Boys' Caps: The Glengarry Bonnet


Figure 1.--This Glenggary bonnet or cap was made in America about 1879-80. It looks to be velvet with tartan trim. It was referred to as a "Scotch hat". Rge manufacturer may have been Thistle.

The Glengarry bonnet is a blue woolen cap creased through the crown, like today's overseas cap. The Glengarry bonnet is a Highland Scotch cap for men and boys. It has straight almost vertical straight sides and a crease or hollow top sloping to the back, where it is parted and held together by ribbons or strings. It is normally worn with long silk streamers. It is commonly worn by Highlanders as part of military dress or pipe band uniforms. One report suggests that it first appeared in 1805 in Glengarry, Invernesshire, Scotland, but their are various accounts as to its creation. The cap has stiff sides and bound edges, finished with short ribbons hanging in back. The cap is of course associated with Scotland and worn with Highland kilt outfits. We have also noted boys in America, England, and France wearing them starting in the 19th century. Presumably they were also worn in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and other British colonies. American boys would wear them with other outfits besides kilts, but they were popular with kiltsuits. The cap was commonly worn throughout the second half of the 19th century, but in the 20th century appears to have been motly worn in Scotland or by boys in Highland garb for special occassions. The Glengarry bonnet is still worn today, primarily as part of ceremonial uniforms like pipe bands.

Description

The Glengarry bonnet is a Highland Scotch cap for men and boys. It has straight almost vertical straight sides and a crease or hollow top sloping to the back, where it is parted and held together by ribbons or strings. It is normally worn with long silk streamers. It is commonly worn by Highlanders as part of military dress or pipe band uniforms. The Glengarry bonnet is a usually a dark blue or black woolen cap creased through the crown, like today's overseas cap. The cap has stiff sides and bound edges, finished with short ribbons hanging in back. Some have tartan bands, Others are made entirely in tartan. One compamy describes it as, "... a sideways flattened hat similar to the older hummel bonnet, a round-crowned bonnet. Some of the features the Glengarry inherited from the hummel are, black ribbon cockade, red toorie (the small, fluffy red ball on top), black ribbons, and the checkered headband (optional). In earlier hats the black ribbon had been used to make size adjustments, but in Glengarry bonnets it is just for decoration. The black patch on the side of the Glengarry bonnet is for the wearer's badge. It was traditional to wear a badge pinned through the cockade to identify the wearer's clan or military unit." While the Glengarry is often tartan or has a tartan band, it may alsi be worn with diced band. It is invariably worn with loose flowing ribbons or stramers and many people prefer it because of the jaunty appearance it gives.

Chronology

It first appeared in 1805 in Glengarry, Invernesshire, Scotland. The cap was commonly worn throughout the second half of the 19th century, but in the 20th century appears to have been mostly worn in Scotland or by boys in Highland garb for special occassions. The Glengarry bonnet is still worn today, primarily as part of ceremonial uniforms like pipe bands. We are not sure just when boys began wearing the Glengarry. We have very little information on the eraly 19th century. Much more information is avialble on the second half of the century. We note one American boy, Gardner Cassatt, in the 1850s wearing a Glengarry without a kilt, although he is wearing a plaid dress or tunic. French boys also wore Glengarry with kiklt or plaid outfits. We note a Frech plaid dress from the 1850s or 60s that was worn with a Glengarry. Another American Glengarry from about 1879 is seen above (figure 1).


Figure 2.--Scottish boys participating in the school cadet group. Note the Glengarry cap with danging ribbon flopping in the breeze. Note the shield and checkered rather than plaid band.

Country Trends

The glengarry cap or bonnet is of course associated with Scotland. We note them being worn in many other countries besides Scotland. Scottish boys wore tghem modstly with Highland kilt outfits. There were, however, other Scottish-styled outfits they were worn with in other countries. We have also noted boys in America, England, and France wearing them starting in the 19th century. Presumably they were also worn in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and other British colonies. They were normally worn with Scottish-styled outfits. American boys would wear them with other outfits besides kilts, but they were popular with kiltsuits.

