Scots Town Pipers



Aberdeen Town Pipers

In 1593 we find the Magistrates ordering ‘ane garment of reid Inglis flaning’ for the Town Drummer. This is our first reference to an office which was to survive till 1878, announcements in the 15th century having been made by a Bellman with a handbell. One of the most colourful characters of the time was the Town Piper, who played for the entertainment of citizens and visiting dignitaries. In 1630 however, the Council dispensed with his services describing his performance as ‘ane incivill forme to be usit within a famous burgh’. (Originally gleaned from:, although this website appears to no longer exist today (4 August 2009).

Until 1630 Aberdeen had its town piper. Then “The Magistrates discharge the common piper of all going through the town at nycht, or in the morning, in tyme coming, with his pype, it being an incivill forme to be usit within sic a famous burghe, and being often found fault with, als weill by sundrie nichtbouris of the toune as by strangers”
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

The records of the Burgh of Aberdeen, for 1664, contain an entry that granted Alexander Thomson the liberty to go through town playing his pipes and that he would receive payment as others in like employment had before.
From and McCandless

In Aberdeen in 1630 A.D. exception appears to have been taken to the custom of playing through the streets, as it is placed on record that this was to be stopped, “it being an uncivill forine to be usit uithin sic a famous burghe, and being oftene found fault uith als weill be sundrie riiehbouris as by strangeris.” That the citizens of this “famous burghe” are peculiarly susceptible to the criticisms of “strangeris” might never have been suspected by superficial observers, and it is well that there is official testimony to the fact.


Piper: Charles Nairn, circa 1738
Source: McCandless

Arbroath Town Pipers

The town piper of Arbroath, John Sinclair, served as piper in Ogilvie’s Regiment at Culloden – in the army of the Young Pretender.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975) and




Banff Pipers:
James Allan, circa 1680
James Ranie, 1714-1725
Source: McCandless


There was a Town Piper in Biggar circa 1550
Source: McCandless

The Scottish Borders

In the Scottish Borders there were three classes of piper. Lowest in the social scale was the wandering or gypsy piper; highest in scale was the personal piper to a duke or other nobleman. Somewhere in the middle was the “Toun Piper”, for each Border town of any size and pretension had a Town Piper. This office was often a hereditary one and passed down from father to son, providing the son had sufficient skill on the pipes. When not engaged on their official duties, they would wander the countryside, playing and telling stories. By having a bellows pipe, the Border piper could sing and play his own accompaniment at the same time. It is said that some could also dance while doing both the above.

Each Burgh had its official piper and drummer who attended the magistrates during official engagements. As they were not highly paid for such an important burgh office they had to entertain at other functions – which usually got them into trouble with either kirk or court (see Sunday in Scotland).

In the case of the Personal Pipers the higher the title the better the piper. Two noted pipers were James Allen, the famous (or notorious) piper of the Duke of Northumberland, and Geordie Syme who was attached to the Duke of Buccleuch. Geordie lived in Dalkeith and seems to have gone round the town twice daily but paid particular attention to the Buccleuch family whenever they were in residence. The Queen still has her personal piper at Balmoral where she is awakened each morning to the sound of the pipes.
From “Walter’s Tales of the Borders”, Walter Elliott, 1996.

Brechin Town Pipers

Brechin Town Pipers:
Piper Wyslie, 1688-1691
Piper Low, circa 1796
Source: McCandless

In Brechin, a small town between Dundee and Aberdeen, the town piper’s duties were to pipe up and down the town streets each weekday at five in the morning and seven at night. In 1688, this official was assigned a salary of ten merks yearly.

A meeting of the Brechin Town Council on the 20th June 1688, where entered in the minutes, John Wyslie was elected town piper.

The earliest record of any official connection between Brechin Town Council and bagpipe music is contained in the minutes of the magistrates on 20th June 1688 appointing John Wyslie to the post of Town Piper.

NB: There is more information on the Brechin town piper in “The History of Brechin” written by the Town Clerk, David D Black and published in 1839.  It’s on Google Books. John Wyslie was appointed in 1688 however, he was dismissed in 1691 for failing to perform his duties, and then re-appointed to the office in 1698. The last record of a Brechin town piper was a man called Low.  He was provided with a coat in 1796.  His duties were unchanged from 1688 – playing through the town daily at 5am and 7pm.


“To the two officers, toun drummer, and to him who keeps the cloack yearly: £80.” – Accounts of the burgh of Bruntisland, 1690-91.



