Duncan Campbell

-Pipe Major, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders- (1839-1924)

This bio of P/M Duncan Campbell, Q.O.C.H., was written by Jeannie Campbell and appeared in the January 2015 issue of the Piping Times. The ‘Piping Times’ is a monthly publication of the College of Piping in Glasgow. It has been published by the College since 1948 and is an invaluable storehouse of piping history. This excerpt and the accompanying photo are reprinted here with kind permission:

Duncan Campbell, left as Pipe Sergeant of the Breadalbane Pipe Band. At far right is Duncan MacDougall, Pipe Major. Photograph was likely taken in the 1880s.
Duncan Campbell, left as Pipe Sergeant of the Breadalbane Pipe Band. At far right is Duncan MacDougall, Pipe Major. Photograph was likely taken in the 1880s.

Duncan Campbell was born at Weem in Perthshire in 1839 and enlisted in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders in Perth in 1858. He is possibly the Duncan Campbell listed in the 1861 census at Edinburgh Castle as a soldier aged 20 and born in Perthshire, although he is said to have served in India 1860-1871. He became Pipe Major of the 79th in 1877 and continued in that position until 1880. In 1875 he was living at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire but was serving overseas at Gibraltar in 1879. He retired in 1880 after 21 years service and became Piper to the Marquis of Breadalbane and Custodian of Finlarig Castle at Killin. He can be found there in early 1881 when he appears in the census records.

The family lived at Milton of Finlarig, Killin, Perthshire. Duncan was listed as aged 40, his occupation as piper, born at Weem. His wife Ann was also 40 and was born at Ardchattan, Argyll. Son Duncan, aged five, was born at Balmoral, Aberdeenshire. Daugher Ann, aged one, was born at Gibraltar.

By 1883 Duncan was Pipe Sergeant of the Breadalbane Pipe Band. A search of the 1891 and 1901 census records provides very little more information. In 1891 the family was still at Finlarig and Duncan Campbell was described as a gatekeeper. With him were his wife Annie, son Duncan (now 15 but with no occupation listed), and daugher Annie, a scholar aged 11. In 1901 they lived at Finlarig Cottage. Duncan, 59, was described as ‘Piper.’ Ann was now 57, Duncan was no longer at home, and Annie (21) was a dressmaker. Their niece, Sarah McCallum, age 14, was staying with them.

Duncan joined the 5th Volunteer Battalion Black Watch and served with the Killin Company as Pipe Major at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in London in 1897. A letter from Duncan to Lord Breadalbane has been preserved in the Breadalbane papers and was found by Keith Sanger during his researches. The letter is written from Finlarig Castle, Killin, on May 11, 1899 and concerns uniforms for the band. Duncan writes that he needs four sets of wings for the band members and a new Pipe Major’s coat for himself as the one he has is very shabby and worn under the arms.

Duncan remained in Breadalbane’s service for 41 years and then retired to live at Allanbank, Aberfeldy. He was pictured in the Oban Times when attending the Breadalbane Gathering at the age of 84. He died in July 1924.

Duncan Campbell’s compositions include “Captain Campbell of Drumavoisk,” “Kilmartin Castle,” “Captain Archibald Leslie’s March,” “Murray’s Welcome,” “Leaving Dunkeld” and “The Duchess of Atholl’s Jig.”

“Captain Campbell of Drumavoisk” is perhaps the best known of his tunes and it appears in two modern collections of pipe music, William Ross’s Book 3 as “Captain Campbell of Drum a Voisk (wrongly attributed to D. Galbraith), and in the Glenallan Collection as “Captain Campbell of Drumvuick” composed by Duncan Campbell. Not only does this tune appear to have two names and two composers, but to further complicate the issue there were two Duncan Campbells, both composers and both living at the same time. However, the tune first appears in David Glen’s second colleciton in 1890 under the name “Captain Campbell of Drumvuick’s Quickstep,” composed by P.M. D. Campbell 79th Q.O.C H. We can assume that as this book is the earliest and gives the fullest information on the composer this is the correct man.

-Jeannie Campbell, from the Piping Times, January, 2015.