James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

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James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by doddie » Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:01 pm

Trying to find out what I can about the First World War experiences of James Jackson. He was born in Argyll to James Jackson and Catherine McColl in 1883. He was apparently a Pipe Major during the First World War. Have been unable to find any details from the service records on Ancestry. In 1912 he married Christy Ross and they later moved to Bonhill, Dunbartonshire. He became a breeder and shower of West Highland Terriers and died in 1944(?). Is there a book about pipers during the First World War or an archive that lists the details of such? I do not have a regiment for James or know if he even served in the field.

Any help would be much appreciated.



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Re: James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by AndrewP » Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:11 pm

Hi Doddie.

James Jackson that died in 1944 in Bonhill (married to Christina Ross) has a different mother listed on his death certificate than the one you name above. Maybe his son who registered the death was mistaken. Food for thought.

You can download his birth certificate on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk on a pay per view basis.

All the best,


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Re: James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by doddie » Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:14 pm

Hi Andrew, having a bit of a Homer Simpson moment - Doh!!!! The mother's name should have read as Annie MacBrayne. Catherine McColl was the mother of somebody else I am researching. I must have looked to quickly at my notes while entering my post. Thanks for drawing it to my intention.



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Re: James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by Currie » Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:13 pm

Hello Doddie,

There seems to have been at least 700 soldiers by that name in the British Army during WW1. You could have an uphill battle to identify him from the many.

There's info about researching WW1 British Army soldiers on the National Archives site. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/reco ... er1913.htm

About two thirds of WW1 British Army records were destroyed during the WW2 Blitz. What has survived is available at Ancestry.

If a soldier served outside of the UK he would have received campaign medals. If you have access to his medals his regiment and service number will be on the rim. Medal index cards can be searched at Ancestry.

If he was a full time soldier before the war he may have shown his regimental details on the 1911 census return. If he was a part timer he probably would have just written down his regular job.

If he was in the military before WW1 it's possible you may find something at FMP. If he was a regular and still in the Army after 1920 his record would still be held by the Ministry of Defence.

If you have photos of him in uniform there may be clues from that as to his rank, regiment, etc.

If he had a newspaper obituary when he died there may be mention of military service.

It seems that a Pipe Major is defined as “the director of bagpipe music in a Scottish or Irish pipe band, whether military or civilian.” If military he probably held the rank of a senior NCO.

If he was wounded during WW1 his name probably appeared in the newspaper lists.

A Scotsman volunteering for Army service in 1914 or 1915 probably would have chosen a Scottish regiment but very often that wasn't the case. If he entered the army from 1916 when conscription was introduced he could have ended up in any regiment, wherever he was needed.

He married in 1912. What was his occupation on his marriage certificate and have you seen the birth certificate of any childre born during WW1 to see what it says about the father.

A book about WW1 Pipers rings a bell but I'm probably thinking about this thread. viewtopic.php?f=7&t=17483&p=139926&hili ... rs#p139926

In The Scotsman, 27 Aug 1934, there an article about the Cowal Highland Gathering at Dunoon. One of the results is:
Piping—March, Strathspey, and Reel—1. Owen M'Niven, Paisley; 2. James Jackson, Bonhill; 3. Ian C. Cameron, Edinburgh.

There's another mention in 1938 at Luss.

Hope there's something useful in that jumble.

All the best,

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Re: James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by doddie » Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:28 pm

Hi Alan, thanks for all the info. Unfortunately, at present I do not have much personal information about James. However, as I live in Edinburgh I plan to visit the records office in the very near future so I will hopefully be able to fill in some of the blanks. Coincidentally, I have come across a few references on Google to a James Jackson who was with the Bonhill Pipe band. One mentions such an individual taking charge of the band in 1952. Someting tells me that the pipe major information I have been informed about may have been misattributed to a father instead of the son. Such are the chances of mistakes been made when fathers and sons have the same name. I will investigate further to try and corroborate my original source. Thanks again for your feedback.



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Re: James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by aboode » Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:39 pm

On my list of Pipe Majors I have a James Jackson as P/M of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. But I have no further information about him and he is not on the list of Pipe Majors in the recent book "Highland Laddie - The Musical Heritage of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders" (2nd Edition, 2014) which I have at the moment from the Music Library on the George IV Bridge, Edinburgh.

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Re: James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by Ron Abbott » Sun Jul 07, 2019 10:03 am

Pipe-Major Willie Lawrie (8th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) composed many excellent bagpipe tunes including one called 'Pipe-Major James Jackson, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders''.

The composer himself died in late 1916 so presumably James Jackson was Pipe-Major prior to his death.

There is also a tune called, 'Ardrishaig' composed by 'Pipe-Major J Jackson 'late' Argyll &Sutherland Highlanders'.

