John MacGregor, a native of
was the finest piper of his day. He was piper to the
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
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.