Crail Town Pipers

Crail, Fife – On 13th October 1568, the Town Council granted that, ” Charles Mercer, our Common Menstrall, shall play throughout the town, evening and morning ilk day.”



Dalkeith Town Pipers

As well as Geordie Syme (circa 1750) McCandless mentions that on of the Pipers of Dalkeith was Jamie Reid (date unknown).

Geordie Syme, the piper of Dalkeith, was allowed, beside a small wage, a suit of clothes: this consisted of a long yellow coat lined with red, red plush breeches, white stockings and shoes with buckles.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

This was the dwelling of the Hasties, a piping family who held office in the burgh hereditarily from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The list of burghs for which there is evidence about pipers or musicians includes Inverness, Aberdeen, Montrose, Dundee, Perth, St Andrews, Dunfermline, Stirling, Falkirk, Linlithgow, Edinburgh, Haddington, Dumbarton, Glasgow, Lanark, Ayr, Peebles, Selkirk, Hawick, Jedburgh, Dumfries, and Berwick. The town piper of Dalkeith was drawn by the caricaturist, John Kay, in 1789. This etched portrait shows him dressed in his livery coat and playing a set of Lowland bellows pipes, and the figure is subscribed with the legend: ‘This represents old Geordy Syme, A Famous Piper in his Time’. His responsibilities and rewards were typical; he received a small salary and a suit of clothes annually in return for playing through the town twice daily, morning and evening. It was said that his favourite tunes were Go tae Berwick, Johnny and Dalkeith has got a Rare Thing, the last being a favourite of the Duchess of Buccleuch who was customarily greeted with it when arriving or departing the burgh and the neighbouring Dalkeith Palace. The name of the tune was suitably ambivalent and is known also as Dunse dings aa no doubt providing an expedient for earning the rewards of patron in the Berwickshire burgh of Duns, where their motto or battle-cry proclaimed (as above) that Duns beats the lot!’ When the evidence becomes more plentiful in the 18th century the burgh pipers seem generally to have been playing a bellows-blown bagpipe, smaller than the Highland bagpipe as we know it.

For more information about Dalkeith pipers please visit

Dumfries Town Pipers

Piper:   Anon., circa 1550
Source: McCandless

Dumbarton Town Pipers

Piper:   Anon., circa 1500
Source: McCandless

Dundee Town Pipers

McCandless names two of the Town Pipers of Dundee:
Robert Owen, until 1734
John Fenton, after 1734

At Dundee the town piper was paid twelve pennies yearly by each householder in the town. From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975), ISBN: 0710079133.

In 1505 A.D. the town records of Dumbarton, Biggar, Wigton, Dumfries and Linlithgow refer to burgh pipers.

At Dundee the piper played through the town “every day in the morning at four hours and every nicht at aucht horns,” and was paid twelve pennies yearly by each householder.”

At Dundee the piper played through the town “every day in the morning at four hours and every nicht at aucht horns,” and was paid twelve pennies yearly by each householder.”

Dumbarton Town Pipers

In 1505, records exist indicating that Dumbarton, Biggar, Wigton, Glenluce and Dumfries had public pipers.

Dysart Town Pipers

Until 2008, the website previously found at “” included a pdf document that mentioned the Dysart town piper. Unfortunately this website is no longer available, but you can see the document here: Notices from the Record Office of Dysart.


E – F

Eaglesham Town Pipers

McCandless mentions the piper of Eaglesham circa 1772.

Edinburgh Town Pipers

The office of town piper was revived in 1660 with the appointment of John Johnston(e) “to accompany the town’s drummer throw the town morning and evening”, paying him his salary and livery as in former years.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975) and McCandless.

In 1486, Edinburgh rejoiced in a band consisting of three pipers, and any household who declined to billet these “city musicians” in rotation was liable to be fined nine pence in accordance with a town council decree. It is not a little surprising that in the accounts of the Lords High Treasurers of Scotland there is a reference to pipers being “INGLIS”. In the years 1489 and 1491 payments were made to “the English piper that came to the castle and played to the King,” and to “four English Pipers.” On October 6, 1503 an entry was made to record the King’s payment of 28 shillings to the pipers of Aberdeen and Edinburgh.


G, H, I

Girvan Town Pipers

Johnny McGill, Town Piper of Girvan – The Scots claim “Johnny McGill” was composed by a Scot by that name, Town Piper of Girvan.

