Pipe tune mystery


Dean Castle in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland, the former stronghold of the Boyd family, is currently undergoing a major redevelopment. The castle was known as Kilmarnock Castle until the 1700s.

East Ayrshire Leisure’s Dick Institute is responsible for the operation and management of the castle and estate, and has been in touch with us regarding a pipe tune that it hopes could be played at next year’s opening.

The tune is called Lord Howard de Walden’s Welcome to Dean Castle and a Donald Galbraith composed it. We have never heard of the tune and have searched or databases but drawn a blank. Can readers help?

Also, we doubt this Donald Galbraith is the same chap who has been credited – erroneously – with composing the 2/4 march, Captain Campbell of Drum a Voisk. That Donald Galbraith was of an earlier period. He was born around 1815 and died in 1880, and he composed quite a number of tunes. There is also a Donald Galbraith, age 48, in the 1911 Census. So this is definitely our man.

Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden.

We asked piping historian, Jeannie Campbell if she had any information. Unsurprisingly, she did. She pointed us to a small report of a dinner held at the castle in 1910. The report is in the Kilmarnock Herald and North Ayrshire Gazette of January 28, 1910 and it states: “Grace having been said by the Rev. Wm. Dunnett, supper was served, the steaming haggis being ushered in preceded by Pipe Major Donald Galbraith and Piper Sfacken. xis, who played a lively air on the pibroch. On the trencher being placed before the Chairman.”

But what of the tune? Can readers help?

We know that Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden (1880-1946) was an English peer, landowner, writer and patron of the arts. He was also a powerboat racer who competed for Great Britain in the 1908 Summer Olympics. His family’s wealth was built on slavery and sugar estates in Jamaica and he inherited, through marriage, Dean Castle and estate in 1899.

Linda Fairlie, of the Dick Institute, brought to our attention a longer report that appeared later in the same newspaper. It is quite long and verbose but nevertheless we share it here for readers’ interest. Clearly, the report is of a grand dinner event held at the castle at which Lord Howard de Walden was a guest. We do not know why the dinner took place, however we do know that the castle’s Keep was restored in 1908 so presumably the dinner was held to mark this:


Monday evening’s pleasing function was held in the great hall of the ancient keep, which had been prepared for the occasion with a careful attention to detail which in a considerable measure invested it with an old world atmosphere. The original entrance to the keep was by a doorway in the courtyard at the rear, and access was obtained to the hall by means of a spiral stone staircase which has now almost disappeared, the modern mode of entry being by way of an outer stairway and a window at the bottom of the hall which has been transformed into a door. The decoration of the place has been carried out in medieval fashion under his lordships direction, the prominent feature of this being a number of complete suits of armour, both for horsemen and foot soldiers, ranged around the hall. This was of the Gothic period, representing the 14th and 15th centuries.

 On the wall were displayed helmets (casque and morion), breast and backplates, halberds, swords, Highland claymores, etc. all of the same period, and conjuring up thoughts of the strenuous war-like times in which the stout walls of the keep many a time held at bay the outer enemy. Among these the four quarters of his lordship’s coat of arms found a prominent and honoured place, and the military character of the decorations was softened down by the garlands of green hung here and there, typical of the “piping times of peace” that have succeeded to these “old, unhappy far off things and battles long ago” represented by the shining armour.

The pleasures of the chase, too, had a place in the scheme of decoration, for on the wall at the top of the hall hung the head of the first stag brought down by Lord Howard de Walden’s rifle, an interesting relic which bears the inscription that it was killed by his lordship as the Hon. T. Ellis at Smean, the Duke of Portland’s Caithness estate, on the 29th August, 1895. It weighed 14 stones. The gloom of the chamber with the high vaulted roof was dispersed by many lamps hung about and even the introduction of electric light had been managed as to present no anachronism for the lights were arranged to represent pine torches stuck in the walls and this gave an added touch of realism to the scene. A huge fire in a brazier sent out a warm glow and heated the place as probably it has been many a time been heated in the days of its feudal glory, and on the stone flagged-floor was thickly spread a carpet of rushes such as many a time within those precincts had been trodden by the feet of the Boyds and their retainers

Tables had been laid along the top of the hall and down the centre and on these had been spread a plentiful supply of sandwiches, cakes, and other refreshments. About five o’clock the estate workmen and tradesmen were admitted, and took their place at either side, and a few minutes afterwards Lord Howard de Walden entered, played in by the piper, Mr Donald Galbraith, who, it may be noted in passing, had composed for the occasion a sprightly, attractive new tune he entitled Lord Howard de Walden’s Welcome to the Dean. During the subsequent proceedings, Piper Galbraith discoursed selections from the old musician’s gallery overlooking the hall.

