Many of the pieces are unattributed and many of the rest are poems taken from published sources set to music by members of the Cathcart family and their friends. Several pieces are private compositions being inscribed 'not to be given away' or 'not to be copied'.
The book was given by Lieutenant-Colonel Cathcart to his wife in 1835, according to inscriptions in her hand inside the front cover and on the first flyleaf. It contains pieces copied by her until about 1840 (folio 113). Many of the verses of the longer poems are written in the margins or at the end of the setting and where the poems are too long, the extra verses have been written on folios i-iii. All the pieces at the back are dances.
Leaves have been cut out after folios 93 and 113, resulting in damage to the gutters of folios 91-93. A small leaf containing a dance setting has been pasted to folio 4 verso inverted. Folios 118 and 127, which contain additional verses, have been tipped in.
The upper board is stamped 'Honb[le] Mʳ[s] A. F. Cathcart' in gold capitals.