Royal visit 1822 – Pipers and the Clan Chiefs



Although none of the pipers in the parades and other events were named in the newspaper reports several can be identified with some certainty. It is also possible that some of the pipers and dancers who had played or danced in the competition earlier in the month had stayed on in Edinburgh with their employers and took part in the processions and other festivities. The names of Clan Chiefs involved in the festivities are known and therefore their pipers at the time can be identified.

The three young men mentioned in Robert Mudie’s account were named in the Notices of Pipers. According to the Notices: “Peter Reid became clerk to Baillie Macphie in Leith, and on the landing of King George IV on his memorable visit to Scotland, Reid, R W Hume, and John Wood played on Leith Pier while the King was landing, at 12 noon, on August 15, 1822. They then played up to the King’s Park and at the grand procession to Holyrood Palace”. Baillie Macphie or MacFie, as senior magistrate of Leith, had greeted the King on his arrival. Peter Reid was born in Campbeltown, December 8, 1801, the ninth of the eleven children of Hugh Reid, a master cooper and his wife Janet Langwill. Why he moved to Edinburgh is not known. The party of personages from Edinburgh and Leith who were in the welcoming party to greet the King waited for his arrival in Mr Reid’s bookshop on the Leith quayside. This business combined a bookshop with a lending library. Perhaps Mr Reid was a relative of Peter’s. While in Leith, Peter may have had some contact with Donald MacDonald or he may have known him before as Donald MacDonald was living in Campbeltown in 1816 when his daughter married James MacCallum there. By 1826 Peter Reid was in Glasgow. He did not compete but often judged at Highland Gatherings. He is best known for leaving a large manuscript of music which is dated Glasgow, 1826. Peter was married in Glasgow on December 1, 1831 to Margaret Stewart. On the same day, in the same place and by the same minister James Templeton, another Campbeltown man, married Mary Stewart, sister of Margaret. The brothers in law, Peter Reid and James Templeton, were in business together as Templeton’s carpets. The Templeton building was modelled on the Doge’s Palace in Venice. It is next to the People’s Palace on Glasgow Green. It is now flats and offices. Peter Reid died in Glasgow on December 26, 1881, at his home 33 Kersland Terrace, Hillhead.

•Peter Reid in later life

R W Hume and John Wood have not been located in the Leith post office directories of the 1841 census.

A newspaper article from August 1842 describing the arrangements for the visit of Victoria and Albert to Taymouth Castle included the statement: “We understand that Macdonald, piper to the Marquis of Breadalbane, and MacKay, piper to the Celtic Society, both officiated on the entrance of George IV into Holyrood on August 25, 1822.”

MacDonald has not been identified but the identity and career of MacKay is known.

William MacKay’s early life is not confirmed but he may be: “William MacKay, born Tong, Sutherland, aged 25, 5ft 5 inches, dark complexion, dark brown hair, blue eyes, well made”, who attested for the Breadalbane Fencibles on April 16, 1793. The Fencible Regiments did officially have two pipers to their Grenadier Companies and since they were all stood down by 1802,  any pipers were likely to have moved on. Many moved into the regular line regiments but others joined militias. From 1811 onwards his life story is clear. William MacKay Piper to the Inverness Militia won 4th prize of 45 merks in Edinburgh on July 23, 1811. Two days later, on July 23, 1811 in Edinburgh he married Mary Gunn daughter of the late William Gunn, Farmer in Tongue Parish. He won the second prize in 1816 and then in 1820 as “late Pipe-Major to the Inverness-shire Militia, now piper to the Celtic Society”, he won the first prize. As a former first prize-winner (and therefore eligible only for the first prize again and not for any lesser prize), he competed again in 1821, 1822 and 1835, but without success. He was one of those who responded to the call for pipe music to be written down ‘scientifically’ – in staff notation – and received money prizes for so doing on at least three occasions, in 1820, 1822 and 1823.  The music he submitted in 1820 was however criticised as not properly notated and it was stated that to qualify for the prize he must mark the clef properly ‘and also the grace notes etc.’

William MacKay and Mary Gunn had four children, all born in Edinburgh. His daughter Joan married the Edinburgh and Stirling bagpipe maker Peter Henderson in 1838. He was not related to Peter Henderson the Glasgow maker. According to the Notices of Pipers, William MacKay was, “one of the three pipers who played at the landing of King George IV at Leith in 1822.” As he was piper to the Celtic Society from 1820 onwards he was probably one of the pipers who played in the procession with the contingent from the Society. He produced a Bagpipe Tutor and Collection which was published by Alexander Glen in 1841. Later editions were “corrected and improved by Angus MacKay.” William MacKay, piper to the Celtic Society played at a ball in 1838. At another ball in January 1841 the three pipers who played for the reels were described as Mr John MacKenzie, Breadalbane’s piper, Mr William MacKenzie, late pipe major to the 42nd regiment and old Mr MacKay, the piper to the Celtic Society. The year of his death is not known.