The tune “Prince of Orange”, attributed to John MacGill, the town piper of Girvan, found in the Joshua Campbell collection, 1778.

Glasgow Town Pipers

McCandless names the piper of Glasgow in 1675 as John McCaine.

The Reformation ended ambitious music-making. In 1563 the sub-cantor at Glasgow was tried for assisting at mass. Secular music was also affected. In 1593 the Kirk Session threatened the town piper with excommunication if he played on Sundays.

“There was never but one concert during the two winters I was at Glasgow, and that was given by Walter Scott, … his band of assistants consisted of two dancing-school fiddlers and the town-waits,” complained one writer.

Glenluce Town Pipers

McCandless mentions that there was a Town Pipers of Glenluce circa 1550.

Haddington Town Pipers

McCandless names the piper of Haddington as James Livingston, circa 1783.

From the Borough records of Haddington, East Lothian (from the chapter by J McGavin in Fiona Kisby’s book – Music and Musicians in Renaissance Cities and Towns – Cambridge University Press):

Haddington had an official town piper In the 16th an 17th centuries. He piped the beginning and end of the curfew at 8pm and 4am each day, and also performed at marriages, baptisms and feasts. In 1586 the town piper was Patrick Scougall. In 1599 the Presbytery threatened Patrick with excommunication if he played again for dancing on a Sunday afternoon. In 1610, Patrick’s son Richard was town piper, but on his death in 1622 his father took up the post again. In 1630 the Presbytery was paying Patrick some sort of pension. At times Haddington also had a town drummer, but there is no record of more than one civic musician at any one time.


McCandless lists some of the Town Pipers of Hawick:Thomas Beattie, circa 1694
James Olifer, 1717-1720
Robert Foulier, 1721-1732
John Meader, 1732-1741
Walter Bellingden (or Ballantyne), 1752-1756
William Brown, 1756-1757
Walter Bellingden (or Ballantyne), 1757-1778

Teribus as played by Hawick’s Toun Piper in 1777

Matt Seattle and Bill Telfer playing border pipes
18 Sep 2011

Teribus is Hawick’s iconic song and tune. It is quite different from a tune of this name played by highland pipers. Until 1797 the Toun Piper and drummer played music for the Common Riding but then were substituted by fife and drum. Today’s Fife and Drum Band version of Teribus is very similar to Walter Ballantyne’s setting (collected from the Hawick Toun Piper in 1777).

The manuscript in Hawick Museum is titled “The Original Set of Teribus as played by Walter Ballantine Town Piper, in 1777” and following the tune a note reads “This is the tow [sic] parts that Answer the Song” followed by an exact copy of strains 4 and 2 in that order. There is a metrical anomaly in the manuscript: in strain 1 bars 1 and 3 the note values do not quite make a full bar, so we have changed the first note, a dotted quaver, to a crotchet; also the key signature is changed from 1 to 2 sharps, corresponding both to the pipe scale and to the way the tune is still sung and played.

Bill Telfer, 18 Sep 2011

Teribus – Duet

Matt Seattle and Bill Telfer playing border pipes
20 April 2012

There is a good article on Hawick’s “Teribus” in “Common Stock”, The Journal of the Lowland and Border Pipes Society (Vol.29. No.1. (June 2012) Page 15. ISBN 1352-3848).

Inverness Town Pipers

Murdoch Maclennan(1504-1574) and Murdoch Maclennan(1547-1627), the latter killed by retainers of the Earl of Moray, held positions as town pipers in Inverness.
From[email protected]/pipers.html



Jedburgh Town Pipers

John Hastie, circa 1513
John Hastie, 1720-1731
Source: McCandless

Adam Ainslie and Robin Hastie, Town Pipers of Jedburgh – The Piper’s House was exactly that, the home of the town piper from 1604 when Adam Ainslie built it, his initials and date are inscribed above a first floor window which used to be the main entrance. Robin Hastie was the last town piper to live occupy the house in the early 1800’s, bringing to an end a three hundred years of a member his Hastie family being Jedburgh’s piper. There is a figure on the statue of a piper mounted on the house roofs gable end.

“These town pipers, an institution of great antiquity upon the Borders, were certainly the last remains of the minstrel race. Robin Hastie, town piper of Jedburgh, perhaps the last of the order, died nine or ten years ago [this was written about 1802]; his family was supposed to have held the office for about three centuries. Old age had rendered Robin a wretched performer, but he knew several old songs and tunes which have probably died with him. The town pipers received a livery and salary from the community to which they belonged, and in some burghs they had a small allotment of land called ‘ the Piper’s Croft.'”

