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Highway robbery was a significant problem in Scotland in the seventeenth century. The country was swarming with vagrants and bandits. Therefore anyone wishing to travel would do so armed, making pistol production a very profitable trade.

The quality of a pistol was said to be a reflection on the quality of its bearer; a pistol was a mark of its owners status and prestige. The finest quality pistols came from Doune, designed and built by Thomas Cadell (estd. 1646). These pistols were often presented at ceremonial occasions to noblemen, including, at one point, the king of France.

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