Giffnock Violins

Matthew Hardie Letter 1799

Letter by Matthew Hardie 1799 to William Forbes of Callendar

This letter , written  in 1799 and addressed to

William Forbes of Callendar,  gives a fascinating insight in to

the life of the famous Edinburgh violin maker Matthew Hardie.

It is the first known confirmation , written in Hardie’s hand

that he trained as a “cabinet maker”, switching to “musical instrument maker”

around the year 1784. The letter shows Hardie’s confidence in his

own ability as a maker “my fiddles are inferior to none of the London made ones”

but that he had fallen on hard times and was unable to sustain his

business or his family without the patronage of a wealthy benefactor.

Up to this date Hardie had relied heavily, upon repair work supplied to

him by the Edinburgh Musical Society. The letter follows closely on from

the closure of the Society. It is indicative of the hardship Hardie suffered

through much of the rest of his life but shows his determination to continue

as a violin maker by using his wealthy connections to assist him. Further

appeals followed this and it is probable that Hardie, at that time wrote to

several wealthy individuals in search of funds. It isn’t known if Forbes replied.