•John Campbell, 1st Marquess of Breadalbane

John Campbell, 1st Marquess of Breadalbane 1762 – 1834, was The Earl of Breadalbane and Holland between 1782 and 1831. He raised the Breadalbane Fencibles Regiment, in which he served as a lieutenant-colonel. He became colonel in 1802, a major-general in 1809 and a lieutenant-general in 1814. In 1831 he became Earl of Ormelie and Marquess of Breadalbane. His son John Campbell, later the 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane, (1796 –1862), was known as Lord Glenorchy until 1831 and as Earl of Ormelie from 1831 to 1834 when he succeeded his father. He was Member of Parliament for Okehampton from 1820 to 1826 and for Perthshire from 1832 to 1834 when he entered the House of Lords.

Breadalbane’s pipers in 1822 were John MacGregor and Donald Fisher. John MacGregor, winner of the 1st prize at Falkirk in 1782 and 1st at Edinburgh in 1784 was piper to Lord Breadalbane from 1786. He had four sons who were all pipers. His son John 1773-1830 served with the Breadalbane Fencible in 1793 then became Piper to Lord Breadalbane in 1799. At the Edinburgh competition he was 3rd in 1789, 2nd in 1791, and 1st in 1793.

Donald Fisher was second piper to Lord Breadalbane. At the Edinburgh competition he was 3rd in 1783, 2nd in 1784, and 1st in 1796. He attended the competition 1811-1821 and in 1824 was given a gratuity for being a former first prize winner.  

Alasdair MacDonell of Glengarry was born in 1773 and succeeded his father as 15th chief in 1788. In 1790 he entered University College, Oxford. In February 1793, after war with France had begun, Macdonell was commissioned as a Captain to recruit a company of the Strathspey Fencibles. In August 1794 he was given a colonel’s commission to raise the Glengarry Fencibles regiment of Glengarry Highlanders, recruits being drawn from the Glengarry estates, under threat of eviction if persuasion did not work. Glengarry commanded his regiment in Guernsey until August 1796, when he resigned. As part of his regiment’s uniform, he invented (or adopted) the Glengarry which has since become part of the uniform of a number of Scottish regiments. The Glengarry Fencibles were disbanded in 1802, and Glengarry failed to honour a pledge to find land for the men. This resulted in a mass emigration to British North America led by Father Alexander Macdonell, the regimental chaplain.

Glengarry considered himself the last genuine specimen of a Highland chief, always wore the Highland dress and seldom travelled without being followed by his ‘tail’, of armed servants in full Highland dress. He was a member of the Highland Society and the Celtic Society of Edinburgh, and in June 1815 formed his own Society of True Highlanders, subsequently leaving the Celtic Society and complaining that “their general appearance is assumed and fictitious, and they have no right to burlesque the national character or dress of the Highlands”. His mortification at the acceptance of Lowlanders became a bitter complaint about the prominent role the Celtic Society had in the visit of George IV, and he made several unauthorised and flamboyant appearances during the visit, to the annoyance of his friend Walter Scott and the other organisers.

He continued the evictions to make way for sheep farmers which had begun is his father’s time and most of the clan was forced to emigrate to North America due to these clearances.

On January 17, 1828, Glengarry perished at Corran on Loch Linnhe from an attack of brain fever which followed an accident during his escape from a steamer which had gone aground.

According to the Inverness Courier, the funeral procession of five miles from Invergarry to Kilfinnan was followed by 1,500 men and 150 gentry, the coffin being carried breast-high by eighteen Highlanders. In addition to the lament composed by his piper, Archibald Munro, another was composed by his blind household bard, Allan MacDougall, and Sir Walter Scott composed Glengarry’s Death Song, an undoubted expression of his genuine affection for the dead chief. He was succeeded by his only son Aeneas, born 1808 but the estate was much mortgaged and encumbered and was eventually sold off.

