In focus: an 1819 violin by David Stirrat


David Rattray examines an instrument by the Edinburgh maker

Born in Ayrshire in 1768, David Stirrat apprenticed as a joiner. Edinburgh records of 1792 indicate he married Mary Anderson at the age of 24. According to the Lanark Barony parish register, they were living in Port Dundas, Glasgow,from 1794 to 1795, when their sons John and William were respectively born.Exactly what work he was undertaking during this period is unclear, but it is probable he was already associated with violin making and had worked for an Edinburgh luthier.Given stylistic clues in his earliest work, this would point to Matthew Hardie, whoseown business was established at the Lawnmarket in the same year as Stirrat’s marriage.By 1811 Stirrat had relocated to Edinburgh, where he became established as a violinmaker working at several locations around the ‘Old Town’. He first advertised himself as a ‘Musical Instrument maker at 201 High Street’ in 1814. Between 1816 and 1823 hewas a ‘violin and violoncello maker’, at the head of Fleshmarket Close. His final listed business address was at 105 High Street. His own labelled instruments are not knownafter 1819, although his signature has been found on the underside of a Hardie-labelled violin of 1822. During his short career Stirrat produced mainly violins. Two cellos are also attributed to him, with no violas known.

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