The second Grand National Gathering was advertised for Thursday and Friday 5th and 6th August 1858, with prize money and medals to a larger amount than ever offered to be competed for in Scotland. Gentlemen and youths connected with the Highlands and members of the Society were requested to appear in Highland dress which would admit them to the Gathering free of charge. In 1858 membership of the society numbered 657.

A news item on July 30th stated that the grandstand would be substantial and commodious, capable of accommodating about 1000 people. The number of competitors already enrolled was unusually large and included the Queen’s piper from Buckingham Palace. The programme would be circulated in due time, indicating the exact order of competition and conveying interesting information respecting the origin of the principal pibrochs. Further advertisements followed, listing the events, prizes and rules. Itinerant pipers and professional dancers were excluded, as were first prize winners from the previous year. Competitors were to lodge their entries with certificates of their qualifications and a list of ten piobaireachds by 31st July. All competitors for the piping events were to appear at the Society’s rooms at 4pm on the previous day. The Society had arranged to lease the ground adjacent to the College for the annual gatherings. At other times the society offered the ground to let for sheep grazing.

On the first day the procession of 148 persons in Highland dress assembled in George Square and marched to the ground headed by the Society’s piper Mr Alexander Cameron and by Mr William MacKay who carried the Society’s banner. It proceeded via Buchanan Street, Argyll Street and High Street to the strains of the pipes, attracting general admiration and great applause as it entered the park and marched once round the enclosure. Proceedings then began with six pipers playing together round the park as a salute the quicksteps Gillean an Fheilidh (the Lads with the Kilts) and Morachd Na h-alba (The Pride of Caledonia). Next a reel of 12 dancers was performed to the playing of piper Stewart Edgar from the Carnbroe Iron Works. The other pipers were Duncan Campbell, Edinburgh, Donald M’Innes, Glasgow, Michael M’Carfrae, piper to the Duke of Hamilton, Charles Scott, piper to the Duke of Sutherland, Duncan M’Kay, piper to the Duke of Leeds, John M’Federan, Glasgow, Alex Cameron, piper to the Glasgow Celtic Society, Colin M’Intyre, Glasgow, William Rose, piper to the Duke of Athole, John M’Gregor, piper to Sir R Menzies, Bart., Castle Menzies, and: “though last, not least, William Ross, her Majesty’s piper, whose handsome figure, costly dress, and distinction as a servant of Royalty, as well as his exquisite music, attracted to him a large share of attention.”

•The William Ross painting is a perfect capture of his description in 1858 above which says: “whose handsome figure, costly dress, and distinction as a servant of Royalty, as well as his exquisite music, attracted to him a large share of attention.” Watercolour by Kenneth MacLeay. The Royal Collection

Events continued on the second day and concluded with the presentation of the prizes. For piobaireachd the first prize of £8 and a superior silver medal went to Duncan Campbell, 68 Buccleuch Street, Edinburgh, second £4 to Alex Cameron piper to the Glasgow Celtic Society and third £2 to John M’Gregor piper to Sir Robert Menzies, Bart., Castle Menzies. An extra prize was awarded to William Rose, Dunkeld House. For Reels and Strathspeys first and a silver medal went to Donald M’Federan, Glasgow, second £3 to Alex Cameron and third £1 to Duncan M’Dougall piper to the Perth Highland Society. For Marches the first prize of a Gold Medal went to William Ross, piper to her Majesty, and second £2 to Alexander Cameron. Pipers Charles Scott, Alexander Cameron and Michael M’Carfrae also won prizes in the dancing. The day concluded with a dinner in the Tontine Hotel for about 100 of the members of the society. An elegant and substantial repast was served, then after the toasts her Majesty’s piper and the Society’s piper entertained the company with appropriate airs.

William Ross was born in 1823 at Knockbain Ross-shire. He enlisted with the Black Watch in 1839 and was Pipe Major 1849-54. From 1854 to 1891 he was piper to Queen Victoria and had a bagpipe making business in London. He won the Prize Pipe and the Strathspeys and Marches at the Northern Meeting in 1853. He published a Collection of Music in 1869. He died in 1891 in London.

