Brechin Pipers Tales


In the 17th century Brechin possessed a towns piper, and to that office we find a John Wylie admitted on 20th June 1688, to whom there is assigned a salary of ten merks yearly "by and attour the goodwill of the town's people".Wylie was discharged in January 1691 because he did not perform the duties of his office, in going regularly through the town morning and evening. In 1698 he is reinstated, likely upon promise of better behaviour.

The person who held this office of town's piper about 1750, after his perambulations through the town to rouse the inhabitants from their beds, used to finish his mornings work opposite the White Swan Inn, then the principal inn of the burgh, on the site of which the Union Bank is now built, in what was then called the Meal Market Wynd.There the piper blew his chanter till the owner of the Swan gave him a "mornin' "which was always generous. The glass was duly emptied by the piper with a significant nod to the landlord, and a hearty “Heer's till him." Both gentlemen were out in the '45 (1745 Jacobite rebellion).

Last of the town pipers

The office gradually fell into abeyance; the town withdrew the salary, the incorporations withheld their grants, the inhabitants became wary of giving money for such music, and towards the close of the eighteenth century, the piper ceased to play. The last notice of the town piper is the grant of a coat for him by the guildry in 1796. This last of the pipers was named Low and he lived at the Gallowhill. His duties were to play through the town in the morning at 5 o’clock, and in the evening at 7 o' clock; while then as now, the great bell was rung during summer at 6 in the morning and each evening at 8 o' clock —-History of Brechin, David D. Black 1867 p.p.90,91