Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary

Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair's Jig

Scottish Country Dance Instruction

Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair's Jig (J4x32) 4C set Lewis N Derrick 2012

1-4 The 1st and 4th couples dance a petronella turn to the right to face partners up and down the dance and set, the 2nd and 3rd couples stepping up and down, respectively, on bars 3-4 to form a diamond
5-8 The 1st couple with the 2nd man and the 4th couple with the 3rd woman dance right hands across
9-16 Giving left shoulders to 2nd woman to begin, the 1st couple, in tandem with the man leading, dance a reel of three across with the 2nd couple, while, giving left shoulders to 3rd man to begin, the 4th couple, in tandem with the woman leading, dance a reel of three across with the 3rd couple
17-20 The 1st couple with the 2nd woman and the 4th couple with the 3rd man dance left hands across
21-24 The 1st couple, dancing down the women's side, and the 4th couple, dancing up the men's side, dance right hands across in the centre, one and a quarter times, to end on own sides in the order 2413
25-32 Eight hands round and back

Repeat three more times from new positions each time

(Dance crib compiled by the deviser, Lewis N Derrick 2020)


Dance Notes

Bars 5-8 In this dance the 1st and 4th couples' flow from wheel to reel, reel to wheel, and wheel to wheel should be continuous with no pauses or unnecessary polite turns.

Dance Information

This dance, Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair's Jig, was devised by Lewis Derrick to commemorate Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair (1787-1861), reforming Provost of St Andrews, Fife.

Suggested tune: Miss Maria Stewart's Jig.

Devised 2012, first published electronically 2020.

Copyright 2012, 2020 Lewis N. Derrick.


Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair LL.D Kt (20 February 1787 - 19 January 1861) was a Scottish politician, army officer and photographic pioneer.

He was born in Meigle in Perthshire the third son of Margaret Lyon and the Reverend James Playfair. He was first educated at Dundee Grammar School then later educated at the University of St Andrews. In 1804 he was commissioned in into the Bengal Horse Artillery.

After his commission he was sent to the University of Edinburgh for three months for instruction in range-finding and ballistics. He served in India from 1805 to 1817 and from 1820 to 1834. He was initially based in Calcutta but in November 1806 had to undertake an 800-mile march with his brigade to Cawnpore. In March 1807 General Sir John Horsford placed him in charge of the troops at Bareilly and was required to suppress the robber-chief Tumon Singh in Oudh. In November 1807 he was appointed in charge of the horse artillery in Agra and in 1809 undertook another long march to Saharunpoor. In 1811 he was moved to Meerut and required to oversee the siege of the fortress at Nalapani. He was twice wounded during the siege but successfully captured the fortress.

Owing to ill-health he was sent back to Britain to recover. His ship moored at St. Helena en route and he where he met and interviewed Napoleon. His second period of duty in India was much less eventful.

In 1834 he retired from the army to St Andrews where he served as Provost from 1842 till his death in 1861.

Whilst Provost he is credited with building St Andrews Public Library, agreeing that the railway network (St Andrews Railway) be extended to serve the town, and achieving various grants for improvements to St Andrews University. He also revived St Andrews Golf Club which had fallen into disrepair in the 1850s due to under-use. In his time, St Andrews "was transformed into a thriving modern burgh".

Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair as appearing on his tomb.
Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair


Published in The McGhie Scottish Country Dance Sheets, Collection 4.
Dance information from The McGhie Scottish Country Dance Sheets #32, reproduced here with the kind permission of the deviser, Lewis N Derrick.
Dance information licensed under this Creative Commons Licence 3.0.
Text from this original Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair article on Wikisource.
Image copyright Stephencdickson, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

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