Andrew Wighton (1804-1866) - merchant and music collector
The parish of Cargill
exhibits a surface diversified by wood and water,
and variegated by
ascents and declivities
Statistical Account of Scotland (1791-99)
Parishes of Cargill and Collace in summer sun
Scottish merchant and music collector, Andrew
John Wighton was born in the shadow of Dunsinnan hill (Shakespeare's
'Dunsinane') in the parish of Cargill, Perthshire in 1804.
He was the son of John Wighton, farmer at Millridge [Milrig]
and Jane (Jean) Wighton.
Wighton, however, did not follow his father into farming,
but chose instead to establish himself as a merchant in the
former barony of Hillside in Dundee. It was whilst living
nearby his shop premisses at Hillside that Wighton amassed
the bulk of his extensive music collection.
Indeed it was during the 1840s and 1850s, whilst still trading
in tea, coffee and general supplies, that Wighton's collecting
activites were at their most intense. He made many important
acquisitions at this time, often via London auctioneers Puttick
and Simpson, and also kept up a busy correspondence with the
antiquarians David Laing and William Chappell.
Wighton also kept up a lively and bantering correspondence
with his friend and fellow collector, James Davie (d1858),
respected instrumentalist and music teacher in Aberdeen. The
two frequently sent each other rare, sometimes irreplaceable
scores and manuscripts by railway - their epistolary debates
were often settled by what Wighton termed 'ocular demonstration'.
Though it was a relatively short train journey between Dundee
and Aberdeen, their precious music parcels did not always
make it without the occasional disastrous loss!
In his later years, Wighton retired to a seafront house on
the Tay estuary at Broughty Ferry. His connections with rural
Perthshire did not entirely fade, however. His wife, Agnes
Caithness (1808-90), the daughter of a Dundee shipmaster was
related to the Henry family of Woodend, an estate in the parish
of Madderty, Perthshire. It was through Agnes that Isaac Anderson
Henry of Woodend, Scottish lawyer and horticulturalist, and
correspondent of Charles Darwin, became one of Wighton's trustees.
After Wighton's death in 1866, it fell to Agnes and the trustees,
led by Anderson Henry, to determine whether his music library,
today known as the Wighton Collection, should be gifted to
the Albert Institute (Free Library) in Dundee, or to the Signet
Library, Edinburgh. The decision they made has ensured that
Wighton's remarkable collection - today a resource of international
significance - has remained in the city of Dundee, where it
was first gathered. Thus it is a tale of urban good fortune
and heritage which begins and ends in the wood water, ascents
and declivities of Perthshire's rich agricultural lands.
Andrew Wighton's birthplace lying in
the shadow of Dunsinnan Hill
© Sally LK Garden 2005 (images and text)