On display at Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum is a collection of pipes belonging to Jamie Allan, infamous piper born in Hepple, Northumberland in 1734. A skillful player, Allan was said to have been employed at Alnwick Castle and received two sets of pipes from successive Countesses of Northumberland. He was also thought to have enlisted and deserted the army more than once, and to play for crowds while his associates pick pocketed the unwary audience. He married no less than three times.
Jamie’s father, William Allan was known as ‘Old Avill’ and he lived an itinerant lifestyle mending pots, pans and making metal items. William was also a skillful piper, which is presumably how he met his wife and mother of Jamie, the Gypsy born Betty Fee.
The Faa Family Home – The Gypsy Palace in Yetholm
Jamie has been associated with the Faa gypsies of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Stories tell of him finding refuge with the Faa at times of need and playing for ‘Old Will Faa’ the King of the Gypsies. During his life Jamie was recognized as one of the most celebrated musicians in the country but in 1810 he lived died in a House of Correction in Durham after he was imprisoned for horse stealing. The Prince Regent granted him a free pardon but unfortunately it arrived shortly after Allan’s death.