Alexander Fettes was born in Laurencekirk and raised in Old Machar, Aberdeen. He was a stone mason by trade and served as pipe major of the Aberdeen Highlanders from about 1865-1879.
Afterwards he emigrated to South Africa and made a prominent life for himself there. He was Pipe Major of the Port Elizabeth Pipe Band and was several times mayor of Port Elizabeth. He had a great influence on piping in South Africa and died there in 1921.
His composing claim to fame is “Glendaruel Highlanders,” which he composed when he was pipe major of the Aberdeen Volunteers. The young John MacDougall Gillies and his brother were an up-and-coming pipers in the band and their family had roots in Glendaruel area.
JM, April 2007
-with notes from The Piping Times Notices of Pipers, October 1968, and October 2010, and “A History of Piping,” by Captain John A. MacLellan.