One of the statutes passed by the Town Council of Jedburgh was to the following effect:–
“The swasher (town drummer) and piper to go duly round at four in the morning and eight at night under the penalty of forfeiting their wages, and eight days’ imprisonment.” That the drummer and piper attended to their duties is shown by an extract from “The Autobiography of a Scottish Borderer”. The writer of the extract was a Jedburgh lady, who died in 1846, and very probably either saw or heard of a procession such as she describes:–
“The bells rung a merry peal and parties paraded the streets, preceded by the town piper, with favours in their hats,”
See Notes & Queries concerning this “autobiography”.

In Old Mortality, Scott with his usual artistry paints an excellent word-picture of the typical town piper in a Lowland burgh. He was said to be endowed with: “…the Piper’s Croft, as it is still called, a field of about an acre in extent, five merks, and a new livery coat of the town’s colours yearly; some hopes of a dollar upon the day of the election of magistrates; providing the Provost were able and willing to afford such a gratuity; and the privilege of paying, at all the respectable houses in the neighbourhood, an annual visit at springtime to rejoice their hearts with music, to comfort his own with their ale and brandy, and to beg from each a modicum of seed-corn.” A house was often part of the reward of the town pipers, and in Jedburgh for example, the Piper’s House can still be seen in Duck Row at the foot of the Canongate, with a stone statuette of a piper set on the crowstepped gable.



Kelso Town Pipers

John Anderson, Town Piper of Kelso – The touching melody of “John Anderson,” long preserved by oral tradition, was at length written down in the year 1578 in Queen Elizabeth’s Virginal Book, which is still preserved. John Anderson was a real personage, and, according to tradition, the town piper of Kelso and a good deal of a joker.

Also: – Mary W. Stuart dates the words and tune of “John Anderson my Jo” to about 1560, and relates that the hero of the ditty was traditionally supposed to “have been the town-piper of Kelso and a very gay dog.”

Kilbarchan Town Pipers

Habbie Simpson, Town Piper of Kilbarchan – One of the most renowned of Scottish pipers is Habbie Simpson, the early seventeenth-century Town Piper of Kilbarchan in Renfrewshire, whose life and reputation are celebrated in an elegy by the laird-poet Robert Semple of Beltrees.

This may be the same person as Halbert Simpson, who was the Piper of Kilbarchan, cica 1600
Source: McCandless

The life and death of Habbie Simpson,
Town Piper of Kilbarchan

A memorial poem written by Robert Sempill in 1661.

Kilbarchan now may say, alas!
For she hath lost her Game and Grace,
Both Trixie, and the Maiden Trace:
But what remead?
For no man can supply his place,
Hab Simson’s dead.

Now who shall play, the day it daws?
Or hunt up, when the Cock he craws?
Or who can for our Kirk-town-cause,
Stand us in stead?
On Bagpipes now no Body blaws,
Sen Habbie’s dead.

I think this merits a place on the website, as not many waits are commemorated in this way. In fact he’s probably the only one! It also records a few of the tunes he played.

Alan Radford

Every parish has produced some men whom it regards as notable, and unquestionably Habbie or Robert Simpson is the most widely known of the sons of Kilbarchan. He lived at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and was thus a contemporary of Shakespeare. In early life he was probably a retainer in the family of Craigends or in that of Johnstone, and tradition, supported by the emblem on his reputed tomb-stone, asserts that in later life he combined the occupation of butcher with the office of town-piper.

Kilsyth Town Pipers

Photograph of Willie Orr the Town Piper of Kilsyth.
The town piper of Kilsyth is also mentioned in Notes & Queries.

Kirkaldy Town Pipers

Donald Grant, Town Piper of Kirkaldy, from “Wilson’s Border Tales” – At this moment, a new cause of pleasurable excitement struck on the ears of the joyous party in the cave. This was the sound of pipes. Donald Grant, the town piper of Kirkcaldy, and as good a performer as ever blew a chanter, was both heard and seen coming alongst the sands towards the Bonnet Rock, playing, with might and main, the well-known tune of “Maggie Lauder.” On arriving at the cave, Donald was received with shouts of welcome by its inmates; but their joy at so timeous and valuable an accession as the piper, was by no means confined to mere expressions of satisfaction with his presence. It soon took a more substantial form; bumpers of brandy and lumps of bread and cheese, short-bread, and currant-bun, were thrust in upon him at all hands. The former, Donald-who was reputed as good a hand at the pint-stoup as at the pipes, and that was excellent-nipped off, one after the other, as fast as they were presented to him; the latter he thrust into the capacious pockets of his greatcoat, till they could hold no more. Thus charged and primed, Donald was ready for anything, and therefore at once agreed to a proposal which was made to him, that he should ascend from the land side, where it was of easy access, to the top of the Bonnet Rock, and play some tunes from that conspicuous and elevated situation.


