William 1866
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William Millar Nicholson Duncan Dumbreck was born 28th December 1866 in Linlithgow. He became well known in Linlithgow as ''Piper'' Dumbreck and his full title was Pipe Major William Dumbreck. He became famous for his composition of Pipe music, the best known being Millbank Cottage in 1887. If you wish to hear Millbank Cottage  Click Here

William married twice, firstly to Isabella Fairly Dickson on the 24th December 1897, however Isabella died of Peritonitis shortly after the birth of her last daughter on the 23rd December 1903 at 7 West Port, Linlithgow.  Click here to see the house.

The three children of William and Isabella are:-

Marion Hall Denholm Dumbreck born 5th December 1898 and married David Lightbody 5th September 1917. They had 7 children.

    1. Mary Isabella Lightbody born 25th January 1918 - no further details
    2. David William Lightbody  born 2nd February 1919 - no further details
    3. James Dumbreck Lightbody  born November 1921- no further details
    4. Robert Lightbody born September 1923 - died 24 May 1941, HMS Hood.
    5. Lilias Dumbreck Lightbody  born 29th September 1924 married William Watkin Gibbard,
and raised a daughter, Eileen Dumbreck Gibbard, born 16 November 1947.
    6. Joanne McPherson Lightbody; born July 1929 - no further details
    7. Elizabeth Esther Lightbody; born August 1930 - no further details

James Caldwell Dumbreck born 19th May 1901, married twice,  and died about 1960 in England - no further details.

Lillias Duncan Dumbreck born 21st July 1903, died 1989 - no further details.

William then married Annie McPherson on the 17th February 1905 who's sister Julia McPherson, was the wife of William's nephew James Dumbreck Jnr. (born 1876).

William's death on the 27th Feb 1935 at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was registered by his son James Caldwell Dumbreck of 71 New Street Salisbury Wilts. 

Linlithgow Marches 1899
Pipe Major William can be seen to the left of the horse in the centre of picture

William wrote music for the Pipes. Some of his compositions were, Carriber Glen, Pipers Farewell to Gibraltar, West Lothian Volunteers, Major H.F. Elliot's Welcome to Wolflee, Captain Macdonalds Strathspey, 42nd Welcome to Mauritius, Lt. J.B. Pollock's Welcome to Craig, Lt. A.D. Murray's Farewell to the Black Watch and Millbank Cottage. He wrote the latter piece for his sister Lillias Dumbreck when she lived at Millbank Cottage, Uphall.

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Pipe Major William Dumbreck 1886-1935

From the Piping Times (College of Piping Magazine) December 1987

Millbank Cottage
Thomas Pearston

This famous competition march was composed by Pipe Major W.D. Dumbreck of the Royal Scots. He is mentioned in the regiment about 1900. The tune was composed in 1887 for his sister’s house built in that year. A descendant of the Pipe Major still lives in the same house at Station Road, Uphall, Midlothian.

In David Glen’s book 11 he also has nine marches, Strathspey and reels and the last tune in the book is the famous “Millbank Cottage”. This book was published about 1893. He also has seven tunes in David Glen’s Edinburgh Collection published between 1903 and 1908 and two reels in the Royal Scots Collection published 1981.

In Glen’s book he is called Corporal Dumbreck of the Black Watch. Since 1900 “Millbank Cottage” has been printed in many of the more modern collections but none of his other compositions have caught the eye of competitive or public performers.

One of his tunes called “Lieut. A.D. Murray’s Farewell To The Black Watch” finishes with a birl on the second last beat of each part and on this birl are two extra gracenotes, actually two gracenotes on the birl. Pipe Major Donald McLeod has this tune in his book 2 but he has rationalised this birl to conform to modern playing but was W.D. Dumbreck the first of the modern composers a generation before his time?

Obituary of William Duncan Dumbreck 1866 - 1935

Pipe-Major William Dumbreck, 370 High Street Linlithgow, formerly pipe-major of the 1st Black Watch, to which, when he was appointed, was the youngest pipe-major in the British Army, and who died on Wednesday at the age of 68, received a military funeral yesterday to Linlithgow Cemetery.
A party of eighteen members of A Company, Linlithgow 4-5th Battalion Royal Scots (T.), formed a Guard of Honour and firing party.
Ten pipers drawn from Torphichen, Philpstoun and Linlithgow, and three drummers played "The Flowers of the Forest" from the deceased's home to the cemetery.
At the graveside the Rev. Dr. R. Coupar, St. Michael's Church, Linlithgow, officiated.
A piper from headquarters, 4-5th Royal Scots, Edinburgh, played "Lochaber No More" whilst the last volley was being fired.
Then Pipe-Major Alexander Forrest, Torphichen, played "Millbank Cottage" the pipe composition by the deceased, one of his most famous compositions.
Bugler John Walker, headquarters, 4-5th Royal Scots, sounded the "Last Post" and "Reveille."