Use

The Glengarry bonnet is still worn, but primarily as part of a uniform or costume boh in Scotland and other countries. Scottish Scouts wear the Gengarry, but not usually the Cubs who until recently wore the traditional peaked cap. The Scottish Boys Brigade used the Glengarry as a cap for the officers. Initially the boys wore a pill-boc cap, although they later adopted the Glengarry-like campaign cap as their principal headwear. The Glengarry, unlike the Balmoral, bonnet can be worn with the Highland kilt outfit. It is very popular with kilted pipe bands, both Irish and Scottish pipe bands. It is also worn as part of a dress uniform at some Scottish schools. School cadet groups in Scotland also wear the Glengarry as do actual Scottyish units in the British military. Boys also commonly wear it with a wide variety of outfits at Highland gatherings.

Glengarry

We have beeb trying to learn a little about Glengarry. Interestingly, internet searches peimarily turn up informationa about the Glengarry Higland Games which are held in Canada, Maxville, Ontario since 1948. This is the site of the North American Pipe Band Championships. The original Glengarry is of course a valley (glen) in northern Scotland. It is located in Invergarry, Invernesshire, in Scotland. A visitor centre in Glengarry tells the story of the glen in three themes. First the Macdonells of Glengarry. Second the emigrations to Glengarry County, Canada. Third the Ellice family who left Scotland for North America and then returned as landlords of Glengarry and Glenquoich after the Glengarry chief was forced to sell his lands at the beginning of the 19th century. Glengarry Castle itself , now a dangerous and crumbling ruin, whuichb was built by the MacDonalds of Glengarry after raids by the Mackenzies in 1602. It was burned in 1654 by Monck, but restored. It's changed hande many times since then. In 1688, Alastair Macdonald fortified it for James VII, but eventually supported the government of William and Mary. It was retaken by Alasdair Dubh in 1715 and then recaptured by Hanoverian forces in 1716. By 1731, the Macdonalds had it again and was visited by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745-46. It was burned after his visit and remained uninhabited. A new mansion was built nearby, which is the site of the Glengarry Castle Hotel --another very nice country house hotel. The castle is a very large 17th century tower, which has a large main block with 5 floors and a round staircase tower that rises to six stories. A wide scale and plat staircase climbs to the first floor, while the rest of the tower is reached through the round tower.

History

The Glengarry bonnet is as distinctive as the Scottish Kilt. It is a garment of relatively recent origins. The Glengarry bonnet or cap is known the world over and easily recognizable as a Scotish attire. While it is not really a bonnet in the accepted English language sence of a woman or child's oudoor head covering, commonly fitting down over the hair and tied on with strings. In Scotland the word bonnet is used for men's and boys' headwear and nort ones that cover the hair and are tied on with strings. The Tam O'Shanter is also referred to as a bonnet in Scotland. The Glengarry apparently first appeared as early as 1805. We are unsure, however, to what extent it was woirn by Scottish units in the Napoleonic Wars. The Glengarry bonnet was apparaently devised by McDonnel of Glengarry. It was part of his outfit for the presedence breaking visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822. Because it was easily folded and could be conveniently carried in a pack, the Glengarry bonnet became a favorite with soldiers. The Glengarry bonnet by 1851 had been accepted as the official off-duty headwear for the Highland Regiments. To this very day the Glengarry bonnet is still worn by most Highland units in service in the British Army.

Women's Fashions

The Glengarry bonnent was a man's or boy's cap. Wenote, however, that in the Civil war era (1861-65) that the Glengarry became fashionable ladies wear. The cap was worn with consisted of ribbon cockade and streamers trim. It was an informal woman's and young ladies' wool cap, often worn with zouave jackets. We do not know if European women also wore it.

Campaign Cap

I'm not sure how the campaign cap developed. Given the similarity to the Scottish Glengarry bonnet, that may have been the origins. The major difference was the check or plaid trim and the back streamers. We are not positive when soldiers first began wearing campaign caps. Spanish soldiers wore it in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. We note American, British, German, and Italian soldiers wearing it in World War II during the 1940s. The Italians and Spanish wore it with a front fringe. American soldiers wore it from the 1940s-80s. The first youth group we have noted wearing it was the Hitler Youth. It was the main cap worn by American Boy Scouts until the baseball cap was adopted in the 1980s. We note that some pipe bandwear campaign caps rather than more traditional Glengarrys.







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Created: June 26, 2002
Last updated: 5:41 PM 10/13/2012