Argyll and The Lorne Scots

Canada’s fourth Governor General, from 1878 to 1883, was John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne (Marquess of Lorne is the title of the Duke of Argyll’s eldest son and heir). His wife, the Duchess of Argyll, was Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, daughter of Queen Victoria – Lake Louise and the province of Alberta are named after her.

Painting of the Marquess of Lorne,
presented by the officers of The 20th Halton Battalion Lorne Rifles
to Lieutenant-Colonel William Allan.

Lord Lorne presided at a vice-regal militia review at Garrison commons, Toronto, in September 1879. The Halton Rifles were one of the regiments that took part in the parade.
In 1881, Lieutenant-Colonel William Allan, a veteran of the Fenian Raids, assumed command of the regiment. As a young soldier, Allan had served with the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders in India during the Sikh Rebellion. When the Highlanders returned, they were quartered at Aldershot. King William IV had never seen a Highland soldier, and when he asked for a small squad to be sent to Windsor to inspect, Allan was put in charge of the detachment. Colonel Allan was keen to identify his unit with his native Scotland, and he obtained permission from the Governor-General to incorporate his title in the name of the unit, which became the 20th Halton Battalion Lorne Rifles.  

20th Lorne Rifles collar dog.

Allan introduced trews and a Glengarry cap, and found pipers – from Guelph, Hamilton, Toronto, Embro and even Buffalo. When the unit went to the annual camp at Niagara-on-the-Lake, the pipers played them in to the tune of ‘The Campbells are coming’; ‘at least’, commented the Acton paper, ‘they said it was that.’ General Luard asked Colonel Allan to have the pipers play him a tune, and then rode away, saying that they sounded better at a distance.

Lieutenant-Colonel William Allan wearing the Glengarry.

There were many animated discussions between the Irish and Scotch elements gathered around the mess table, and Allan’s Irish successors did not share his enthusiasm for the Scottish attire, which quickly disappeared after he retired. By 1909 even the name Lorne was removed from the regiment’s name.
In 1931, The Halton Rifles wanted to revive the Argyll connection, as an aid to recruiting. The British War Office had indicated that it was customary for the Commanding Officer to request permission from the clan head for use of a tartan. So Lieutenant Colonel Cousens telegraphed the secretary to the Duke, telling of the Regiment’s wish to adopt the Cawdor Campbell tartan and the boar’s head of the Lorne crest. Niall Diarmid Campbell, who was the 10th Duke of Argyll, from 1914 to 1949, has been described as ‘Scotland’s most picturesque Duke’. He hated telephones and preferred his bicycle to motor cars. He was a historian, and an expert on the clan Campbell, and he replied that the boar’s head was an Argyll crest, which would be inappropriate to wear with the Cawdor tartan. He suggested that the unit wear the ordinary Campbell tartan, as worn by himself. (The 10th Duke was also Honorary Colonel of the 15th Regiment, Argyll Light Infantry, who are perpetuated by The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment.)

The Campbell tartan.

At the time, the only authorized weaver of the Campbell tartan was Alexander McIntyre of Inverary (where the Duke’s castle was located). McIntyre sent samples of the tartan in different weights for the unit to choose. To proclaim its new identity, the unit was renamed, becoming The Lorne Rifles (Scottish).

The Lorne Rifles (Scottish) cap badge,
with the name in a ribbon at the bottom,
immediately above are thistles, symbolic of a Scottish regiment,
and resting on these is the bugle, used by rifle regiments.
At the centre of the curve of the bugle is the maple leaf, for Canada.
The whole is surmounted by the boars head, the crest of the Duke of Argyll.
Boar’s head collar dog,
worn by The Lorne Rifles (Scottish) and The Lorne Scots

In 1936, as the government sought to control costs during the depression, a number of county regiments were amalgamated. The Lorne Rifles (Scottish) were to join with The Peel and Dufferin Regiment, and on December 15th The Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment) was authorized.  The Duke of Argyll wrote to the new regiment from Inverary Castle, ‘I shall be very pleased that you should use my crest (the Boar’s Head).’ (21 August 1938).

Lorne Scots king’s crown cap badge with the Latin motto
(Pro aris et focis – for hearths and altars – the traditonal militia motto).

When the 12th Duke of Argyll succeeded to the dukedom in 1973, he was faced with devastating death duties, and a fire that ravaged Inverary Castle. But he set out to raise £850,ooo to restore it, with the aid of Canadian, American, Australian and New Zealand benefactors. While fundraising in Canada, he visited The Lorne Scots.

The 12th Duke of Argyll with The Lorne Scots Pipes and Drums

He wrote to the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Ching, 39 years to the day after his predecessor had granted the Regiment the authority to wear the family tartan and the boar’s head. He reaffirmed the link between the Dukes of Argyll and the Regiment, and confirmed the distinction, ‘unique to any Highland regiment in the world.’ And he granted his approval for the Regiment to wear the Galley of Lorne on the leather sporran.


 The galley is now on the sporran, and on the Regimental pennant.

The galley of Lorne badge, worn on the sporran.
The galley of Lorne in Afghanistan.

Torquil Ian Campbell is the 13th Duke of Argyll. He works for Pernod Ricard, promoting Scotch whiskies in the far east, and he is captain of Scotland’s national elephant polo team. Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Orange and Honorary Colonel John McDermid visited him on their trip to see the Colonel-in-Chief. The Duke and Duchess of Argyll are visiting the Regiment on the occcasion of its 145th anniversary, and are patrons of its gala.

The Duke and Duchess of Argyll.
The Duke of Argyll’s coat of arms.