William Ross

William Ross was born March 27, 1823 and enlisted in the Black Watch in 1839.  In 1854 he was appointed piper to Queen Victoria and operated a bagpipe making business while living in London.  In 1880 he went into partnership with Henry Starck.
Kenneth MacLeay - 1802 - 1878 - Queen Victoria commissioned MacLeay to paint portraits of her favorite servants in 1865.  The project took four years and is considered MacLeay's best work.  This portrait is of William Ross, Piper to Queen Victoria, at Windsor Castle in 1866.

The painting shows Ross with a magnificent bagpipe in full silver and with fully silvered stocks, what can only be described as unique and extravagant. 

Could this be the bagpipe made for Queen Victora by Duncan MacDougall?  According to J. Campbell (p. 8 of her outstanding book Highland Bagpipe Makers) Duncan's prices "ranged from 50 shillings to 50 according to the value of the mountings."

She went on to say that "the set made for the Queen cost 60 as there was a lot of silver on them."  The reader may draw his or her own conclusion however it seems probable that the set referred to is none other than the set Ross is seen holding here.  Who else in the Queen's court was worthy of such a set?

Some short time ago we Jim McGillivray, Andreas Hartmann-Virnich, and I happened upon the photograph (CDV) to the right.  You can imagine our absolute joy!  MacLeay was also a photographer and his picture is immediately below.  As in the Victorian style, MacLeay took artistic freedom in creating the background for his painting.  Otherwise the detail in the picture and in the painting is identical.  An amazing find!
Makers of Old Bagpipe Place Home
Kenneth MacLeay
Kenneth MacLeay
William Ross
William Ross
You can't imagine my delight in finding a set and being able to steer it into the hands of Jim McGillivray.  I believe that this is part of his personal collection at this time.  Many questions remain.  Is this a very early set made by Henry Starck prior to the partnership for Ross, or is this a set made by someone else, that Starck used as a pattern for his pipe making?  I don't know that we'll ever know.
The Bagpipe Place Museum