According to its Wikipedia entry, the Glengarry was made part of
theuniform of the Glengarry Fencibles by Alasdair Ranaldson
MacDonell ofGlengarry when they were formed in 1794 and he was
described as havinginvented the cap. However, as worn by Scottish
Highland regiments the original voluminous bluebonnet gradually
developed into a stiffened felt cylinder, oftendecorated with
ostrich plumes sweeping over the crown from left toright (as well
as flashes of bearskin or painted turkey hackles). Inthe 19th
century this tall cap evolved into the extravagant full
dress'feather bonnet' while, as an undress cap, the plainer form
continuedin use until the mid-19th century. By then known as the
'Kilmarnock'bonnet, it was officially replaced by the Glengarry
bonnet, which hadbeen in use unofficially since the late eighteenth
century and wasessentially a folding version of the cylindrical
It is interesting that the three Victorian illustrations below
show approximations of all three stages of the Balmoral's supposed
conversion to the Glengarry. Hopefully a military hat historian
will leap to our rescue!
Capable of being folded flat the Glengarry became a
characteristicpart of the uniform of the Scottish regiments where
it was worn invarious guises.
During World War II it was always worn by the Forces at a
veryjaunty angle and know as the forage cap: the right side of the
cap wasworn low, often touching the ear, and the side with the cap
badgehigher on the head. The trend since the end of the war has
been to wearthe Glengarry level on the head.
Nowadays it's commonly worn by civilians, notably civilian
pipebands, but can be considered an appropriate hat worn by any
males withHighland casual or evening dress.
The Balmoral bonnet dates back to at least the 16th century when
it was a soft, knitted wool cap with a voluminous, flat crown,
traditionally blue in colour, sometimes with a diced band (usually
red-and-white check) around the lower edge and with a coloured
toorie (pom-pom) set in the middle of the crown.
The name 'Balmoral' as applied to this traditional head dress
appearsto date from the late 19th century. Today, the crown of the
bonnet issmaller, made of finer cloth and tends to be blue or Lovat
green. Tapesin the band originally used to secure the bonnet
tightly are sometimesworn hanging from the back of the cap. It can
have a regimental or clanbadge worn on the left hand side with the
bonnet usually worn tilted tothe right to display these emblems.
The Balmoral was adapted into theCaubeen by Irish Forces and
military forces around the world have wornit and referred to it
simply as a 'beret.'
We've spoken of the chiefs' eagles feathers before and it might
be of interest to discover that they - and the Chieftains
and Armigers - are at risk from some of Britain's most draconian
laws. That law is concerned with the protection of widlife and
eagles are included in the legislation. The law lays the onus on
the owner of the feathers to prove his innocence rather than the
prosecutor having to prove his guilt! Chiefs and chieftains now
consider it wise to have a letter from someone authorised to keep
eagles in captivity, or a licensed taxidermist, stating that the
bonnet feathers come from a legitimate source. Although Britain's
wild eagles cast more than 30,000 tail and wing feathers during
their annual moult - all of them blowing about on hill and moor --
no allowance was made for this by the law-makers and it is assumed
that if the armiger is in possession of an eagle feather, he killed
the bird to get it!