Duncan Campbell

(1814-1860)

The “Notices of Pipers” published in the Piping Times in the 1960s and 1970s were originally compiled by Lt John McLennan — father of G.S. and D.R. McLennan, who were half-brothers — and subsequently revised by Major I. H. MacKay Scobie and Archibald Campbell. Some are dry and factual, others more animated. This account of Duncan Campbell’s life, in the June 1968 Piping Times, deserves to be reproduced in full:

A tall, handsome man, and a celebrated piper. Born at Foss, on Loch Tummel. Taught by the famous John MacKay, piper to Raasay. He was a most successful competitor and had the strongest fingers of any piper of his day. Being well aware that he would not get all the first prizes, no matter who were against him, he was always in the habit of asking if Donald Cameron was likely to be present, as he would be sure the two would get all the firsts and he would not then have to submit to be beaten by a ‘nobody.’

He was piper to the Duke of Atholl, to Sir Charles Forbes of new, and latterly was Pipe Major to the Edinburgh Volunteers. Unfortunately, he came by an accident, a fall from a scaffold, which caused his death. His funeral was a magnificent one, from his house to Newington Cemetery, the pipers of the 78th Highlanders playing laments all the way through an immense crowd of spectators.

He competed at Edinburgh in 1838, being awarded 3rd prize; was again 3rd in 1844, just missing being second by one vote, Donald Cameron being first and John MacAllister, piper to the Duke of Sutherland, second. Supposed to be the composer of “Sir Charles Forbes’ Farewell to Edinglassie,” “Edinglassie House” (Jig), the “Edinburgh Volunteers’ March,” and a number of other good tunes. The last named is stated to be “Duncan Campbell’s last” by Pipe Major A. MacKellar, 79th Highlanders, on the fly-leaf of a MS book dated 25th April, 1862, belonging to Norman MacSwayed, pipers, Highland Rifles Militia.

JM, December 2007.