William Ross in later years.
•William Ross in later years.
•Alexander (Sandy) Cameron

Alexander (Sandy) Cameron the Society’s piper, was born at Leacroy, Ross-shire in 1824. Alexander was taught by Donald Mor MacLennan and the MacKays of Raasay as well as by his brother Donald who was 14 years his senior. Alexander played with the drones on the right shoulder and the right hand at the top of the chanter. In 1845 he played at the Northern Meeting, winning second prize. At this time he was piper to Sir James MacKenzie at Rosehaugh. In 1846 when he won the prize pipe at Inverness, he was Piper to the Earl of Seafield. In 1849 and 1850 he was piper to the Hon W F Scarlett son of Lord Abinger. He is thought to have served at some point as a piper in the 71st regiment and this may have been around this time. He was married in London in 1850 and his daughter was born in Dublin in 1851. He may have been teaching in the High St Edinburgh at some time in the 1850s. From 1854 to 1857 he was Piper to Mr Malcolm of Poltalloch. In 1858 and 1859 he was living in Glasgow and in 1860 he was in Greenock where he was the hotel keeper at the Museum Inn. By 1858 he was piper to the Glasgow Celtic Society. He was also pipe major of the Greenock Volunteers. In 1862 he played again at the Northern Meeting, winning the strathspeys and marches and the Gold Medal for Former Winners. Alexander Cameron died in Greenock in 1872. The cause of death was Alcoholic Gastritis.

•Michael McCarfrae

Michael McCarfrae was born at Kirkoswald of Irish parents in about 1823. In 1847 he was employed on the Glengarry estate where Angus MacKay had been employed as piper to Lord Ward from 1841 until he was appointed piper to Queen Victoria in 1843. McCarfrae later became piper to the Duke of Hamilton. He bought all Angus MacKay’s music from his widow in 1859 and on his own death in 1881 bequeathed some to the Duke of Hamilton. The remainder was dispersed. Some was acquired later by Piobaireachd Society. McCarfrae died at Brodick in 1879 aged 56.

Duncan MacKay was a native of Kintail but of Reay County stock. He was piper to Macpherson of Cluny from about 1828 to 1842 and during that time he made the Prize Pipe for the 1841 Northern Meeting. He was a regular competitor at the Edinburgh competition and the Northern Meeting, winning many prizes. In 1843-44 he was part of a group of Pipers and Dancers who toured and performed all over England then he became piper to Mr Robertson of Foveran. In 1849 he became Piper to the Duke of Leeds but in 1856 he returned to Scotland. By 1861 he was employed as a gentleman’s coachman in Glasgow before becoming piper to Captain Robertson Aikman of the Ross, Hamilton. Duncan MacKay died at Hamilton in 1867.

•Duncan MacDougall

Duncan MacDougall was born in Perth in 1837, when his father had a bagpipe making business there. On his father’s death in 1857 he took over the business but by 1862 he had left Perth as was Piper to Lord Elphinstone, brother in law to Lord Dunmore. Duncan returned to Perth briefly in 1865 but later that year was appointed Piper to the Prince of Wales. By 1867 he had settled in Edinburgh working first as an employee then on his own behalf as a bagpipe maker. During these years he was Pipe Major of the Edinburgh Volunteers. In about 1873 Duncan accepted the appointment as Piper to Lord Breadalbane at Taymouth Castle on condition that he was able to continue his bagpipe making business in Aberfeldy. For over twenty years he was the pipe major of the 5th V.B.R.H. Black Watch (Volunteers), only retiring a year before his death. He was also Pipe Major of the Breadalbane Pipe Band, which played on several important occasions at Taymouth. At the Northern Meeting he won the Prize Pipe in 1870, the Former Winners Gold Medal in 1873, Champion of Champions’ Gold Medal for Former Winners of the Gold Medal in 1876. At the Argyllshire Gathering he won the March in 1887. He died in Aberfeldy in 1898.

William Rose, 1830-1896 was born in Kingussie in 1830, son of Lachlan Rose and Ann McKay. He was in the service of the Duke of Atholl. He composed The Atholl Highlanders March to Loch Katrine when Queen Victoria visited in 1859 and the Atholl Highlanders formed a guard of honour. He died in Monte Video in 1896.

John MacGregor (1820-1888) was Piper to Sir Robert Menzies of Menzies during the 1840s to the 1880s.

