Donald Cameron, Inverness 1841 and a Letter from the North

By Duncan Watson

Hello Robert the Editor. Amidst all this stuff on the Northern Meetings of past years I’ve been reading on Piping Press, I am wondering if you could cast your memory back to about 1841, one of your earlier attendances there? The results were interesting.

Piobaireachd:

1 William Smith , Gordon Castle, Piper to The Duke (Macdonald’s Salute) for which he was awarded a set of bagpipes valued 10 guineas. 

2 Angus McInnes, Piper to Lord Douro (Battle of Sheriffmuir) for which he was awarded five guineas.

3 Donald Cameron , Piper to J.R. Mackenzie, Scatwell, (Viscount of Dundee’s Lament) for which he was awarded two guineas.

Maybe you were playing among the 11 other players? One of them was an old man of 86 years who was blind and called MacBeth who had to be led onto the field. I see from the archives that he was ahead of you in the judges’ reckoning.


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As regards Donald Cameron (pictured top), he would have been the celebrated Donald Cameron, ‘King of Pipers’, who was employed at Brahan Castle by the Seaforth MacKenzies. On appointment he was given the house, Seaforth Cottage in Maryburgh near Dingwall, to live in.

Twenty years ago Inverness Piping Society placed a plaque there in his memory. It reads:

‘Donald Cameron, master piper, competitor and piper to Seaforth lived in this house Seaforth Cottage from 1853 until 1868.

Also in memory of his wife Margaret McKenzie and their sons Colin, Alick and Keith (all three notable pipers), James (died young) and daughters Catherine and Mary…’mar chùimhneachan’ [Gaelic: ‘in remembrance’]….This plaque was placed here by Inverness Piping Society, Monday 3rd June 2002.’

The plaque in situ

Donald Cameron was born up the glen a bit from Scatwell at Strathconon and of course was the teacher of many significant pipers among whom were his sons, Alick (Sandy), Colin and Keith and Alexander Macdonald the father of John Macdonald, Inverness.

I am not sure which versions of the Viscount of Dundee’s Lament or the MacDonald’s Salute were played by the prizewinners in 1841. Maybe you can remember. The Angus MacKay Book was fairly new then but you guys probably had different ideas.

Doubtless this will have refreshed your memory of going for lessons with Donald at the Seaforth Cottage!

1 thought on “Donald Cameron, Inverness 1841 and a Letter from the North

  1. I heard that you had just started on the tune The Battle of Waterloo about that time and eventually got it under your belt for later success!

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