The Pipers of kirkudbright were:
Fergus Neilson, 1598-1602
Donald Murray, circa 1605
John Neilson, circa 1610
Source: McCandless


James Wallace was Piper of Kirkwall, circa 1812.
Source: McCandless

Kirkudbright Town Pipers

At the Market Cross all the proclamations regarding legal processes, Acts of Parliament, fair days, high days and holidays were made by the town piper or drummer. Prior to 1600 the proclamations were made by the piper, but in October 1600, a drummer was appointed. The minutes of appointment read as follows.
“The quhilk day Alexander Corkirk is chosin and seit drummar for ane zeir for the quhilk he sal haif ten libs of fie, and his meit throu the toun, and that thai that hes not houses pey him iijs, viijd (i.e. 3/8d) thairfoir.
The quhilk day Ferguss Neilsone is seit toun piper for ane zear, his dewtie usit and wont (x libs) provyding he and the drummer pairt the Zule wages (Christmas boxes) betwixt thame.”



Lanark Town Pipers

Payment to Johne Watsone the town piper of Lanark in 1566-7 of vjs viijd for the landmuris; to play his pipes at the town’s horse races and fairs.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).


“The Life of Marmaduke Rawdon of York”, ed. Robert Davies, The Camden Society, 1863, relating to Rawdon’s travels in Scotland in 1664, specifically to Lithgoe (Linlithgow):
“The waites of this towne, as likewisse of most greate townes in Scottland, is a drume and a bagpipe.”

The Linlithgow Piper of 1708 is mentioned by McCandless

The Scottish Lowlands

In the Lowlands of Scotland, pipers occupied well-defined positions as town pipers, performers for weddings, feasts and fairs. There was no recorded “master piper” nor was there any pipe schools. Lowland pipers played songs and dance music, as was expected by their audience, so no effort was made to produce great music.
In Dundee, Jedburgh and Lanark, the piper’s round started by official edict at 4 a.m. At Perth and Dalkeith it was 5 a.m.. The evening round varied from 6 p.m. at Lanark and 7 p.m. at Perth to 8 p.m. at Dalkeith and Jedburgh.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

In the Scottish Lowlands, pipers formed part of the municipal institutions of all large towns. In Jedburgh the office of piper was a hereditary one.




The following are some of the Scots town and burghs which are mentioned in various sources as having their common piper and ‘menstral’:
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Perth, Dumfries, Dalkeith, Dumbarton, Bridgeton, Biggar, Keith, Glenluce, Falkirk, Lanark, Linlithgow, Peebles, Galashiels, Dundee, Jedburgh and Kilbarchan.
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

Starting in the late fifteenth century, a piper might be in service to a town rather than a lord or chief. The duty of a town piper was to play through the streets of the town once each morning and once each evening and also at fairs and other special events. In return, the piper was provided with a salary and sometimes a set of clothes in the town’s livery colors.
From “The Pre-Seventeenth Century Highland Bagpipe” by Steven W. Knox.

Musselburgh Town Pipers

James Waugh, Town Piper of Musselburgh – The pipes have had a long association with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and were first mentioned in connection with the Regiment in 1691 when the town piper of Musselburgh, one James Waugh, was forcibly carried off to be a soldier in the 25th Edinburgh Regiment whilst playing in the streets, purely for patriotic motives, to a newly assembled group of recruits.

[1691] Even the town-piper of Musselburgh, James Waugh by name, while playing at the head of the troop, and thinking of no harm, had been carried off for a soldier. ‘If it was true,’ said his masters the magistrates, ‘that he had taken money from the officers, it must have been through the ignorance and inadvertency of the poor man, thinking it was given him for his playing as a piper.’ He had, they continued, been’ injuriously used in the affair by sinistrous designs and contrail to that liberty and freedom which all peaceable subjects ought to enjoy under the protection of authority.’

