The Frederick Hill Manuscript
October 1, 2021
A re-print of the first reproduction of “Frederick Hill's Book of Quadrilles and Country Dances Etc. Etc.” will soon be available. The first edition produced in 2009 is now long out of print and this edition is in response to a new demand and affirms the second and third objectives of the Society namely: to collect old books, manuscripts and pictures illustrative of Scottish Dances; to publish from time to time descriptions of Country Dances with diagrams and music in simple form, at a moderate price and so continues the Society’s policy to provide accurate and verifiable historical information about the sources of our dances.
On the 11th June 1815 Daniel (a‘Taylor’) and Charlotte Louisa Hill brought their first born child, Frederick, for baptism, to St Paul’s Church, in the London borough of Hammersmith. Nothing is known about him until he appears in the Census of 1841 aged 25 and with his youngest sibling Hugo Russel Hill, resident in the village of Clatt in rural Aberdeenshire. From then on, he spent the remainder of his life in Clatt and later in Dashwood House , Alford, a village nearby to Clatt, working as a tailor and clothier. He died in Dashwood House in 1903. What brought him from the South-East of England to Aberdeenshire remains a mystery which may never be solved.
Frederick Hill’s book is in the style of an aide-memoire and contains descriptions of Country Dances, High Dances and Quadrilles; many of which will be familiar to dancers of the present time. One the descriptions refers to “The Dashing White Sergeant” but in a style unknown to most dancers of today. The Hill Manuscript is possibly the most important historical manuscript directly related to Scottish social dancing and contains descriptions of more than 70 dances, and it is the source of several dances published by the Society. Many of the dances described can be found in other manuscripts and publications but what sets the Hill Manuscript apart is that, in addition to the Country Dances, it also contains descriptions of Quadrilles, Reels and Step Dances as danced in mid-19th century Aberdeenshire.
In addition to a facsimile of the original manuscript, the publication also includes an illustrated commentary about Frederick Hill, the dances contained in his notebook, and the process of achieving a successful reproduction. Profits from the sale of this book will go towards the development of The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society’s Archive.