Lord Howard occupied the chair, and along with him on the platform were Mr Bellingham, his private secretary; Mr Thomas Esson, Commissioner on the Estate; Mr James Middleton, factor; ex-Provost Hood, Mr Robert Forrest (of Messrs Boyd and Forrest); Mr J Wilson Wallace, jeweller; Mr. Brown, architect (of Messrs Ingram and Brown), Mr James Lang, Road Surveyor; Mr Blackwood, Burgh Surveyor; Mr Stewart, measurer; Mr Alex Hood, Mr John McInness, plumber; Mr. Wm Hood, painter; and Mr. Robertson, forrester.

Immediately on entering the hall Lord Howard de Walden, who was received with hearty cheers, said – Before we sit down I would just like to say how very glad I am to see you all here tonight, and that I wish you the best possible fortune for the coming year.

The company were then treated to a substantial repast, excellently served by Mr Alexander, of the Ossington.


Mr Esson said that as Commissioner on the Kilmarnock Estate he had that night the privilege and the very pleasant duty of proposing the health of their host, the Laird of Kilmarnock, Lord Ellis Scott Howard de Walden. He had heard it said, and with a great deal of truth, that toast-giving and after-dinner speaking was generally a case of a man who did not want to speak, who had nothing whatever to say, addressing those who did not want to listen. In 99 cases out of a hundred that definition would hit him off to a tee.

He certainly never wanted to speak; he left that as a rule with more or less confidence to ministers, advocates, Members of Parliament, or candidates for Parliament, of whose oratory during the last few weeks on both sides he dared say most of them were heartily sick. But that night it was the hundredth case, and he had some little to say, and considering the nature of the subject he had no doubt they would pay him the compliment of listening to him for a moment or two. As he had said already, this was a rather unique occasion. It was not only a house warming but it was a homecoming, and it was perhaps remarkable in another way, for as they sat in that old hall they could not but remember that there had been nobody in it for the last two hundred years – in fact probably since the time of Lord Kilmarnock, of the ’45, somewhere perhaps in 1746, laid down his life like the very gallant Scottish gentleman he was for his then conception of King and country.

There might be some of them there that thought Lord Howard de Walden was an Englishman. He (Mr Esson) could assure them that to a large extent he was nothing of the sort. He hoped his lordship would not repudiate that statement. His name was not Scott Ellis Howard de Walden, but Ellis Scott Howard de Walden, and Scott came from a good old Scots family in Fife and in terms of his old Scottish title, in terms of his Scottish entail, he was obliged and he hoped it was a pleasant duty for him – to put Scott after Ellis and next his principal name. Secondly, he was a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the King’s Scottish Body Guard. He did not know if Lord Howard de Walden had yet figured in the field in the picturesque and warlike kit of that ancient and very warlike body, but still he was a member of the Royal Scottish Body Guard.

Next – and this might interest them more – he would on the following evening be made President of the Kilmarnock Burns Club. Lastly, he (Mr Esson) noticed with increasing pleasure that each time Lord Howard de Walden came down to Kilmarnock he was becoming more and more Scottish in his tastes. Since he had known him – and that was now about eight or nine years ago – he had observed, again with pleasure – and if there were any teetotaller present they would pardon him for saying so – that he had a nice and refined taste in Scotch Whisky. He need hardly say that he referred only to quality and not quantity. As regards the latter he made bold to say that owing to his unfortunate training as a south Saxon he could not hold a candle to – well, say to himself, or even Provost Hood, or Mr Forrest or Mr Middleton.

It was also becoming more and more difficult to feed Lord Howard de Walden on Scottish delicacies, such as cockie-leekie, haggis, findon haddies, crappit heids. From all this his hope (Mr Esson’s) was that as his lordship was becoming more and more Scottish he would come more and more to Scotland to live amongst his friends and neighbours. He remembered – he thought it was about seven years ago – when Lord Howard de Walden first came to Kilmarnock to receive the freedom of the burgh, he stated distinctly in replying to the toast of his heath and on receiving his burgess ticket that he considered that property, the possession of property, had its obligations as well as its privileges. He (Mr Esson) claimed for their host, the Laird of Kilmarnock, that since then he had amply and fully carried out the idea.

So far as he was aware, during the last six or seven years, there had not been any worthy object – charitable, educational, scientific, municipal, or otherwise – in Kilmarnock in which Lord Howard de Walden had not taken an active and keen personal interest and to which he had not largely and generously subscribed. That spoke well of his relations with the community, and he was sure there was no one there who was interested in or connected with the burgh but would bear out his words. He turned now to his relations with his agricultural tenantry, of whom there were nearly 70. If there were any of them present he was sure they would bear him out in saying that he had shown himself a broadminded, considerate, and kindly landlord.

