Keith Sanger introduces a little confusion into the already meagre history of one of the most significant figures in Scottish music at the end of the 17th century.

The article Three Tunes from the Bowie Manuscript in the last Common Stock started with some references to the Edinburgh Music Master John McLachlan and his possible connections to a number of manuscripts. Most notably of these is the Balcarres lute manuscript which has recently been edited and published with a facsimile of the original manuscript which is now in very poor condition.1 Many of the tunes are described as being connected in some way with 'Mr McLauchland' and in the introduction to volume 2 page xxiii, in a brief biography,2 he is identified as being the Edinburgh musician John MacLachlan who died on the 31 January 1702.3
So is there a problem? Well, returning to the article by the editor of Common Stock and his suggestion that the Bowie manuscript which has a firm date of 1705 was 'compiled by the Edinburgh fiddler John McLachlan' then if it was that musician who was dead by 1702, that would place a firm 'before' date on the tunes being discussed by Pete Stewart. However as more and more publications appear which make reference to 'Mr McLachlan' with the assumption that it must be John McLachlan this writer's embarrassment increases as he seems to know something which others do not, that there were two different 'Mr McLachlans', both also having a first name starting with 'J'.
Some years ago while working my way through a miscellaneous bundle simply described as discharges, receipts etc  18th century, among the Seafield papers, and leaving no scrap unread I found a discharge dated 26 May 1704 by one James McLauchlan musician in Edinburgh.4 It comprised some eighteen lines apparently all in his own hand with signature and was acknowledging receipt of Three pounds Ten shillings Sterling. This had been paid to him by a Captain John Brodie, late of the Earl of Tullibardine's Regiment for one years 'teaching and learning' a Charles Calder, a servitor to the laird of Grant, the art of music.
Knowing that somebody actually exists makes adding flesh to their bones somewhat easier and from that receipt it was possible to move on to establish that a James McLauchland  musicioner died in Edinburgh on the 24 September 1710.5 This of course raises the question of whether these two musicians were in fact related and how, but the answer is, at least on current knowledge, less than definitive. According to the previously mentioned biography of the John McLachlan who died in 1702, his testament indicated that he had married the daughter of the violer Daniel McKenzie in 1699. It makes no mention of any James McLachlan who in any case would have had to have been a brother or son from a previous marriage. However that there were two people in Edinburgh using the surname 'Maclachlan', and having a common profession of musician may be more than a coincidence as does the fact that the burial records indicate that despite a gap of eight years between their deaths, they were both buried close to what was described as 'McKenzies Tomb'.

Keith Sanger

 1. Spring, Mathew, The Balcarres Lute Book, Two Volumes, (2010).
 2. Mainly credited to Dr Sally Garden
 3. Old Parish Records. Deaths, 685/0108500026. Edinburgh
 4. National Archives of Scotland, GD248/108/9
 5. Old Parish Records. Deaths, 685/0108700060 Edinburgh.