Scottish Towns Tales of Old Aberfeldy
John MacGregor's Pipes

John MacGregor, a native of Fortingall, was the finest piper of his day. He was piper to the Atholl Highlanders, the only surviving unit from the Jacobite forces of 1745. So fine a piper was MacGregor that he was afforded the honour of playing before Queen Victoria on her visit to Taymouth Castle.


However, such days of honour and pride were long ago and an aging John MacGregor now found himself struggling to survive at his cottage in Fortingall parish. So bleak were his circumstances that he was forced to offer for sale his treasured bagpipes. With much reluctance and regret John placed a for sale notice in the newspapers. By this action the fascinating history of the pipes were brought to public attention.


John's grandfather, also called John MacGregor, was the original owner of the pipes, having played them on the day he arrived at Glenfinnan to join Prince Charles Edward's army during the 'Forty-five'. So impressed was the prince that he immediately made John his personal piper.
Having been at Glenfinnan to welcome Bonnie Prince Charlie it seemed appropriate that John MacGregor should "blow up the pipes" at the Battle of Culloden. John suffered horrendous injury on Culloden Moor but was fortunate to be amongst the few survivors. That evening was the last time he ever saw Bonnie Prince Charlie.


Still carrying his pipes, John MacGregor eventually found his way back to the peace of Fortingall parish where he lived out his days. He had many sons and grandsons all of whom grew to be fine pipers. His last surviving grandson and namesake however, was now in the sorry circumstance of having to part with such a treasured family possession.
When the history of MacGregor's pipes became known there was fierce bidding, many Lairds keen to secure this relic of Scotland's history. It was no surprise that the Duke of Atholl should be amongst the bidders, but even John MacGregor himself could not have foreseen what was to come. Not only did the Duke of Atholl offer to match the highest bid, he also offered to settle on John a pension, thus allowing him to live out his days free of concern.


So, the bagpipes which played at both the beginning and the end of Prince Charles Edward Stuart's bid for Scotland - Glenfinnan and Culloden - are now safe in the keeping of one of Scotland's most fervant Jacobite families - the house of Atholl.
Aberfeldy
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