In 1746, in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden, which, along with crippling legislation, effectively ended the Highland Clan system in Scotland, the Government put a number of prisoners of war on trial at York. Among them was a piper by the name of James Reid. Mr. Reid’s lawyers argued that, being a simple musician who bore no arms, he was not an enemy combatant. The Court, however, disagreed.
The Court observed that “a Highland regiment never marched without a piper,” and therefore, in the eyes of the law, Mr. Reid’s instrument was a weapon of war.
On 15 November 1746, James Reid was executed as a rebel.