Fine Pair of Scottish Steel Flintlock Ram’s Butt Pistols by John Campbell Attributed to Kenneth McKenzie leader of Clan McKenzie

.52 caliber. 6.5" barrel lengths. SN: NSN. Polished steel construction with silver highlights. Locks singed "John Campbell" in script. Pistols of traditional Scottish form with "scroll" or "ram's horn" butt profiles, flush-fit locks, ball shaped triggers and multistage tapered round barrels with fluted breeches and slightly flared octagonal muzzles. Flint locks with rounded and fenced, un-bridled pans and flat faceted swan neck cocks. Locks remain in original flint with original top jaws and screws intact. Pistols with nearly full coverage engraving showing neatly executed flowing foliate scrolls over most of the surfaces, as well as traditional Scottish geometric woven rope motifs, and reeding on the first stage of the barrel near the breech. Pistols are further embellished with three engraved silver bands on the bottoms of the frames. Pistols retain their original 3.625" steel belt hooks on the reverse, which are lightly engraved with traditional motifs. Tapered, metal button-head ramrods with baluster turned rings are secured by single pipes and vent picks with ball finials are threaded into the pistol's butts. Obverse grips mounted with silver ovals engraved with the Clan McKenzie crest of a stag's head within a shield, with stars and dots around the periphery and surrounded by an oval with the Latin motto "Fide Parta, Fide Aucta" (By Faith Obtained, By Faith Increased), the motto of Kenneth McKenzie who was the hereditary clan chieftain from 1761-1781. John Campbell was one of three generations of Scottish gunmakers who worked in Doune, Scotland (located near both Stirling & Falkirk) during the 18th century from roughly 1710 to 1798. These pistols were likely produced by either the first or second Campbell of that line, as the first worked until circa 1750, with second active for at least a decade before and after that time.

Additional research by the consignor suggests that these pistols were mostly likely owned by clan leader Kenneth McKenzie (b.1744-d.1781) 1st Earl of Seaforth (recreated), as this version of the clan motto in conjunction with the crest were used by him. During the Jacobite uprising of 1715, Kenneth's grandfather William, the attainted 5th Earl of Seaforth, supported the claim of the pretender James Stuart against George I of England. At the conclusion of the conflict, when the war was lost by the Jacobites, William and his descendants were stripped of their hereditary lands and titles. The hereditary lands were subsequently repurchased by the family as both Kenneth and his father (also Kenneth, Lord Fortrose) were supporters of the English crown. Kenneth (Viscount Fortrose) was made Baron Ardelve, a peerage in Ireland in 1766 and in 1771 was also made The Earl of Seaforth, a newly created (or recreated) peerage, in Ireland. He served as a Member of Parliament for Caithness (Scotland) from 1768-1774 and in 1772 he was elected a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society. With the opening of hostilities in the American colonies and the need to replace garrison troops from around the British Empire that had been sent to the conflict in North America, the British government pressed those with titles that had been supported by the crown to raise regiments to help with the military manpower crisis. McKenzie subsequently raised the 78th Seaforth (Highland) Regiment in December of 1779, which he led as its Lieutenant Colonel. The regiment was dispatched to service in India in June of 1781 and during the journey McKenzie fell ill and died in August. His body was consigned to the deep, and leadership of the regiment and the clan was passed to his cousin Thomas Frederick McKenzie Humberston.

A lovely and historic pair of mid-18th century Irish pistols with direct association with the Clan McKenzie that were likely the personal arms of Kenneth McKenzie who led the clan for two decades, from the time of his father's death in 1761 until his own death in 1781.


Fine overall. Both pistols lightly cleaned with bright steel, clear markings and mostly crisp engraving. Some of the engraved details are slightly soft from an old cleaning. Both pistols show some scattered oxidation and discoloration from age. One pistol with some very lightly scattered pitting the other with more moderate pitting on the obverse grip, lock and cock. Both pistols remain in their original flint configuration with the locks fully functional and mechanically crisp with lightly oxidized bores that show light to moderate pitting in the last couple of inches near the muzzle. One vent pick with loose ball finial. A very attractive and complete pair of historic Scottish pistols in their traditional configuration that would be a a fine addition to any advanced collection of Scottish arms.

Estimate: $25,000 - $40,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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