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Updated 10/14/2016

 


The Duchess of Montrose
P/M William Fergusson

The title of Duke of Montrose (named after Montrose, Angus) was created twice in the peerage of Scotland, firstly in 1488 for David Lindsay, 5th Earl of Crawford. It was forfeited and then returned, but only for the period of the holder's lifetime. Thus, it was not inherited.  The title was bestowed anew in 1707, again in the peerage of Scotland, on the fourth Marquess of Montrose, and has since been in the Graham family. The title is also tied as the chieftainship of Clan Graham.

The family seat is Auchmar, near Loch Lomond. It was previously Buchanan Castle, Stirlingshire.  The wife of the Duke was titled the Duchess of Montrose.

The tune comes from a collection compiled in 1939 by P/M William Fergusson.  By then, the last Duke and Dowager Duchess of Montrose (Lady Caroline Montagu, 17901847) were dead.

Since Fergusson wrote the majority of his tunes during WWI, a more likely candidate for the subject of the tune is a paddle steamer named the Duchess of Montrose.

PS Duchess of Montrose was a paddle steamer launched in 1902 and operated by the Caledonian Steam Packet Company as a River Clyde excursion steamer. She saw active service during the First World War after being requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into a minesweeper.


Duchess of Montrose during the First World War (Picture taken sometime between February and May 1915)

On the morning of Sunday 18 March 1917, Duchess of Montrose left Dunkirk harbor and at 9am began sweeping close to the Gravelines Buoy. She recovered five mines (from Barrage 248 laid by the U-Boat UB-12) before stopping for low water.  Around an hour after she resumed sweeping, Duchess of Montrose hit a mine amidships, broke in two and sank in less than a minute.

Thirty-one of the crew of Duchess of Montrose are reported to have been rescued, but twelve men were lost in the sinking.