Donald McPhedran was born in 1820 at Inveraray. He moved to Glasgow as a young man and worked as a joiner. Donald became the Pipe Major of a Glasgow company of Volunteers and on the 14th October 1859 played at the opening by Queen Victoria of Glasgow’s new water supply, Loch Katrine Waterworks, composing the tune Loch Katrine for the occasion. In 1870 Donald was in Inveraray for the celebrations to mark the homecoming of the Duke of Argyll’s son and heir the Marquess of Lorne and his bride Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria. He played selections at the Castle for the Princess and then played at the ball held in the Castle Pavilion for the County families. He won many prizes at the Argyllshire Gathering and other competitions. From 1884 until his death in 1888 Donald McPhedran was a bagpipe maker at 85 Doncaster Street, Glasgow. Donald McPhedran’s Collection of Bagpipe Music was published after his death by his son John.

•In 1858 the Society decided to have a tartan of its own and asked manufacturers to submit designs from which the members selected one by a vote, following which it was registered and manufactured. A dress and plaid in the new tartan was sent to Queen Victoria.

•According to a report in the Stirling Observer on 2nd September 1858 a Highland Gathering had been held in Newcastle where a Gold medal had been presented for first prize in the piobaireachd competition and a silver mounted practice chanter for the second prize. In the competition for marches, strathspeys and reels the prizes were a silver medal for first and a sgian dubh for second. There were only two competitors, Alexander Cameron, piper to the Celtic Society, Glasgow, who won both firsts and Duncan MacKay, late piper to the Duke of Leeds.

The Grand National Gathering 1859

For the Celtic Society, 1859 started with a day of shinty in a park near Renfrew on 19th February. A steamer was to leave Glasgow Green 10am and the Broomielaw 11am to go to the park, with a piper on board. There was heavy rain all day. A dinner was held in the evening. On 25th March the society held its first Grand Assembly and Ball in the Corporation Galleries.

The third National Gathering was to be on 9th and 10th August. Advertisements announced that the Duke of Athole with a detachment of the Athole Highlanders would be present but the arrangements for the first day did not go to plan.

In consequence of a dispute between the North Eastern and Scottish Central Railway Companies, the train in which his Grace started for Perth was too late to catch the Scottish Central train for Glasgow. The sports had to start without his Grace. At about twenty minutes to three it was announced that his Grace and his Highland band were about to enter the park. All the gentlemen in Highland dress formed in line at the entrance to greet his Grace and his company, who marched around the arena with the gentlemen following behind.

Events continued on the second day in the presence of the Duke and at the end of the proceedings the prizes were awarded. For Piobaireachd the first prize of a silver medal and £8 went to Alex Cameron, Greenock, second was £4 to Gilbert Gordon Edinburgh, third was £2 to Archd. Forbes, Aberfeldy and an extra prize of £2 to John M’Gregor, Aberfeldy. For Reels and Strathspeys the first prize of a silver medal and £4 went to Alex Cameron, Greenock, second was £2 to Aeneas Rose, Dunkeld House, extra prize William Scott, Stafford House. For Marches first prize of a silver medal and £4 went to Alex Cameron, Greenock, second was £2 to Aeneas Rose, Dunkeld House and third was £1 to Donald M’Fadran, Glasgow. In the evening the members and their friends dined at the Trades Hall.

•Aeneas Rose

•Gilbert Stewart Gordon, born c.1820 was taught by his father John Gordon. In 1841 he was piper to Sir David Dundas of Dunira and in 1844 he was described as from Lude, Blair Atholl. In 1852 he was piper to Robertson of Foveran, in1853 piper to Malcolm of Poltalloch, from 1854 to 1859 piper to Lord Panmure, then he kept the Black Bull Inn in Perth where he died in 1873 aged 53.

Aeneas Rose, a younger brother of William Rose, was born in Kingussie in 1832 and was taught by John Macpherson, 1806-1880, who was the Pipe Major of the Atholl Highlanders and piper to the Duke of Atholl from 1826 for fifty-four years. Aeneas succeeded him and was piper to the Duke of Atholl for fifty years and Pipe Major of the Atholl Highlanders for forty years. He composed Lady Dorothea Stewart Murray’s Wedding Day. He died in 1905 at Blair Atholl.