Letters from John Geddes (IV) to his niece

These three letters are written by John Geddes (IV). His niece is Margaret Geddes, only daughter of Adam Gordon Geddes. She was called Maggie by her family. This is a copy of a copy so the copyists may have made mistakes. Apologies for any of mine.

Three letters from Liet. Gen. John Geddes to his neice Margaret Vernor (Geddes)

Transcribed by John Dibblee 21/8/1989

15 Salisbury Road, Newington
Satruday 14 April 1860

My very dear Maggie,

From the interest that I have always taken in you, you need not doubt that I most sincerely hope, that the arrangement Mr. Vernor proposes be carried out, it may tend to your comfort & happiness, after giving it due consideration of course it will mainly depend on your own views and wish; Mr. Vernor I think a highly respectable & honourable person, and you seem to be a favourite with all his friends in Musselburgh,. It has long been a wish of mine, to help to make you somewhat independent in money matters. With this object, I have alloted to you a sum of £5000 Consols which falls to me on the death of Mrs. Behan; it will be paying legacy duty I think fully £4000 sterling, & arrives in this way, Geo. Hessing 41 Reg. left Mrs. Sutherland and me his Executors, & we distributed his property according to his directions; he desired us to pay an annuity of £300 a year to his widow, now Mrs. Behan - to answer which, we purchased £10,00 3 percent Consols in the name of the Accountant General of the Court of Chancery. At Mrs. Behan's death it goes to Mrs. Sutherland and me, £5000 Consols to each. You will also get a share of what I may leave, along with John and Andrew. This I think may amount to £4000 sterling more. I shall not leave very much money, for I have met with many losses of considerable amount; and I prefer giving occasionally, out of my hand. I intend to make up your B.L. Coy investment to £500 stock, and should I live a year or two I may increase it. I have no doubt with your father's assistance, whichever way you arrange, you will make a prudent decision, and there will be no want of confidence in either party.

Yours my dear Maggy always J. Geddes

Letter from John Geddes IV

My dear Margt,

I send you Andrew's letter and am glad that he keeps well. I think I have decided on sending my old maps, half a dozen of caret jugs. As to my photograph I do not imagine the 27th. would think much of their Col. if they saw it, so it would not do to send his picture. Regards to Mr. Vernor. Jane is attending Mrs. Mairs readings and will no doubt give you quotations from Shakespeare & instructions in Elocution when you see her. It is very cold.

Yours always faithfully,

J. Geddes

15 Salisbury Road,
20 Nov 1860

Letter from John Geddes IV

15 Salisbury Road
Monday May 20th, 1861

My dear Margt,

Your poor father is gone, & you will miss him greatly, for he had kindness for every one. With all his foibles, I loved him much, and I think I was always to him a kind and affectionate brother. The Faulds' letters to you, I consider mere specimens of insincerity, of which I have had many a one. You have had now my dear Margt. a little experience in house keeping, and I hope are turning out a steady, careful and sensible wife & manager; you have no doubt discovered that your interest & Mr. Vernor's are identical; that much of your independence, comfort & happiness rests on your good house arrangements, in which I include economy, thrift, etc. giving Mr. Vernor a correct account of all monies that pass through your hands in order that he may be able to make up correctly his general expenditure statements. Your auntused to be very particular in this & it is of essential use, in fact there can be no practical economy without correct carefully kept accounts. I know this is the age of lecturing, as the advertisements show in every paper, but I am not going to give you a lecture. I am just an old invalid soldier, not able even to shoulder his old crutches that are in the corner in my dressing room, and with little to offer; but this I do offer, a welcome to you and Mr. Vernor whenever you like to come and ask for it. If he would like it, I can send to Mr. Vernor the Times & the Army and Navy Gazette. Dr. (?)Sidey who is most kind & attentive has pronouced me a good deal better today.

Yours my dear Margt. always most affectionately,
J. Geddes, 27th. Regt.

Letter from John Geddes IV


(Randon thoughts occurring to J. D. 21/8/1989

In 1860, Gen. John was 74. He died in 1864. Margaret was 31 & married in 1860. Salisbury Road, Newington is to the south of Edinburgh, off the Dalkeith Road and south-west of Arthur's Seat, say 1½ miles from Princes St. Margaret's father lived at 20 Hamilton Place and I think previously at 7 Henderson Row. Both are at the northern fringe of New Town, near Edinburgh Academy, say ¾ miles from Princes St, but well downhill. After marriage she was at Musselburgh.

(Letter 1): I don't know who Geo. Hessing was, or of what generation. The legacy duty seems a bit steep for 1860! (Our old encyclopedia says 10% for legacies to distant relatives or strangers, up to 1894).

(Letter 2): Andrew, Margaret's younger brother (now 26) was serving in 27th., of which the General had just been appointed Honary Colonel (April 1860). He seems to have been negotiating on behalf of the Regiment for odd bits and pieces from the General. The maps were perhaps from the Peninsular War? "A dozen claret jugs" sounds excessive; did he mean glasses? However, the regiment was in India at this time and Andrew wasn't even with it, having been seconded to various jobs on the staff and with the Indian Army. The General certainly could never have seen his Regt. after his appointment, I have no idea who 'Jane' might be. Andrew did marry (Emily) Jane Eckford four years later, though that was in India so he probably picked her up there.

(Letter 3): Margaret's father had just died. It sounds as if the General hadn't always seen eye to eye with him and certainly not with his late wife's family (They were, after all, English, from Yorkshire [later hand-written comment: no, only connection was Margaret's brother at Barnsley]). However, the General sounds an affectionate and very lonely old man, confined to his bed or a chair. It is curious that he hadn't apparently served with the colours for 29 years. He was last on full pay as a major. Why he still had regular promotion, I don't udnerstand. Margaret's mother had died when she was 20, ten years before, so one would think she must have acquired considerable experience housekeeping for her father before she married. I bet she and Mr. Vernor had a laugh about the General's advice!

(Randon thoughts occurring to writer of this website, daughter of J. D.

People referred to in these letters:

Writer: John Geddes (IV). He fought in the Peninsular War. See his career.
Mr. Vernor: husband of Margaret
John: John Geddes (V), the older brother of Margaret
Andrew: Andrew Geddes, the younger brother of Margaret
Adam Geddes was the father of Margaret, John and Andrew, and the brother of John Geddes (IV).
Wife of John Geddes (IV) ("your aunt") was Madelina née Hessing, so presumably Geo. Hessing was a close relative of hers.
Wife of Adam Geddes was Marion née Faulds, the mother of Margaret, John and Andrew.

John Geddes (IV) was badly wounded in the Peninsular War. His 'regular promotions' were purchased. The army must have been over-manned after the Peninsular War, which explained why he retired on half-pay. He had no children and his wife was dead. His only nephews and nieces were Margaret and her brothers, which explains why he was bequeathing his money to them. The census returns of 1851 show that Maggie was then living with her uncle rather than her father, so perhaps she never did keep house for her father.

?Old 15 Salisbury Road

Salisbury Road has been altered and renumbered, but this building seems to be the old 15 Salisbury Road.