John Geddie (journalist)

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John Geddie
Photograph copied from the frontispiece of his book: Thomas the Rymour and his Rhymes.
Photograph copied from the frontispiece of his book: Thomas the Rymour and his Rhymes.
Born(1846-12-08)8 December 1846
Garmouth, Moray, Scotland, U.K.
Died20 January 1927(1927-01-20) (aged 80)
Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.
OccupationWriter, journalist, editor, lawyer, biographer
GenreNon-fiction, biography, politics, geography
SpouseIsabella Cecilia Young
ChildrenThree sons and three daughters

John Geddie (1848–1937) was a journalist and author of several books mainly on the subject of Edinburgh. His earliest books were about foreign parts but it is not known whether he actually visited these places.


Geddie was born on 8 December 1846 in Garmouth, Moray on the River Spey and in the Parish of Speymouth, Moray. He was the son of James Geddie, a shipbuilder, and of Margaret Spence. He was educated at Garmouth Free Church School and at Milne’s Institution, Fochabers. From 1864 to 1870 he was a law clerk in Elgin and Edinburgh and attended law classes at Edinburgh University. While attending these classes, he encountered Robert Louis Stevenson on the few occasions that the latter attended the conveyancing class.[1]

In June 1882, Geddie became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He was recommended as Fellow by John Bartholomew and the geographer, John Francon Williams (father of missionary and writer, Aeneas Francon Williams).[2] This followed the publication of his works on Africa, the Himalayas and the Russian Empire. As the latter work is 572 pages long and seems written by someone with an intimate knowledge of Russia, he may have travelled there though there is no record of this.

In 1889, Geddie joined the Institute of Journalists. According to Neil Macara Brown: "Geddie is credited with coining the term 'wee free' in reference to the remnant of the Free Church of Scotland. In a leader he jibed: 'It is hard to see how the poor wee Free Church, which has just come into so overwhelming an inheritance, is to free itself; even if it wished, from the fortune which the law has hung about its neck.'"[3]

In 1875, he married Isabella Cecilia Young (d. 1931) and they had three sons and three daughters. His interests were golf, cycling, and especially walking. He played a major role in the establishment of the Braid Hills Public Golf Course and the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch Trophy there in 1888.[4] He died in Edinburgh on 20 January 1937.[5]

His career in journalism[edit]

  • 1870-1889 - Sub-Editor with The Scotsman.
  • 1886-1889 - Lead Writer with the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch
  • 1889-1929 - Assistant Editor and Lead Writer with The Scotsman

Published books[edit]


  1. ^ Neil Macara Brown, "'Honest John' Geddie", originally published in Scottish Book Collector magazine, Autumn, 1997, now available on the following website:[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Information supplied by e-mail by the librarian of the Royal Geographical Society. He is recorded there as being a journalist living at South Lothian Street, Edinburgh.
  3. ^ Ibid.
  4. ^ Ibid.
  5. ^ Adapted from Brown's article and from the Institute of Journalists biography of John Geddie publicly available on the website:
  6. ^ This list has been compiled from the British Library online catalogue and other online library catalogues.
  7. ^ Cf. Annals of the London Morayshire Club, by James Ray and W. C. Grant, London: C. Skipper & Co., 1894.


External links[edit]