Glengarry’s piper in 1822 was Archibald Munro. He was born around 1799/1800, son of Donald Munro and Margaret Fraser and was taught by John Mackay Raasay. He was Piper to Glengarry until 1828 when Glengarry died. He composed Glengarry’s Lament and played it at the funeral. Archibald then became Piper to Sir John MacRae KCB of Ardintoul who died in 1847. At the Edinburgh competition Archibald Munro won the 3rd prize in 1835. Archibald Munro lived at Fort Augustus, across the hills from Laggan. Malcolm MacPherson, Calum Piobair, is said to have walked the twenty-five miles over the Corrieyairack Pass to visit him for tuition. It was thought that Malcolm’s father Angus Macpherson’s second wife and Malcolm’s stepmother, Catherine Munro was a sister of Archibald Munro, but her parents were William Munro and his wife Mary. It is possible that they were cousins. At the Edinburgh competition Archibald Munro won the 3rd prize in 1835. He died in 1856 aged 56 at Fort Augustus.

Another possibility for one of Glengarry’s pipers was Roderick MacDonald. At the 1829 Edinburgh competition he won 4th prize and was described as Piper to Aeneas MacDonnell, Esq., of Glengarry. When he competed in 1844 he was described as Roderick MacDonald from Lochcarron but his tune list included ‘Mrs MacDonnell of Glengarry’s Lament composed by the present competitor, her late piper.’

Donald MacDonald son of Donald MacDonald the Edinburgh bagpipe maker, played at the Edinburgh competition, winning 5th prize in 1821, 4th in 1823, 3rd in 1824, and 2nd in 1826. He was a piper in the 72nd Highlanders and Pipe Major 1825-28. He may also have played as piper to Alastair R MacDonell of Glengarry for the visit of George IV in 1822.

•Archibald MacArthur by John Kay 1810

Archibald MacArthur born 1779 was the eldest brother of John, born 1785 who had won third prize at the 1804 competition. Their father Professor John MacArthur, a grocer in Edinburgh, was the son of Neil MacArthur and nephew of Charles MacArthur. After their father’s death in 1790 the brothers Archibald and John had been tutored by Donald Ruadh MacCrimmon and had settled in Ulva where they kept a school of piping and were pipers to the MacDonalds of Boisdale and Staffa. Archibald had refused 2nd prize at the Edinburgh competition in 1806 and never played at competition after that. According to the Notices of Pipers he was in his chief’s train for the visit of George IV to Edinburgh 1822.

Colin MacDonald of Boisdale had bought the former MacQuarrie estate which included Staffa, Ulva and part of Mull.  He subsequently feued the estate to his son Ranald, an Edinburgh lawyer who then styled himself ‘MacDonald of Staffa’.

Again, according to the Notices of Pipers, John MacKay, Pipe Major of the 74th Regiment played for George IV in Edinburgh 1822.

Sir Evan John Murray-Macgregor of Macgregor, 2nd Baronet 1785-1841 made his career in the British Army from 1801, serving in the Peninsular War and India and rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He inherited his father’s baronetcy and chieftaincy in June 1822 and was appointed an aide de camp to the King in 1825. In 1831, he was appointed Governor of Dominica, then the following year Governor of Antigua and the Leeward Islands, then in 1836 Governor of Barbados and the Windward Islands until his death. Sir Evan’s pipers have not been identified.

George William Campbell, 6th Duke of Argyll, (1768 – 1839), was Member of Parliament for St Germans from 1790 to 1796. In 1806 he succeeded his father to the dukedom and entered the House of Lords. He was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland from 1827 to 1828 and again from 1830. In 1833 he was sworn of the Privy Council and appointed Lord Steward of the Household. On his death he was succeeded by his brother John.

Peter Robert Burrell, Lord Gwydyr was the eldest son of Peter Burrell, 1st Baron Gwydyr who died in June 1822 and Priscilla Bertie, 21st Baroness Willoughby de Eresby daughter of the Duke of Ancaster. His mother succeeded to a large part of the Ancaster estates in 1779, to the barony of Willoughby of Eresby in 1780 and to the hereditary office of Lord Great Chamberlain. From 1812 to 1820 Lord Gwydyr was the Member of Parliament for Boston in Lincolnshire. In 1807 he married Sarah Clementina Drummond, daughter of the Earl of Perth. He died in 1865. His pipers in 1822 have not been identified. In 1823, on the death of James MacLeod of Raasay, John MacKay with his wife and children left Raasay to be piper to Lord Gwydyr, afterwards Lord Willoughby d’Eresby, at Drummond Castle in Perthshire where he stayed at least twelve years.

