John Geddes (III)

Father of Adam Gordon Geddes

This John Geddess is reputed by family tradition to have a father and grandfather, also both called John Geddes, who were farmers in Caithness. Unfortunately there is no direct evidence for this, although this is some indirect evidence that John Geddes (III) came from Caithness.

John Geddes (III)
Wife and children
Where he lived
See also:
Letters of John Geddes to Dr. Will Sinclair
Letter of John Geddes about slavery
John Geddes IV (son)
David Geddes (son)
Alexander Geddes (son)
James Geddes (son)
Panmure House
Geddes memorial
Geddes plaque
Geddes newspaper clippings
Census returns


1753John Geddes (III) born, probably in Caithness
1784Married Margaret Duncan in St Giles, Edinburghwife
1785Crawford Geddes bornson
1785John Geddes (IV) bornson
1788Greiselda Geddes borndaughter
1788Greiselda Geddes dieddaughter
1790Adam Gordon Geddes bornson
1792David Geddes bornson
1794Alexander Mackay Geddes bornson
1796Crawford Geddes diedson
1797James Geddes bornson
1803John IV, Adam, David, Alexander & James baptised at Cannongatesons
1805Family move to Panmure House
1816James Geddes died (see letters)son
1821Margaret Geddes diedwife
1821Moved from Panmure House
1824Adam Gordon Geddes marries Marion Fauldsson
1828Alexander Mackay Geddes diedson
1830John Geddes (III) died in Edinburgh


John Geddes was employed for 43 years in the Adjutant General's Department of the Military Office in Edinburgh. He worked directly under Lord Adam Gordon and General McKay (the middle names of two of John's children are Gordon and McKay). At one time, John Geddes held the position of paymaster for military roads in Scotland. During all this time, he lived in or very near the Royal Mile. From 1805 to 1821, he and his wife lived in Panmure House.

John Geddes was also agent for William Sinclair, who was a student in Edinburgh, purchased Lockend in 1778, inherited Freswick in 1794 and died 1838. Various letters exist from John Geddes to William Sinclair from 1777-1815.

Wife and Children


Margaret Duncan (1758/9 - 1821) was the daughter of David Duncan, an officer of Customs in Glasgow.
John and Margaret Geddes were married in St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh June 19th, 1784.

Children: All the children were born in Edinburgh.

Crawford Geddes1785-1796Died in Edinburgh aged 11 years 2 months.
John Geddes (IV)1786-1864in 1832 to Madelina Hessing 1801-1857No children. See his webpage.
Greiselda Geddes (or Grace)1788-1788Died in Edinburgh aged 3 months 24 days.
Adam Gordon Geddes1790-1861in 1828 to Marion Faulds 1795-1850See his webpage.
David Geddes1792-1867Wine merchant in Edinburgh. Unmarried.
Alexander Mackay Geddes1794-1824M.D. Assistant surgeon Royal African Colonial Corps. Died in Accra, West Coast Africa.
James Geddes1797-1816Lieut. 59th Regt. Drowned off Tramore Bay in transport 'Sea Horse'.

In 1803, all five surviving children were baptised, together, at Canongate. Their ages ranged from 6 to 17 years old. The oldest, John Geddes IV was about to start a military career.

Where he lived

John Geddes III was reputed to have been born in Caithness, although unfortunately there is no direct evidence of this. By 1777 he moved to Edinburgh, where he lived from the rest of his life. He wrote to his father's brother, Andrew, in Thurso in 1780, and to his mother in Caithness in 1783. He also wrote to his cousin Major William Geddes, who has Sutherland cousins living in Thurso, in 1810. A letter to Dr. Will Sinclair in 1810 mentions "I can assure you I have no intention of retiring to Caithness, the temptation would be great that could make me move to that country." So there is indirect evidence that he came from Caithness (and did not want to return there!)

The following information is from street directories, except the first (Abbeyhill) which is from his letter to Dr. Will Sinclair.