N – O

North Berwich Town Pipers

In 1740 a town piper was appointed at a salary of £5 Scots which was paid as his house rent. In 1754 the Council allowed him the privilege of making advertisements and the crying of all roupings and things that were lost.



Peebles Town Pipers

James Ritchie, was the piper of Peebles – circa 1807.
Source: McCandless

Piper Ritchie, Town Piper of Peebles, from the Memoir of William and Robert Chambers, 1883.

It was the custom of James Ritchie, the town piper of Peebles, who was among the last of his order, to make his rounds annually on Handsel Monday, or the first Monday of the year, for the purpose of receiving a gratuity from the different householders. His uniform consisted of a pair of red breeches and coat, of an antique fashion, with a looped-up cocked hat, and, till the last, he wore a plaited queue.

The town-piper, dressed in a red uniform and cocked hat, as befitted a civic official … escorting a marriage-party, he marched with becoming importance in front, playing with might and main a tune called Welcome hame, my Dearie.

Robert Chambers in the early 19th century shows how well entrenched and beloved the tradition of the burgh pipers had become, especially as it faded. He was describing the Piper of Peebles, Jamie Ritchie, who had died in 1807 at an advanced age when the author had been five years old and had been living in the family home a few doors from the Piper himself: “Ritchie had been the Piper of Peebles from the year 1741, so that in my childish days he had become a very old man. It was part of his duty to march through the town every evening between nine and ten o’clock, playing on his pipes, as a warning to the inhabitants to go to their beds. He dwelt in a small cottage, where he brought up as family of 10 upon an official salary of a pound a year, the gains he derived from playing at weddings and other festivals, and the little gifts it was customary to give him at the New Year. I remember the old man calling at our house on New Year’s Day on the course of the round of visits then paid the principal citizens, dressed in his official coat of dark red and his cocked hat – rather merry by the time he came to us, in consequence of the drams given him along with the shillings and sixpences. My father had a liking for him, through the sympathy in his nature for everything musical, and one evening he took me with him into Ritchie’s cottage, that I might hear some of the old man’s tunes. The instrument is not what is called the Great Bagpipe, the bagpipe of the Highlands, blown by mouth, but the smaller bagpipe inflated by a pair of bellows under the left arm. I suspect that Ritchie had tunes of his own composition, since lost, for there were three called Salmon Tails, Lyne’s Mill Trows and The Black and the Grey – a racing tune I suspect – which are not to be seen or heard of nowadays.”

Perth Town Pipers

On August 31 [1745] the Jacobite army had swollen to 4000 men. By that time it had reached Blair Castle, the home of the Duke of Atholl, on its march southward. Ahead of the Prince, on September 3, a body of men commanded by Cameron of Locheil had taken possession of the Fair City of Perth, meeting with no resistance. Cameron at once pressed the town drummer and the town piper into his service, taking them with him when he went to the Town Cross to proclaim King James II and his son Charles as Prince Regent.

McCandless says there was a piper in Perth cica 1800.

The effect of their daily music on the inhabitants of Perth was different,— or perhaps Perth was less amenable to the criticisms of “strangeris.” In any case it is recorded of a burgh piper, who used to rouse the citizens at 5 am., that his music was “inexpressibly soothing and delightful.”

This [Roslin Castle] was one of the hit tunes of the 18th Century, and appears first in print under the title ‘The Howe of Glamis’. We have notice of it being played on the ‘Irish pipes’ by the Perth Town piper.
From James Johnson, The Scots Musical Museum, Edinburgh (1853).

“Roslin Castle” is thought to have been written by Richard Hewitt, and it was published by James Oswald circa 1740, aka “House of Glams”, William McGibbon’s 2nd Collection 1746.

Perth retained a town piper as late as 1831, and his death was much lamented: “the music having an effect in the morning inexpressibly soothing and delightful.”
From: “The Bagpipe” by Francis M. Collinson, Routledge (1975).

The notes to Roslin Castle in the James Johnson collection are: “This tune was ascribed to James Oswald (1711-69) in an 1821 obituary notice although he never claimed to have written it. It is more likely that the tune was written by William McGibbon (c.1690-1756), who published it under the name ‘House of Glams’ [Glamis], in his second collection of Scots tunes in 1746, prior to its being published in Oswald’s ‘Caledonian Pocket Companion’, book iv”.

Portsoy Town Pipers

William Macdonald was the town piper of Portsoy.

Q – Z


Wigton had a Town Piper in 1550
Source: McCandless