18th century heirloom in TNPC museum

Norman Welz

Bagpipe.news was recently contacted by Mr Norman Welz of Baden-Baden, Germany, to tell us about the story of his historic pipes and thought it would be of interest to our readers. Norman donated his family heirloom to the College of Piping in 2012 and the instrument has since been transferred to The National Piping Centre’s museum and been on display since the springtime of 2020. Finlay MacDonald, The National Piping Centre’s Director of Piping, is extremely grateful to Norman for his generosity.

The Museum of Piping at The National Piping Centre holds three hundred years of piping heritage, with themed displays focusing on the Scottish tradition. Smallpipes from the Northumbrian tradition are also on display, and bagpipes from Poland, Hungary, Spain and Italy can also to be seen.

When Norman donated the pipes there was an article written by Jeannie Campbell MBE and published in Piping Times in 2012. Jeannie’s article tells the story of the pipes and researches the Hamish Wallace name in early to mid-18th century Scotland, and finds nine possible candidates from the Perthshire area who may well have been the original owner of the pipes.


One of the students at the College of Piping Winter School, Norman Welz of Baden-Baden, has presented a set of pipes to the College of Piping. They are a 1749 three-quarters or half set which has been in his family for decades. They were given to him by his grandfather and now he wants them to go on show for the benefit of pipers everywhere. It seems they belonged to a Scots soldier from the Pitlochry area named Hamish Wallace. He was a bondsman to the Duke of Atholl and seconded to fight for the Hapsburgs in Austria in the 18th century. He met and married a local woman and stayed in Austria before the family moved to Germany.

Vol.64, No. 7

There has always been piping in Norman’s family and he can remember his grandfather singing the Company’s Lament to him. So here we have a strand of Scottish tradition going back hundreds of years and rooted in Austro-Germany. It is remarkable that we now have a pipe dating from only three years after Culloden and in pretty good condition after lying in a shed for hundreds of years. The pipes are of a light wood, possibly from a fruit tree and the ferrules are of bone. Some ferrules have been replaced and are obviously not the work of a craftsman. The chanter still plays reasonably well.

According to piping historian Keith Sanger the evidence we have of 18th century pipe makers points to bagpipes being made by a very small number of turners in Edinburgh. The pipes would be made under the close supervision of a piper. It is possible that an occasional turner elsewhere may have made the odd instrument. The design and style of decoration would as much reflect the taste of the supervising piper as the individual turner, a situation that would have applied to early instruments before regular demand would have brought a degree of standardisation.

The Museum already has the Culloden pipes and two other sets which are pre-1800 plus others from the early 1800s. All are different in design and size. The Culloden set has only two tenor drones but as it came from Loch Awe this fits with Joseph MacDonald’s evidence, as he wrote in 1760 that pipers in the North Highlands used a third, bass, drone but pipers in the west Highlands had tried and rejected it.

•Two very important sets of 18c pipes. Pictured above is the two-drone Culloden Bagpipe and below is the 1749 bagpipes donated by Norman Welz

Politics were complex in the mid-18th Century and the question of which Duke of Atholl and which of the Hapsburg Wars our story refers to is a difficult one. At the beginning of the century the duke had five sons. The eldest, John, joined Queen Anne’s army and died at the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709 during the War of the Spanish Succession in which France and Spain faught against the Habsburg Empire, Britain, the United Provinces and Prussia. The second son William, with his brothers Charles and George, raised a battalion of Atholl men and fought for the Jacobites in 1715. Charles was taken prisoner and died. William and George fought again in 1719 and afterwards went in to exile in Europe. After the death of their father in 1725 William was known to the Jacobites as the Duke of Atholl while his next brother James who had stayed at home was the Hanoverian Duke of Atholl. Duke William and his brother George, Lord George Murray, fought for the Prince in 1745-1746. Some months after Culloden, George escaped abroad and lived quietiy in retirement until his death in Holland in 1760. William was captured and taken to the Tower of London where he died three weeks later.

The war of the Austrian Succession began when the Emperor Karl VI died without a male heir in 1740, bringing to an end the male line of the Hapsburgs. Under the pretext that Maria Theresa was ineligible to succeed to the Hapsburg thrones of her father, Prussia and France challenged the Hapsburg power. Austria was supported by Britain and the Dutch Republic, the traditional enemies of France, as well as Sardinia and Saxony. France and Prussia were allied with Bavaria. Spain entered the war to re-establish its influence in northern Italy. Further reversing an Austrian dominance over the Italian peninsula that had been achieved at Spain’s expense as a consequence of that country’s own War of Succession earlier in the 18th century. The war ended with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. Frederick of Prussia’s invasion of Saxony in August 1756 began the Seven Years War. This time Austria was aligned with France and Russia, while Britain was on the other side with Prussia and Portugal.

A search of births in Scotland 1725-1745 gives 547 results for James Wallace. A search for Hamish or Seumas gives no results except a referral to James. Most are in the Lowlands but there are nine in Perthshire:

  • 1705 at Errol son of George Wallace
  • 1708 at Errol son of William Wallace
  • 1711 at Errol son of James Wallace and Isobel Davidson
  • 1722 at Cargil son of John Wallace
  • 1724 at Dull son of Robert Wallace and Kirstean MacGregor
  • 1730 at Errol son of Patrick Wallace and Margaret Dow
  • 1734 at Errol son of James Wallace
  • 1739 at Blair Atholl son of William Wallace and Louisa Lindsay
  • 1743 at Logierait son of Patrick Wallace and Jean Toshach

A search for marriages of James Wallace in Germany 1740-1760 led to an entry on a website which was not available.