Both of these tunes have been commercially published in John MacKenzie's Collection of Bagpipe Music (I have the 1973 edition) and in Pipe-Major Bruce Campbell's 'Caledonian Collection of Bagpipe Music'.

Unfortunately neither John Mackenzie nor P/M Bruce Campbell are still alive, so they can't be asked for their knowledge as to the background of the tunes.

There was also a Pipe-Major (possibly two, a father and son?) James Jackson of the Glencraig Colliery Pipe Band in Fife for several decades, but wrong side of the country so presumably not him/them.

The man called 'James Jackson' who was Pipe-Major of the Bonhill Parish Pipe Band was Pipe-major during the late 40s and the 1950s, after the man of interest to us had died, so not him either.

But.......it was his son........James Ross Jackson born in 1913.

He emigrated to Australia in 1959 aboard the M.C. Oranj and provided his home address as 'The Manse', 6 Miller Road, Balloch. It was recorded that he was a plumber by profession.

You'll find mention of P/M JR Jackson (a.k.a. Jimmy Jackson) in the following webpage =


If you go through the birth records of the children of James Jackson and Christina Ross, as well as the 1901 and 1911 census records, and also look at their marriage record, there is no mention of the father serving in the military, regular or (pre 1908) volunteers / (post 1908) territorials.

Given that two of the children were born during the WW1 war years and one just prior to WW1, he also appears to have had civilian employment at these times.

He's not named as a Pipe-Major (or Corporal/Piper) in Seton & Grant's book, ''The Pipes of War' either (although the aforementioned P/M William Lawrie is). However that publication contains a fair number of errors and is far from being a complete list, with not only pipers missing but the entire Pipes and Drums of some battalions.

I'm left wondering whether James Jackson could have been Pipe-Major of one of the training/reserve battalions e.g. 3/8th Bn. Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders which was not in a theatre of war, thus the lack of medal index card/rolls etc (?) That would certainly explain why there is no medal card.

The bagpipe tune apparently composed by him, 'Ardrishaig' may be relevant.

The village was not only home to a company of the 8th Bn. Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (and 5th Volunteer Battalion pre 1908), but the newspaper archives reveal that in July 1910 just under 300 men of the 8th Bn. Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders were on exercise there (maybe as part of their annual camp); then in July 1911 a lengthy route march also commenced from there, one that involved the same battalion/regiment.

All a bit of an enigma.
Last edited by Ron Abbott on Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:38 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by SarahND » Sun Jul 07, 2019 2:43 pm

Hello Ron and [TS_welcome]

Although this is an old thread, Doddie is still a regular on the forum so you should get a reply soon!

Best wishes,

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Re: James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by laurent » Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:59 pm

Hello Doddie!
I hope you will be able to read my message.

James Jackson is my great-grandfather.
He was born in Ardrishaig in 1884, son of James Jackson and Annie Macbrayne.
James married Chirsty/ Christina Ross ( from Breckrey , Skye ) in Edinburgh in 1912. Chirsty was a domestic servant in one of the georgian houses in Darnaway Street, Edinburgh. I don't know how they met. According to the records , he was " grocer master" in Ardrishaig in 1912.
Their children were born in Alexandria ( his brother Donald Jackson also lived there):
- James Ross Jackson in 1913
- Catherine Mackenzie Jackson in 1915 ( died 1990 in France)
- Flora Ross Jackson in 1917 ( my grand-mother ). (died 1990 in Inverness)

His cousin Coll Campbell (born 1880 in Ardrishaig, son of Janet Jackson and Duncan Campbell) was also a pipe-major and emigrated to South Africa ( Johannesburg).

James was a machine worker in 1917, spirit salesman in 1912, and textile worker in 1940.

I have a photo of James with his battalion ( Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) in Salonica, Greece , and his daughter Catherine gave me a tortoise shell he brought from Greece ( inside there's a note saying " Got at Summer Hill, Salonica, Greece 1919, by pipe-major James Jackson").

My aunt told me he also fought in Istanbul and was given a silver box as a reward for his actions in Turkey. She also said he had been gassed in the trenches in the north of France but I will have to ask her .

James died in 1944 of (stomach?) cancer , a few months after a bicycle accident .

I have photos of James and his family if you are interested ( the album contains more photos of West highland terriers than humans!! there is also a photo of James as a young man with a terrier puppy in Ardrishaig ).

Hope all this will help you in your search.


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Re: James Jackson (1883-1944) Pipe Major

Post by aboode » Mon May 15, 2023 10:09 pm

Does someone know when (year from-to) James Jackson was Pipe Major in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and which battalion? Also, what was his place of death (1944)?
Thanks, Aad

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