1777AbbeyhillWriting to Dr. Will Sinclair
1786-1788Richmond StreetClerk to General McKay
1788-92Lady Lawson's WyndJohn Geddes & co. Linen manufacturer
1795-1796Foot of 5 back of CannongateClerk of Military Office
1800-1801head of New Assembly Close
1804head of New Assembly Close
1804/1805Penmure House, CannongateAdj. Gen. office
1804/1810Munro's CloseAdj. Gen. office
1810/1821Penmure House, CannongateAdj. Gen. office. His wife dies in 1821.
1821/182417 St. John's Street (now Moray House College)Adj. Gen. office. He retires 1823.
1824/1826West side Minto Street Newington
1826/1828Lower Grey Street (now South Grey Street)
1827/183015 Salisbury RoadSee census returns

John Geddes III died in 1830.

Will of John Geddes III

The following was written by John Frederick Dibblee, great, great grandson of John Geddes III:

[This will] consists of 8 pages difficult to read, most of which is legal jargon. Here is the substance of it.

Inventory signed by J. Geddess, Major, 27th. Regt of Foot.
Inventory: He died at his residence 15 Salisbury Road, Newington, Edinburgh.

Moveable effects as follows: Furniture, linen, silver etc.£115.11.6
Cash in house9.8.8
Value of bonds & bills due from various people1539.7.9
Retirement allowance due by Government as First Clerk in Adjutant General's Office
and Paymaster for military roads in Scotland:
Shares in: Edinburgh Coal & Gas Co.1616.0.0
? Water Co.672.0.0
Scottish Union Insurance Co.30.0.0

Besides Major John Geddess, the other sons were named as Adam Gordon Geddes, Paymaster of the late tenth Royal Veteran Battalion, and David Geddes, late Third Clerk in the Adjutant's Department, North Britain. These were trustees and executors, as were Donald Horne WS and James Brownlee Advocate.

The settlement, put simply, leaves the Estate to the three sons equally, except that John (described as captain) got an extra bit, which seems to have been a flat in a tenament on the west side of St James' Square (I suppose this might have been a leasehold & so disposable by testament, but I don't think it is important). No other bequests and I can't find mention of anyone else except lawyers. Testament dated 25 Feb 1825, when he was already 'Late' First Clerk in AG Dept. and living in Salisbury Road. It was witnessed by two serving officers presently residing at Comely Bank, Edinburgh.

Notes by John Dibblee Apr. 1990: John Geddes 4 also died at 15 Salisbury Road in 1864. Adam Gordon probably went on half-pay as his battalion was disbanded. No evidence (see his testament) that he ever did anything else. But why did David leave his job and did he do anything else? If he had a job in 1825 or 30, surely his occupation would have been given. The name of John 3's debtors ring no bells; some are hard to read so I haven't bothered with them. The interest, varying between 2% and 5%, did not seem excessive! He seems to have been a careful investor. The solicitor, Horne, is interesting, as the same firm, becoming Horne & Lyall, continued to deal with the family's affairs up to my mother's (Violet Geddes, John 3's great granddaughter) time. It is curious that there were no small bequests to friends, servants, etc.

Additional comment by Jo Edkins, daughter of John Frederick Dibblee and writer of this website: A letter from John Geddes III to John Geddes IV in 1825 says "Adam will acquaint you that he is looking out for a farm, but hitherto unsuccessful. I have promised Adam a 1000, to stock a farm, & I suppose Davie will require as much in his new concern, & in that event you have all got an equal sum, only Adam, from his former mismanagement, will be considerably behind."


Click on picture for larger version.

John (III) and Margaret Geddes

John Geddes (III)
John Geddes (III)
Margaret Duncan
Margaret Duncan

These two portraits on the left are family portraits. The V & A has stated that the female portrait is probably from 1819 to the mid 1820's, and the male portrait is also probably from the same period. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has dated the two portraits from between 1816 and 1821. This is supporting evidence that these are, indeed, portraits of John Geddes (III) and his wife.

Their sons:

For pictures of John Geddes (IV) and his wife, see his webpage.

For pictures and photos of Adam Gordon Geddes and his wife, see his webpage.

For a picture and a photo of David Geddes, see his webpage.

For more information about Alexander Mackay Geddes, see his webpage.

For more information about James Geddes, see his webpage.