernsey and Jersey, where they stayed for some time. However, in 1781 the 78th, along with the Earl, boarded ships for India and embarked on an ill-fated voyage to that country. On the journey to the East a quarter of them died from scurvy, with the Earl succumbing on the voyage, not even reaching St. Helena.