And lastly, he was sure that those of them who were in his employment as his estate men would give him an equally good character as a kindly and considerate master. Now there remained very little for him to say except to ask them to remember that this was the first night that Lord Howard de Walden would sleep in his own Scottish home among his own Scottish folk. He asked them to show his lordship, by the good old-fashioned Scottish way in which they drank his health, that they gave him a hearty welcome – a welcome that would make him feel that he was really at home among his kindly neighbours and among his ain folk. Lord Howard de Walden said that he was very glad to be there amongst them and on his own land practically for the first time. His Commissioner had pointed out that he had been doing his best to be a Scotsman, but he did not think there was really any need to say that he had been very far from being one at any time, because most o his early days were spent not so far away, although it may be on the wrong side of the Border.

Dean Castle from above.

As far as his capacity in consuming the national drink he did not wish to boast in any way, but if any gentleman would like to offer a purse he was prepared to battle with either ex-Provost Hood or Mr Forrest. He had to thank a great many people for the assistance they had given him in making his little house habitable and getting his foot back on his native heath. He had to thank ex Provost Hood, Mr Forrest, Mr Laing, and Mr Blackwood for the great assistance they had been to him, and he had to thank the workmen also for the splendid way in which they had done their work. To him there was always a very pleasant feeling in getting into one of these old places, for the memories connected with them lingered with one in such a way that one often felt oneself in spirit like the sort of men who inhabited these places about 400 years ago. If he had been a Boyd of that period he should have called on them as his men to gird on their armour and, headed by Robertson, to sally forth and make things unpleasant for any Cunningham or Montgomery they could find in the neighbourhood.

But now they had got the eagle eye of the Corporation on them and those days were over. They could have no more little excursions of that sort, and perhaps it was just as well under the circumstances. He did not know whether the encomiums that his Commissioner had passed upon him were deserved, but he hoped he was not altogether the blood curdling character that a landlord was often painted. He hoped that the work they had done for that place would be only a beginning. In the old days when the Boyds had it they held it for a certain time, and when they were at the top of their power they turned it into a royal residence, because they had got the king down in the dungeon.

Unfortunately that did not last very long, for the King got out somehow – and having seen the dungeon he did not know how he managed to get out – and the Boyds came down very heavily.  When the property was re-let to them it was let annually to them as tenants, and it was stipulated in the indenture that it was to be kept well thatched an watertight. At the present moment it was neither thatched nor watertight but he hoped as the present owner by degrees to restore it to its natural condition, because he thought these buildings carried the history of the whole place with them and whatever extraordinary things may have happened there were worth preserving.

He did not suppose that the present Laird of Kilmarnock would ever be led out to lay his head on the block for any particular conceptions, because at present he was only entitled to a silk rope – but astonishing wild changes did happen and possibly might happen. One did not know what history this castle might yet have in front of it. It might be that the Corporation had it in its eye as a future refuge for distressed landlords or any sort of strange thing might happen to the building for that matter, because the time in which they lived moved with great rapidity. He wished he could call on them to take down the armour from the walls and sally forth to some spirited adventure, because they did not get much excitement nowadays, and where in the old days they battled with Cunninghams now they had to put up with League football.

As a matter of fact he had a great deal more to say, but he would reserve it till the following evening, for if he allowed himself to expand he would probably go and ruin the whole speech he had carefully prepared to say the following evening. He would therefore leave it at that. He was very glad to see them all there that night. He wished somehow there was something more spirited they were about to do, but as these things were denied them they would just plod on in their own customary way and trust they might get through it somehow. One never knew when the time might come when there may be some cause for alarm and excitement. It was quite possible that after our peaceful existence for many years there might be a really remarkable row brewing which would call out all those qualities that lay latent in us, and we hoped when it came to put up a really good fight. He sincerely trusted that if it really did come to anything of that sort they would, like the men in the old days, go into it together.

A pleasant little function, further illustrative of the thoughtful kindness and generosity of his lordship, afterwards took place, prior to the company dispersing. Mr Middleton announced that while the workmen were all present and had taken part in that days function, Lord Howad de Walden did not wish to forget the wives and children who had been left at home, and each man would receive a small parcel to take to them as a New Year gift from his lordship.

Lord Howard then proceeded to the lower end of the hall and as the name of each workman was called he stepped forward and received his parcel from his lordship, with a warm shake of the hand. Outside the men gathered round the huge fire that blazed in the courtyard, casting a ruddy glow on the time-seared walls of the ancient pile enlivening the times with songs and choruses, and as the proceedings came to an end they took their places, armed with burning torches, in a double line from the keep to the front door of the house.

Lord Howard de Walden, on descending from the banqueting hall of the castle, with the piper playing before him, thus proceeded through the lane of flaring torches, the bearers of which fell in behind as he passed, cheering and waving their brands and this old world picturesque ceremony formed a fitting conclusion to a unique an unforgettable occasion.