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Highland Pistols, pp.266-269.

[Scottish National Memorials Contents]

   The most famous centre of the manufacture of these magnificent examples of artistic handicraft was Donne in Perthshire. The following account of the industry is extracted from The Statistical Account of Scotland, 1798, vol. xx. pp. 86-87:- 

   ‘In this town also was carried on for some time the manufacture of Highland purses. That trade is also no more. 

   ‘The only remains of any of the ancient branches of trade is the making of Highland pistols. The reputation of Doune for this manufacture, about the time of the German War, was very great. 

   ‘This art was introduced to Doune about the year 1646 by Thomas Caddell, who, having been instructed in his craft at Muthill, a village in Strathearn in Perthshire, came and settled in Doune. This famous tradesman possessed a most profound genius and an inquisitive mind; and, though a man of no education, and remote from every means of instruction in the mechanical arts, his study and persevering exertions brought his work to so high a degree of perfection that no pistols made in Britain excelled, or perhaps equalled those of his making, either for sureness, strength, or beauty. He taught the trade to his children, and several apprentices, of whom was one John Campbell, whose son and grandson carried on the business successively with great repute. While the ancient dress of Caledonia, that is, the philabeg, belted plaid, pistols and dirk, was wore, the pistols made in Doune excelled all others, and acquired superior reputation over France, Germany, etc. A pair of pistols, superbly ornamented, were fabricated by a tradesman taught in Doune, and, by the City of Glasgow, given in compliment to Marquis de Bouillé. The above Mr. Campbell’s grandson, who has now given over the business, made pistols to the first nobility in Europe, as Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, the Duke of Cumberland, and others. The trade is now carried on by John Murdoch, also famous for his ingenuity in the craft, and who has likewise furnished pistols to the first nobility of Europe. These pistols were sold from 4 to 24 guineas a pair. There is now very little demand for Doune pistols, owing, partly, to the low price of the pistols made in England, but the chief cause of the decline is the disuse of the dirk and pistol as a part of the Caledonian dress; and when Mr. Murdoch gives over business, the trade, in all probability, will become extinct.’ 

   STEEL PISTOL, by James Sutherland of Doune. The barrel is partly fluted, with plain stock, ram’s-horn butt, and maker’s name on stock plate. 


   BRASS PISTOL, by T. Murdoch of Doune. Early eighteenth century. Stock and barrel are nicely engraved: the lock fittings are of steel. 


   THREE VERY FINE PISTOLS, by Thomas Murdoch of Doune, early eighteenth century. (See Fig. 186.) 

(1480 and 1481) Lent by MRS. ROBERTSON OF STR|UAN, SEN. 

   PAIR OF HIGHLAND PISTOLS, made by John Campbell, Doune. These pistols are beautifully engraved, and inlaid with silver; they have silver plates inserted in the stock, on which is engraved a shield with antlered deer’s head, and motto ‘Fide parta, fide aucta.’ 

(1505) Lent by ROBERT GLEN. 

   LONG HIGHLAND PISTOL, of steel, ram’s-horn butt, stock engraved, and having a heart-shaped silver shield. Length 16 inches. 

(1506) Lent by ROBERT GLEN. 

   HIGHLAND PISTOL, with stock of engraved brass, globose butt pierced and engraved, and provided with snap-haunce lock on the left side of the barrel. This form was in use about the beginning of seventeenth century. Length 16 ½ inches. 

(1507) Lent by ROBERT GLEN. 

   HIGHLAND PISTOL, with steel snap-haunce lock; stock having a heart-shaped butt inlaid with silver, and Scotch thistle in silver inserted in a panel in the barrel. From the Drummond Collection. 

(1508) Lent by ROBERT GLEN. 

   FLINT-LOCK STEEL PISTOL, with date 1701, and inscription ‘Grant of that Ilk’ on the barrel. Barrel and stock are inlaid with bands, plates, and discs of silver. The butt is heart-shaped, and the lock-plate is engraved. Maker’s name, ‘Jo. Stuart.’ 


   FLINT-LOCK PISTOL, having a wooden stock richly inlaid and mounted in silver, and engraved lock. The barrel separates in two by male and female screws. 


   FLINT-LOCK PISTOL, 9 inches in length, inlaid with silver, and stamped with maker’s name, ‘David McKenzie,’ and arms of Dundee, where it was made. Circa 1700. Figured and described in the Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., New Series, vol. x. pp. 276-80. (See Fig. 187.) 

(1479) Lent by A. C. LAMB. 

   TWO FIRELOCK PISTOLS, which belonged to Paul Jones, the American Privateer. 

   This bold adventurer, whose name was John Paul, was the son of a gardener at Arbigland, in the parish of Kirkbean, Kirkcudbrightshire, where he was born in July 1747. He early went to sea, and traded to Virginia, where he settled in 1773. In 1775 he obtained command of an American privateer, in which he visited the shores of his native country, and, amid the scenes of his childhood, he plundered the mansion of St. Mary’s Isle in the Solway, from which exploit he earned the name of ‘The Solway Pirate.’ By order of the United States Government a medal by Dupré was struck in his honour, having on the obverse his portrait, with the legend ‘JOANNI PAULO JONES CLASSIS PRÆFECTO. COMITIA AMERICANA,’ and on the reverse a naval engagement, with legend ‘HOSTIUM NAVIBUS CAPTIS AUT FUGATIS,’ and in the exergue ‘AD ORAM SCOTIÆ XXIII. SEPT. MDCCLXXVIII.’ After several successes, he entered the French service, and committed further havoc on British shipping, for which he was rewarded by a sword from the French King. At a later period he undertook a mission from the United States to Denmark; and by Russia he was offered the rank of Rear-Admiral. He died in Paris at the early age of forty-five. 

(1485) Lent by JAMES LENNOX. 

   CUTLASS, which belonged to Paul Jones. 

(1486) Lent by W. A. DINWIDDIE. 

   HIGHLAND TARGET. Leather-covered wood, studded with brass nails, and having large brass boss in centre; the leather impressed with interlaced scrolls. 

(1511) Lent by ROBERT GLEN. 

   A TARGET, obtained from the Meyrick Collection, by Lord Breadalbane. It is mentioned and engraved in Meyrick and Skelton’s Ancient Armour. The target has a brass boss and studs, the boss being engraved, and the leather is richly tooled with Celtic patterns. 

(1513) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE. 

   FOUR TARGETS. Three of these are of the regular flat Highland type, hide-covered, with large centre boss, and studded with brass nails. The leather is stamped with Celtic tracery. Two of them are figured in Sir William Fraser’s Chiefs of the Grants. The fourth is of iron, brass-studded. 


   A PISTOL POWDER-HORN. The horn is richly engraved, and mounted both at top and point with silver, on which are the initials ‘J. J. S. M.’ and ‘G. H. S. M.’ It has also quatrefoil silver ornaments on the flat of each side. 

(1483) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE. 

   OLD POWDER-HORN, of compressed cowhorn, ornamented with panels and borders of Celtic interlaced ornament, with date 1686. (See Fig. 188.) 


   BEAVER CAP, worn by Grant Fencibles, with stamped metal badge and motto, ‘Nec aspera terrent’ 


   SADDLE LAPPET, in embroidered cloth, of the Grant Fencibles, with crest and motto, ‘Stand fast.’ 


   PAIR OF FLAGS, of the Grant Fencibles. The flags are of green silk; one painted, the other embroidered, with wreath enclosing crown above thistle, and the name ‘Strathspey Fencibles.’ 


   DRUM OF THE RENFREWSHIRE MILITIA, of the end of the eighteenth century. 


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