Lord Leveson Gower was George Granville Leveson-Gower, 1758-1833 who became the 1st Duke of Sutherland.  He was said to be the wealthiest man in Britain during the latter part of his life. However he and his wife were controversial figures for their role in the Highland Clearances. He began a political career in 1779, firstly as a Member of Parliament and then in the House of Lords from 1799. In 1790 he became Ambassador to France until 1792 when the embassy in Paris was closed. In 1785 he married Elizabeth Sutherland, 1765-1839, the 19th Countess of Sutherland, daughter of William Sutherland, 18th Earl of Sutherland. Her parents both died of a fever when she was only a week old and as the only surviving child she succeeded to her father’s title and estates.

King George’s Welcome to Scotland strathspey

According to the report in the Inverness Courier, at the Northern Meeting in 1849, in the piping competition for Strathspeys and Marches, “Eight pipers played before the judges, when the awards were:  1. John MacKenzie, Taymouth, who played Seaforth’s Highlanders, May the Dogs Eat the Merchant; Reel of Tulloch; 2. Duncan MacKay, piper to the Duke of Leeds, who played Delvinside; Killiecrankie; He’s my Love the Black Lad that Travelled the Moors; 3. Michael MacCarfrae, Skipness, who played MacPherson’s Lament; King George’s Welcome to Scotland; The Lad wi’ the Sma’ Legs.

As no other King George had visited Scotland by 1849 other than George IV in 1822, the tune must have been composed to mark that occasion. Unfortunately it does not seem to have been published in any collection of bagpipe music. Michael MacCarfrae was born in 1820 so could not have been involved in 1822.

Captain Daniel Menzies of the Royal Perthshire Militia is credited as the composer of a Fiddle Strathspey named King George IV’s Welcome, published by James Stewart-Robertson in The Athole Collection (1884). This may be the same tune played by Michael MacCarfrae at the Northern Meeting but this cannot be proved.

•The Deil In The Kitchen Set played by Malcolm Robertson on The Piper & The Maker album published by Greentrax Recordings in 2004. The second tune in the set starting at 55 seconds is titled King George’s Strathspey and is very similar to fiddle versions of a strathspey which can be found on youtube named King George IV.

The following information appears on the Traditional Tune Archive: “King George the IV’s Welcome aka King George the IV Highland. Scottish (originally), Canadian, Irish; Strathspey & Highland. Canada; Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton. Ireland, County Donegal. A Dorian (Skye): A Dorian/Mixolydian (Athole, Perlman). Standard tuning. AAB (Skye): AA’B (Little). This composition is credited to Captain Daniel Menzies by MacDonald in his Skye Collection, where a note indicates it is part of a ‘Skye set.’ Cape Breton/PEI settings are in the Dorian/Mixolydian mode, similar to that in MacDonald’s Skye Collection. Perlman (1996) notes this strathspey is a widely-played tune on Prince Edward Island, and Paul Cranford similarly notes King George is a part of the standard Cape Breton repertoire usually as part of a medley with the strathspey and reel Miss Lyall and King’s Reel. It has been recorded often by Maritime fiddlers. The strathspey was also in the repertoire of Donegal fiddlers John Doherty, and Francie and Mickey Byrne, and has been recorded by other Irish musicians with Donegal connections.”

Captain Daniel Menzies of the Royal Perthshire Militia was the author of: “The Bagpipe Preceptor; or, the art of playing the great Highland bagpipe rendered perfectly easy to every capacity; by which anyone who has a taste for music may soon acquire a knowledge of that grand and warlike instrument, without the aid of a master. To which are added a few favourite simple airs, calculated to catch the ear and attention of the pupil, and lead him on in the science of music. Printed and Published by Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh 1818. The Preceptor was advertised in several newspapers; Inverness Courier, Inverness Journal, Caledonian Mercury and Perthshire Courier; in October 1818.”

The book is ‘By an Amateur’, but the author was identified by James Logan in 1831 as Captain Menzies. The Notices of Pipers named him as Robert Menzies but gave no source for that information. It was only later when a copy of the book was discovered with the signature of Captain Daniel Menzies that he was properly identified. He was also the author of: “A Treatise on the Angelica or Musical Glasses without water. Published 1820. Arranged in a new & approved Manner, to which is annexed a preceptor containing scales & ample instructions for fingering & playing that charming instrument without the aid of a master, by Daniel Menzies, Captain in the Royal Perthshire Regiment of Militia.”

The announcement of the death of Captain Daniel Menzies of the Royal Perthshire Militia appeared in the Edinburgh Courant and the Aberdeen Journal in May 1828, but information on his life was given. Neither his death nor birth registrations have been found. He may have been present at the 1822 Royal visit although he is not mentioned in any of the reports.

•Part one of the article can be found here.

•Part two of the article can be found here.